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Destinations Africa & Madagascar Trips Sao Tome Holidays & Tours

Sao Tome Holidays & Tours

São Tomé and Príncipe is Africa’s second smallest country, made up of two tiny volcanic islands off the coast of Gabon to the west of the continent. A one time Portuguese colony, these islands have their own unique identity that’s part African, part colonial European, part Caribbean but 100% relaxed.

The overriding attitude on the islands is known as leve leve, which loosely translated means ‘take it easy’. It’s a mantra that most of the inhabitants swear by, which makes it one of the world’s most laid back destinations. Without the huge swathes of jungle to explore that you find on the mainland, visitors have to content themselves with scintillating Atlantic beaches, snorkelling in pristine waters and hiking the volcanic hills and trails. It’s a tough life but someone has to do it.

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The islands may not be huge but there is enough rainforest here to be home to thousands of animal species. In fact, for their size, the islands are one of the most ecologically diverse places on the planet. Their island nature has contributed to a unique and varied ecosystem that’s a joy to explore.

In the summer months, take a boat out and spot whales and turtles all around the islands. It’s little wonder that they’ve chosen to hang out here too. Drag yourself away from the palm lined beaches for a few more hours and you can discover a network of pathways taking you past hidden waterfalls and rock formations. Canoe through mangrove swamps, pass through fishing villages and stand on the equator which passes right through.

As well as the natural world, São Tomé also boasts a fascinating if turbulent history. There is a large number of historically important buildings here dating back to the colonial era. It’s also home to vast coffee and chocolate plantations, which produce some of the world’s finest varieties of each. Some of the old plantation estates are in themselves worthy of a visit.

Thankfully, São Tomé and Príncipe remain largely undeveloped and affected by mass tourism. There are no large-scale resorts and hotels. In fact, the little tourism trade that does exist is locally run and focused around eco lodges and sustainable tourism. This kind of industry fits perfectly with the prevailing mind set on the islands – that of being relaxed, laid back and letting the beautiful natural environment take care of the rest.

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