While staying at one of the many enjoyable places of the island at the western coast of São Tomé, we were considering all options, and picked a hike to the Angolar waterfall. In the morning, a friendly guide makes sure we are properly dressed, and off we go. First, a short drive up the mountain. We feel a little excited: this is not going to be an ordinary hike. We are supposed to make our way through seven tunnels, in which it is said to be dark, so we have our torches with us. We drive quite a while up the mountain, on a beautiful old road, paved with stones. After we park at a bend, we get ready, and the first part of the trail is easy enough, through tropical rainforest with impressive trees, wild cocoa, ferns, flowers, and birds.
Just when I think that the trail is easy to follow, and wonder why we need a guide at all, he tells us to go up, and over a bridge. He then changes into plastic shoes, and tells us to pull up our shorts, and get ready to get wet. We enter the first tunnel - and it is totally different from what we expected. It was made to channel water towards the hydro-electric plant in the valley. Even though there is space to walk next to it, it is so muddy the guide advises us to walk through the cold water. The tunnel is long, and indeed pitch dark. Walking the first tunnel is an adventure in itself - and when we finally emerge on the other side, we feel exhilarated. The waterfall is behind the corner, and tumbles down gracefully from a rocky ledge high above us.
There are six other tunnels, some short, some long; one full with bats and their smelly excrements. It is big fun, and we start to admire those who built these tunnels for the sole purpose of directing water to generate electricity. All the while, I am convinced that we will have to walk all the way back to the car, through the tunnels again, so I am surprised when the guide changes back to his normal hiking shoes, and puts away his torch. It turns out we can hike to a reservoir where the water coming from the tunnels is collected before it is actually used to generate power. From here, there is a track leading directly down to where our car is parked. We spot several more tropical birds and listen to their singing while we are on our way down from a surprising hike. The waterfall was nice enough, but the hike itself was even more impressive!
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Cascata Angolar (São Tomé and Príncipe). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Cascata Angolar.
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