SÃO TOMÉ & PRÍNCIPE
IT’S NOT EASY TO GET TO WEST AFRICA’S ‘CHOCOLATE ISLES’, OFF THE COAST OF GABON, BUT ANY CONCERNS WILL MELT AWAY ONCE YOU REACH THESE EXQUISITE ENCLAVES
Justin Fox captures the allure of these isles off West Africa in pictures
HOW HE GOT THE SHOTS
Just before jumping into the editorial hot seat at Getaway, photojournalist Justin Fox was invited by Classic Portfolio to experience a number of eco lodges on São Tomé and Príncipe. South African entreprenuer Mark Shuttleworth has invested in the lodges to uplift these former Portuguese plantation islands. It’s not a budget holiday, so visiting is likely to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
It requires a flight from Joburg to Luanda (about R6 000 pp return) with TAAG Angola, then a connection to São Tomé on a Fri, Sun or Wed (about R5 100 pp return). Flights from Cape Town to Luanda (about R7 800 pp) return via Joburg. Flights between the islands cost R3400 return on Africa’s Connection. It’s warm all year round in the tropics; the rainy seasons are from October to December and March to May (although on Justin’s rainy-season trip there was plenty of sun). Activities include biosphere trails, island tours, community visits, plantation tours, scuba diving and snorkelling, boat trips, bird watching and monitoring turtles. Justin stayed at: Omali
Lodge, a boutique hotel on the beachfront in São Tomé town (from R2540 pp sharing);
Roça Sundy, on Príncipe, offers two colonial guest houses on a working plantation (from R2490 pp sharing); Praia Sundy has luxury
tented villas amid the forest on a private beach (from R7280 pp sharing). Any island stay can be tailor-made, but we recommend the seven-night, DBB package for R5 893 pp sharing per night, which includes stays at all three lodges, flights between São Tomé and Príncipe, transfers and island tours. Enquire about family packages. For reservations, email email@example.com (discoverprincipeisland.com). For info, call 021-876-2153. classic-portfolio.com
LEFT With volcanic peaks rising out of the ocean, impenetrable forests and isolated beaches, combined with a high density of endemic species, Príncipe is often referred to as the ‘Galápagos of Africa’. We took a boat from Praia Sundy to go snorkelling in the secluded bays of Príncipe Biosphere Reserve, which covers the southern half of the island.
BELOW The ribbed ceiling of the restaurant at Praia Sundy makes it feel as though you’re inside the stomach of an arboreal whale. Chefs use the island’s culinary traditions and natural bounty – plants sourced from the forests, and tuna and wahoo from the surrounding waters – to create unusual and delicious seasonal menus.