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  • Sao Tome and Principe

    Sao Tome and Principe travel guide

    Overview

    The remote island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe in the Gulf of Guinea is a land filled with breath-taking scenery, but far removed from mass tourism. From volcanic peaks to underwater caves, São Tomé and Príncipe is the perfect destination for a tropical holiday.

    These two archipelagos form Africa's second-smallest country that were both uninhabited before the Portuguese arrived in the 15th century. Travellers can head to the colonial capital of São Tomé to admire the distinctive architecture, or visit the fortress museum at São Sebastião to discover colonial art and religious artefacts.

    Trek through well-preserved rainforests and explore the waterfalls, enjoy the sandy beaches, or dive and snorkel in turquoise waters. Visitors can appreciate the islands' natural biodiversity by doing some bird-watching, or by visiting the turtle-nesting grounds at Obo National Park and the Boca do Inferno Blowhole.

    Savour the islands' Portuguese-Creole culture and enjoy the local island flavours by tasting it's delicious seafood, fresh fruit, and some of the world's finest coffee. Visit the colourful São Tomé market, or one of the many old plantations, where slaves once toiled to produce cocoa, coffee, and sugar. With only a handful of tourists arriving per week, visitors can be sure to enjoy this island holiday.

    Phrase Book

    English Pronounciation
    Language:

    The official language is Portuguese, and French is widely spoken, along with local languages.

    Electricity:

    Electrical current in Sao Tome and Principe is 220 volts, 50Hz. A variety of plugs are in use including the European-style two-pin plug and Schuko two-pin.

    Entry Requirements:

    US nationals: Passport required and must be valid on arrival. No visas for US Nationals required for a stay of up to 15 days.

    UK nationals: Passport required and must be valid on arrival. No visas for UK Nationals required for a stay of up to 15 days.

    CA nationals: Passport required and must be valid on arrival. No visas for Canadian Nationals required for a stay of up to 15 days.

    AU nationals: A passport is required, along with a visa. No visa required for passengers with a visa issued by USA or a Schengen Member State together with a passport valid for a minimum of 3 months from the arrival date for a maximum stay of 15 days.

    ZA nationals: A passport is required, along with a visa. No visa required for passengers with a visa issued by USA or a Schengen Member State together with a passport valid for a minimum of 3 months from the arrival date for a maximum stay of 15 days.

    IR nationals: Passport required and must be valid on arrival. No visas for Irish Nationals required for a stay of up to 15 days.

    NZ nationals: A passport is required, along with a visa. No visa required for passengers with a visa issued by USA or a Schengen Member State together with a passport valid for a minimum of 3 months from the arrival date for a maximum stay of 15 days.

    Passport/Visa Note:Visa:

    It is highly recommended that passports have at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources. E-visas can be obtained before departure at http://www.smf.st/virtualvisa/ . Passengers must have a printed e-visa confirmation.

    Travel Health:

    Hepatitis A, typhoid, yellow fever, measles-mumps-rubella, and tetanus are all recommended as pre-travel immunisations. Cholera vaccinations are not generally necessary for travel to São Tomé and Príncipe. Schistosomiasis may be acquired through contact with contaminated water, and travellers are advised to avoid swimming, wading, or rafting in bodies of fresh water, such as lakes, ponds, streams, or rivers.

    Malaria is not as common a concern as it once was in São Tomé, however visitors are still advised to take precautions, including insect repellent, netting, and antimalarial tablets. Either mefloquine (lariam), atovaquone/proguanil (malarone), or doxycycline may be taken. It is recommended to wear long sleeves, long pants, hats, and closed shoes in forested areas to prevent tick bites.

    Medical facilities in São Tomé and Príncipe are extremely limited. The main healthcare facility is the Hospital Ayres de Menezes, located on São Tomé. Be advised that most doctors and hospitals will expect cash payment, regardless of whether you have travel health insurance. Serious medical problems will require air evacuation to a country with state-of-the-art medical facilities. It is also recommended that travellers carry a personal supply of basic first aid and antibiotics.

    Local Customs:

    In São Tomé and Príncipe, customs are fairly casual and relaxed, but you shouldn't wear beachwear anywhere but on the beach. It is considered polite to ask a local's permission before taking their picture, and do not try to photograph the palace. São Toméans are very respectful of older people and those with high social status. It is considered a privilege to be invited into a person's home, and you should remove your shoes upon entering.

    Duty Free:

    Visitors to São Tomé and Príncipe may import a reasonable quantity of tobacco and perfume for personal use. Alcoholic beverages and lottery tickets are prohibited.

    Sao Tome and Principe Embassies:

    Embassy of São Tomé and Príncipe, New York, United States: +001 317 0644.

    Honorary Consulate of Sao Tome and Principe, London, United Kingdom: +44 208 877 9186

    Honorary Consulate of São Tome and Príncipe, Montreal, Canada: +001 514 989 0395

    South African High Commission, Pretoria, South Africa (also responsible for Sao Tome and Principe): +27 12 342 4222.

    Foreign Embassies in Sao Tome and Principe :

    Embassy of U.S., Libreville, Gabon (also responsible for Sao Tome and Principe): +241 01 45 7100

    British Embassy, Luanda, Angola (also responsible for Sao Tome and Principe): +244 222 334 583

    Canadian High Commission, Abuja, Nigeria (also responsible for Sao Tome and Principe): +011 234 9 461 2900

    South African Embassy, Sâo Tomé, Sao Tome and Principe: + 239 225 733.

    Sao Tome and Principe