Africa's second-smallest country, the two-island Sao Tome and Principe, lies in the Gulf of Guinea. A storehouse of scenic beauty, the twin islands welcome you with verdant forest covers, beautiful waterfalls, and high mountains, among other attractions. While the islands are located in the equatorial belt, they contain several microclimates due to the diversity of the landscape.
The two islands (jointly known as "Africa's Eden") offer different attractions. Sao Tome is more about the urban hustle and bustle, with majestic Portuguese-era buildings and a vibrant nightlife. The tiny Principe, measuring about 50 square kilometers (about 20 square miles), is like its upcountry cousin - offering peace and solitude amidst nature.
Things to Do for Travelers in Sao Tome and Principe
The twin islands are not among the best-known travel destinations of Africa, nor do they exhibit a distinct African character. But Sao Tome and Principe are a perfect mix of past colonial grandeur and an African vibrant spirit. And with a wealth of natural beauty, the islands are a treat for those intrepid few who make the trip there.
Obo National Park: This 230-square-kilometer wilderness (about 90 square miles) has both mangroves and rainforests within its territory. Soaring mountains lord over the terrain, washed by the Atlantic Ocean along the coast. Go for treks here, and catch glimpses of rare birds, mona monkeys, and grey parrots.
Santana: In the eastern part of Sao Tome, the coastal town of Santana is a much-coveted combination of sun, sea, and sand. Palm groves and volcanic hills surround this beautiful place. Relax on the shining beaches, enjoy some diving and swimming in the turquoise Atlantic Ocean, or simply explore the area.
Rolas Island: This tiny speck of land lies right on the equator. It is a short boat ride away from Sao Tome and has some excellent beaches to offer you. The whole area is quiet and secluded. Go for a peaceful swim in the sea, or take a walk in the palm forests. You can also savor some delectable local cuisine at the resort on the island.
Jale Beach: Ever been witness to turtles laying eggs on the shore? If not, then this is where you can catch this sight. Endangered sea turtles flock here during the mating season. Watch them from a distance while you are lazing around on the golden sands. This is a nice place to go swimming, too.
Cao Grande: This 663-meter (2,175-foot) hardened magma monolith rises into the sky like a giant canine tooth. It is all that remains of an ancient volcano. This rock, or phonolite, is among the tallest on the island of Principe. Lush green forests and endless mountain ranges all around add to the otherworldly scenery here.
Travel Risks for International Travelers in Sao Tome and Principe
By and large, Sao Tome and Principe is a safe place to be. Be wary of these situations though:
Don't take photographs of the Presidential Palace, any other government building, or the army. Your camera would be confiscated and you might face charges, as well.
The country lies in a malarial zone. Carry insect repellent with you wherever you go. At dawn and dusk, wear full-sleeved clothes to prevent mosquito bites.
Avoid consuming raw or undercooked food and non-mineral water.
Don't visit the forests alone. They are dense, and you might lose your way, so always have a guide accompany you. Pay heed to his/her advice and don't venture too far off the beaten path if advised against it.
Sao Tome and Principe Travel Medical Insurance for International Travelers - FAQs
There is no way to predict when we might suffer a mishap during travel. Such a mishap might cause injuries, and injuries require medical care. In a foreign country, medical care would be expensive and inflate your travel budget, adding to your discomfort. The best way to guard yourself against such a situation is to purchase travel medical insurance.
Do I need travel medical insurance for Sao Tome and Principe?
It is not compulsory as an entry requirement into the country for international travelers to have travel medical insurance. But it helps a lot to have such a plan. It protects you from having to spend money on medical care while you are traveling.
Why buy travel medical insurance for Sao Tome and Principe?
All that walking in forests and long swims increase the chances of physical injury. You might also fall sick due to any number of reasons while vacationing in Sao Tome and Principe. There might be adequate medical facilities there, but they will be expensive.
Hence, it is advisable that you buy travel medical insurance before you catch your flight to Sao Tome and Principe.
Sao Tome and Principe Trip Cancellation Insurance for International Travelers - FAQs
You might need to make the unfortunate decision to cancel your trip for a variety of reasons. Apart from the mental anguish, trip cancellation also results in financial losses.
Why buy trip cancellation insurance for Sao Tome and Principe?
You have already made advance payments for the trip, including two-way plane tickets and possibly destination hotel booking, as well. If you have to cancel the trip, there's the risk of you losing these pre-paid, nonrefundable expenses. But you won't lose nearly as much if you have trip cancellation insurance, assuming that you cancel for a reason covered under your policy.
What all is covered under trip cancellation insurance for Sao Tome and Principe?
Trip cancellation insurance usually covers standard reasons for cancellation like the death of a close family member, problems at the destination, emergencies at the workplace, etc. Be sure to read the fine print of your plan so you know what's covered. Buy travel insurance to protect your finances in the event of a cancellation.
Before You Travel to Sao Tome and Principe - Do This
Be sure to buy travel medical insurance. Compare a wide variety of options, and select the plan that best fits your needs.
Maintain electronic backups of important travel documents.
Keep an eye on destination travel advisories and weather updates.