Mist Covered Forest, Brava Island, Cape Verde
Cape Verde

Hiking on Brava – A Walk in the Cloud Forest

Hiking on Brava takes you through some of Cape Verde’s most stunning cloud forests. It is a unique experience…

We had arrived late to the home port of Brava, on the Kriola “Fast Ferry” (there was nothing fast about it), and were hurriedly shuttled to our pension in the little town of Nova Sintra, sitting high up on the rim of the island.

hiking on brava cloud forest cape verde
The path leading to the rim of Brava’s caldera, across lush fields and cloud forests

The moonlit views of Brava as we were being driven along a narrow cobblestone road, winding through the island’s lush forests, were enchanting.

brava island caldera cape verde
Clouds slowly descending across the caldera of the Brava island on our hike through its cloud forest

We were greeted the next morning by Beto, our guide, who took us through Nova Sintra, a charming town of white brick and stone, before leading us on the road heading upwards to the peaks of Brava.

hiking on brava woman selling local cheese cape verde
A woman from the neighbouring village bringing cheese into Nova Sintra to sell

Along the way, we met a woman carrying cheese into town for sale (cheese being, quite possibly, the best-selling commodity on Cape Verde), and a little boy who followed us around and seemed quite pleased to have his photo taken.

hiking on brava cloud forest cape verde
A little Cape Verdian boy who followed us around before we began our hike

That morning, we took a southeastern direction, entering the village of João d’Nole, a picturesque town with beautiful homes overlooking terraced orchards. Our walk continued on an easy climb upward, towards the Igreja Santa Antão, the church which served the few surrounding towns, set into the mountain such that it seemed part of the landscape. There, the cobblestone road ended, to turn into a sandy, rolling path, leading into a lush, low forest of palms and ferns.

hiking on brava cape verde village church chapel Igreja Santa Antão
The church of Igreja Santa Antão, just outside Nova Sintra

It had been a clear, sunny morning, but as the day wore on, a fog as thick as a layer of clouds crept upon the island. The most dramatic of moments came as we passed a bend around the caldera, lit golden by shafts of sunlight, now quickly being enveloped by the fog. It was incredible, and we wished we had the equipment to do a time-lapse video of this happening. A layer of mist shrouded us and the lushness around, and it felt as if we were the only ones on this whole earth.

hiking on brava farm volcano caldera cape verde
View of the caldera on Brava, covered with low lying clouds

On the way back, we paused in the town of Cachaço, outside a small community school with whitewashed walls brightened by colourful murals. There were two little girls playing just outside, who approached me out of curiosity, asking for my name along with other personal details in Creole first, then French.

hiking on brava island cape verde mountain town Cachaço
Two Cape Verdean girls posing outside their school in the town of Cachaço, on Brava island, Cape Verde

Between their meager English and my non-existent French we managed to communicate our names, ages and the number of siblings we each had.

hiking on brava volcano caldera cape verde farm
The clouds chasing away the last shafts of sunlight falling on Brava’s caldera

The trek ended back in Nova Sintra, at a delightful little restaurant called “Luanda”, which served fresh caught tuna, and other seafood. On the menu was Búzio, a traditional Cape Verdean dish made with sweet, meaty, clams and soy sauce. There is nothing quite as satisfying as a well-deserved meal after a long walk, and it was quite a perfect end to the day’s trek.

hiking on brava cape verde cow misty pasture
A cow wandering in the mist, in pastureland found on top of Brava’s caldera