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São Tomé and Príncipe: Belo Monte hike

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Belo Monte hike | São Tomé and Príncipe | Africa

[Visited: September 2014]

Our first walk on the tropical island of Principe was to the old plantation of Belo Monte in the northeast. The weather seemed to clear after our arrival on the island, and when we walked out of town, up the steep road from the small port, we soon started to sweat it out under the tall trees, preventing any winds to reach us and cool us down. We stopped regularly to inspect some of the beautiful flowers, and sooner than expected, reached the turnoff where we took a right. To my surprise, the road was asphalted a long way, through a village, and beyond. There were many attractive wooden houses on both sides. When we finally reached the end of the tarmac, the road was still OK to walk fairly easily. When we passed the tiled indicator sign officially marking the border of the Belo Monte estate, it gave the impression we were getting close, but it was still a fair walk to the real gate.

Picture of Belo Monte hike (São Tomé and Príncipe): Deserted Praia Cajù

The estate is in the process of being completely renovated and turned into a luxury hotel, headed by one of our compatriots. Since we were running out of water, we decided to have a drink on the terrace with some good views over the sea below towards the west - which turned out to be badly overpriced. At least, it gave us the power to walk down to the ruined concrete viewpoint. Below us, the beach which is considered the most beautiful of the country by many, and which once starred in a commercial for an alcoholic drink: Banana beach. A stretch of sand hemmed in between two volcanic, black rocks, well protected from the prevailing currents. We quickly followed the dirt track down, and plunged into the waves to cool down from our long walk.

Picture of Belo Monte hike (São Tomé and Príncipe): The entrance gate of Belo Monte is in true Portuguese style

After enjoying the view for a while, and walking to the side of the beach with spectacularly shaped volcanic rocks both on the beach and in the waves, we moved on, cutting across to the other side of the tongue of land, to Praia Cajù. A deserted beach, with palm trees and tree trunks over the soft sand. It made for a great walk, with our bare feet in the waves, until we reached Praia dos Burros, a small fishing village with rustic houses. From here, we made our way up the hills again, on a beautiful dirt track, sweating our way up under the afternoon sun. We reckoned we would eventually end up on the main road back to Santo Antonio - which we did. It was only at the end of our walk that a car passed and offered us a ride back to the capital city of the island where we had a well-deserved dinner, looking back on a great first taste of the tropical forest of Príncipe island.

Picture of Belo Monte hike (São Tomé and Príncipe): Banana beach has black volcanic rocks
Picture of Belo Monte hike (São Tomé and Príncipe): One of the typical houses to be found on the way to Belo Monte
Picture of Belo Monte hike (São Tomé and Príncipe): View of Banana beach from above
Picture of Belo Monte hike (São Tomé and Príncipe): The official sign of the large Belo Monte estate
Picture of Belo Monte hike (São Tomé and Príncipe): The famous cocoa fruit, introduced to Príncipe centuries ago
Picture of Belo Monte hike (São Tomé and Príncipe): The dirt track to Belo Monte leads through rainforest
Picture of Belo Monte hike (São Tomé and Príncipe): Afternoon view of the track leading to Praia dos Burros
Picture of Belo Monte hike (São Tomé and Príncipe): Idyllic Banana beach with white sand and black volcanic rocks
Picture of Belo Monte hike (São Tomé and Príncipe): Volcanic rocks just off beautiful Banana beach
Picture of Belo Monte hike (São Tomé and Príncipe): Palm trees on Praia Cajù
Picture of Belo Monte hike (São Tomé and Príncipe): Tree trunks on the beach west of Banana beach
Picture of Belo Monte hike (São Tomé and Príncipe): Cajù beach lies close to famous Banana beach
Picture of Belo Monte hike (São Tomé and Príncipe): The small fishing village of Praia Burro, west of Belo Monte

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