The best trekking in West Africa!

Early start to catch a ferry! We’re (Adam, Will and us) off to explore the nearby island. The Lonely Planet claims “Best trekking in West Africa” so we’re all keen to find out. We get across the 6 mile gap to be welcomed by hoards of locals touting taxi and guide services to us. We want to get lunch first so we make a break for it passing them and on into town in search of a supermarket… Success here :0) we get rolls, ham, and cheese – we then wander to a nearby shell garage and it doesn’t take long before vehicles approach us. A chat with one or two and we settle for another pick-up type truck, this time with a roof cover. We agree a price to take us up to a crater listed in LP, this is not ’cause we’re being lazy’ but because we find out that it’ll take us 4-5 hours and we want to see the view before it becomes overcast and do a further one hour cliff walk.

We all jump in the back and Fernand (the driver) sets off at high speed through the town stopping to chat to anyone he knows and to pick up a passenger who joins him in the cab. All the roads on the island are cobbled using volcanic rock but it is more comfortable than you would imagine, unlike the wooden bench seats in the back of the wagon!! Outside the town we climb up into the interior getting fab views back over to Sao Vincent – it really is a lovely looking place with very little habitation or cultivation.

Until we get to the crater that is…in the middle of the bowl which must be 2 miles across there is lots of farmed plots, the odd cow and a couple of donkeys – a real land that time forgot. On the journey up the passenger (Alain – who is French and helping develop local economic activity) turns into impromptu translator and suggest we hire Fernand and his truck for the whole day as apparently we have set ourselves a full on agenda for the day. After a bit of haggling we agree a price and a place for him to pick us up and set off walking.

Out the other side of the bowl the view is stunning – it feels like a sheer drop of a couple of thousand feet to the valley below – Val de Paul. After a fig roll fuel stop, during which the clouds roll in obscuring the view, we descend on the steep path into the valley. After a while we are amongst banana, sugar cane, coffee and all sorts of other crops. The views remain stunning…although it does start raining making the path v.slippery.

At the end of the path we are relieved to see Fernand and we take off on another roller coaster of a ride down to the sea (you should see the breaking waves and surf, we can’t believe there is nobody out there having a blast) and along the coast road to Porto de Sol where we are dropped off for a stunning cliff walk along a path / track with vertical drops to the big Atlantic rollers. Our destination is a little village perched on cliffs and is a very hot one hour trek away. It is only as we get close that the realisation dawns – the only way out is back along the same path!! Did Fernand understand that wanted picking up? Will we have to walk the hour back along the path?? If so we are in in serious danger of missing our return ferry!! Just when we are starting to get really worried, Fernand comes up trumps again and has followed us down the track – he must think we are bonkers!!! By the way, the village was lovely and well worth the effort to get there.

We then have a couple of hours in the back of the wagon racing through some of the most amazing scenery as Fernand works his magic to get us back in good time for the ferry. More rain as we hurtle through the clouds – it’s a good job we had the roof, Adam even gets his fleece out. Big girl! All this and we haven’t paid him a cent yet!

By the time we are all back on board New Dawn, Stu and Sarah from Snow Leopard (who Paul got to know in Las Palmas) have arrived for pre-departure G&Ts as they are leaving in the morning. After they leave we have a lovely chicken curry created by Will and reluctantly accept that it isn’t a good idea for Lena (swede) to join us. Time for bed as we were very very tired!!

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