Cape Verde Travel Guide
The Micronesia republic that is Cape Verde offers nine idyllic islands and indigenous wildlife that is being increasing threatened by manmade developments. The archipelago sits in the North Atlantic Ocean 500kms off Africa’s western coast, making it easy to reach. Formerly a Portuguese colony and a center of the slave trade, historical remnants are aplenty on the main islands of Santiago and Sal, the most popular tourist destinations. Get ready to participate in sensual African dancing, the devouring of lobsters and scenic cross-island journeys in the back of a pick up.
When to Go
Cape Verde has a tropical weather, with September as its wettest period.
The best time to visit Cape Verde is during the dry season between April and July.
Getting There & Away
Cape Verde’s international airport is located in the island of Sal. It serves both international and domestic flights. Traveling between islands is done by boat, or if you have a fat wallet, domestic flight. Getting around town is easier thanks to the availability of buses which are often crowded and the roads are known to be unsafe—either they are narrow or they go along rocky mountainsides. Cross-island travel can be done in the back of a pick up, and while the scenery is lovely, be prepared for a sore backside.
Health & Safety
If you intend to swim, fish, or ride a boat, consider the tide and water currents before getting dragged out to ocean depths. In the past few years, several fishing boats have been reported lost due to Cape Verde’s unstable water conditions. The country has several volcanic islands, and while most of them seem inactive, you should still be prepared for possible volcanic eruptions therefore avoid climbing any mountains that you might get blasted back down again.
Food & Hospitality
The dry, tropical setting of Cape Verde ensures that tropical crops, local livestock and vegetables are the common ingredients used in local dishes. The national dish, known as catchupa, is made of hominy and beans stewed with meat or fish. The xerem, or dried corn pounded into fine pieces, is another staple feast in the country. Should you tire of either of these favorites, expect to pay handsomely for international cuisine in the city’s restaurants and cafés. Good hotels come at a high price too. If you speak Portuguese, you will have no problem striking up a deal, but those who don’t should be prepared for regular rip-offs.
Three days in Santiago island
One day each in Sal and Brava islands
Santiago Island: Cape Verde’s largest and most populated island has a lush, mountainous interior surrounded by several small, sandy beaches. The capital Praia is a lively town known for its nightlife, while the Cidade Velha, a Portuguese settlement, and Fort Real de San Felipe are must-sees.
Tarrafal fishing village: also located in Santiago island, this fishing village features one of the best beaches in the country and houses an old colonial prison where some famous historical figures were once held as dissidents.
Sal Island: is famous for its salt pits that used to produce salt for the Portuguese empire.
Brava Island: is a lush island abundant with all kinds of plants, and it has the most rainfall of all of the islands and the most breathtaking views of the coast.
Swimming and surfing: do not miss the chance to go swimming off the sandy beaches of Cape Verde, with the black sand beach at Sao Nicolau and the white sand beach in Sal being two of the best. If the wind is good, you can also go surfing or windsurfing.
Listening to live music: the island of Sao Vicente is known for its live music, which is an essential part of the lives of most Cape Verdeans. Get ready for late night sensual dancing at the deep-water port of Mindelo.
Hiking and mountain climbing: explore the rugged coastline of Santo Antão and take in the spectacular sceneries along the way. This place is filled with forested hills, deep valleys, overgrown trees, flowering plants and tropical vegetation.