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My many short trips
19th Jun 2018 - Cape Verde
Cova de Paul hike - just where did we go?

Most hikes on Santo Antão take you into, up or along a ribeira. Whilst we did a small amount of one yesterday, today we were heading into one of the greenest. The hike to Cova de Paul is one of the most popular as it winds its way up from the coast all the way to a crater at a height of 1,176m. You can either go up or start at the top and work your way down and our book had told us that heading upwards would take 4.5 hours, according to an unfit mid 30’s woman. So we opted to head upwards, although after our exertions of yesterday, we thought we’d take a shorter option and start at the town of Boca de Figueiral, which should take approximately 45 mins off the journey.

We found Alberto hanging around outside our hotel again and so we jumped into his aluguer. To get there we had to back along the coastal road towards Porto Novo, turning off at the town of Cidade das Pombas also known as Paul, where we headed inland, past the village of Eito before arriving at Boca de Figueiral. We even arranged for him to pick us up again at the other end as the crater was near a road but no village so it could take a while for an aluguer to pass.

We could instantly see that this was the greenest part of the island that we had seen so far. Clearly this ribeira had a water source somewhere as there was so many different shades of green from the grass, to the trees, to the plants growing in gardens and along the roads. We could also see the high hills surrounding on us three sides and knew that the top of one of them would be where we were headed. Our route took us off the main road, through fields, passing the Casa das Ilhas guesthouse before re-emerging on the main road at the village of Passagem. We then carried on through the villages of Chã João Vaz, Cabo de Ribeira, where we stopped for a refreshing Fanta, and Chã Manuel dos Santos. As we got higher and higher, the view back down the valley became more and more impressive.

According to the guidebook, we would carry on past Chã Manuel and then “follow the finely crafted cobble path” so it came as no surprise to us when the road ran out just after Chã Manuel and became a cobbled path. Up, up, up it went, getting steeper and steeper with each switchback. The top of the hills had disappeared under the cloud that we could see was getting lower and lower and after an hour and a half on this path, we stopped for lunch – more tuna sandwiches! By this point, we shouldn’t have had more than 30-45 minutes left before we popped out at the crater so we continued on, through the cloud layer for another 2 hours! Finally, with some relief, we arrived at the top of the hill and popped out onto a road that encircled the crater.

To be honest, the crater was not as either of us had imagined. We had both imagined a completely circular caldera type crater, but what we were looking at was semi-circular with the front part collapsed and leading straight down to the sea. In fact, we could see all the way down to Porto Novo and even across the water to São Vicente. According to our trusty guide, we shouldn’t be able to do this until we had exited the crater on the other side. This was a source of confusion. Additionally, supposedly, we could walk either way around the crater and end up at the entrance, from where we were standing this didn’t seem quite possible. We took the road to the right, mostly because the book had said this was the shorter route and would take us half an hour. By this point, it was half an hour until we were meant to be meeting Alberto. Supposedly, the route would take us down into the crater but our road took us around the rim instead. After half an hour we could see that the routes right and left were never going to meet up again anytime soon and we really started to worry. Having another quick look at the map and we managed to reassure ourselves that we were in the right place. After all, we had followed the guidebook so we must be. At this point, the road bared round to the right and as we did, we could see that we met back up with the main road and just in the distance we could see an aluguer. That must be Alberto! Relieved that we had taken the correct path, we headed off towards the aluguer.

I could see an information board over on the right about the crater so we wandered over to read about it and when we got there, we saw, behind it, a perfectly round, caldera shaped crater! We could see a path through the middle of the crater and an entry point into the crater on the far side. But what this confirmed to us, was that where we had been was most definitely not the crater. And if we had turned left when we reached the top of the hill, on the assumption that both directions met up at the other side, goodness only knows where we would have ended up. Probably down at Porto Novo but only after another 4 hours. Luckily, the aluguer did belong to Alberto, but our French wasn’t good enough to ask him where the hell we had gone wrong and how we ended up in the wrong place. Having looked at maps since, we think maybe we should have turned off the main road shortly after our Fanta stop, but even so we aren’t completely sure! What we did grasp from the map, is that the hill we went up was approximately 200m higher than the one we should have gone up, which meant that our journey took a lot longer than the expected 4 hours.

Alberto drove us back along the old mountain route. This used to be the only way from Porto Novo to Riberia Grande until they built the coast road. It is quite a spectacular drive. We stopped for 10 mins at one photo point, where the road went along the top of two ribeiras – Ribeira Grande was on the right and Ribeira da Torre was on the left. We were 1200m above sea level and either side of us was an almost sheer vertical drop down to sea level. It was quite incredible.

We finally made it back to Ponta do Sol and crashed in the restaurant next door to our hotel. It was a mark of just how knackered we were that we were both so disappointed that we couldn’t get our favourite refreshing Fanta and had to settle for coke and sprite instead. We eventually struggled back to the hotel for a shower, before dinner and another early night!



Next: Mindelo, Santa Maria
Previous: The Coastal Hike - an accidental 8.5 hour hike!


Diary Photos
19th Jun 2018  Vale do Paul Hike

19th Jun 2018  Vale do Paul Hike

19th Jun 2018  Vale do Paul Hike

19th Jun 2018  Vale do Paul Hike

19th Jun 2018  Vale do Paul Hike

19th Jun 2018  Vale do Paul Hike

19th Jun 2018  Vale do Paul Hike

19th Jun 2018  Vale do Paul Hike
Into the clouds

19th Jun 2018  Vale do Paul Hike
Above the clouds

19th Jun 2018  Vale do Paul Hike
Above the clouds

19th Jun 2018  Vale do Paul Hike

19th Jun 2018  Vale do Paul Hike
We thought it was the crater!

19th Jun 2018  Vale do Paul Hike

19th Jun 2018  Vale do Paul Hike

19th Jun 2018  Vale do Paul Hike
The actual crater

19th Jun 2018  Vale do Paul Hike
The actual crater

19th Jun 2018  Vale do Paul Hike

19th Jun 2018  Vale do Paul Hike
Ribeira da Torre

19th Jun 2018  Vale do Paul Hike
Ribeira Grande

19th Jun 2018  Vale do Paul Hike
Diary Movies

Driving round Santo Antão


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