Cova’s walking trail, the volcano at Santo Antão, Cape Verde

While in Santo Antão, Cape Verde, completing the Cova’s walking trail was one of my objectives.

However, I had not yet decided whether to walk it downhill or uphill.

Ultimately, I chose the uphill route because walking downhill tends to strain my knees.

So, I will describe the walk from Cabo da Ribeira to Cova.

The hike between Cova and Cabo da Ribeira in Santo Antão, Cape Verde, is probably the most famous walk on the island.

Cova's walking trail
Cova’s walking trail

Let’s embark on the Cabo da Ribeira to Cova walking trail

As the taxi neared Cabo da Ribeira, situated at the top of the Paúl Valley, I grasped why the locals had advised me against walking uphill from Cova to Cabo da Ribeira, contrary to my preference.

Before me lay the daunting 750-meter ascent from Paul to Cova.

It appeared both challenging and time-consuming, yet unalterable at that moment.

Our driver, Neu, jokingly queried us one last time about our chosen course of action, cautioning, “It might be difficult.”

Having previously researched these trails, such warnings came as no surprise.

Mentally prepared for the arduous task, I anticipated encountering a few fellow travelers.

As I veered off the road, a trail information sign reiterated details I was already acquainted with.

Nonetheless, it was heartening to note Cape Verde’s investment in trail information infrastructure.

During the ascent, we briefly shared the path with a handful of intriguing companions.

A young lad confidently rode a donkey, seemingly unperturbed by the task.

Additionally, a cheerful young couple ascended with evident enjoyment and mutual understanding.

Much of the trail consisted of either dirt or cobblestone paving, with terrain that was uneven yet manageable without excessively tall steps, facilitating both uphill and downhill travel.

Although occasional steeper sections posed potential challenges, especially in wet conditions, the region’s infrequent rainfall and scarcity of water mitigated such concerns. 

Progressing steadily uphill, we encountered numerous groups of hikers accompanied by local guides descending from their adventures.

Walking from Cabo de Ribeira to Cova, Santo Antão, Cape Verde
Walking from Cabo de Ribeira to Cova, Santo Antão, Cape Verde

Opportunities for landscape photography

This trail provides numerous opportunities for landscape photography. 

However, on that specific day, thick clouds obscured the view, and within moments, the weather deteriorated, completely obscuring my visibility.

The long cobblestone road from Cabo de Ribeira to Cova

The long cobblestone road

The long cobblestone road, depicted in the attached photos, extends on a winding path.

Constructing this centuries-old road was no easy feat when it was initially built.

As I observed it, my mind swirled with thoughts, envisioning the immense effort required to undertake such a monumental task in a country with limited resources like this one.

Undoubtedly, the construction of this road relied heavily on the manual labor of countless Cape Verdeans and the assistance of donkeys transporting materials to remote locations.I express my gratitude to all who contributed to this remarkable endeavor.

Donkey on the walking trail, Santo Antão, Cape Verde

Here, we have time on our side

Despite having a schedule to maintain and acknowledging the physical effort required to ascend this walking trail, one can still experience a sense of serenity here.

Time, an abundant resource in this place, is a precious commodity essential for life’s pleasures.

In this environment, there is little rush for nearly anything, mirroring the likely unhurried approach taken in constructing this path.

Paul Valley, Santo Antão, Cape Verde
Paul Valley, Santo Antão, Cape Verde

This walking trail occupies a prominent place in my mind

My maternal family hails from these valleys, specifically the Paul Valley.

As a child, I often heard my parents and uncles discussing this trail as an incredibly challenging endeavor.

Ascending this trail now serves as a tribute to those memories.

Enjoy the walk and photos.

David Monteiro