How can I learn more about the culture of Santomean people?

The way of life on Sao Tome is a rich and exotic blend of traditions passed on from Angolan, Cape Verdean and Mozambican slaves brought over by the Portuguese in the late 1400s to work in the sugarcane fields and later in other plantations.

You’ll learn more about the cultural tapestry of the islands on our tried and tested tours:

Watch the Tchiloli Cultural Dance

The Tchiloli, or tragedia, is a dramatic cultural play and dance telling the tale of a quest for justice.  The all male cast dress in costumes that combine traditional African themes with modern European ones and some characters wear dark wire masks like those worn for fencing.  The lively performance is accompanied by a band playing drums, bamboo flutes and shaking sacaias filled with shells and seeds.  You’ll have to listen closely as your guide navigates you through the story which centres around the murder of Valdevinos, the nephew of the Marquis de Mantua, who is murdered by Dom Carloto (Prince Charles) because Dom Carloto is in love with Valdevinos wife, Sibilla.

Have a Traditional Medicine Tour

You’ll learn how local communities are treated with traditional methods on our half day tour. This tour is a wonderful way to learn how real life is for people on Sao Tome; you’ll be taken away from the main roads and into the community where you’ll be shown how different healers work using massage and plants to treat everything from bruising after accidents to problems conceiving, HIV, cancers and problems in childbirth and infancy.

Visit the plantations of the north

Visit the plantation estates of Agostinho Neto, Santa Margarida and Monteforte and discover their role in the islands development, and their influence today.  The old plantation houses, although mostly falling into disrepair, are still impressive structures and it’s interesting to see how life has changed over the last 40-50 years.  Why not support the community by stopping for a drink or buying a biscuit or some coffee during your visit.  Don’t give the children any sweets ‘doce’ though as dental care on the islands is basic!

Plantation Tour

Stay at a Roça

There’s no better way to get to know a place than to stay there and Roça Bombaim and Roça Sao Joao on Sao Tome offer simple rooms to those looking to get a little more under the skin of the island and support rural tourism.

Have a Cookery Lesson

Learn how to make tasty Santomean dishes at the popular local restaurant Mionga.  Fresh fish is regularly on the menu in Sao Tome, often served with breadfruit, manioc, beans, some of the plentiful vegetables or one of the seven varieties of banana they grow!

You can incorporate any of these activities during your holiday to Sao Tome so get in touch to find out how.

How do I get there?

Holidays are very personal to each of us and planning a trip to somewhere less travelled requires good advice and careful planning.  For over 20 years the team at Archipelago Choice has travelled extensively to all the special destinations we offer and have unrivalled knowledge based on our own personal travel experiences.


Sao Tome and Principe are incredibly special islands to visit and if you think these islands are for you, then love to hear from you. For a friendly chat, please call 00 44 (0) 17687 721050 or email:


If you’d like a free brochure then please click on the link –   São Tomé holiday brochure


Emma O’Rouke