The stratovolcano ‘Pico Do Fogo’ is the highest mountain in cape verde. The volcano, with its 2829 meters altitude, looks out in a beautiful (and almost apocalyptic) setting. If you see the volcano, it seems to have been drawn by a child’s hand. A volcano can’t look more typical.
Pico Do Fogo’s last eruption dates back to 2014. Our stayings were built on a lava field that destroyed the village (Cha Das Caldeiras). Although we were 5 years away, the floor still gave off a lot of heat. Outside it cooled off quickly (we were at 1700 meters altitude) but all the windows remained open to drain the heat.
The ascent of Pico Do Fogo can only be done with a guide. The guides can easily be arranged a day in advance on site. Because we were with 12, we asked 2 guides. Keep in mind you can’t communicate well with the English language in Cape Verde. Portuguese is the local language, but with Spanish and French you can already make yourself a whole lot more understandable.
The burden of the ascent goes like the shape of the volcano: gradually in the beginning, but the higher you come, the steeper and rocky it gets. Every time you look away from the volcano you are rewarded with a beautiful view. After a good 1100 altimeters (4 to 7 hours of walking), you are at the crater where you see some smoke coming out from time to time. Sometimes you can still smell sulfur from the crater. The ascent itself has few technical difficulties. To climb it at a solid pace, you have to have a good stamina.
But the best part has yet to come. The first part of the descent still goes through rocky area with lots of loose stones (here you have to pay a little attention). Once you’re past the rocky zone, you can hop into the ashes. A very nice experience that invites you to do tricks like walking backwards and making distant jumps. A rest break in the soft ash in the sun is also highly recommended. Meanwhile, you can enjoy the view!
If the ascent of Pico Do Fogo seems a bit too heavy, there are all kinds of other walks in the national park. The local guides will be happy to take you through this beautiful location. You can, among other things, visit the crater where the last eruption took place. Be sure to taste the local wines when you’re there.
Hikers visiting Cape Verde don’t always visit this island to visit Santo Antão instead. I recommend to visit Fogo also because it would be a shame to miss this unique place. The photos speak volumes! You can get there via a domestic flight or by boat from other islands. We got there through Santiago. If you have questions, you can comment below or contact me via the contact page.
Are you an hiker yourself? Then this post about three nice walks in the Ardennes might also interest you.