Tiny Island Nation Seeks Tourists

PrincipeLove beachside bungalows? Does the thought of few (or no) other travelers excite you? Lemme guess: you like friendly locals? If this combination sounds too good to be true, it’s not. I’ve got one word for you: Principe.

Located off the coast of western Africa, Principe — the sister island of Sao Tome, and uttered almost always together, as in “Saotomeandprincipe” — is covered with dense, tropical jungle; ringed by khaki-colored beaches; and surrounded by warm, turquoise water. Located in the Gulf of Guinea, this volcano-tipped island also boasts desperately few — only 20 per week! — tourists. Moreover, as the local population hovers near 6000, you’re not likely to bump into many Principe-ians, either (if you don’t want to). In other words, the island is scenic, serene, and solitary. To me: the ideal vacation destination.

According to this piece in CNN, Principe is working hard to become the latest in a long line of underdeveloped African nations that have reinvented themselves as rich, wildlife-packed, ecotourist hotspots. Featuring opportunities to scuba dive, hike protected forests, and soak up year-round sun, Principe believes it can learn from Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya — a country whose high-volume, low-cost tourism led to massive exploitation of resources, both natural and human — and become the next off-the-beaten-track “must visit” for adventure-minded travelers.

Today, the capital boasts two hotels. A Dutch woman is busy transforming two other buildings into hotels, and a casino complex is in the works. If you want to be among the first to visit this still-pristine wonderland, check out the excellent piece from CNN, which provides tips on when to go, where to stay, and what to do. Way to go.

[Via Sk*rt]

Africa Travel: Sao Tome & Principe

align="right" src="http://www.gadling.com/media/2006/03/sao-tome.jpg" alt="SaoTome" />Coffee certainly may not be
my beverage of choice, but I can’t deny wanting to spend a day or so in cocoa plantations across various lands that
boast greatness in each cup of the stimulating aromatic drink. Like most processes the process of farming and tending
to the bean-like seed before they ever make it to a humming 6 AM Starbucks machine intrigues me. Perhaps it’s the rural
people who day in and day out devote their lives to making sure the crops are plentiful. Who knows?

In the
event you (or me) never make it to Sao Tome & Principe,
the Portuguese speaking west African islands in the Gulf of Guinea there’s always this excellent href="http://www.ifad.org/photo/region/PA/ST.htm#">IFAD gallery of photos to turn to. The photos take us on a tour
through the cocoa bean process and the lives of the hardworking natives who live off the industry. Very cool way to
check out Sao Tome & Principe before planning travel to the area if it’s anywhere close on your list of
destinations to visit.