A stress-free new year: Cape Verde Islands

A stress-free new year: Cape Verde Islands

Cape Verde is the perfect place for lazy and happy people . A favorite saying of the locals, often uttered in the streets, stores and hotels, is “stress-free.” This Caboverden life motto has spread to all tourists.

Dinners for the family, housework and cleaning, short and rainy days, low temperatures and no sun, a merry-go-round of daily activities, makes many tired. Go to Cape Verde : hot sand under your feet and the pleasant sound of ocean waves.

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A stress-free new year: Cape Verde Islands

When is the best time to fly to Cape Verde?

The Cape Verde Islands can be safely visited at any time of year . The archipelago is located in a tropical climate zone, which makes it always have great weather and 330 days of sunshine a year. There can be strong winds from January to March, making it a feast for water sports enthusiasts. During this period, the beaches and coasts of Sal Island are dominated by avid windsurfers and kite surfers . Their feats on the crests of the white waves in full sun create this amazing spectacle!

Christmas in Cape Verde? Wonderful idea ! It’s a special time for Cape Verdeans: they get together with their family, come from different parts of the islands to cook together and visit friends. Holidays in Cape Verde take place for the residents in joy and peace. The average temperature is around 25C during the day and around 22C at night. This is a time to plan for a sweet lazy day at the beach. Along with November, there is a slight cool down (to about 27C) and nights bring a nice chill (24C).

What are your first impressions of visiting Sal Island?

During your vacation in the Atlantic Ocean, more than 450 km west of Africa, you will be accompanied by bright colors: red, yellow, turquoise and blue. The colors of nature mix and complement each other. Tourists see desert landscapes and mirages, lying flat on the hot sand under the scorching sun, jumping over high waves and running in the wind.

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What are your first impressions of visiting Sal Island?

Are vaccinations required before entering Cape Verde?

No, there are no mandatory vaccinations . Many people take advantage of last minute price cuts and fly out almost overnight. For people who prefer to protect themselves, the World Health Organization recommends vaccinations against hepatitis A and B (viral hepatitis) typhoid, diphtheria and tetanus.

What should I bring with me to Cape Verde?

A basic minimum includes the following:

  • Shoes, preferably with thick soles, will come in handy during long walks. They will effectively protect your feet from hot sand, rocks and hot asphalt;
  • Cream with a high UV filter. Perfectly protects the skin from the effect of facial redness and subsequent comparison with wrinkled raisins;
  • windbreaker jacket. After sunset with a slight drop in temperature the wind may increase, but it is not unpleasant.
  • Lightweight and breathable clothing. The sun shines brightly in Sala, and when covered with natural materials, there will be no skin problems.
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What should I bring with me to Cape Verde?

How much money to take and how much?

On the island of Sal, the escudo (CVE) is mandatory, and 1 escudo is worth 100 centavos. Coming from Europe, it is best to take euros. The rate is fixed and is 1 euro = approximately 110 CVE. Currency can be exchanged at the airport, banks or exchange offices. In major cities you can easily pay with a VISA credit card. What prices can I expect? A 1.5 liter bottle of water costs about 1 euro, lunch costs from 10 euros.

What is worth eating on the island of Sal?

Delicious meals are available in local restaurants and hotels, and the menu is dominated by fresh fish and seafood, which are prepared in hundreds of ways . Local cuisine is characterized by simple ingredients and ease of preparation. Goat cheese and papaya jam with pieces of this fruit creates a real sensation. Be sure to try the national dish called Cachupa, which is based on a special type of corn and beans, it resembles the famous stew and caldo de Peixe (which is a fish soup with potatoes, cassava). For dessert, try the sweet potato poodle and Bol de Cuscus (corn and sugar cake) . Grog goes well with all dishes. It’s a local rum-based strong drink with additives.

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What is worth eating on the island of Sal?

What souvenirs to bring from the island of Sal?

Handmade wooden sculptures, often depicting the history of the place, original jewelry and wicker products – they are sure to remind you of a lazy holiday in a fairy tale atmosphere . Walking through the streets of local towns and villages in Salé, women dressed in colorful dresses or tunics, including dyed ones, are commonplace in batik techniques and with their heads wrapped in a turban of colorful materials. If you are a fashion lover (or one of your friends), you should visit one of the local textile industries. The huge selection of patterns and colors just amazes! From Sala you can bring a lot of souvenirs with the already discussed slogan “no stress”, i.e. paintings, t-shirts, scarves, and a real hit colorful handmade bracelets. You can also ask to have a version made with your name on it.

What is the locals’ favorite thing to do?

The favorite is conversation . There are no newspapers here. Conversation is one of the important elements of local life. You can use it to find out what your neighbors are up to and if the fish are catching. You can also brag about how yesterday went, talk about the weather, sing, for example, about the sailor and the vast ocean, about longing for a distant world, or catch fish and sell them directly to local restaurateurs.

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What is the locals’ favorite thing to do?

What is Morna?

Morna is a musical genre and dance style from Cape Verde. Otherwise called “ocean blues,” it is very melancholic, you do not need to understand the lyrics. The phenomenon of Morna is that it floats gently in the air, while flowing in the blood of the inhabitants. The typical instruments used to play it are the guitar and the violin. The most famous singer who likes this style is Cesaria Évora , known as the “barefoot diva” because she often performs in concerts without shoes.

What is worth visiting on the island of Sal?

  • Santa Maria is a tourist destination with many hotels, including all-inclusive packages. The townspeople are very friendly and sociable, the local beach of the same name is almost 8 km long and will please hikers, runners and fans of wind and kitesurfing.
  • Palmeira is a small town with a lobster harbor and salt production.
  • Espargos is the main town with a population of about 17,000 and is the capital of the island of Sal with a picturesque smooth coastline. The name of the village comes from the asparagus that grows wild in the area.
  • Burakona is a natural lava pools, a must-see for the Blue Eye.
  • Ponta Preta is an exceptionally beautiful beach, huge, sandy, where only people with a lot of experience in the sport come.

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What is worth visiting on the island of Sal?

What are the favorite places for tourists?

The pier in the town of Santa Maria is a place known to everyone who has been in Sala for some time. Here every day in the morning there is a local fish trade. The most common fish is tuna. This is a meeting place for both the local community and curious tourists who like to take pictures of the catch. Why is it worth a visit ? There are many children playing here – they jump off the pier into the clear water, hiding in boats on the beach. Rounding out the scenery are rounded women who are preparing fish for sale. The shouts, the warm smiles, the noise and the small boats floating quietly on the waves all create a unique atmosphere.

Visit the Pedra de Lumé brine, which was formed in the crater of an inactive volcano. Your preference is to try several activities: walk or jog (all to enjoy the view) or take a bath in the salt lake (the salinity of the water is so high that you can easily drift). There are also shallower brines around Santa Maria.

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What are the favorite places for tourists?

A fabulous photo story of the cultural center of the Cape Verde Islands

Not only is Santiago Island the largest island in Cape Verde (Cape Verde Islands), but it is also the most populous and economically developed. It is also home to the capital of the country, in some places a colorful and colonial town of Praia with a population of about 200,000 people – nearly half the country’s population.

It is noteworthy that tourists on the main island of the country and almost not meet – they are all on the island of Sal, 300 kilometers from the capital, known for its beaches and luxury hotels.

Here they look at you as a curiosity, there are few white faces on the island of Santiago, and outside of Praia it’s a rarity. I myself was surprised that in the most “touristy” country in West Africa, in small villages, not only children but also adults came to see me.

The main island at first glance seems arid, dusty and boring. At least, that’s the scenery around the capital. But once you get behind the wheel, leave Praia and head toward the central part of Santiago, the terrain begins to change rapidly.

Here you’ll find mighty mountains, forests, gorges, and picturesque villages with Portuguese colonial architecture.

For an overview of the geographical location of the islands of Cape Verde, here is a map. As already mentioned, 90% of all foreigners visiting the country are confined to the small island of Sal, known for its beaches. In fact, except for the beaches there is nothing of interest – an arid, flat island.

It is no coincidence that the Portuguese, who owned Cape Verde from 1462 to 1975, did not create a single city there, except perhaps a small garrison town of Santa Maria. The most populous islands are Santiago, with Praia as its capital, and St. Vicente, with the large town of Mindelo, where, incidentally, the famous singer Cesaria Évora was born and lived.

The island of Santiago with an approximation and indication of the main settlements and roads. The highest point of the island is a mountain with the same name of Santiago at 1340 meters. Not so much, would you say?

And by the way, on this mountain is the main flight control center over the Atlantic. All flights from Europe to South America pass just north of the island and are controlled from here. Because farther out, the ocean is wide open and the next control point is only in Brazil.

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When you begin your journey around the island from Praia, you barely leave the city and find yourself in a deserted and very dusty area. At first, I remember thinking, “I wasted three days on Santiago Island, it’s boring…”.

But I knew from the reports of other travelers that a little patience and it would be very beautiful. Okay, let’s be patient and drive on –

Shortly after leaving Praia there will be a signpost to the only site on the islands considered by UNESCO to be the historical heritage of mankind. It is the old Portuguese town of Cidade Velha, where, frankly speaking, very little has survived. Only a fortress and a few colonial houses. But the place is nice to stop for an hour and take a walk.

That’s all the UNESCO heritage, these few colonial houses from the late 15th century.

Closer to the center of the island, the hilly terrain gives way to a mountain range –

The road, full of dangerous serpentines, winds up to the top of Santiago, where you can enjoy great views of the whole island. Unfortunately, because of the dust and fog, visibility today is not the best.

You can’t take pictures of the flight control center, as the military personnel present on the mountain warned. But a piece did make it into the frame, on the right side of it –

Most of the island’s roads are lined with volcanic paving stones. That’s the way it is on all the islands. Cheap labor multiplied by the relative high cost of making and laying asphalt. It’s easier for them to pave the pebbles by hand.

The scenery is getting more and more picturesque –

There are about three dozen villages on the island, some of which are typically African with chaotic buildings, and some of which are former Potrugal settlements. We do remember that the Portuguese ruled the island for 500 years and considered themselves practically locals. Imagine, 500 years! That’s twenty generations.

They lived in these settlements, they were busy with the usual things in the countryside: cattle breeding, agriculture, and closer to the middle of the twentieth century they were already creating small factories for the production of construction materials, food (which went to Europe and West Africa) and began to develop tourism.

Today there are no Portuguese here. Just as everything they built has fallen apart. Except for their homes, which the locals call colonial.

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However, in Cape Verde, private property is respected and Portuguese homes are not touched and do not inhabit. Only if the owners themselves decide to sell them. But not in this particular case.

Portuguese cemeteries. It’s not that old, they lived here until 1975.

In every settlement in Cape Verde, the Portuguese built a massive municipal toilet, more like a bomb shelter, and with bars. Some of them are still in operation today.

There are many such settlements on the island. The colorful Portuguese churches have also been preserved.

On the right is the second largest city of the island, called Assomada with a population of about 50 thousand people.

Shortly after Assamada begins the most beautiful part of the island, Santiago. Sierra de Malagueta National Park. It is another mountain range crossing the island and the road with many serpentines climbs up to the top and then descends to the northern end of the island. The places are very beautiful –

This is the panorama in the direction I just came from. In good weather you can even see the capital of the country, Praia, there far away in the haze. But the capital is only 50 kilometers in a straight line –

And this is a view of the northern part of the island, where I’m headed –

The Portuguese were connoisseurs of beauty and could not help but build a hotel in such a beautiful place. After they left, the local peasants turned the hotel into an ordinary house, but since there are no jobs and nothing to do (except relax in nature – which is what the hotel was created for), it was soon abandoned. And so the hotel stands in this wonderful place and does not perform its main function related to tourism.

The beauty is unearthly, we remember, we initially thought that the island is boring. A little patience and here is the result.

In the distance you can see the northern end of the island of Santiago, the town of Tarrafal and the ocean coast.

The small village of Ribeira de Barca. Nothing spectacular here, just beautiful and a couple of fish restaurants. There are no tourists here either. Locals do most of the fishing and take the goods to Praia for the market.

Note that they have brought trainers to the village. As I said, Cape Verde is the most civilized country in Africa after South Africa and Botswana. Where else will you find such a thing, even in the countryside.

That’s all for now, and next time I’ll tell you about the capital of Cape Verde, a cool little town of Praia.

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