Climbing Mt Fogo

There's fantastic hiking along the crater floor, but most people come to climb the peak. The majority do it as a day trip from São Filipe, departing around 6am; book one through Qualitur or Zebra Travel. Others overnight in Chã, which is a more leisurely option. Most people climb Pico Grande, which isn't technically difficult but requires good physical condition, a hardy pair of boots and a local guide. There are plenty of guides in Portela, and the going rate is around CVE4000. The taxing ascent – a climb of 1000m up a 30- to 40-degree slope – takes around four hours, with some challenging scrambles near the top, but the views are magnificent (especially in spring; otherwise you may be staring down into cloud cover). Afterwards, it's a much speedier ascent coming down through volcanic ash.

For more of an adventure, you can go up Pico Grande and come down via Pico Pequeno, which is the more difficult descent: you go down a steep slope of loose volcanic rocks for some 200m before reaching the 'runway' of volcanic ash and sand, which you then run down all the way to the multicoloured Pico Pequeno crater.

Fatal accidents have happened on these routes, so don't take the hike lightly. Always go with a guide and start climbing early to avoid the noon heat.

Note that if you come by aluguer (shared minibus), you will need to spend two nights in Chã. Spend the afternoon of your arrival exploring the crater, and then make the ascent the next morning. Recover in the afternoon and then head back to São Filipe the next morning by aluguer (minibus), which leaves around 6am.