Had an amazing day in Sao Tome. This morning I went with a local guide, after hiring a car for the day, and a young, shy, local lady to Ilheu das Rolas – a small tropical island just off the southern tip of Sao Tome island.
It took a good 2 hours to drive there, what with winding and twisting roads and the many potholes. Several parts of the roads were rock and gravel tracks, which made for a fun and bumpy ride!
Once at Ponta Baleia (Wales Point), Sao Tome’s southernmost point. We headed to Hotel Yamy to take a small wooden boat with an engine for the 3 km journey to Ilheu das Rolas itself. The fast, bumpy ride took roughly 20 minutes. I was picked up and carried into the small craft, to save me getting my shoes and clothes wet – a very kind gesture!
A return trip by this boat costs 10 Euros for tourists and Sao Tomians, tour guides go free!
Upon being deposited on Ilheu das Rolas, we headed up the steep sandy beach and ascended the steep rocky slope in the only village. I could smell fish being cooked on wood-burning fires – the smell of smoke was strong.
We made our way over rough and loose rocks and stones, continuing uphill, eventually entering the dense forest, where we were all eaten alive by mosquitoes. Our destination: the marker or monument to the Equator, which passes through Ilheu das Rolas. The small rocky and tree-covered island was discovered by Portuguese navigators in the late 15th century. Apparently, there are just over 70 inhabitants on the island. We heard kids running around and birdsong in the trees. With some effort and me constantly banging my feet and tripping, we made it up the steep hill and found the concrete or stone marker to the location of the Equator. A line on the ground marks where the Equator is meant to pass through. Maps on the ground identify the other continents with regards to the Equator. After photo-taking. We continued through the forest on a long walk/hike that consisted of pushing our way through thick forest and stepping over and/or, tripping on rocks, stones, tree branches, small logs and thick grass or bush. Our destination: a small blow hole on one side of the island – not an easy hike in thick forest with hardly a trail to follow whilst continuously being attacked by mosquitoes, a permanent pest of African nations, and some of these ones carry malaria!
After a long and hard walk, we finally emerged from the forest and found ourselves on rocky terrain above the sea. I heard the waves crashing on the rocks, a tremendous, powerful sound! We made our way over the rocks and, finally, clambered down onto a beach to where the blow hole sat in front of us. At first, silence, then, bang, and a big wave, with white water, shot up out of this hole in a rock. The sound and energy created, was amazing. After experiencing the blow hole’s spectacular efforts for several minutes. We began our hard walk back most of the way we’d come. I became tired and stopped frequently as, after re-entering the forest, it became more humid again. Eventually, we made it back to the village, the last part being back down the steep rocky hill we’d ascended at the beginning of our adventure. Once back at the beach, we relaxed and waited for the small boat to return us to Sao Tome. Back on the main island, we jumped in the vehicle for the long, twisty and bumpy drive back to the main city.
Now relaxing. Next stop, Windhoek, Namibia – via a wait of several hours in Luanda international airport, capital of Angola!
One other bit of interesting news, I was granted an e-visa to Gabon today! Unfortunately, it arrived too late and I changed travel plans! I was, originally, meant to arrive into Libreville, Gabon tomorrow evening! :) Such is life on the road. Stay safe, be well, Tony the
Vids coming soon!