September 2006: There are three Municipalities on Santo Antao: Porto Novo, Ribeira Grande and Paul.
My initial thoughts from the boat on our approach into the harbour at Porto Novo were that the surrounding landscape looked like it had been used as a set for an Apollo landing.
On arrival at Porto Novo we vacated the boat and were greeted by a load of eager locals wanting our custom. We were located by someone who had a notice with the name of the place we were staying at.
I would suggest you don't use a pick up Aluger with benches, use an enclosed Aluger (mini bus) for the journey to or from Porto Novo over the mountain, it is more comfortable.
We had pre booked our travel to the other islands but hadn’t thought to confirm that the transfer fees from the Port to Ribeira Grande were included in the price. The cost for an Aluger (mini bus) if it is being used as a private taxi is between 3,500 to 4,000escudos for a one way trip. However, if you find an Aluger that is being used as a ‘collective’ (as public transport) at the Port then this may only cost you 400escudos.
On driving out of the Porto and the old town (now city) we noticed some new construction work and some areas on the outskirts where new larger projects were planned.
We travelled in a mini bus up the mountains for half an hour then we saw some greenery. I was not prepared for the contrast even though I had read some bits and pieces about the island. The greenery and trees spread out before us, down sheer cliff’s with none or little gradient.
The metre wide rows of terraces that spread down the mountains reached the bottom of what looked like a crater about a mile below us, we could just make out that the small white specs were little houses.
I took loads of photos but when you are jostling around in a mini bus not all of them came out clear. The scenery was so different to Sal.
It took another very pleasant hour to get to the other side of the island to a coastal town called Ribeira Grande.
The views around were what some tourists came to see or to hike. There aren’t things like small café’s or anything like that where you can stop at although I did notice a few small local shops on the side of the road in some small villages that we drove through.
We arrived in Ribeira Grande later that morning and continued on out of the town to where we were staying, Pedracin Village which was about 2miles from the town. It is a purpose built village with a number of chalets of stone and wood. It is set on the side of a mountain up a dirt track/road. The views up and down the valley were lovely and it was very peaceful place.
It is somewhere that you would come to relax or use as a base. Pedracin Village had a nice restaurant and a small swimming pool. A number of peacocks roam freely about the place. You need sensible shoes if walking back down the track to the main road to get stop an Aluger which will take you into Ribeira Grande. The normal rate for an Aluger is 70esc. Again, check that it is being used as a ‘collective’ before you get in, if it is empty they may charge you taxi rates.
If you get a taxi to take you back to Pedracin make sure they will take you to the entrance of the village and not want to drop you off at the bottom of the hill, unless you don’t mind the walk, the cost for a taxi is 800-1000cve. If you use a collective they will drop you off at the bottom of the hill anyway for 70cve.
The evening meals at Pedracin were not included in the price were on average 1,000esc. We enjoyed ours.
You can also book an hours’ pony trek at the Reception. Cost pp 1500esc.