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São Tomé and Príncipe: Southern São Tomé

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Southern São Tomé | São Tomé and Príncipe | Africa

[Visited: October 2014]

After our adventures on Principe island, it is time to explore São Tomé itself. Even though it is possible to move around the island in public transportation, we decide to rent a car, which enables us to explore the island more efficiently, and visit some out-of-the-way places. Our first goal is the far south of the island. Even though the distance is not big, the drive still takes a couple of hours, because of all the curves and bends around the mountains. It is a great drive on a surprisingly good and quiet road, with picturesque villages, beaches, viewpoints, and the highlight of the entire east coast: the Cao Grande, a peculiarly shaped pinnacle sticking more than 600 metres out of the landscape, and a clear reminder that the origin of this island is volcanic. We drive through cacao plantations, and when we finally reach Porto Alegre, we are at the end of the road. We drive through the big fishing village, on a dirt track, which gets pretty bumpy on our way to Praia Jalé. Before we arrive, we see Ilhéu das Rolas, the tiny island that lies exactly on the equator.

Picture of Southern São Tomé (São Tomé and Príncipe): Sailing through the mangrove forest by pirogue

We find an available cabin right on the beach, and directly go for a walk to the next beach. First, we walk the muddy track that takes us through plantations, and we find nutmegs in their unique red protective shell, until we see a path that leads down to Inhame beach. It is completely wild and empty, trees hang over the black sand, and to our surprise, there is no trash at all. I cannot resist and dip in to wash off the sweat, and then the rain comes in and we have to take shelter under one of the trees. The rain becomes less in time; we walk back and make it before it gets dark. The guard promises to wake us up in case a turtle comes to the beach to lay her eggs during the night. When we wake up the next morning, we immediately realize that nobody woke us up, and assume no turtle has arrived at the beach. We go for a walk before breakfast, and see traces of a turtle which has just gone for a short walk on the beach without laying eggs.

Picture of Southern São Tomé (São Tomé and Príncipe): Some of the houses of Porto Alegre

We first go to tour the mangrove forest just north of Porto Alegre. Two more visitors join us for a tour in a pirogue, on perfectly calm waters, and through always narrower waters where we see endemic birds, small fish and frogs. A small dispute about the price brings us back to Praia Jalé, and after that is settled, we decide to make a small detour to Praia Piscina. So called because it has a natural pool-like bay, well protected and with shallow, clear waters, making it much easier to enter the water without braving waves. The beach is indeed beautiful, soft white sand under trees, and views across the bay towards Praia Jalé. A very picturesque place indeed; too bad we find a lot of litter, despite the sign asking people to take their trash. We feel like exploring Porto Alegre, a poor and lively fishing town, where we find kids playing on self-made wooden boards and bikes, talk to people, take pictures of those who ask us to, and spot several buildings from the colonial times before heading north again.

Picture of Southern São Tomé (São Tomé and Príncipe): Soft sand and quiet waters make Praia Piscina one of the most beautiful of São Tomé
Picture of Southern São Tomé (São Tomé and Príncipe): Wild and deserted Praia Inhame
Picture of Southern São Tomé (São Tomé and Príncipe): Waves washing ashore on Praia Jalé
Picture of Southern São Tomé (São Tomé and Príncipe): Reflection of mangrove roots in the water
Picture of Southern São Tomé (São Tomé and Príncipe): Praia Piscina with its tranquil, turquoise waters, and the coastline towards Praia Jalé
Picture of Southern São Tomé (São Tomé and Príncipe): The mangrove forest with one of the channels seen from a pirogue
Picture of Southern São Tomé (São Tomé and Príncipe): Boats in Porto Alegre
Picture of Southern São Tomé (São Tomé and Príncipe): Outdoor life in Porto Alegre with goats in a goal, and a colonial building
Picture of Southern São Tomé (São Tomé and Príncipe): Houses lining the waterfront of Porto Alegre
Picture of Southern São Tomé (São Tomé and Príncipe): Dirt track after the rain, north of Praia Jalé
Picture of Southern São Tomé (São Tomé and Príncipe): The mangrove trees bordering the lake outside Porto Alegre
Picture of Southern São Tomé (São Tomé and Príncipe): The mangrove trees seen from below
Picture of Southern São Tomé (São Tomé and Príncipe): Dirt track leading south through Porto Alegre

Around the World in 80 Clicks

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