It’s not easy to get to West Africa’s ‘Chocolate Isles’, off the coast of Gabon, but any concerns will melt away once you reach these exquisite enclaves.
Words and photographs by Justin Fox
How we got the shots
Just before jumping into the editorial hot seat at Getaway, photojournalist Justin Fox was invited by Classic Portfolio to experience a number of eco lodges on São Tomé and Príncipe. South African entreprenuer Mark Shuttleworth has invested in the lodges to uplift these former Portuguese plantation islands. It’s not a budget holiday, so visiting is likely to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
It requires a flight from Joburg to Luanda (about R6,000 per person return) with TAAG Angola, then a connection to São Tomé on a Friday, Sunday or Wednesday (about R5 100 per person return). Flights from Cape Town to Luanda (about R7,800 per person) return via Joburg. Flights between the islands cost R3 400 return on Africa’s Connection. It’s warm all year round in the tropics; the rainy seasons are from October to December and March to May (although on Justin’s rainy-season trip there was plenty of sun).
Activities include biosphere trails, island tours, community visits, plantation tours, scuba diving and snorkelling, boat trips, bird watching and monitoring turtles. Justin stayed at: Omali Lodge, a boutique hotel on the beachfront in São Tomé town (from R2,540 per person sharing); Roça Sundy, on Príncipe, offers two colonial guest houses on a working plantation (from R2,490 per person sharing); Praia Sundy has luxury tented villas amid the forest on a private beach (from R7,280 per person sharing). Any island stay can be tailor-made, but we recommend the seven-night, DBB package for R5,893 per person sharing per night, which includes stays at all three lodges, flights between São Tomé and Príncipe, transfers and island tours.