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São Tomé and Príncipe: Cascata Angolar

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Cascata Angolar | São Tomé and Príncipe | Africa

[Visited: October 2014]

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.

Picture of Cascata Angolar (São Tomé and Príncipe): One of the tunnels and bridge on the Cascata Angolar hike

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.

Picture of Cascata Angolar (São Tomé and Príncipe): The Cascata Angolar waterfall graciously tumbles down the rocks

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!

Picture of Cascata Angolar (São Tomé and Príncipe): Tunnel with water on the hike to Cascata Angolar
Picture of Cascata Angolar (São Tomé and Príncipe): Tunnel with channel for water
Picture of Cascata Angolar (São Tomé and Príncipe): Tropical forest surrounding the trail leading to Cascata Angolar
Picture of Cascata Angolar (São Tomé and Príncipe): Stretch of the trail up to Cascata Angolar
Picture of Cascata Angolar (São Tomé and Príncipe): One of the seven tunnels we walked through on our way to Cascata Angolar
Picture of Cascata Angolar (São Tomé and Príncipe): Cocoa fruit, the gold of São Tomé and Príncipe
Picture of Cascata Angolar (São Tomé and Príncipe): Detail of tropical tree
Picture of Cascata Angolar (São Tomé and Príncipe): One of the seven tunnels built to transport water
Picture of Cascata Angolar (São Tomé and Príncipe): Aquaduct, part of the water transportation system feeding the hydro-electric plant
Picture of Cascata Angolar (São Tomé and Príncipe): Shiny leaf in the forest
Picture of Cascata Angolar (São Tomé and Príncipe): Tree with strong roots on the flanks of the mountain near Cascata Angolar

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