São Tomé and Príncipe
São Tomé and Príncipe
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São Tomé and Príncipe is an island country located in the Gulf of Guinea off the wesern equatorial coast of Central Africa. The country consists of two archipelagos around the two main islands of São Tomé and Príncipe which are around 140km apart and is the second-smallest and second-least populous African sovereign state after Seychelles as well as the smallest and least populous Portuguese-speaking country. The islands were created by volcanic activity more than 30 million years ago and its vibrant rainforests are amongst the most biodiverse on the planet.
Príncipe is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and is home to several endemic terrestrial and marine species. Sometimes called the Galapagos of Africa, São Tomé and Príncipe do not fall short in comparison. The avifauna of these two African islands hold 27 endemic species, while the famous Galapagos islands hold 21 in an area that is eight times larger. The islands are home to the world's smallest ibis (the São Tomé ibis), the world's largest sunbird (the giant sunbird), the rare São Tomé fiscal and several giant species of Begonia. São Tomé and Principe is an important marine turtle-nesting site including the hawksbill turtles.
The islands were uninhabited until their discovery by Portuguese explorers in the 15th century. Gradually colonized and settled by the Portuguese throughout the 16th century, they collectively served as a vital commercial and trade center for the Atlantic slave trade. The rich volcanic soil and proximity to the equator made São Tomé and Príncipe ideal for sugar cultivation, followed later by cash crops such as coffee and cocoa; the lucrative plantation economy was heavily dependent upon imported African slaves. Cycles of social unrest and economic instability throughout the 19th and 20th centuries culminated in peaceful independence in 1975. São Tomé and Príncipe has since remained one of Africa's most stable and democratic countries.
The people of São Tomé and Príncipe are predominantly of African and mestiço descent with most practicing Catholic Christianity. The legacy of Portuguese rule is also visible in the country's culture, customs and music which fuse European and African influences. São Tomé and Príncipe is a founding member state of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries.
Staple foods include fish, seafood, beans, maize and cooked banana. Tropical fruits such as pineapple, avocado, and bananas are commonly used and hot spices are prominent in São Tomése cuisine. Coffee is used in various dishes as a spice or seasoning. Breakfast dishes are often reheated leftovers from the previous evening's meal and omelettes are popular.
For travellers seeking to discover this tiny paradise, HBD Príncipe offers three hotels and guided activitie - we recommend spending at least a week here to have the chance to explore the islands fully.
Sundy Praia - creating the perfect balance between nature, design and comfort Sundy Praia’s tented villas have spacious indoor and outdoor areas and private terraces with easy access to the beach. The pool bar with the infinity pool and relaxed style is the epicentre of activity during the day, while the magnificently designed bamboo dining area is where local organic produce is transformed into an unforgettable culinary journey. All 14 villas are built with natural eco-friendly materials. Choose from 8 one-bedroom forest villas, 4 two-bedroom beachfront villas, or 2 three-bedroom beachfront villas. Each is en-suite with a lounge and wraparound terrace area. The 3-bedroom villa also has a plunge pool to enjoy in the privacy of your own space. Sundy Praia is open all year round and welcomes children of all ages.
At Roça Sundy, the history of Príncipe comes alive. Stay in one of two perfectly-restored plantation houses: Eclipse, the main house of the roça and home to the restaurant and bar, or Cacao, her contemporary sister. Old memories and fascinating history combine at Roça and guests will share this extraordinary experience with the local community who still live, work and go to school here. Eclipse House, with 6 rooms, has 3 panoramic view rooms on the first floor, 2 of which can be inter-leading. The ground floor has the 3 remaining rooms, 1 suite and 2 yard rooms, as well as the restaurant and bar. Cacao House has one suite, and 4 each of yard and panoramic view rooms. Roça Sundy is open all year round and welcomes children of all ages.
Omali Lodge is perfectly situated close to the airport, the capital centre and the beach and is the natural choice for those who want to visit the island. The lodge has 30 rooms - classic rooms, premier rooms, suites, and family rooms. Omali, meaning ocean and source of life, is renowned for its wonderful garden, grounds and swimming pool offering a variety of quiet places to relax and enjoy the “Leve Leve” lifestyle of the island. Taste the different dishes and flavours served at Omali’s restaurant to complete your experience. Omali Lodge is open all year round and welcomes children of all ages.
COMMITTED TO SUSTAINABILITY
HBD’s mission is to become a global inspiration through sustainable integrated ecotourism, agroforestry, support services, and social initiatives. HBD Príncipe has a mission to preserve and enhance the ecosystem of Príncipe and the surrounding waters and islets. This is achieved by contributing to the sustainable development of the economy, infrastructure, tourism, agroforestry and fisheries, and by stimulating the well-being, potential and creativity of its people.
São Tomé and Príncipe receives fewer than 35,000 tourists on an annual basis with even fewer making it to the smaller of the two islands, Príncipe. The economic impact of every traveller positively contributes to the local communities and natural environment by providing an alternative to more extractive practices through high-value low-impact tourism.
Every stay contributes through:
- Paying Euro 25 per person (12+ years; under 12 years is Euro 10) per day Conservation & Communities Levy.
- 100% of the Levy supports the HBD vision and commitment to sustainable operations, which include being stewards of the island through environmental protection and conservation efforts.
- Through paying the Levy you are also supporting the local nonprofit Fundação Príncipe, which is dedicated to the island’s conservation and protection of biodiversity.
- Partaking in guided experiences with local guides who have been trained by HBD Príncipe. This supports both local communities as well as the preservation of the natural environment.
- Enjoying meals at Sundy Praia and Roça Sundy, which supports the farming operations of Paciência, HBD’s organic agricultural operations. Menus are designed using as much local produce as possible.
- On forest walks, get involved in searching for endemic bird species some of which are considered critically endangered. Tourism interest drives awareness among Santomeans and gains local support for conservation. These species are now being promoted as symbols of forest conservation in the islands.
- Engage with the communities through eating out in restaurants in the capital city Santo António (the smallest capital city in the world).
- During turtle laying and hatching season, join the checking of nests and view the turtles. Primarily, 3 types of turtle use these beaches for nesting.
Tracks Safaris are delighted to offer São Tomé and Príncipe Islands - please contact us for further information on 01984 667420 or email [email protected] to start planning your adventure!