São Tomé and Príncipe is a country comprised of two truly wild & untouched islands in the Gulf of Guinea, off the coast of West Africa. Often described as the “African Galapagos”, these islands offer a rare glimpse into the natural world stood still for hundreds of years. If you are looking for an outdoors adventure miles off the beaten tourist track, then the leafy paradise of São Tomé and Príncipe may just be exactly what you are looking for.
São Tomé, the southern and larger island, is where your plane will land – some like to spend a few days here exploring the capital; seeing how the locals live & learning about the rich history of the country. However, many like to take a flight the next day up to Príncipe Island and immerse themselves in the incredible nature it is so heralded for.
Upon arrival, many notice how the wildlife is not cautious around humans – the birds do not fly away, rather curiously watch you from a nearby perch. Much like Ecuador’s Galapagos, because these islands have never been connected to mainland, they have their own unique eco-system, species & captivating atmosphere.
Today, although the economy has struggled since its independence in 1975 from the Portuguese, it is a very peaceful country and opens its arms to the tourism industry, hopefully without losing its undiscovered charm which makes it such a magical holiday destination.
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Where is São Tomé and Príncipe
São Tomé and Príncipe is located off the West coast of Africa, with its closest mainland countries being Gambon for the bigger São Tomé Island, and Equatorial Guinea for Príncipe Island. The Islands are around 140km apart from each other and are located around 225km off the coast line in the Gulf of Guinea.
What is the capital of São Tomé and Príncipe?
Confusingly, São Tomé is actually the capital of both the islands (São Tomé and Príncipe). It can be an interesting place to spend a day or two learning about its Portuguese colonial history – the capital was first the centre for the Atlantic slave trade, and then was a hugely productive spot for coffee and cocoa cultivation. Today, the locals are relaxed and friendly, adding a huge amount of charisma of visiting the country that time forgot.
How to get to São Tomé and Príncipe?
Sao Tome and Principe is not the easiest country in the world to get to but being off the beaten tourist track means you mostly have the islands to yourself, so we wouldn’t want it any other way. From many destinations around the world, the mainland connecting airport from your flights coming into West Africa is usually Kotoka International Airport in Accra, Ghana. From here, to get to Sao Tome is around 1hr 40minutes. Not too difficult, but many times you may have to overnight in Accra before flying out the next day, which isn’t always a bad thing as this will allow you to recharge your batteries so you can fully enjoy all of your time on the islands. Flights from Sao Tome to Principe Island operate daily.