Fogo – Hiking on top of an active volcano

Position: 15°10,7’ N; 23°13,8’ W°

“Freddie! Wake up! It’s 5.50 and in ten minutes there is a fine breakfast for you!” Slowly I open my eyes and recognize that I´m not at the Thor Heyerdahl but in a nice room of a local ecolodge in the middle of nowhere. How did I get here?

Ah, yesterday we drove here, after we had arrived with the dinghies in the port and had met Mustafa, our Fogo-trip-organizer whose wife owns this beautiful oasis.  The Casa Marisa is an authentic hotel which is located in the crater of the Pico de Fogo. This mountain is an active volcano and lastly erupted in 2014. This eruption destroyed most parts of the village there including the Casa Marisa. But now it has been rebuilt. The lava (now stone) is still hot and so Musti (he likes to be called like this) created a system that heats the water and the rooms using the excess heat of the volcano.

Now I’m awake and I put my clothes on and check my things for todays hike. “Sunglasses? Check! Sunscreen? Check! 3 liters of water? Check! Warm jumper? Check!”

I grab my daypack and go to the breakfast: Bread, fruit juice and a piece of cake! Yummy!

When everybody’s hunger is stilled, we split into two groups. The first one goes to the top of the Pico and the second hikes to the smaller but more active volcano (a shorter hike) to meet up with the other group. I decided to go to the first one because I want to be at the highest point of whole Cabo Verde. With two mountain guides, who were trained by Musti and three teenagers who are being trained as guides, we go for it.

At sunrise, we pass through the crater and the little village. It is a breathtaking scenery. Different kinds of black lava fields, in which you can see the structure of the lava-rivers, black sand with big rocks, little craters from older eruptions.

One hour later we’re at the foot of the mountain, it seems bigger than imagined and quite steep, 1.300 meters of pure altitude are waiting for us. The Pico is fascinating.  It is an impressive stratovolcano. It’s black, has a few fields of rocks and is very symmetric. It is also very steep but I am motivated and so were the others.

Step after step we make our steep way through sand, stones and rocks. “But what is that? Aha! You can see the Mountains of the neighbor-island Santiago above the clouds from here!”

After two hours of walking up, we arrive at the cater. At once we’re sitting down and have a nice break with delicious rice-salad and a beautiful view over the whole island and even further. Next, we would like to go to the highest peak – 2829 meters of height! The way there is quite difficult and a bit tricky. You have to climb almost, and that’s why we are very careful. Luckily, Musti and his guides built a rail to hold onto during the ascent. Musti works for foreign aid and helped realizing a few projects here at Fogo. For example, he trains mountain guides. With them he cares for all of the hiking trails around the Pico. When everybody successfully arrives at the top, we enjoy the nice view there. Up there, you can see the whole crater and many of the Islands of Cabo Verde. Santo Antao for example – the greenest isle where we were hiking last week.

After that the best part of the whole tour begins. “Surfing” down the mountain through Volcano Ash! Our Guides show us how to do it: “More or less you run the Mountain down. But every step makes you sliding for one meter. Watch out not to fall to the front – You will roll most of the way if you’re not careful. So, lean back and enjoy the run!”

It was very cool. We went 800meters in height in 10 minutes, so we were really fast. That was definitely the highlight of the day. When we are at the foot of the mountain again, we arrive at the Pico Inferno, the little crater of the eruption 2014. Still today there is volcanic activity. It smells of sulfur and you can see very hot air rising out of the crater. Mustafa explains a bit about the last eruption. In these days, he helped to evacuate the village and saving people’s belongings from lava rivers. Then we go back to Casa Marisa. After a delicious dinner, a nice local music band Musti had organized, played traditional songs of Cabo Verde. We liked them very much and started dancing soon. This was a very nice ending of that day. In a good mood I go to sleep. What a wonderful day.