Monday, January 6, 2014

Dream destinations for 2014 By CNN Travel staff

São Tomé and Príncipe (Africa)
Only 20 tourists a week, according to available figures, rock up at this bi-island nation, the second smallest in Africa.
So what? Kabul probably gets even fewer.
But people don't avoid São Tomé and Príncipe because it's dangerous or a dump. They don't go there because they don't know where it is.
Unless they're from São Tomé and Príncipe.
This little speck -- or rather specks -- off the west coast of Africa is a good candidate for the exotic paradise island of cliché.
For a start, people don't actually "rock up" here -- they wobble across on a cargo ship from Gabon or take an occasional flight from Portugal.
Once on-island, there's ... not a lot to do.
Which is the whole point.
You can stay in the crumbling old colonial houses, go bird-watching in the thickly forested hills, drink some damn good coffee.
But this is a place whose virtual national motto is "leve-leve" -- take it easy.
"Hustle and bustle" is actually a swear word. (OK, not true but it should be.)
The national mood contrasts with the peerless, hip-thrusting style of dance in the clubs of the capital at night.
Oil has been discovered off São Tomé and Príncipe, so you'd better get there soon.
TAP Portugal is the only airline that flies directly to ST & P from outside Africa.
TAAG Angola Airlines flies there from Angola, Ghana and Cape Verde.
Old colonial plantations offer some of the most atmospheric accommodation.