In the Footsteps of Tusk – São Tomé & Príncipe
With coordinates 1°N,7°E, São Tomé and Príncipe is located at the centre of the world. Created by volcanic activity millions of years ago, these striking islands rise out of the Gulf of Guinea and the vibrant rainforests are amongst the most biodiverse on the planet. Remnants of it's gripping past remain on the island with historic roças and cacao plantations which are, through eco tourism, being resurrected.
Day 1 - 2
International flights arrive into São Tomé, the larger of the two islands, and the hub connecting onto Príncipe. The Portuguese influence is evident in the centre of São Tomé city, with beautiful buildings retained from the 16th and 17th-century, oozing colonial charm. Today, these buildings with rounded balconies and high arched windows are now used as offices, shops, pharmacies and bakeries. A good introduction to the island life before catching a short flight over the Gulf of Guinea on to dramatic landscape of Príncipe island the following day.
Day 3 - 5
Príncipe - Roça Sundy
Once the island’s largest cacao producing farm, the Roça was at the heart of the community. Today, the 18th and 19th century buildings have been beautifully restored with high ceilings, wide columned verandas and soft interiors. Your days are yours to create as they take you. The rainforest has many walks of discovery, past crumbling stone ruins and waterfalls. A visit to the agroforestry plantation and small batch chocolate factory is a must as well as a 4×4 trip of the northern point of the island, enjoying lunch in the worlds smallest capital city, Santo António.
Day 6 - 9
Príncipe - Praia Sundy
Peering out onto the Gulf of Mexico, Praia Sunday is a tented eco-retreat where it is hard not to lose track of time and relax into the rhythm of the ocean waves and chattering parrots. The water here is warm year round with little tidal change making it an idyllic swimming spot. Being on the coast is the best time to explore the coves and beaches of the impenetrable biosphere in the south of the island, with its prehistoric phonolite towers rising dramatically from the landscape. Whether strolling along caramel-coloured sands, swimming in the azure ocean, dining on forest-to-fork cuisine, enjoying a coffee-bean chiromassage in the wellness centre, sipping a Count of Cajamanga cocktail poolside, this is all about re-charging…
Programa Tato is an initiative, based on São Tomé, dedicated to protecting sea turtles through the sustainable management of the main habitats of sea turtles, their nesting beaches and foraging grounds on the sea. A key success is the increased involvement, motivation and sense of ownership in their work from local communities. This is essential an essential requirement when looking at the long term sustainability of turtle conservation on the islands of São Tomé and Príncipe. One of their leaders, Hipolito Lima, was the winner of the Prince William Conservation in Africa Award in 2020.
STAY: São Tomé is the larger and most populated of the two islands. A night here is needed before connecting onto Príncipe in the morning.
The island is a melting pot of influences and a walk around the town is a good way to get an initial feel of it’s character and history.
An island like no other. This short flight from São Tomé takes you to this other worldly island.
A small but bustling community – the old railway line used to transport the cacao on the island.
In the sensitively restored Roça (farm). This was the largest cacao producing farm on the island and, with the return of tourism, is, once again, the largest employer on the island.
A selection of fruits, vegetables and herbs are grown organically and picked by the HBD horticulture team for chefs to incorporate into their menu.
Farm to Fork cuisine: throughout your stay on Príncipe you will taste the fresh flavours of the island.
Views from the Roça, over the island.
Experience: Understand Príncipe’s agricultural past on a curated ‘tree-to-table’ experience, which vividly brings the island’s chocolate story to life. The islands agroforestry plantation and small-batch chocolate factory takes you through the whole process from growing the cacao through to tasting a range of delicious, cacao-packed treats.
Hiking through the lush trails of the rainforest.
Discover the abandoned ruins of Príncipe, which are so overgrown by vegetation they have become part of the forest.
Beaches of the island: many coves to explore by boat across glittering turquoise waters to the enchanting beaches of Príncipe’s north-eastern coast, including photogenic Praia Banana and Praia Boi.
A pristine, secluded, tented camp sitting between the rainforest and ocean.
Inspiring, modern architecture in keeping with its lush surroundings.
Find a secluded beach, all to yourself.
Swim in hidden waterfalls on the trail walks