2024 m altitude, 2024 m prominence, 405.92 km isolation
The hotel offered us an early breakfast at 5am, but we politely declined as we were afraid it would take too long. We then drove for almost an hour to a resort where our guide, Zezito, was supposed to be waiting for us. When we arrived, the gates were locked and no one seemed to know anything about Zezito. We then went to the nearby village of Ponta Figo and asked around, only to find that everyone knew Zezito, but no one knew where he was. Finally, his family told us that he is waiting for us at the hotel. After checking again and finding no one there, we decided to walk and soon a motorbike with Zezito on it approached us – he only spoke Portuguese and French! We said bonjour and drove along a cobbled road to the start of the trail.
There is an aqueduct under the bridgePretty good road up to the old coffee farm ruinsZezito with Rob (left) Pile of eaten snail shells (right) Zezito is a very good and helpful guideThe Rubiaceae (??) family is commonly referred to as the coffee, madder, or bedstraw familyYellow creature, I had no great desire to investigate exactly what it was
After a few miles we parked, changed and were ready to go. To our delight, Zezito gave us boxes of food for dinner. We began our walk through the plantations, taking shortcuts between the serpentines of an old road to the ruins of a former coffee farm. Easy and comfortable walk
Rare glimpses of the nearby mountainsZezito (left) and Rob (right) taking a short breakRhododendron, Melastoma malabathricum ??Begonia molleri ??Rob on the lower summit of Pico PequeñoLovely grassy jungle on the ridgeA lot of rhododendrons at the topSteeper sections (photo by Rob)Good visibility into dense cloudRob (left) and me (right) on the summitTrig pillar with typical São Tomé inscription – 1916
We had an interesting trail and nature to explore, but not much to see. After the ruins the path got steeper but eventually we reached the lower summit with a shelter. The real summit was 600m to the west and there was a reasonably good trail leading up to it. There was a little re-ascent and some easy root scrambling before we reached the summit, which was marked by a concrete pillar with an inscription. Like many peaks on São Tomé, it was dated 1916. After twenty minutes of enjoying the clouds and a snack at the top, we descended by the same path.
The Hypolimnas misippus also known as Danaid eggfly, mimic or diadem, is a common species of nymphalid butterflyCinchona pubescens, also known as red cinchona and quinaOn the way downAnother quick look aroundHylodesmum repandum sometimes called ticktrefoils or tick-trefoils (left) A lot of breadfruit grows on the island (right)Official version: Poor monkey stuck between the branches, but somehow I have never seen or heard of such phenomena. Who knows.CostusRotten treeGinger or ginger root, Zingiber officinaleWalk along the stream with bridges
Zezito showed us various plants and berries and we found that Portuguese and French were not too difficult to communicate in. Although it’s not technically necessary to have a guide, I would highly recommend hiring one, especially one as professional as Zezito.
Down below, we are the clouds again (left) Giant trees (right))Streams belowBack at the trailhead
Now that the core plan is complete, we have the freestyle programme. Our main interest is still to reach the high peaks. The Pico Cão Grande impressive, although technically difficult, is a 5.14 rock climb, few others are difficult to access. But tomorrow we will find few opportunities. Today, as time and daylight are limited, we will just stop at a random spot near the village of Diogo Vaz and enjoy the sunset.
Pico de São Tomé
2024 m altitude
2024 m prominence
405.92 km isolation
West Africa Mountains - Bight of Benin
São Tomé and Príncipe - São Tomé Province
9.00 km up
9.00 km down
1652 m gain
1652 m loss
370 m altitude
Passing through the village of Ponta Figo, we drove a few more kilometres along the cobbled road and parked the car on one of the bends. We then walked along a reasonably good, old, overgrown road with a few shortcuts. At one point we walked along the top of an aqueduct. From the old coffee farm ruins we climbed steeper jungle slopes, but never too steep or slippery. Most of the way to the top is in the shade. The lower summit was grassy and quite flat with a few trees. The path to the summit was not bad either, with some small re-ascents and a few steep root scrambles. The descent was fast enough, although slower than expected.
A few steeper sections of easy root scrambling before the summit can be slippery in the rain