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Cape Verde Travel Guide

 

INTRODUCTION:

West of Mauritania and Senegal, towards the north of Africa, lies a group of islands most of which belong to Spain and Portugal. From this archipelago, emerge the islands of the Republic of Cape Verde which belong to neither of the European countries. Together, all the islands are referred to as Macaronesia (often misspelled as Macronesia).

The only immediate neighbor of Cape Verde is the Atlantic Ocean and the country comprises a greatly diversified geography. From the rolling sands of the desert to the majestic towering peaks of mountains and the crashing waters at the beaches, all combine to make Cape Verde, one of the finest tourist resorts in the African continent.   

Cape Verde is probably the only African country whose history does not comprise war stories and where political instability was never seen. With a remarkable political scenario in hand, the country’s economy is on a constant rise and living conditions are improving at a great pace. In this process, Cape Verde has been lucky enough not to find any obstacles. Although there is lack of natural resources, Cape Verdeans have set tourism industry as the main source of funding for the country, putting its geography to use.        

MAJOR CITIES:

Praia: is the capital of Cape Verde as well the country’s main port, largest city and commercial center. Luxury accommodation couples up with two excellent beaches in the city to make up for a fun-filled holiday.

Espargos: is the capital of the Sal Island comprising a flat land and in close proximity to some hilly areas. It has fine hotels, restaurants and other amenities to enjoy.

Assomada: is the seat of Santa Catarina municipality and the city is constantly growing. Its museums, concerts and cultural events make it a place to be visited.

Cidade Velha: is the oldest European city in the tropics and boasts Africa’s oldest street built by Europeans. A walk in the historic town must be included in the trip.

Mindelo: is the cultural capital of Cape Verde. It is situated on the island called Säo Vicente and is one place where cultural highlights are hard to avoid. Music is heard around the town played aloud in restaurants and bars.

GET IN:

Visa:

Requirements to acquiring a visa to Cape Verde are very simple. Just a few steps lead to finding flights to Cape Verde. All the nationals need to have a passport, valid up to at least 6 months along with a visa and a return ticket.

Nationals of Angola, South African and some ECOWAS countries are not required to show any visas for traveling to Cape Verde. Nationals of those countries where Cape Verde has a diplomatic representation, need to obtain the visa prior to flying while, others may get one on arrival in the country. Visas are similar for all types of travelers, business or tourists, and range only from singly entry to multiple entry.   

Transit passengers do not need to have a visa. However the condition is that they should have proper itinerary to be followed along with related documentation. If leaving the airport at Cape Verde, a visa will be required.    

Single entry visas expire after 180 days of the date of issue and allow for a maximum of 90 days stay in Cape Verde. These can not be extended once tourists have arrived in Cape Verde. Multiple entry visas remain valid for 12 months after the date of issue.

Belgium, Netherlands, USA, Russia and Switzerland have embassies of Cape Verde thus nationals of these countries need to have a visa before departure.  

Flying:

There are four international airports to receive Cape Verde flights from all part of the world. These airports are; Rabil International Airport in the city of Rabil, Amílcar Cabral International Airport in Espargos, Praia International Airport in Praia and Säo Pedro International Airport in Säo Pedro.

The airport at Säo Pedro receives a small number of flights and is connected to the Portuguese cities of Lisbon and Säo Nicolau through TACV. Rest, all the connecting cities are Cape Verdean cities. TACV is a Cape Verdean airline service that offers scheduled as well as chartered flights.

The capital city of Praia is linked internationally to Banjul, Fortaleza, Nice, Dakar and Boston along with some Cape Verdean cities through TACV. Cabo Verde Express and Halcyonair connect Praia with other Cape Vedrean cities.

TAP Portugal has flights between Lisbon and Praia.

The airports at Espargos and Rabil receive a number of flights from many countries around Europe, Americas and Africa. Delta Airlines link Cape Verdean airports to those in Boston (USA) and Fortaleza (Brazil). TAAG Angola and Air Senegal are the African carriers that accompany airlines from Netherlands, France, Italy, Germany, the UK, Belgium, Portugal and a number of other European countries to Cape Verde. With a wider choice, it is easier to find cheap flights to Caper Verde destined to the cities of Rabil and Espargos than Praia and Säo Pedro.     

GET AROUND:

Flying:

Apart from the four international airports, there are four other airports in Cape Verde. These four are however all domestic ones. Together, the eight airports are served by Cape Verdean flyers; Halcyonair, TACV and Cabo Verde Express connecting the islands of Boa Vista, Maio, Fogo, Santaigo, Sal, Säo Nicolau, Säo Vicente and Santo Antäo. The four domestic airports serve the cities of; Ponta do Sol, Vila do Maio, Säo Filipe and Preguiça.    

Car:

Local as well as international car rental agencies have their offices all over Cape Verde. Hence car hiring is possible in the country and provides for a more independent journey. Some roads in the country are not very smooth thus making, 4x4s a good choice.

On the larger islands like Fogo, Santiago and Boa Vista, car hiring is better suited but even in smaller islands, it can be a fine experience to drive around.   

Bus:

Aluguers are the minibuses that run around the country. These allow passengers to get on or off at any point that they wish to. Minibuses are, by far, the only form of public transport in Cape Verde.

Taxi:

Taxis are a good choice to travel with, between major towns and cities, airports, accommodations and other major destinations. Taxis are in very good conditions as they have been newly introduced.  

Boat:

STM Line and Moura Company are the major service providers that offer water routes between different cities of Cape Verde. They are a bit costly thus a better choice is to fly but amongst travel aficionados, water rides are a popular activity.  

TOURIST ATTRACTIONS:

Brava Island:

Towards the western side, Brava Islands have some exotic beaches which can be of great interest for beach lovers. Beaches of Cape Verde are actually one of the primary reasons for tourism in the country. Out of these shorelines and into the city, Brava Islands may be overpopulated but this is where the truest soul of Cape Verde can be felt.

Colonial Architecture:

Owing to the fact that Cape Verde has remained a Portuguese colony for more than 500 years, it may not be amusing to hear that Portuguese architecture fills the islands of this country. These enthralling Romanesque, Gothic and Neoclassicism architecture based construction works are worth exploring. In the city of Cidade Velha, located on the island of Santiago, travelers may find some buildings dating back to the 17th century. Such buildings have earned the city the title of UNESCO World Heritage Site.    

Nature:

From the white sand beaches on the island of Sal to the volcanic peaks in Säo Nicolau and Fogo and the hills of Santiago, nature is at its best in Cape Verde. Most of the country’s highlands comprise volcanic peaks but the highest one is at Fogo Island.

Water Sports:

Cape Verdean topography has allowed al kinds of waters ports to be practiced at its beaches. The country enjoys a large number of sport and beach lovers every holiday seasons for its favorable climatic and environmental conditions. Due to its excellent beaches, most of the water sports activity is concentrated on the beaches of Sal Island; other beaches offer fun and adventure, no lesser than them.

LANGUAGES:

The official language and lingua franca of most Cape Verdeans is Portuguese. Hence it is spoken far and wide in the country. The second most popular language in the country is Crioulo which is a mixture of English and West African languages.

For tourists, the third most popular language of Cape Verde, French, might be rather helpful after Portuguese. English is spoken and understood by a very few people but those who know it, speak and understand it well. For those travelers who do not speak Portuguese and French, a Portuguese phrasebook might be required.   

WEATHER:

1st Quarter:

The first quarter of the year sees scanty rainfall which estimates no more than 0.5cm. Sunlight falls for 6 hours in January, 7 hours in February and 8 hours in May. Humidity maintains at 67% in the months of January and February but rises to slightly higher than 68% for March. Temperatures do not rise higher than 24oC for the entire period of three months while February and March do not see temperatures falling lower than 18oC.  Lowest minimum temperature for the month of January is 19oC.  

2nd Quarter:

April enjoys sunlight, daily for 9 hours which is the highest in the year. Sunlight hours however decrease to 7 hours in June from 8 hours in May.  Humidity for the months of April and June is 66% while that for June is 67%. Rainfall is scanty throughout the second quarter until a negligible downpour descends in the end of June. Temperature in month of April ranges from 19oC to 24oC. In May, temperatures can be as low as 20oC and as high as 25oC while in June, the range increases to remain in between 21oC and 26oC.

3rd Quarter:

In July and August, no more than 5 and no lesser than 6 hours, are available for the sun to shine. Sunlight timings however increase to 7 hours until the end of September. Humidity increases from 71% in July to 72.2% in August and 73% in September to make September the most humid months of the year. Rainfalls are also highest in this month at 3.5cm having increased from 1cm in July and August. Temperature range is highest in September from 24oC to 29oC and even the month of August does not see temperatures rising more than 29oC. However the lowest average temperature range for August is 23oC and the range for July is 22oC-27oC.    

4th Quarter:

Humidity, temperatures and daylight hours, all decrease from October to December. The month of October sees humidity levels at 70.1% while November experiences a level of 69% which reduces to 66% until December. Sunlight hours decrease from more than 7 hours in October to 7 hours in December through 7 hours in November. Temperature ranges in the months of October, November and December are; 23oC-29oC, 22oC-27oC and 20oC-25oC respectively. Rainfalls in October can estimate up to 2cm which reduce to 0.5cm in November and increase slightly in December but only to remain lower than 1cm.