What Our Clients Say

Sao Tomé. Omali Lodge - great room for the first stay with lots of space.  Service and restaurant good.  Excursions were not as planned which didn’t matter and two of the half day trips (Monte Café and City Tour) were linked, enabling us to see more with a tour of the north plantations. Lunches were all included, and we had some great choices, but quality of vehicles was poor.  However, guiding and driving all good.  Felt it was the right amount of time... Principe. 15kg luggage allowance does not include hand luggage which is not weighed or scanned.  Allocated seating on the way to Principe, but free seating on return.  During our stay, the flight was cancelled at least twice due to adverse weather, and we wouldn’t advocate doing what we did, and relying on the flight to get you back to Sao Tomé for a flight the same day. Roça Sundy.... On our first night, we were told there was no all-inclusive white wine available but a chat with the manager soon sorted it out.  However, it occurred again later in the week - perhaps they did not anticipate our consumption levels!  R had a surprise birthday cake!  The second was the excursions which have now changed to seven signature experiences being available, which are all shared.  There is no choice in which order you do them, as they are scheduled by the activities manager.  We were fortunate to do all ours (apart from one we decided not to do) whilst at the Roca which meant when we were at Praia Sundy, we just relaxed. Sundy Praia - Delphine, the manager, runs a very tight ship and is constantly around (in total contrast to the Roca) and willing to sort out any issues.  The accommodation is totally luxurious and over the top, and we enjoyed a surprise breakfast on the beach on our penultimate day.  No wine issues here and fizz for breakfast. A great way to finish our trip. Sao Tome . Back to Omali for the day room, which was available from the moment we arrived, to the moment we left.  It was a smaller room, but absolutely fine.  . Flight home (TAP). Total chaos at the airport with no business class lounge, only very limited snacks available from a small outlet and no free Wi-Fi. . We were 40 minutes late taking off and boarding was chaotic due to the volume of hand luggage with some of having to be stored in business class overhead lockers.  The pilot gave the reason for delay as excess weight and said some bags had to be removed.  We asked the cabin crew what this meant, and she explained that at ST, there were strict weight restrictions and that there as a number of crew were flying as passengers, it was likely that their bags would have been taken off. We suspect these were marked priority and that ours similarly marked, were taken off too, which is why they didn’t land at Heathrow (the bags of a family travelling standard, who took the same flights as us, all arrived). There was no welcome drink before take-off, and the only drinks served were an hour into the flight with the meal.  When I queried this, I was told I had water.  Really poor customer service to Lisbon. On arrival at Lisbon, we discovered the lounge is in the Schengen area, not the international area, and so we could not use it unless we cleared immigration.  Bearing in mind the flight was late, we decided not to, and unfortunately there was nothing open. . All in all, TAP was a really poor experience, even before they lost our luggage.  .

Ms Jackson and Mr Messenger

 Sao Tome. Omali Lodge is just 5 minutes or so from the airport. It’s clean and pleasant with a nice pool and gardens. It’s too far to walk into ST town but there is a nice local restaurant (Filomar) about 10 minutes walk away. Walking around is safe and nobody hassles you, but even main roads are rough /muddy and streetlighting limited so a torch is a must. We didn’t need a lot of local currency but easily changed E100 through our guide who found someone near the market. Exchange rate is fixed at 25Dobras to the Euro. Acceptance of  credit cards is limited to major hotels and ATMs are for locals only so you need to take cash in Euros. Sao Tome excursions. It was a nice balance of trips and included lunch or a picnic. East coast Experience – ideal for the first day after the journey. It was interesting to see the old plantation and the lunch food and setting were amazing. Visit to the market was a good way to see local produce and town life. Hike to the [Lagoa Amelia] lake – a fairly demanding and muddy but enjoyable walk needing our walking shoes. Interesting to see farming and the forest. . Equator visit – a very long drive in a 4WD jeep on atrocious roads – fine for us but not ideal for anyone with back problems. The hotel on the island is closed. We had a great local lunch in a tiny beach restaurant back on the mainland. The trip to/from the island was in a small, rocky open boat and our return trip in wind and rain was a bit hairy .  . Principe. The tiny plane has 19 seats. They are strict on the 15kg weight limit (but you can leave stuff at the Omali). The island is a magical and unspoilt place – just 6k inhabitants and the capital Sant Antonio is one of the world’s smallest cities. Roca Sundy is a very elegant restored plantation house with beautiful gardens and great food. It’s set in a working cocoa plantation. The local village is just in front– something of a contrast as the houses don’t have running water. Praia Sundy is just down on the coast, very different in style with immaculately furnished modern tented villas and a stunning restaurant in the rainforest next to the beach. Both Sundy hotels include house drinks (beer, wine, G&T etc) in the half board package. As we got picnics on our trips we had plenty to eat. The daily activities were varied and well organised, including boat trips, snorkelling, trip around the island, hike to a waterfall. We did a night walk to see turtles laying their eggs at a cost of E75 each (we had to ask about this and then it was organised for us - well worth it). The roads are even worse than on Sao Tome and it’s impossible to distinguish between a main road and a forest track. All the hotel cars are 4WD. Even if car hire is available, I wouldn’t recommend it. Principe is almost all lush rainforest, covered in a variety of trees both native and introduced varieties such as breadfruit, jackfruit, papaya and bananas. It is stunningly beautiful and the regional authorities seem genuinely committed to preserving its ecology and UNESCO ‘biosphere’ status by limiting commercial overdevelopment and tourist numbers.  . Other random comments/observations. Medical facilities especially in Principe are very limited so it’s probably not a place for those with significant health issues. Also no adaptaions for those with physical disability or mobility issues.  We were advised to take anti-Malarials. Take plenty of tropical strength insect repellent! Walks were often on muddy and uneven ground. Shoes with grip are a must and a walking pole might be helpful. (If clothes get muddy, the laundry service is good). It is a safe country with little crime. People seem friendly and helpful. The national language is Portuguese and some Creole variations. Hotel staff and guides speak English but sometimes limited (I speak Portuguese and this was useful as I go much more in-depth info on the country and its history). Temperature was fairly consistent – 29 by day and 26 by night. It was often cloudy so didn’t feel too hot. It does rain regularly so you need a lightweight waterproof jacket. The Bradt guide is useful if you want to know something of the history and see where you are on a  map. . Overall a very special holiday in a very special place!  .  .  .

Mr and Mrs Margetts

Dear Derek,. We all want to thank you so much for the most fantastic trip to Sao Tome and Principe.  It was amazing, far exceeding our high hopes!  Logistics all went like clockwork but, much more interestingly and importantly, the lovely people we met, the fantastic places we stayed and, above all, the experiences we had were uniformly astonishing - in particular, we all want to give special mention to our guide for all three Sao Tome excursions, Agustino.  . Omali Lodge absolutely couldn’t be improved… but Roca Belo Monte is something else (in a good way!!)    We haven’t quite come back down to earth yet, let alone sorted through our photographs (over 1000 between us!) but it really was great and we are truly grateful to you and Rainbow Tours.  . All best wishes,. Caroline.  .  .  .

Hopkinson-Woolley family

Just a quick note to thank you for helping to arrange a very enjoyable trip. Everything went smoothly and the island was as beautiful as we remembered. The upgrade at Belo Monte was much appreciated- more for the lovely outside terrace than the plunge pool. I think both hotels we’re coping well with their low numbers of guests. Belo Monte made a great effort in choosing different locations for dinner (although soup featured rather more than one would have liked) and Sundy Praia also had alternative locations with a high standard of food. Since we booked, Sundy Praia changed the options which were included in the package, but after a discussion it was agreed that all of ours were included. Going to see the turtles leaving the nest was a highlight. However for future guests they need to be aware of the cost of such trips, particularly because they were quite pricey and because of the need for cash. None of our cards worked in any of the hotels - and we know other guests had similar problems. Our cards didn’t work at the bank either. We are hopeful that next year our trip to Botswana will go ahead, but we very much enjoyed the alternative we took. Thanks again. Chrissy. .

Mr and Mrs Keen

Broadly speaking we greatly enjoyed our trip and are most grateful to you for putting it all together and for your support whilst we were away. The two islands (and perhaps Principe particularly) reminded us of the West Indies where we honeymooned in 1965. My understanding of the organisations behind our destination is that the Sundy Estate is financed basically as a philanthropic endeavour by Mark Shuttleworth, with the aim that it should be run on green sustainable lines, working with the environment. This appears to focus heavily at present on cocoa, coffee, tropical fruits, and of course tourism, with HBD Hotels (not sure of ownership of them) providing the heavy lift for this purpose. Our appraisal of the hotels where we stayed; Omali Lodge – very expensive compared with the other two and frankly with pokey badly designed accommodation (no chair in double bedroom, one very small drawer, two miniscule shelves, two large bedside tables incorporating no storage space), menus only accessible by app which we did not attempt – there was a board in a completely different location. Doubtless these shortcomings are explained at least in part by the fact that it is better established and that it is located in the main island and does not have to try so hard to bring in custom. Roca Sundy In one of the handsome buildings abandoned by the Portuguese in 1974, now restored but still a work in progress (a swimming pool is planned), much more spacious , with staff much more on the ball, and providing a good location from which to tour; Sundy Praia – best of the three with accommodation to knock spots off most competitors and very friendly and helpful staff – but rather isolated for touring. Sao Tome: obviously more to do, being much the larger of the two islands and I don’t think we exhausted the options. Roads very varied, some pretty good, others just the opposite. Principe. Much less developed and perhaps because of this it seemed to be more scenic. Roads frightful – virtually all transport is in 4 x 4’s. It needs to be! Both hotels on Principe were rather lacking in DIY alternative activities (slightly to our surprise very little use seemed to be made by hotel guests of the beach). It occurred to us that both locations might benefit from the setting up of one or two self-guided local nature trails suitable for pedestrians and which could have relevant explanatory signs en route. We would not want to give you a negative impression. However we are trying to report accurately and whilst our overall sentiment was very favourable, there were glitches which it is clearly important that we should mention. Another positive, we were helped by some charming guides who did all they could to improve our experience, and the same goes for the staff, again perhaps especially in Principe and at Sundy Praia. Very attractive special events were laid on particularly by the Praia catering staff. I hope this is helpful. We enjoyed our trip. . .

Mr and Mrs Hunt

Now all future tours cannot compare. Thanks a lot. We got very lucky ??

Dr and Dr Sarkar

Hi Craig. We had a great holiday – I would rate it flawless. The only real trek [as the kids would say] was having to fly from Brazzaville thru Addis to get to Sao Tome – hopefully air links in West Africa will improve in time. For us The Congo was the highlight – safe well organised and underpopulated in its northern half. CCC run a great show. Sao Tome Principe [particularly Principe] were very good as well – got to see a lot of endemic birdlife. You were bang on the mark picking Sundy Praia for us – it is the best of their three offerings [I think]. Snorkelling on Principe was a little disapointing outside of the unoficial marine reserve at Bon Bon – they will have to create a marine reserve to enable waters to repopulate possibly. Yes we will be back to Rainbow for further African holidays in the future with Ethiopia and the Luanga valley high on the list. Thanks very much Craig – great job. Well done. Paul. .

Mr and Mrs Mullaney

Hi Derek,. We had a great time, thanks.. Everything worked well.. At Bom Bom we'd booked a garden view room and were shown to a beach front room which was great and we didn't complain at all! Not sure why/how we got this upgrade but we didn't want to ask in case we got moved... Omali was fine. There's a fair bit to see on Sao Tome so we probably could have spent longer there...but we intend to go back sometime.... What else? The 15 kg baggage allowance on the STP inter-island flight was a joke..most people had large hard luggage with wheels and did just fine...but your advise shouldn't change because if it's a full flight maybe they are stricter.... So yeah, thanks...we had a great time... Regards,. C'.. .

Mr and Mrs Berry

'Dear Derek. We really enjoyed our trip. São Tomé was interesting and the guide you recommended looked after us very well. The Omali Lodge was very comfortable and clean. With a bit of help from TripAdvisor and the guide we found some interesting places to eat at night. Bonbon was beautiful and the cabin we had was right on the beach.  There were some lovely walks around the lodge and the snorkelling was good. We went into the main “town“ for lunch a couple of days and there was a festival one day. There are a few other hotels/lodges that have opened on Príncipe and you may want to think about an itinerary that gives clients a few days at each with perhaps a shorter stay in São Tomé. The TAP flight on an A320 was challenging! There is a rumour though that they may be putting a bigger aircraft on the route. Thanks for your help. Kind regards. Colin'.  .

Mr and Mrs Edelman

'I did enjoy the islands and my trip. The Omali had a nice atmosphere and grounds. The food was good, but a little pricey. There was usually someone there who spoke English. It was too far to walk into town, although if your timing was right, there was a free shuttle. I used the guide you recommended while at the Omali. His English was good and he tried his best to help me see what I wanted. . His tours were usually about 4 to 5 hours. . I did 4 dives with Joao Santos of Tropic Ventures. He was very helpful. The best dive I made was a shipwreck dive I did with him. The half sunken ship was swarming with large schools of many types of fish- one of my best shipwreck dives I've done from the fish point of view. Two other dives with him at Santana Island were done when the weather conditions weren't the best, and were scary. I liked the Pestana Equator about the best ( although the BomBom was close). All meals were buffet and had numerous choices, so the food was good. The grounds were beautiful. The director, the dive master and one or two of the staff were the only English speakers. The director was especially helpful. . Bom Bom was very beautiful, but no diving and no diving at a nearby plantation either. I did two walks and two car tours, all of which I enjoyed. They were reasonably priced. So, thank you for your help in making this a good trip. Thank you,. Brad Stolz'.

Mr Stolz

We had a lovely holiday. Principe and Bom Bom in particular were lovely. But so was getting a public bus across Sao Tome. If there were things to be improved, one would be finding a better flight schedule. The trip back, landing at 4am in Lisbon was a bit gruesome. But overall a great holiday.  Thanks you.  .  .

Mr Pitt-Watson and Ms Barnes

“ We really enjoyed our stay in Sao Tome and Principe.... Everyone was very friendly and helpful. The hotels were very good we thought, rooms well appointed. The breakfasts were plentiful with really nice pastries in particular. The evening meals were generally quite standard and there are no options to go elsewhere. Lunches on Sao Tome were fine, on Principe they were similar to the evening (three courses) with snacks not being available. Unfortunately the TAP cabin strike meant that we only saw part of Sao Tome (we did not do the birding trip that we had booked for when we returned). The birds were one of the main reasons for going so this was a disappointment. We must say that we were very impressed with the way that we were kept informed of the difficulties and how you managed to get us home!  We had a very good guide in Sao Tome. He took us to the botanical gardens and a general tour round the top half of the island. The hotel on Principe was very nice and we were upgraded to a chalet which was very lovely. (The poolside ones did not look anywhere near as nice). You do need to be a little fit as you have to walk across the bridge for meals, and if you stay in a chalet climbing a number of steps is energetic. The beaches were absolutely lovely, completely unspoilt and good for easy snorkelling (although not an abundance of fish). Turtles do come up - however not while we were there although it is the right time of year. We had a good trip out organised by the hotel - roads are unmade so very bumpy but interesting. Walking again was energetic but good fun, despite the warmth (and rain!). It was really interesting to see a holiday destination in the making.”.

P & J Wickham

“It was fantastic, we loved it, especially Principe of course! It never rained during our holiday though our fly from Sao Tome to Principe was delayed of one day because of a sand storm coming from the Sahara..... We definitely would like to go back one day!”.

F. Waleffe

“Tina and I have returned safely from our trip to Sao Tome which we greatly enjoyed. Generally things went very well. Both airports in Sao Tome seemed very efficient, particularly given the stage of their development and their size. Omali Lodge was very well run and we had a very pleasant stay. Bom Bom Island went well and lived up to our expectations. Transfers and tours were efficient. Thanks for organising the trip”.

R. Collinge

“ We had a lovely time in Sao Tome & Principe.  Pretty low activity for our usual holiday, but having just had family visit for two weeks and being on the go the whole time, it was just what the doctor ordered”.

J. Crane

Derek Schuurman

Travel Specialist

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