Every time you read about the best places to climb an active volcano, they never mention Pico do Fogo Volcano on the remote Fogo Island, off the West African coast.
During my trip to the Cape Verde Archipelago, I had the opportunity of climbing Fogo Volcano. This was one of my best travel experiences as it was my first time climbing an active volcano.
On this page, I’ll tell you all about Pico do Fogo, how to climb it, and some insights about my personal experience on the ground.
Fogo Island – Cape Verde
Fogo, one of the most beautiful Islands of Cape Verde, stands out by the contrast between the hostile majesty of its volcano that was last active in 2014.
From the top of Fogo Volcano, at nearly 3000 meters (9850 feet) above sea level, the views are fantastic. The wild and exotic flora with a wide variety of endemic species that grow all over the island makes this island amazing to visit.
Fogo means “fire” in Portuguese. This was the proper name the former colonizers of this tiny African island country gave to this inhospitable place.
My knowledge about this place was a bit vague since I didn’t know what to do or where to go. The only reason I actually knew climbing a volcano in Cabo Verde was possible was due to a fellow traveler I met a few years ago in Mauritania.
In recent history, Pico do Fogo volcano erupted in 1688, 1951, 1995, and more recently in 2014 lasting until February 8, 2015.
The best way to explore the island is to get yourself a rental car or 4×4. I rented one for two days in order to explore the National Park on my own. Either way, I would have to pay for private transportation to take me there, so definitely much better to do it independently.
I got a rent-a-car through Inter Cidades company. The price for a Daihatsu Terios 4WD was 65 Euros per day. I spent 2500$ CVE of fuel to go around the island.
The whole island is stunning, and often you notice lava fields downhill towards the sea. But nothing was preparing me for the incredible sight as soon as I get to Fogo National Park. A mix of desolation, devastation and raw nature revealed by the lava fields near the volcano itself.
The main road to the extinct village is interrupted by a tick 3 meters dry lava wall. The tracks surround the lava on the volcano lower crater and driving to the infamous village of Chã das Caldeiras has to be made slowly.
During the 2014 eruption, lava from Fogo Volcano destroyed the National Park Headquarters, all the houses, and hotels.
It struck me by surprise the fact that those little spots and rumble I had been seeing were in fact, the remains of houses entirely covered in lava.
I spend the night in Chã das Caldeiras, in order to hike the summit early in the upcoming morning. Chã das Caldeiras is located within a large crater rim with 1000-meter cliffs. The main attractions in the region are the Pico do Fogo volcano, the Pico Pequeno volcano, the surrounding Bordeira and the plain where Chã das Caldeiras is settled.
Cape Verde is an underrated country everyone ignores (but shouldn’t), and it’s a shame Volcano Fogo is not included on the list along with other incredible volcanoes that are great to climb.
In São Filipe there are many people that will offer you the trip to the volcano. They have full tour packages available.
São Filipe is the main city on the island of Fogo. Being one of the first places to be populated in the country, São Filipe has narrow streets, and some houses are five centuries old. Tourism is a good source of income, but the people of São Filipe mainly work with fishing and commerce.
The top places to visit in São Filipe
- Fogo Natural Park
- Pico do Fogo Volcano
- Church of Our Lady of Conception
- Fortim Carlota
- Alberto da Silva Square
- Old Cemetery
- House of Memory Museum
- Municipal market
- Serpa Pinto Square
Arriving at Fogo by Ferry Boat
Cabo Verde Fast Ferry leaves Praia to São Filipe early morning and you should buy your ticket in advance at Praia ticket office. PR-SV ticket costs 5.775$ CVE.
The boat trip is amazing. I profited to be in Fogo Island to make another ferry trip to the breathtaking Brava Island.
Hiking Pico do Fogo Volcano
You need to get a guide to climb the volcano. All the lodges at Chã das Caldeiras will provide you guiding service. You have to leave the hotel early morning before sunrise.
Some segments of the itinerary are challenging, but with the proper help of the guide, I’m sure most young people will make it without any major problems.
From the top of the volcano, you relax for a while, just before proceeding down on the mountainside, through volcanic sand. The views are amazing.