The African Caribbean
Beautiful and mysterious, Cape Verde offers the visitor year-round sunshine, crystal-clear waters, incredible volcanic landscapes, and endless sandy beaches. Water sports fans are well-catered for; Cape Verde is one of the best places in the world for windsurfing and kitesurfing as well as diving and sailing. A little piece of Caribbean paradise in the Atlantic
Cape Verde, also known as Cabo Verde, comprises 10 volcanic islands in an archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean, approximately 500km west of Senegal.
With its contrasting blend of mountains and beaches, Cape Verde is ideal for anyone looking for a mix of hiking, nature and beach scenes. The most popular island is Sal, with its 8km long beach, which draws in lovers of water sports as well as visitors looking to wander around the cobbled, colourful towns and appreciate the beauty of the landscape.
Thanks to its links with Africa, Portugal and Brazil, Cape Verde is truly a melting pot of different cultures, which visitors can experience and appreciate through both its food and its music.
Top Cities Praia (capital), Mindelo, Espargos, Assomada Languages Portuguese and Creole. English is understood in the tourist areas. Currency Cape Verde escudo. Euros are also widely accepted. Time Zone Time zone is (GMT-1 hour), making Cape Verde 1 hour behind London during the winter (GMT) and 2 hours behind London during British Summer Time. Drinks Imported beer (bottle): £1.60/$2.00 Domestic beer (draft): £2.70/$3.35 Water: £0.60/$0.75
Meals Inexpensive restaurant: £4.10/$5.10 Meal for 2, mid-range, 3-course: £28.55/$35.30 Hostels Hostel prices start from around £13.00/$16.10 Hotels 3-star hotels are available for approximately £35.00/$43.30 upwards with prices around £230.00/$284.35 for 5-star luxury. Tipping Tipping is not required but is always appreciated: 5-10% is a guide for good service. For helpful taxi drivers, it is usual to just round up the fare.
Taxi There are generally plenty of taxis available around Cape Verde - expect to pay around £0.80/$1.00 per km. Although they are metered, it is still worth confirming the cost in advance. Taxis are the safest form of travel at night. Public transport Public transport on the islands is limited to the “aluger” - usually a minibus, van or pickup. They generally depart when full and will service most towns and pick up/drop off along the way. Inter-island flights are available for reasonable prices. Alternatively, there are ferry services between many of the islands but do check first as some routes are not well-serviced. In addition, the crossings can be quite rough. Highlights Most visitors aim for Sal with its white beaches and colourful towns. Head to Santa Maria for its craft shops, colourful markets, live music, beach bars and restaurants. Alternatively, test your windsurfing or kitesurfing skills, particularly from November to March when the winds are at their strongest. Other popular water sports include diving and snorkelling (best done from April to September). Use the opportunity to soak up the local culture in the town or head to the Pedra de Lume saltpans and float in the crater of an old volcano. Santa Monica and Praia de Chaves on Boa Vista are two other excellent beaches in Cape Verde. Look out for turtles (between July and September) on Ervatao Beach, experience a sunset ride on horseback along the seashore or enjoy a dune buggy excursion. Fishing is another popular sport on many of the islands (particularly Sal and Boa Vista). If you are visiting between March and April, then look out for humpback whales as this is peak season for them, although sightings are generally possible from February to May. The island of Fogo is perfect for hiking trails, with the jewel in the crown being a hike towards Pico do Fogo - the highest peak in West Africa and the only active volcano in Cape Verde. Explore Santo Antao with its lush, green, rugged scenery, canyons and gorges, and admire the views from the Delgadinho ridge. Some of the hikes can be tough but the rewards are worth it. Admire the coastline of Sao Vicente with its rocky, natural beauty providing the perfect backdrop to experience nature at her finest.
The archipelago was uninhabited until the 15th century when the Portguese colonised the islands. Independence was finally granted in 1975.
Santiago is the biggest island and location of the capital city of Praia.
Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau were a joint country until 1980.
Cape Verde has one of Africa’s most stable democractic governments which means that the standard of living tends to be higher than many other African nations.
The islands of Sal, Boa Vista and Maio hardly ever see any rain.
Cape Verde is the third largest nesting site for loggerhead turtles.
Goats are popular – there is at least one for every two people.
The long-eared bat is the only animal native to the islands.
It is considered rude to eat in public without sharing your food with others.
The national dish is Cachupa – a slow cooked stew based on corn which is one of the country’s staple foods.