Our day at Sao Tomé de Principe started with some scuba diving. Being this close to the equator, 30 feet under water the temperature was still a sweetening 29 degrees Celsius. The scenery was spectacular however, and we spotted our first octopus.
We had lunch at our lodge, after which we decided to climb the mountain of Sao Tomé Island. With a Jeep of course. Enroute to the 9000ft-high summit we met some very nice people.
Our attention was first drawn by the sign saying ‘Mount Café.’ With Sjoerd Jan being a barista (link!) we took particular interest in this, and it appeared to be a coffee plantation.
We met with the friendly owners and employees, and a delicious cup of coffee was prepared for us on the spot.
No fancy cups and chrome coffee makers here: just a natural, pure Arabica coffee melange.
We had to leave the plantation again to further climb the mountain. Down the road we were greeted by some of the local school children.
All in all, we loved Sao Tomé. The people are relaxed and friendly, the coffee fantastic and the beaches great. However: time to leave again, back to mainland Africa: Congo.
We have left Europe, and this time, we won’t be back anytime soon. As we flew from the Canary Islands to Atar in Mauritania, all we did see below us was sand, and an occasional herd of wild camels.
After a while the scenery became more diverse, with large rock formations and vast canyons. We flew as low as 300 feet over all this beauty, to enjoy it as much as possible. But then the sand came. It went straight through our fuselage, and reduced visibility quite a bit. We decided to climb to see if we could get above it. We had to climb to 7000 feet to regain normal visibility again.
After landing we had some stressful conversations with local authorities, as they tried to explain to us we were not allowed to land on the airport.
Thanks to the assistance of some local Dutchmen we were soon allowed entrance to Mauritania nevertheless. The Dutch took us with their SUV to a fantastic oasis where we spent the rest of the day relaxing.
Today, we visited the market in Atar, an old mining city, and enjoyed some local food and culture. This afternoon we will fly with some of our hosts around a spectacular crater, about 70 miles from where we are now. After that, we are promised some barrels of Avgas to fill up our airplane for the flight to Bamako tomorrow. We will be bound for Mali in the early morning!
But only for a few days. We left Fés in Morocco yesterday around 1100 in the morning, bound for Tenerife-Norte (Los Rodeos) where we would have to pass immigration back into Spain. It was a long flight over the Atlantic ocean, and it took several hours before we first saw land again (Lanzarote).
We arrived at Tenerife at around 16.00 local time, knowing we had to leave for El Hierro as fast as we could, as the airport of El Hierro would close at 18.00.
But Murphy’s law started to wag its tail. The first delay happened because of a royal visit – the son of the King of Spain came in with his Dassault Falcon, and that grounded us for a significant amount of time. Then, when we were allowed to leave for El Hierro, the cloud ceiling had dropped to below 500 feet. Because of that, ATC no longer allowed us to depart under VFR.
Our OPS-team back in the Netherlands quickly came in to help and prepared an IFR-flightplan which was approved and active within minutes, so off we went. We tried to enjoy the spectacular scenery of the Canary Islands during the sunset, while we flew to El Hierro as fast as our Piper would allow us to. We touched down at El Hierro at 17.58, just minutes before closing.
Now came the driving part, and that would prove to be more tricky than flying. We had to drive to our hotel, but because of the recent volcanic activity on the island many main roads were closed. We had to drive during the night, over small and curved mountain roads. Visibility gradually dropped to 50 meters or less. It took us two hours, before we arrived at the hotel.
Today we relaxed at our hotel, enjoyed the mild temperatures of 20+ Celcius and had some fantastic scubadiving experiences. We will upload some videos as soon as we can. So stay tuned!
Tomorrow we will head for Africa again: Atar, Mauritania. We’ll be doing some trainspotting there!
We wanted to share some more information on our short stay in Fés, Morocco a few days ago. We visited the old Medina, the town center dating back to before medieval times. It is said not having changed a lot since then. At night, going in without a guide will get you lost within minutes because of the incredible darkness.
With daylight however, it is not much better. The system of small streets, lanes and alleys is insanely complicated, even for those with an extremely accurate sense of direction. So we took a guide, who led us through this fascinating first part of Africa!
We found a great, short youtube video for you about this fascinating city here!
Yesterday we left Valencia for Fés in Morocco around 10AM in the morning. Our initial plan was to fly via Gibraltar. However headwinds made us change our minds, and we flew south, along the Spanish coast. We crossed the Mediterranean Sea from Almeriá straight to Morocco, flying at 1000 feet altitude. The sea was quite crowded with ships heading to or from the funnel that is Gibraltar. A spectacular sight!
We crossed the Moroccan coastline somewhere west of Nador, from where we overflew the spectacular Atlas mountain range. We arrived in Fés at about 16.00 hours, where we were welcomed graciously by a very kind customs official. We spend our evening enjoying everything the old Medina of this historic city has to offer with its food, culture and hospitality.
Today we will leave Africa again for a short while, flying from Fés to El Hierro via Tenerifé. We really look forward to do some scuba diving there!
Today we departed for our ambitious journey from Teuge in the Netherlands. Families and friends had come out of their beds very early on this cold and wet sunday morning, to wave us goodbye.
We left EHTE around 0900 local time in the morning, flying to Béziers at the French Côte d’Azur. We left Béziers only an hour after arriving, to continue on our last leg of this long flying day: Valencia!
We arrived in Valencia shortly after 19.00 in the evening, and witnessed a spectacular sunset during our arrival. For now, it’s off to bed early to prepare for tomorrow, when we start the next part of our next journey, flying to the Canary Islands via Gibraltar and Morocco! (You can follow our progress live here!)