Island of Fire.
Pico do Fogo is the largest volcano on Cape Verde and most tourists come here to climb it. Climbing Pico do Fogo is the whole day proposition which takes anywhere from 6-8 hours. Fogo volcano can be seen from almost anywhere on the island as well as from neighbouring islands of Santiago and Brava.
Pico Small Eruptions
But Pico do Fogo not the only volcano on the island. It’s sister, the lower volcano, called Pico Pequeno, i.e. the small peak, is much more reachable but a much bigger troublemaker as well.
It’s the small peak that erupts from time to time destroying nearby village of Chã das Caldeiras. and causing lava flows for miles on end. Last eruption was in 2015 but with previous 20 years earlier and one before 40 years prior, if math holds, one can expect to see next one around 2025 or so.
During eruptions lava usually flows slowly allowing even the most entrenched villagers that wait until it reaches their living rooms enough time to flee. Every time Pico Pequeno erupts it inevitably consumes the whole village. In 1995 government offered to build villagers nice houses closer to coast. Some took the opportunity and moved. You can see those new pretty one-family houses on the way to the volcano village. But majority said “no way”. Every time Pico Pequeno consumes Cha dos Caldeiras the stubborn villagers return and rebuilt. Many would proudly proclaim that they could never see themselves living anywhere else in the world.
Cha dos Caldeiras
If you come to Fogo you have to visit Cha dos Caldeiras if only for the daytrip to see the lava valley, volcanoes up close and the village itself. The lunar landscape of the lava valley will take your breath away. My recommendation is to stay the night. There are some hotels outside the village (like 30 min. walk) but make sure that you stay in the one in the village so you can catch live local music at (I think) Rodrigo’s. Take local guides if you decide to climb volcanoes, not the ones in Fogo’s capital Sao Felipe who’d rush you. Try local wine, almost everybody in the village makes it, especially sweet red one.
I just went as far as Pico Pequeno, which, unlike its larger counterpart is still steaming a bit. I’m pretty easy and definitely not overly impressionable. I presume that’s why I was asked to execute a little ritual and carry something small with me for volcano to consume so it wouldn’t erupt again.
Most of the people come to Fogo to climb the volcano and/or see the valley of lava but it’s not the only thing to see on the island. If you have time and selective with your carry on gear my suggestion for an ultimate island route is to go to Cha dos Coldeiros, climb whatever you want to climb but on the way back pay locals 30€ to get you to the edge of the forest (I really don’t recommend taking 3-4 hour walk across the lava valley) hat descends to Mosteiros, the 2nd largest town on the island.
It would take you about an hour-n-half to descent through the forest crossing all kinds of plantations, coffee, mango, etc; there is clearly defined trail. People say it’s a really cool walk. I wish somebody told me about it beforehand. Later I ended up taking a taxi tour around the island (if you do the above walk you can safely bypass that), saw where it ends and wished that I did that route. It looked really gorgeous looking up at descending tropical jungle.
Btw, once you reach the road there is a hotel Gira Lua with amazing views (make your reservations with them through AirBnb). You can even walk to it. It’s incredible change of scenery after black barren lava landscape of Cha dos Caldeiros. Once you see what I’m talking about you might even want to consider spending couple of nights there before returning to the island’s capital, Sao Filipe.
Sao Filipe of Fogo
Sao Filipe is charming little capital of the Island of Fogo. Many foreigners come here every year basically making Sao Filipe their winter residence. Sao Filipe is pleasure to look at, to be in, has plenty of local flavor and all of the needed services, and is not oversaturated by tourists.
I loved the beach in Sao Filipe. It’s outright beautiful. The sand is lava-black but soft, and gradually eases itself under water making the entrance into water easy. Ocean can be wavy though and unless you know how to navigate medium to larger size waves you should stay closer to shore.
There are nice hotels in town but I don’t think there are any over 3 stars and many nicer ones are either some distance from town or I suspect not overly girl-friendly. Casas do Sol is run by Italians is a nice place, 15 minutes from town with its own access to beach. But if you get stuck in town passed 10-11pm you’d have a lonely dark and pretty eerie walk back but I suspect nobody would care if you bring company to your room too. People rave about Tortuga B&B and it’s probably the best island’s accommodation but it’s even farther away then Casas do Sol and I doubt it’s too girl friendly. Read about it before deciding on where to stay. I stayed in Casas do Sol and Pousada Bela Vista, nice B&B right in the center of town but it’s run by nice local old lady and I never felt comfortable with returning to my room with creola, which is how Cape Verdeans call themselves. Also keep in mind that when Cape Verdeans refer to someone as an “American” they most often mean a Cape Verdean who went to America and then returned to Cape Verde and now spends part or whole of his/her time in the old country. For example when people say this business or home belongs to American most of the time they mean that.
Tropical is the best restaurant in town, hands down best. I took most of my dinners there. There is also Pipi’s which has good but significantly more limited menu but I’m pretty sure there is also an attached hotel there which I’ve no doubt is girl-friendly.
Good local music is played in Restaurante Caleron, also in the center of town.
Pussy De Fogo
I’ve been offered numerously but never partook because of the company I kept, time-limitations, and where I stayed. Ask taxi drivers. A taxi driver who took me from the airport ended up being a religious man and straight told me there was no such thing as “pussy” on the island but I naturally had my doubts.
Unfortunately it took a while before I took my next taxi but my 2nd taxi driver ended up being a hit in that regard. As I said earlier I never took him up on his offers but he quickly offered to hook me up with a young girl. Please be aware that age of consent on Cape Verde is 14 so there’d be many offerings to hook you up with those who are clearly under age. These are children and I personally would never go near anyone under 25 and I’d strongly suggest you do the same. Hearing that he instantly offered 2-3 more girls from more acceptable age group. The price he quoted was 20-30 night but towards the end of my stay he was already mentioning 40€. Obviously he talked to some of his colleagues but there sure is room to work with there.
This driver spoke limited English but as I mentioned earlier I speak passable Portuguese. Still the guy is very experienced in dealing with tourists. I had other tourists taking a tour with him. Those tourists spoke zero Portuguese but they said they had a little problem in communicating with him. Moreover after being able to communicate with a non-English speaking waiter in a Chinese restaurant I acquired great respect for Google translate or Siri if you got an IPhone. It’s 21 century – don’t be afraid to use it!
But… one time my taxi driver wasn’t available and I ended up taking another taxi. The driver was a young man who (what do you know!) spoke very good English! On the way I asked him about ladies to which he said not a problem but quoted either 40 or 50€, i.e. Praia of Santiago prices. Obviously he has been around more than the other driver.
My suggestion is to be very straightforward in describing what type of lady you’re looking for. Also remember those prices are for one time only, i.e. one night (make sure that this indeed is true with them). Most of the time on Cape Verde we’re not talking hours but rather nights. After 1st night you get her number and negotiate with her directly or leave her with you if she can. Remember chances are she might have a kid at home or whatever else so you may need to adapt to her schedule too.
Despite all of this I never got a chance to monger on Fogo. I have phone numbers for both taxi drivers. Please PM me if you think you’d be looking for a girl in Fogo. Contributing members only please.
As an afterthought some women-related thoughts on Cha dos Coldeiros where I stayed for only 2 nights. There are obvious demographic problems in Cha with significantly more men living there then women. The reasons are obvious. Cha is not a girl’s country. If you ever go there you wouldn’t be wondering why. Anyway, all that however didn’t prevent 2 local girls of more than a half my age from flirting with me, one with her male friend next to her who didn’t appear to be too pleased. There are always opportunities for you on Cape Verde. Don’t let your little head do all the talking though. Men in small villages, especially in those where there are few females, can get pretty anal if you go after their women. Do you pussy hunting in Sao Filipe or Mosteiros not in Cha dos Coldeiros.