Chã das Caldeiras - literally the Plateau of the Crater - is the area inside the original crater that created the island of Fogo 100000 years ago. The villages of Portela and Bangaeria are effectively joined as they sprawl for a kilometer or two on the main road that crosses the crater.
The villagers live from the agriculture in the rich volcanic soil of the crater. Grapes are used to made the excellent Fogo wine which must be tried. Apples, pears, peaches and figs are also grown.
Aluguers leave from São Filipe around noon. You can also get a lift with Patrick, the proprietor of Pousada Pedra Brabo from his office above the market in São Filipe. The pickup leaves from his downtown office around 11:00 for the 2-hour journey ($500). Aluguers are around the same price but take around three hours due to frequent stops.
Getting back to São Filipe is similar with Patrick's pickup leaving at 8:30. Aluguers leave earlier.
Alternatively, guides will arrange a full service trip including hints, explanations and a private taxi.
The highlight of a trip to Fogo is climbing the Pico de Fogo. Despite the imposing slopes, the climb is possible for anyone of moderate fitness who doesn't mind a bit a rock scrambling. Climbing Pico do Fogo without a guide is not allowed. Prices start around $5000 for up to two persons.
Sturdy footwear is essential - no sandals! High-top hiking boots are recommended, because of sharp-edged lava ash while going down. Walking sticks might be helpful. Take with you enough sun protection, snack and water.
Ideally you will want to spend two nights in Chã das Caldeiras. Take a short walk in the afternoon and arrange a guide for the trip up the peak the following day.
An excursion starting at São Filipe is also possible with a taxi (no meter - fix price) and guide. You start out for Chã das Caldeira very early in the morning. You can either come back the same day or stay in Chã das Caldeira.
Another nice hike from Chã das Caldeira takes you through the fog forest towards Mosteiros.
These are all within walking distance of each other:
- Cafe Isabella - more light meals and snack bar
- Cafe Marisa. full meals
- Bar Restaurant Escrola (behind Cafe Marisa), ☏ . full meals and bar
- Casa Ramiro, ☏ . 18:00-22:00 daily. full meals/wine
- Casa Ramires (On the bend in the road near the tourist office). This mini-market serves drinks in the evenings and is the place to hear local music. Try the locally brewed red wine.
The town really took a beating when the volcano erupted in 2014-2015, including some lodging establishments and segments of the road getting destroyed. It would not hurt to inquire about current conditions before arriving.
- 1 Ciza e Rose (in Portela part of Chã das Caldeiras), ☏ . Homestay type of place where you can get to know the family quite well. Close to market (Minimercado) and Chez Isabella restaurant. $2524.
- 2 Pensao Casa José Doce (in Portela part of Chã das Caldeiras), ☏ . Wifi, dining area/bar, kitchen facilities, friendly host who can arrange tours to Pico do Fogo and transport from San Filipe. $2524.
- 3 Casa Marisa (in Portela part of Chã das Caldeiras). Associated with the former Pousada Pedra Brabo. Yurt-like stone cabins. Bar/restaurant, wifi. $6262.
- 4 Casa Alcindo (in Portela part of Chã das Caldeiras), ☏ . bar, food, wifi $4580.
Be careful of loose rocks when hiking. Climbing Pico do Fogo without a guide is not allowed due to safety restrictions.