São Tomé & Príncipe,

The Essence of Sao Tome & Principe: Small Group Tour

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Group Tour
15 Days
From 3693
Birding
Beach
Snorkelling and Diving

Tour Introduction

15 Days from 3693 per adult. Prices based on rates applicable at the time of costing which may vary. Please ask for a definitive quote

If you really want to get under the skin of a new destination, what better than to join a small group tour led by its premier guidebook author. Our first ever small group trip to STP will be accompanied by experienced tour leader Kathleen Becker, author of the Bradt guide to Sao Tome & Principe, now in its third edition. Based in Lisbon, Kathleen is very personable, speaks fluent Portuguese and knows STP like no other (even the locals). When not writing and leading groups throughout Portugal, Kathleen spends a good part of each year in STP exploring new attractions and updating her unparalleled knowledge of the country. She will take you to locations not usually seen by outsiders and provide invaluable background information about the islands’ natural and human history.

Participants will stay in the best hotel in São Tomé town, two atmospheric colonial plantation estates, an ecolodge right by a turtle beach, and a long-established, recently refurbished coastal resort. There will be numerous included tours and excursions – on foot, by car and by boat – to walk in wilderness, marvel at mangroves and mudskippers, spot endemic birdlife, wander to waterfalls, bathe off beaches, visit a chocolate factory, watch cetaceans and snorkel among tropical marine life.

We will have the chance to meet turtle conservationist, Senhor Hipólito Lima, recipient of the 2020 Prince William Foundation Conservation Award (you can see a video about him here), and the British honorary consul to STP, Jane Pereira, as well as visit a successful community turtle project on Príncipe. All the above and more mean you will have a marvellously memorable trip to a unique West African island nation known only to a privileged few.

Minimum number of guests: 6

Maximum number of guests: 10

Full Itinerary

Price from 3693 per adult. Based on sharing double / twin rooms
Day 1
Lisbon

Depart London Heathrow on TAP. Arrive Lisbon. OPTIONAL: Transfer to hotel. Staying at Star Inn or similar airport hotel (hotel cost not included - we can book the Star Inn for you). NB: Should you wish to arrive one or more days earlier, stay at a different hotel and enjoy time to explore Lisbon, please book that yourself and inform us of your details.

Staying at Hotel of your choice. Includes No Meals.

Day 2
Sao Tome

Meet at Lisbon airport check in. Depart on TAP. Brief stop in Accra (no plane change). Arrive São Tomé airport. Met and transfer to your nearby hotel. Time to relax and settle in. Briefing and welcome dinner at the hotel, with the opportunity to change money. Staying at Omali Beach Resort. Dinner included.

Staying at Omali Sao Tome. Includes Dinner.

Day 3
Sao Tome

After an early breakfast, we take a boat trip to the north of São Tomé for cetacean-watching and a visit to the eco museum at Morro Peixe. We meet local turtle conservation hero, Senhor Hipólito Lima - proud recipient of the 2020 Prince William Foundation Conservation Award - followed by a simple lunch. Return to the hotel, then later in the afternoon, we pay a visit to Claudio Corallo’s chocolate factory for a private tasting of some of the finest chocolates in the world and an opportunity for shopping, followed by dinner at the Jasmin Garden restaurant.

Staying at Omali Sao Tome. Includes All Meals.

Day 4
Sao Tome

Today we travel inland to Bom Sucesso and ascend to an altitude of 1,100m. Hike up to Lagoa Amélia through primary rainforest and bamboo groves and venture into an extinct volcanic crater for the world’s biggest begonias. Enjoy a picnic lunch followed by a visit to Bom Sucesso botanical gardens including the Forest Giants snail project. Return to the hotel for lunch. In the early evening, pay a visit to the British honorary consul Jane Pereira’s gardens to learn about the various plants and trees she’s cultivated. Her daughter, Alex, will prepare a light dinner, including vegetarian options.

Staying at Omali Sao Tome. Includes All Meals.

Day 5
Principe

Short transfer to São Tomé airport. Catch the flight to Principe. Transfer to tiny Santo Antonio - the world’s smallest capital city according to the Guinness Book of Records - to meet a member of the Príncipe Trust and learn about their conservation work. Lunch in a Santo António venue, then transfer to your new hotel, a beautifully converted plantation estate house. Check in and learn about the plantation’s history, including its role in proving Einstein’s theories a century ago. You will see your first African grey parrots flying wild.

Staying at Roca Sundy. Includes All Meals.

Day 6
Principe

Transfer to the trailhead for a circa three hour botanical hike on a UNESCO Biosphere Trail through dense jungle to Oquê Pipí waterfall. Prepare to get soaked by the spray and make sure to bring a swimsuit for a refreshing swim in the natural pool, popular with local wildlife. Picnic lunch at Jockey’s Cap viewpoint (weather permitting). Return to the hotel for a free afternoon. At around 5.30pm, walk for half an hour (or be driven) down to the coast for a Dinner Spectacular at the wonderful Sundy Praia resort’s gourmet restaurant. Short transfer back to the Roça.

Staying at Roca Sundy. Includes All Meals.

Day 7
Principe

After breakfast, we transfer to the coast and a beautiful, recently refurbished beach resort. Enjoy a pool lunch at the resort, if desired, before room check-in in the early afternoon. Free afternoon for swimming, paddle boarding, snorkelling and relaxing at the resort’s fine sandy beaches.

Staying at Bom Bom Island Resort. Includes Breakfast and Dinner.

Day 8
Principe

Transfer to the authentically restored plantation house of Roça Belo Monte, now a boutique hotel. Walk for 25 minutes down to the lovely Banana Beach where there is a bar and loungers. You can also walk along the beach to the Praia das Burras fishing community. After perhaps a snack lunch on Belo Monte’s terrace with stunning view, visit the on-site combined history and natural history museum and (if available) learn from the resident scientist. Return to our beach resort.

Staying at Bom Bom Island Resort. Includes Breakfast and Dinner.

Day 9

Morning transfer for a circular wildlife walk taking in Ribeira Izé with its beach and the atmospheric ruins of the first Portuguese settlement on Principe. In the afternoon, transfer to Praia Grande to walk along the beach and visit the rustic Turtle Museum and conservation project. If possible, watch hatchlings being released.

Staying at Bom Bom Island Resort. Includes Breakfast and Dinner.

Day 10
Sao Tome

Morning flight from Príncipe to São Tomé. On arrival, head south along the east coast road for a visit to the Boca do Inferno blowhole and iconic Sete Ondas beach for land crabs, sand dollars and a short dip in the sea. Have a late lunch at the hilltop Mionga restaurant with views over São João beach. Continue to a charming, historic roça nearby. Leisurely birding time around the garden. Staying at Roça São João.

Staying at Roca Sao Joao. Includes All Meals.

Day 11
Sao Tome

Depart for an early morning birdwatching hike with local birding guide around the Monte Carmo area to seek out endemic species. On return, enjoy a delicious 15-course tasting lunch at Roça São João. The rest of afternoon is free for you to explore the village or walk an easy trail behind the Roça.

Staying at Roca Sao Joao. Includes All Meals.

Day 12
Sao Tome

In the rarly morning we transfer south via Cão Grande viewpoint and take breakfast at Praia Pesqueira waterfall, followed by a canoe tour of the Malanza mangroves to seek kingfishers, herons and monkeys. Option 1: Take a snack lunch and walk to Porto Alegre on a back road and hike onwards to the wonderful beaches of Piscina and the famous Jalé turtle beach for beachcombing. Pick up at Jalé and transfer to Praia Inhame Eco Lodge which is just beyond Porto Alegre. Option 2: Drop off at Praia Inhame Eco Lodge to check in and relax on their terrace by the sea or take a dip; snack lunch provided. While staying at Praia Inhame there is a chance to see turtles laying eggs.

Staying at Praia Inhame Eco Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 13
Sao Tome

Morning transfer to Ponta Baleia for a short boat ride to the island of Ilhéu das Rolas to cross the equator on a scenic island hike. We will enjoy a beachfront lunch at the stunning Praia Café followed by a rousing boat adventure up the wild, uninhabited west coast with its lush primary forests, tiny islets and flamboyant blowholes, to São Tomé town. The evening is set aside for a farewell supper in the hotel restaurant.

Staying at Omali Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 14
Sao Tome

Today you are free to relax, swim in the hotel pool or explore the busy town of São Tomé, perhaps visiting the National Museum and CACAU Arts Centre. On the way to the airport we’ll stop at the Diogo Vaz Chocolateria, a charming air-conditioned place with free chocolate tastings, before flying out on TAP to Lisbon.

Staying at Omali Lodge. Includes Breakfast.

Day 15
Lisbon

Arrive Lisbon in the early morning. Connect onwards to London Heathrow and elsewhere.

Includes In-flight Meals.

Tour Accommodation

São Tomé & Príncipe São Tomé Island

Omali Sao Tome

Overview

Omali is, in our opinion, the best hotel in Sao Tome town. It enjoys a beachfront location on the outskirts and very close to the airport. The air-conditioned suites are built around the swimming pool, all set within well-kept gardens which attract many birds. Snacks and drinks can be enjoyed at the Leve Leve pool bar and main meals taken in the restaurant or outside on the verandah. The restaurant serves dishes which are varied and appetising and the bar has a good range of international spirits.

Swimming Pool
Yes
Air Conditioning
Yes
Rooms
30
Facilities

Restaurant, bar, beachfront location, Wi-Fi in the common areas, 24-hour reception with safe deposit boxes and currency exchange, souvenir shop, laundry facilities, tennis courts, gym, satellite TV, swimming pool with snack bar, airport transfers, free guest car parking.

Local Wildlife

Many species of birds visit the hotel gardens

Optional Activities

A wide range of guided tours and excursions, including boat trips, can be booked at the hotel for exploration of Sao Tome island.

São Tomé & Príncipe Príncipe Island

Hotel Roca Sundy

Overview

Built in 1921, the colonial plantation house of Roca Sundy has been converted into one of the country’s best loved hotels. The estate, which grew coffee as well as coco, is the largest on Principe. The main building, once the owner’s house, holds the restaurant and bar as well as six spacious rooms, while the annex contains nine more. The grounds are being tidied up and there are plans for a swimming pool and other improvements. In the grounds stands the huge derelict hospital, and there are trails leading through forest and farmland for birdwatching and sea views. It’s a 20-minute walk down through lush vegetation to the sandy Sundy beach where the roca’s fabulous sister hotel, Praia Sundy, is found. The roca is also of historical importance. In May, 1919, the British scientist, Sir Arthur Eddington, visited the plantation to observe a solar eclipse which helped him to prove Einstein’s theory of relativity, a trip which was widely reported around the world.

Swimming Pool
No
Air Conditioning
Yes
Rooms
15
Facilities

Restaurant, lounge, bar, trail to beach, WiFi, reception, laundry facilities.

Local Wildlife

Various bird species, lizards, butterflies and mona monkeys can be observed from the breakfast terrace.

Optional Activities

Birdwatching, nature walks, swimming at the nearby beach, various excursions on Principe island including a visit to Roca Paciencia.

São Tomé & Príncipe Príncipe Island

Bom Bom Island Resort

Overview

The original, pioneering beach hotel in Sao Tome & Principe, Bom Bom Island Resort opened more than 30 years ago and kickstarted tourism to the small island nation.

The resort is situated on the north coast of Principe and includes the eponymous islet of Bom Bom, connected to the main resort via a long walkway across the water. Rooms are spacious and comfortable and the meals are well prepared. A number of optional and included activities are available, including birdwatching, scuba diving and snorkelling.

There are two gorgeous beaches at the resort: Praia de Coco with firm sand suitable for jogging, and Praia Rita, good for swimming and snorkelling. At the time of writing (February 2021) the resort is currently undergoing a complete refurbishment and will emerge much improved and modernised.

Swimming Pool
Yes
Air Conditioning
Yes
Rooms
19
Facilities

Restaurant and bar situated on a smaller island accessed via a walkway, snack bar, access to two beaches, WiFi, laundry facilities, toiletries, spa, dive centre, swimming pool with bar.

Local Wildlife

Various bird species including African grey parrot. Marine life such as dolphins, reef fish and mudskippers.

Optional Activities

Tours and excursions are available including boat trips for diving, dolphin watching and snorkelling, hiking, birdwatching, kayaking and inland excursions.

São Tomé & Príncipe São Tomé Island

Roca Sao Joao

Overview

A former colonial plantation administrator’s house near the village of Sao Joao dos Angolares on Sao Tome’s east coast, meticulously restored with an excellent restaurant.

The six en-suite rooms in the main building are the best ones, while there are some simpler rooms in the former hospital. A balcony wraps around the house and looks out over forest to the Bay of Santa Cruz – perfect for bird watching. The grounds are well kept and worth a stroll and there are trails further afield for birders to walk.

The restaurant is very popular with locals and serves an excellent taster menu, sometimes of 10 courses, overseen by the chef and your host, Joao Carlos Silva.

Swimming Pool
No
Air Conditioning
No
Rooms
14
Facilities

The rooms in the main building are the best ones and all en suite while there are some simple rooms in the former hospital. Rooms have fans, mosquito nets and there is running hot water in the shower. The restaurant is very popular with locals and serves an excellent taster menu, sometimes of 10 courses, overseen by the chef and your host, Joao Carlos Silva.

Local Wildlife

You could see paradise flycatcher, dwarf olive ibis, Principe speirops, Newton’s yellow breasted sunbird, Gulf of Guinea thrush and oriole.

Optional Activities

Guided plantation walks. Visits to the beach and local town. Cookery classes . Guided trails. Birding tours. Picnics.

São Tomé & Príncipe São Tomé Island

Praia Inhame Eco Lodge

Overview

A quality, rustic  beachfront lodge which lives up to its eco billing, Inhame is entirely off grid, harnessing wind and solar power and a waste-wood burner for all its energy requirements and growing much of its food on site.

The lodge owners support an old people’s home in nearby Porto Alegre and other benevolent projects.

The charmingly decorated timber chalets come in various permutations, from small studios to a two bedroom family unit, all with en suite bathrooms with hot water showers, ceiling fans and decks with views to the sea. The food is particularly good and can be washed down with a fine selection of wines.

Swimming Pool
No
Air Conditioning
No
Rooms
16
Facilities

Restaurant, bar, beachfront location, WiFi, ceiling fans, PADI dive centre.

Local Wildlife

Mona monkey, rainbird and other bird species. Turtles are often found nesting on the beach, including leatherbacks. On request, a guide will wake you in the night if one is spotted, usually between November and March.

Optional Activities

Guided and independent hiking on forest trails. Boat trips are available for diving, dolphin watching and snorkelling and to visit Ilheu das Rolas.

Route Map

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Praia Inhame Eco Lodge: 0.024793, 6.519248
Hotel Roca Sundy: 1.668904, 7.383079
Bom Bom Island Resort: 1.698865, 7.402314
Omali Lodge: 0.361185, 6.714151
Roca Sao Joao: 0.139087, 6.647652
Boca do Inferno: 0.213342, 6.726422
Principe Island: 1.613901, 7.405702
Sao Tome Island: 0.330192, 6.733343

Departure Dates

Tour Dates
Adult Price
Single Supp
16/11/2022
3693
745

Travel Information

Are International Flights Included?

No. Please contact us for a quote if required.

Flight Info:

Flights from London with TAP need a plane change in Lisbon to Sao Tome, with a short stop at Accra, Ghana, both ways.

Best Visited:

January to December

Are you ATOL Registered?

Yes. This means we are legally able to book your international flights in conjunction with your ground arrangements so you can book with us with complete confidence. Read more about our ATOL license here.

Alan Godwin

Area Specialist

If you have any questions regarding this Tour, please feel free to contact me on +44 (0)1803 866965