Hold on to your seats as you descend on to the confined airstrip sandwiched between the deep blue sea on one side and the rich dark charcoal mountains, on the other, welcome to the amazing volcanic Island of Fogo.
Rising 2829 meters magnificent Fogo is another treasure of the Cape Verde Islands and wherever you're on a day trip from Sal or Boa Vista or have taken the short flight from Santiago as an independent traveler there is so much to explore.
The town of Sao Filipe, located a few kilometers away from the airport is visually attractive with brightly coloured, colonial style buildings, which belonged to the wealthy, land owners, a testament to its Portuguese heritage. The town is tranquil apart from the daily tourists and the fisherman who sell their produce in the local market and the elderly men playing cards under the shaded trees.
Enjoy some local produce such as Fogo Cheese and Coffee and try some delicious Papaya jam. There is also the opportunity to sample a nice glass of Fogo wine, be careful its alcoholic content is 14% so best not to overindulge before you make your ascent onwards and upwards to the main crater Cha Das Caldeiras, which is a protected national park.
The ascent up to Cha Das Caldeiras is fascinating, as your guide explains to you all the history of this natural wonder, see the lava flows of 1951 which left a permanent inky black trail of destruction in its wake. As you reach the foot of Fogo, be amazed by the rugged almost surreal landscape, a sea of black, sooty volcanic rock, feel the texture of the rock, light as a sponge and trace the rough edges with your fingers. Local children will smile innocently while offering you a souvenir, a house with a straw roof made out of volcanic rock.
There is also an opportunity to enjoy a delicious buffet at a French owned bed and breakfast at the foot of the Volcano. One of the highlights is the beautiful garden, which gives a chance to catch the amazing contrast between the vibrant colours of the garden against the deep darkness of the Volcano in the background.
The small population of Cha live in a what you might imagine as a hostile environment and have not evacuated what is in effect an active Volcano. The houses they live in, are grey, breeze block structures, unfinished but with green plants and flowers creating a striking contrast. The children are happy and delightful with their bright tattered clothing, some with blond hair, blue eyes and light brown skin, tracing their French ancestry to the Duke of Montrond, who also sowed the seed of wine production.
The collaboration between German and Cape Verdean Businessman and Italian wine consultants and with additional funding from the EU has created wine production, which under the Cha brand is transported to all the other Islands as well as exported. The wine is light and crisp and very enjoyable.
There is also a small museum, where you can trace the fascinating history of Fogo and wine and coffee production through a series of informative photographs, there is also the chance to sample and buy some Fogo wine. The museum and shop are very understated with a refreshing lack of commercialism.
Staying overnight in Fogo, wherever at a hotel, small B&B or with a local family gives you a great opportunity to take one of the many hikes with a local guide such as Pico Pequeno, left over from the 1991 eruption or the more challenging Pico Do Fogo, the main peak. The journey from Cha down to Mosteiros is also rewarding and you will see the forest of Jacaranda and Eucalyptus trees and the coffee plantations grown in the valleys. It's amazing to see how fertile the soil is in what appears to be a hostile environment.
Fogo is an amazing adventure and will leave treasured memories as you disappear away from this dramatic landscape with a bottle of Fogo wine and a trinket made of volcanic rock given to you by a small child.