*212 W Ironwood Dr Suite D - 2006 Coeur d'Alene ID *83814-1403

SAO TOME & PRINCIPE

Sao Tome & Principe, often just called Sao Tome a tinny island nation and the second smallest country in Africa, only after Seychelles. A country that most people would have a problem pinpointing on a map. Located in the Gulf of Guinea, crossing the Equator, western coast of Gabon and south of Nigeria; Sao Tome was uninhabited until its discovery by Portuguese explorers in the 15th century. Today the population is no more than 190,000. Sao Tome received its independence from Portugal as late as 1975. It has since been one of the most peaceful countries in all of Africa. These two tiny islands that make up Sao Tome & Principe are by far the cleanest places I have visited anywhere in the world. There was no garbage along the roads outside the cities, and the rivers flowing through the country were crystal clear. But be aware: Sao Tome is far from being a budget-friendly destination. In fact, it's one of the most expensive destinations I have ever visited. It's also home to some of the best and most exclusive chocolate in the world as well as world-class coffee.
Sao Tome & Principe, is as the name tells you, two different islands, with Sao Tome being by far the biggest one, and Principe being the smaller one. If you thought the main island was untouched, wait until you visit Principe. It's just a 35-minute flight (only one flight a day) between them or a 6-8 hour boat ride. I will cover Principe properly in its post. The only way to reach Sao Tome & Principe is by plane to Sao Tome International Airport. It's the only international airport in the country and one of only two airports. The second airport is located on Principe and is only served by one local flight a day between Sao Tome and Principe. The only way to reach Sao Tome from Europe is with TAP Portugal or STP Airways, both flying from Lisbon, Portugal. That's the ONLY service between Sao Tome and Europe. From Africa, there are flights between Ghana, Gabon, Angola and Sao Tome.
There is nowhere to exchange your local currency inside the airport, so you will either have to take them home with you as a souvenir. Or spend them in the tiny souvenir shop selling local coffee, chocolate, rum (everything is a lot cheaper in the city), or the tiny kiosk selling beer and water. There is no official money exchange; everything is done on the street, and street money exchangers are found outside the most famous restaurants and the central gas station. I had ABSOLUTELY no problem exchanging money on the street; the money exchangers were completely honest. But be aware, I could never find them after dark or on Sundays. Like I already mentioned, Sao Tome & Principe is not a budget-friendly destination. I didn’t meet any other backpackers during my visit.
The only other tourists I met during my stay were foreigners working in Angola, Gabon, and Nigeria, taking a short holiday here and Portuguese expats. If you want to save money, the cheapest thing is to stay in the capital and do day trips outside the capital using shared taxis with locals. If you have rented a car, there is no problem with wild camping around the country; I met a few people doing this. As previously mentioned above, renting a car is the only way to get around the island if you want to visit places off the main road especially since there are only about 140KM /87Miles of paved roads around the whole island. I will recommend you to rent a car/motorbike since most of the sights are off the main road.