São Tomé / Príncipe: nature
São Tomé and Príncipe is the second smallest African country – larger only than the Seychelles in terms of population. São Tomé is 50 kilometers (31 miles) long and 32 kilometers (20 miles) wide and the more mountainous of the two islands. Its highest peak reaches 2,024 meters (6,640 feet). Príncipe is approximately 30 kilometers (19 miles) long and 6 kilometers (4 miles) wide. Its highest peak reaches 948 meters ( 3,110 feet). In addition to being the second smallest African country, it is also the smallest Portuguese speaking country.
The islands of São Tomé and Príncipe are situated in the Atlantic Ocean about 300 and 250 kilometers (200 and 150 miles), respectively, off the northwest coast of Gabon. Both islands, also known as Guinea Islands, lie on an alignment of once-active volcanoes. The equator lies immediately south of São Tomé.
High levels of endemism
The geographic isolation from Africa has resulted in high levels of endemism, notably among plants (130 species) and birds (28 species). Overall, Sao Tome and Principe has 895 species of plants, 143 birds, 15 mammals, 14 reptiles, and 9 amphibians.
44% primary rainforest
About 28 percent of the country is forested, of which 44 percent is classified as primary forest. Most of this remaining forest is found in the most inaccessible parts of the country. There are over 150 type of tree ferns on the islands, more than anywhere else in Africa. Also, coconut palms reach down to the fringes of the beaches, almond trees and bread fruit trees line the town streets, and banana, cocoa and sugar cane plantations are plentiful.
Orchids are the most important among the spontaneous plants on the islands. Up to now, 129 orchid species have been identified: 101 on Sao Tome, and 64 on Principe. The rainy season is the best time for orchid spotting, but species above 800m are still in flower in January.
Source: Bradt Travel Guide São Tomé & Príncipe, July 2008
Roça Belo Monte
Luxurious resort on the tropical island of Principe Belo Monte Plantation Hotel, offering luxurious accommodation in staggeringly beautiful natural surroundings. While Belo Monte Plantation Hotel is a wonderful place to relax and recharge your spirit, there is also plenty here to explore and discover. Read more
Want to explore the island? There are many possibilities: marine excursions like snorkelling, kayaking, scuba diving, whale watching and terrestrial excursions like hiking and biking. Read more