Fogo – the vulcanic island

 

Fogo (Portuguese for “fire”) is an island in the Sotavento group of Cape Verde. It is the most prominent of the group, rising to nearly 3,000 m (10,000 ft) above sea level at Pico do Fogo.

The best way to start the climb to Pico de Fogo is from the little town of Chã das Caldeiras. The path takes about six hours from here – after all, there is a 1000-metre difference in elevation to climb. Good footwear is absolutely necessary due to sections of the route that are steep and others that pass through fine scree (volcanic ash).  Most visitors leave their shoes behind after coming back down again, because they are absolutely destroyed…

Never do this climb without a professional guide!!!  Book your guide beforehand: info@cabocontact.com.

-> Check our special excursion package: 3 days accommodation and excursions on Fogo

 

 

Vineyards and coffee plantations provide aromatic and unique moments during the tours to the plantations.  Enjoy these moments and indulge Fogo wine and coffee, grown in the inhospitable volcanic areas, with microclimates that give them unique flavours and aromas.

Interesting video about how coffee is made in Fogo: http://www.rtc.cv/tcv/index.php?paginas=13&id_cod=28302

*

Read more about Fogo wine:

Maria Chaves vineyard 

 

 

Geography

The island is located between the islands of Santiago and Brava. Practically the whole island is an active volcano that has been periodically active, last erupting in 1995, forming a new crater called Pico Pequeno. Its largest feature is a 9 km wide caldera, which has walls 1 km high. The caldera has a breach in its eastern rim, and a large peak rises in the centre. The central cone forms the highest point of the island and its summit is about 100 m higher than the surrounding wall of the caldera. Lava from the volcano has reached the eastern coast of the island within historical times.

A small village, called Chã das Caldeiras, exists within the caldera of the volcano, and the residents are periodically evacuated during eruptions.

The island’s main city is São Filipe, near which is an airport. First settled in the 1480s, it is largely an agricultural island. The islands also houses schools, a gymnasium, banks, a post office, some hotels and squares (praças).

Fogo has fertile land in the southwest with a slope of about 10 to 15 degrees. The north and the east are steep. The island rises abruptly from the ocean, which can be as deep as 5,300 m at a distance of 5 km from the shoreline. The exception is to the west, where the island is connected to another seamount, further west in Brava.

The slopes in the northeastern part are green and grassy all-year round. The rest of the mountain is dry and barren. One of the southernmost islands in Cape Verde, Fogo receives the most precipitation. The creeks and streams are dry all-year round.

São Filipe’s buildings use classic Portuguese colonial architecture. Mosteiros in the northeast is the island’s second most important town.

A violent eruption took place in 1680. The mountain of the island was visible over hundreds of kilometres and lasted for a few years. It was during this eruption that the island earned its name.

There are various endemic plants on Fogo:

How to get to Fogo?

The Fast Ferry Kriola has room for 164 Passengers and up to 26 cars.  The ferry is comfortable, fast and reliable on the route Praia (capital of Santiago island) - Fogo island - Brava island.

You can fly from Praia (Santiago island) to São Felipe airport in Fogo with the Cape Verdean airline company TACV.

Where to stay?

There’s one hotel and a range of boarding houses in São Filipe.  In Mosteiros you’ll find some boarding houses and one hostel.  Let us know what type of accommodation you wish: info@cabocontact.com.

Transport

A paved road goes around the island and connects the city of São Filipe in the West coast with the village of Mosteiros in the North extreme point (the place where they grow the famous Café de Fogo).

There are regular public transports between both villages, departing from São Filipe in the morning, for about 600CVE.

The inverse trip leaves Mosteiros at 05:30 in the morning.

Departures from São Filipe:

To Chã de Caldeiras: mornings and early afternoons (300CVE)

To São Jorge: between 10:30 and 11:30 in the morning (300CVE)

Ask for more info about roundtrips with or without guides: info@cabocontact.com.  You might also consider to rent a car.

Places to visit

Points of interest on the Island are:

1. Hike one or more of the 5 suggested routes (details available), many of which include parts of the volcano.

2. Take time to appreciate Chã das Caldeiras, the agriculture, the attempts to develop an ecology and the people, some have blue eyes and blond hair and are said to be descendants of the prolific Duc de Montrand, a Frenchman who settle on Fogo in 1872 and introduced the first vines. He also laid the road from Sao Felipe to the crater, sank wells and was involved in introducing medicinal herbs.

3. Observe the “Sobrado” architecture in Sao Felipe. These colonial houses for the wealthy were two storied and built around a cool shady courtyard off which were the staff quarters and working rooms. The first floor housed the family with a balcony facing onto the courtyard on 3 sides and a delicately carved balcony overlooking the street at the front.

Nightlife

Live music is played during weekends in some bars in São Filipe, but most of the time there’s not much going on at night.

Cuisine

Restaurants and bars are available in the city of São Filipe.  In Chã de Caldeiras and Mosteiros you will find only few places to eat.

Hospitals and health centers

Delegação de Saúde  do Fogo – São Filipe tel. 281 27 75

Hospital de Mosteiros tel. 283 10 34

Posto Sanitário S. Francisco – Achada São Filipe tel. 281 20 98

 

History

Fogo was discovered in 1460 by a Genovese captain António Noli and was first called São Filipe meaning Saint Philip in Portuguese.

The Portuguese settled the island in 1500. The island used to have slavery. Emigration started in 1850, mainly to North America. The 1910 civil revolution in Portugal drew aristocracy and large landowners back to Portugal and left civilians behind. A small museum on Fogo explains many of these connections.

There was also an eruption in 1995

Economy

The economy of the island is based on agriculture and fishing, with coffee and wine among the main products. Many private households live off remittances from emigrants in the US and other countries as the island has a substantial diaspora. Many emigrants send some money to their relatives in the island even if the senders and receivers no longer know each other.

Tourism is steadily becoming popular. The volcano is the island’s major attraction but many visitors also come to see relatives. The historic city of São Filipe and Chã das Caldeiras in the volcanic crater receive the bulk of visitors.

 

Municipalities

Languages

As in the rest of Cape Verde, Portuguese is the official language but in daily life people speak the Fogo dialect of Cape Verdean Creole.

Notable residents