On the larger island, São Tomé is on the Lagoa Azul lagoon. Oval in shape, the island lies one hundred and forty-five kilometres, northeast of its sister island. Distinguished by Pico Cao Grande, a skyscraper-like volcanic rock, the Ôbo Natural Park, a biodiverse jungle preserve, covers much of São Tomé.
To get around its best to hire a car, with or without a guide, given the small size of the island, reasonable quality maps and with the modest amount of traffic on the roads, driving yourself makes more sense here than in some other parts of Africa.
Among sights on the islands is Fort São Sebastião. Built around 1575, the fort was refurbished in 2006 and is now the São Tomé National Museum. By night, the fort is a beautiful sight.
Essential for every visitor is to take a tour of one of the islands’ colonial-era plantation, called roças, from centuries-old buildings slowly being overgrown by rainforest to lovingly refurbished buildings operating as bed-and-breakfasts.
One of the more easily accessible is Monte Café, encompassing a new coffee museum and since it is up in the mountains, it’s relaxed and inviting. Take time out to visit the Sao Tome market, a bustling, colourful experience while photographers will love the city’s quaint colonial-style architecture.
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