MUST DO & SEE

5 surprising things to do in São Tomé

 

1.Experience teetering on ‘the line’, at the centre of earth

 Sao Tome is one of the few countries luky enough to lie at the equator line, a imaginary line that runs across the center of the Earth at a latitude of exactly zero degrees and divides the earth into the Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere.

One of Africa's most beautiful equatorial markers was built in the southernmost part of São Tomé, on tiny Rolas Island, to celebrates its equatorial location with a stone monument and a frieze of the world map.

An unparalleled experience as you stand with one foot in the Northern Hemisphere and the other in Southern and feel the exhilaration that comes with knowing you’re standing in the middle of the world. An added bonus of visiting the equator? Thanks to the gravitational fluctuation you'll weigh less, (only by about 0.5% but it's still less!)

 

2. Hike up the highest peak and see the island from bird eyes

As a imposing reminder of the islands volcanic past the Pico de Sao Tome stands at an altitude of 2024 meters above the sea and lay deep inside the Obo National Park, which was created to preserve the unique archipelago biodiversity heritage. Says those who have been there that from the top on a rare clear day, you can see the entire island below you and its staggeringly beautiful surroundings. You can even see Príncipe. Make your stay more adventurous and try to see Sao Tome from the peak of Sao Tome, the higest mountain in the country! A lifetime experience only recommended to experienced hikers.

 

3. Tchiloli, street theater performances

This islands have a strong cultural legacy. The Tragedy of the Marquis of Mantua and the Emperor Charlemagne or Tchiloli by short is a famous day-long "hybrid" musical theatre performance, that have been performed since the 16th centure. It retains the portuguese renaissance text and the original characters, but adds african origin elements like choreography, costumes, musical instruments and dances.

Written by a blind sixteenth-century Portuguese poet the play lasts for six hours, although there are shorter versions that last between one and three hours.

 

4. Meet and cach up with new friends

This island is very popular among bird watchers and biologists because of its many endemic species and the vast areas of unspoiled nature, ideal environment to easily spot exotic especies of birds, marine turtles, wale and dolphins.

Relative to their size, São Tomé and Príncipe are the islands with the greatest number of endemic birds globally. Given the remarkable number of endemics, São Tomé and Príncipe rank high on any African birder’s must-visit list.

In most parts of the world turtles use the cover of darkness for protection as they lay and hatch their eggs. But in the Sao Tomé, quiet beaches surrounded by impenetrable indigenous forest still allow them a degree of safety, even in daylight. They feel so unthreatened that they still come ashore to lay their eggs in warm sands.

 

5. Diving in Sao Tome, experience the amazing underwater world

Given the islands privileged location on the Equator and Prime-meridien intersection, it's offer ideal conditions in terms of visibility and water temperature to underwater sport.

Diving day and night, in sandy, rocky or mixed seabeds, in caves or shipwrecks.
The islands offers adequate spots for various experience levels, from beginners to professionals, and the adventure may start with simple snorkelling in order to leisurely enjoy the abundant marine life of the archipelago’s crystal clear waters

DIVING SEASON

  • Good all year round. Best during the months of October through February
  • March and April tend to be wetter, resulting in more run-off that adversely affects the visibility.
  • June through September see the waters cooling and the winds picking up slightly, bringing manta rays to the island as well as other larger fish. This is also the time of year when humpback whales visit the island.

 

6. Practice sport fishing on the Atlantic Ocean

If you are visiting São Tomé and have a spirit of adventure, come and experience sport fishing. São Tome and Principe are located in the center of a very peculiar oceanographic dynamics. The islands are subject to three major surface oceanic currents - the Benguela current, the South Equatorial and Guinea currents - that combine to create four distinct oceanographic seasons. The seasonal variations in the thermocline have a major effect on the fisheries of the region, and in particular the migratory fish stocks. It is interesting to note that several Atlantic-wide species appear to occur in the eastern Atlantic only at these oceanic islands.

FISHING SEASON

  • Atlantic blue marlin: May to mid October, with July to September (locally known as the Gravanna) being peak season. Fish have been caught in all calendar months though, for example in March 2006 a 1000 pound fish was caught. December and January regularly produce a run of smaller fish in the 300 pound range.
  • Sailfish - Atlantic: peak season runs from September to December with mid September to mid November normally producing the best results. Sailfish can also be commonly caught from late March to August.
  • Yellowfin tuna: difficult to pin point when these fish make appearances on the island and great fishing has been had as soon as February and March. Large fish however seem to be most consistent from May to October.
  • Wahoo: can be caught year round, but more predominant during the Gravanna season as well as during the height of the sailfish season from September throw December.
  • Dorado: most predominantly from May to September, some years they are caught well into December, January and even February.