São Tomé and Príncipe: Holidays, climate, customs
There are a number of public holidays that do not have a fixed date but are based on the time of Easter. Easter falls on the first Sunday following the first full moon after the beginning of spring. Lent, which lasts 46 days, begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. Pentecost is 50 days after Easter. The Corpus Christi festival is celebrated on the 2nd Thursday after Pentecost. All Saints’ Day is celebrated for Orthodox Christians on the 1st Sunday after Pentecost, but for Catholic Christians the date is fixed on November 1st. On October 31, Protestants celebrate Reformation Day. The Halloween festival also takes place on this day.
|January 1||New Year|
|3 February||Martyrs Day|
|1st of May||Labor Day|
|July 12||Independence day|
|September 6||Armed Forces Day|
|30. September||Agricultural Reform Day|
|November 26||Day of the Argel Agreement|
|21st December||Sao Tome Day|
Typical of the country’s culture are the folk theaters, the tradition of which goes back to European influences from the 16th century. Each island has its own traditional dances and pantomimes. The most important are the “Auto de Floripes” that take place every year in mid-August on São Tomé and the “Tchiloli” on Príncipe, the latter depicting the tragedy of the Marquis of Mantua. The roles are transferred from fathers to sons, women take did not participate as actresses.
In addition, numerous religious processions in honor of Catholic saints take place every year:
January 10th: Santo Isidoro in Ribeira Afonso
January 15th: Santo Amaro in Santo Amaro
Last weekend in January: Sao Pedro in the city of São Tomé
May 1st and 2nd: Deus Pai in Trinidade
July 30th: Santa Ana in Santana
9th and 2nd August 10th: “Our Lady of Neves” in Neves
August 15th: Santa Pelegrina in Batepá
September 1st: Nazaré in Trinidade
September 8th: “Mother of God? in Madredeus
December 9th and 10th: Bom Despacho in the city of São Tomé
October 15th:Santa Terezinha in Santo Amaro
October 28 and 29: Santo Jordão in Praia Melão
December 21: Santo Tomé in the city of São Tomé
São Tomé and Príncipe have a hot, tropical climate with a lot of rain and high humidity, with the rainy season from September to mid-May. Rainfall is highest in the southern part of the island of São Tomé.
Sun lovers People who like to enjoy a lot of sun and for whom higher temperatures do not cause any complaints are particularly recommended for a stay in São Tomé and Príncipe in the following months: June to September.
For people who prefer a temperate climate,
people who prefer a temperate climate and lower temperatures or who need it for health reasons, should better avoid a stay in São Tomé and Príncipe.
The following table shows some climate data for São Tomé and Príncipe. It should be noted, however, that the climatic conditions in different regions of the country can differ from one another and thus also from the values shown. In addition, the monthly average values of the temperature have little informative value with regard to the minimum or maximum temperatures or the current holiday weather. It is possible that at average temperatures of around 20 °C maximum values of 30 °C or more occur. The table therefore only provides a general overview of the climatic conditions in São Tomé and Príncipe.
|Month||Average number of rainy days||Mean maximum temperatures in °C||Mean minimum temperatures in °C|
The culture of São Tomé and Príncipe has been strongly influenced by African and Portuguese influences, but it also shows their differences to one another. While São Tomé is known for Ússua and Socopé rhythms, Príncipe is considered the home of the dêxa beat. Tchiloli, a type of dance that is used to tell a mostly dramatic story, is widespread. Probably the most famous musicians from São Tomé were the Leoninos, founded in 1959 by Quintero Aguiar. They were banned from the Portuguese radio station after openly criticizing the colonial rulers in their song Ngandu.
Sao Tome and Principe: Places of Interest
- Abbreviationfinder.org: Presents the way that ST stands for the nation of Sao Tome and Principe as a two-letter acronym.
Located on the northwest coast of São Tomés, the city of Neves with its 6,630 residents and its deep seaport is the country’s most important industrial center.
Just 8,300 people live in the second largest city of São Tomé and Príncipe. It spreads in the Lobata District.
Santo Antonio has about 1,500 residents and is the capital of the island of Príncipe. The city has very interesting Portuguese colonial villas.
About 57,000 people live in the capital and by far the largest city of São Tomé and Príncipe, which is more than six times as many as in the island’s second largest city. The port city named after the holy apostle Thomas nestles picturesquely on the northeast coast of the island of São Tomé and is an important export port for cocoa, copra and bananas.
São Tomé was founded by the Portuguese in 1485 and is centered around a cathedral that dates back to the 16th century. The São Sebastião Fort from 1575 is also well worth seeing. Today the São Tomé National Museum is housed there. The city also includes the São Tomé and Príncipe International Airport. There are also numerous Portuguese colonial buildings in the small capital of São Tomé.
Special buildings and museums
Fort São Sebastião in São Tomé
The impressive fortress from 1575 sits enthroned on the north-eastern tip of the island of São Tomé and now houses the country’s national museum. There are three statues at the entrance to the fortress: They commemorate the three discoverers of the island. Also of interest is the small lighthouse that has stood on the roof of the fort since 1928 and was restored in 1994.
Santa Se Cathedral in São Tomé
The Roman Catholic Santa Se Cathedral, built in the 16th century, is the cultural center of São Tomé. The imposing structure rises behind a large forecourt and impresses from afar with its two towers. The foundation stone for the cathedral was laid in 1576, but it was not until 1958 that it received its present form. The overgrown fountain behind the church and the evening, mostly very well-attended Sunday masses also have a very atmospheric effect.
National Museum of São Tomé
The National Museum is housed in Fort São Sebastião in São Tomé and shows important exhibits from the national history of the island kingdom for just three euros. Particularly interesting are the insights into the living conditions of the slaves that you get. This is particularly evident in the comparatively constructed rooms of plantation owners and slaves.
Presidential Palace of São Tomé
The pink presidential palace of São Tomé is enthroned directly opposite the cathedral and is the focus of the noon and evening changing of the guard every day. Then, suddenly, trumpets sound, urging drivers and passers-by to stop immediately. This act once again refers to the personality cult that is practiced around the president. The palace, which is always guarded by soldiers, may not be photographed.
Rocas are the old traces of the colonial era. There are architecturally interesting coffee and cocoa plantations, which mostly consist of colonial-style mansions as well as warehouses, slave huts, factory buildings and railway systems. We have briefly presented some of the most interesting Rocas here
Roca Agostinho Neto
This Roca is located on the edge of the northern mountains and is one of the most famous in all of São Tomé. It was mainly cultivated by Angolans and therefore named after the first President of Angola, Agostinho Neto, in 1979. The large, unfortunately dilapidated hospital looks like a castle and was once the second most important hospital in the country. Very poor accommodation for remaining farm workers and well-kept old mansions are evidence of the old days. Otherwise the complex is quite dead and is only animated by a few very pushy children.
In the middle of the tropical rainforest, Roca Bombaim, one of the most picturesque Rocas on the island, rises up. Here, too, there is a strong contrast between the desolate homes of the workers and the still shiny colonial-style mansion, which today serves hikers as a simple hotel. A tip: About a kilometer before the Roca you come to a small bridge, near which you can see two beautiful waterfalls in the rainforest.
Roca Monte Cafe
The Roca Monte Cafe, once the largest coffee plantation on the island, extends to the west of the capital São Tomé. The world’s best Arabica coffee is still produced there today, and from here it is mainly exported to Scandinavia. The unfortunately rather dilapidated Roca Monte Cafe is a lively place where you can get interesting insights into coffee and cocoa production. Important components of the Roca are a church, a carpentry shop, a kindergarten, a school and even a hospital.
Market The São Tomé Market is the undisputed commercial center of the city and consists of an open-air market and the Mercado Municipal, which is housed in halls and is located behind a large taxi rank. In a surviving market bustle, all goods are offered that one can get hold of on the island: from fruit and vegetables to chocolate and books to soap and records. If you want to take photos, you should definitely ask the shop assistants for permission beforehand.
Parque Populaire of São Tomé
The public park of São Tomé, the Parque Populaire, spreads out between the fort and the Santa Se Cathedral, directly on Avenida de Independencia. The park, which is unfortunately a bit shabby, contains a few irrelevant shops and bars as well as an old plane wreck.
promenade The promenade of São Tomé used to be very impressive. But now the kilometer-long stretch on the north side of the island’s capital has largely fallen into disrepair. Nevertheless, you can watch the island life and the numerous shipwrecks that lie in the bay. Small local restaurants invite you to eat in the evening.
Boca de Inferno (Hell’s Mouth) on São Tomé
Sea water escapes through a hole in the volcanic rock and forms a fountain several meters high.
Cao Grande near São João dos Angolares
If you leave the town of São João dos Angolares towards the south, you will come across a mysterious rock formation known as the Cao Grande (Big Dog). The rock needle rising 663 meters vertically into the sky from the middle of the landscape is a volcanic cone that has been eroded to its present form over the years by erosion.
Ilheu da Rolas (Turtle Dove
Island ) The 3 km2 small island is located about 1 km below the southern tip of São Tomé and is cut by the equator. At its highest point there is a lighthouse, and there are other such holes in the volcanic rock from which fountains of sea water shoot out.
Blue Lagoon (Lagao Azul) Dominated
by a small lighthouse, Lagao Azul, the Blue Lagoon, is one of the main tourist attractions of São Tomé. It is not necessarily a dream beach, but with its majestic baobab trees and crystal clear water, it is a real feast for the eyes. The lagoon also offers excellent snorkeling conditions.
Obo National Park
“Obo” means “primeval forest” in the language of the locals. Hence the Obo National Park got its name. The Obo National Park is one of the most important of its kind in all of Africa because of its incomparable diversity of plants. The local bird life must also be mentioned. Population of the African gray parrot live in the southern part of the island of Príncipe.
He is known for the Pico Cão Grande, a rock of volcanic origin that looks like a skyscraper. It covers an area of around 300 km², which corresponds to 30% of the total area of the island state of around 1,001 km. The much larger part of the national park is on Sao Tomé, the smaller on Principe. The park stretches from the mangrove forests to the savannah and from the lowlands to the mountain forests. More than 700 different plant species grow here, 100 of them are endemic, which means that they only occur on Sao Tomé and Principé. These include the giant begonia up to 3 m high, tree ferns and unique orchids.
A specially trained guide (from the park organization ECOFAC) is required to visit the national park. Those who would like to do a multi-day tour through the national park can spend the night on one of the highland rocas. Incidentally, many trekking tours through the park start at Bom Successo station, to which a small botanical garden is connected. The shorter tours include a hike to Lagoa Amelia, a crater lake about three hours from Bom Successo. Most recommendable, however, is the six-hour day hike from Bom Successo to Roca Bombaim. On this not very strenuous path you can get some perfect insights into the nature of the national park.
Pico de São Tomé
The highest mountain in the archipelago at 2,024 m is a popular destination for jungle and mountain hikes. Its ascent leads within the nature reserve through several climatic zones of the foggy tropical jungle and should only be done with a guide.
The beaches of the capital São Tomé, which are sometimes unclean, overcrowded and/or not particularly suitable for swimming – with the possible exception of Praia Lagarto – are contrasted by the beautiful and secluded beaches of the north coast, which mainly spread out near the two villages of Micolo and Morro Peixe. These include Praia dos Tamarindos, Praia Morro Peixe and Praia Micolo, where there is also a small protective enclosure for turtles. A recommended beach on the east coast is Praia das Sete Ondas.
Diver’s Paradise The islands offer a considerable wealth of fish for divers, and sea turtles can also be seen. For snorkelers, for example, the Lagoa Azul and the coast at Ilhéu Santana are recommended.
virgin forest The São Tomé virgin forest was classified by the “International Scientific Association” in 1988 as one of the two most important virgin forests of its kind in Africa due to its plant diversity. Of the approximately 700 local plant species, around 100 are endemic, such as a begonia up to 3 m high and some orchid species. The country’s bird life is also unique: there are 55 species, 15 of which are endemic, making them some of the rarest birds on earth. This also includes the São Tomé Grosbeak.
Volcanic vents As the islands are of volcanic origin, a number of volcanic vents can be visited.
Ribeira Peixe waterfall The Ribeira Peixe waterfall, which is
rather wide than high, plunges into the depths on the southeast coast of São Tomé and offers very good bathing opportunities. Nearby is the village of the same name, Ribeira Peixe, whose residents love to romp around the waterfall.
Sao Nicolao waterfall
The imposing Sao Nicolao waterfall, located in the Obo National Park, is the most famous waterfall on the island, but whether it is the most beautiful is a matter of debate. Thanks to the many tour operators, the 30-meter giant is relatively easy to reach and offers a first good impression of the vegetation of the local rainforest.
The beautiful Bombaim waterfalls, which are only about 100 meters apart, rise in the mountainous interior of the island and are usually only visited in connection with a tour to Roca Bombaim or to Bom Successo. They are wonderfully embedded in the rainforest and allow you to bathe in them.