Pico De Fogo – The Tallest Peak In Cape Verde


Taken from an Airbus cockpit by the pilot

The ten Cape Verde Islands have a volcanic origin and warn’t inhabited until Portuguese sailors discovered them in 1456. The archipelago covers a surface of about 500 kilometers off the coast of Senegal in western Africa. The Pico volcano on Fogo island (which means fire) is the only remaining active volcano within the islands.


Fogo rises from the Atlantic Ocean to a height of 2829 meters (9500 ft.) and it’s the highest in Cape Verde. The peak can be viewed from the old craters, west of Pico, which form a semicircle -the old caldera- some 9 kilometers (5.6 mi.) in diameter. The now present crater has a diameter of about 500 meters (1640 ft.) and a total depth of 180 meters (590 ft.)


Even if Pico de Fogo is a volcanic cone, its views is made out of contrast between the dry and arid areas in the south with the the wet and fertile ones to the north. Nuts, vegetables, coffee, oranges and tobacco are cultivated to the north and west. Even red wine is produced on the island, in the old caldera of Pico. Because wood for barrels is scarce the natives store this wine in old oil barrels which give the wine a strange taste.


The best agricultural lands can be found on the bottom of the volcano’s caldera, but as all the locals know, the volcano will someday wake up and reclaim the land. This happened back in 1995 when over 5000 people had to flee from the ash cloud.


Once again in 2014 Pico de Fogo erupted and engulfed two villages, Portela and Bangeira, in lava. Houses and buildings as old as the 1860s have been wiped off the map in just a couple of days, as the volcano reclaimed the land. Life on the island is quite stable with volcanic eruptions happening fairly rarely. This time however the eruptions happened just nine years apart.