My trip began with an overnight stop in Lisbon, the perfect city to set the scene for my exploration of São Tomé and Príncipe, two tiny Atlantic Ocean islands off the coast of Gabon that were discovered by the Portuguese. As with all truly amazing places, getting there is not entirely straightforward. My flight from Lisbon took me to the Ghanaian capital, Accra, from where I travelled to São Tomé.
The journey gave me plenty of time to consider what to do in São Tomé and Príncipe, why I was so instantly drawn to this remote place. Was it the jaw-dropping images I had seen of mountainous landscapes covered with lush, green rainforests? Or the immense rocky pinnacles soaring high in the sky that could compete with any city skyscraper? Or was it the photographs I had seen of the clearest, turquoise waters that I imagined were brimming with colourful, tropical fish? Of course, these were all instant pulls, but I was undeniably also inspired by the fact that no one I knew had even heard of this miniscule island state lying off the west coast of Africa, let alone been. It seems this lush tropical paradise has remained almost entirely untouched by the tourism industry, with only a trickle of visitors recorded each year.