The Cape Verdeanbewitchmentbegins with his music that draws us to the archipelago. As soon as we arrive, the softness of the inhabitants leads the visitor to slip into the local rhythm. From one island to another, the beauty of the places captures the traveller and surprises with its diversity. Sea and beach, ecotourism, water sports or hiking, there is something for everyone. The ten islands, all different, force to make a choix : the sea in Maio, Boavista and Sal, the nature in Fogo, São Nicolau and Santo Antão or the culture in Santiago and São Vicente ?
Sal, lazing around and board sports
Historically, Sal is the place where the first airport of the archipelago was built. However, Sal does not offer the most beautiful face of the archipelago and accommodation is more expensive than elsewhere. The most visited island, the all-inclusive hotels come out of the ground at a brisk pace, always bigger and more sumptuous. Its beaches are very popular with windsurfers and kitesurfers, as the wind blows regularly from November to April. It is also a beautiful base for scuba diving from March to October, when the waters are calm. Lazy aficionados are not to be outdone, as everything is there est : long white sandy beaches and turquoise water that constantly displays 24 °C. To put down your towel, you will have to avoid the beaches along the hotels, as many street vendors insist more than rightly to sell their merchandise. Deserted beaches, further away, give the impression of being alone in the world.
The north of the island hides some magnificent sites, such as the saltworks of Pedra Lume where time seems to have stopped. The beauty of the landscape and its shimmering colours are conducive to the excursion. On the spot, it is possible to bathe in water with a high concentration of salt and to take a mud bath, excellent for the skin. On the other side of the island, the natural swimming pool of Buracona offers a completely different face. However, swimmers must be careful, as the waves can be violent. The site is also suitable for diving. In Sal, you can travel by aluguer - ou taxi collectif -, by scooter, quad bike or by hiring a driver through travel agencies. Another excursion is proposed by boat to join the island of Boavista for the day
São Vicente, the Cape Verdean soul and the island of Cesaria Evora
But Sal invites the visitor to go further, to the discovery of small hidden treasures, typical and exotic, just a few minutes by plane. The emblematic island is São Vicente, with the capital Mindelo, the city of Cesaria Evora, the city of Portuguese architecture, the city of festivities, the city that plunges every visitor into the very heart of Cape Verdean life. Mindelo is to Cape Verde what Havana is to Cuba. The bay of Mindelo, one of the most beautiful in the world, contributes to the charm of the city wedged between the port and Monte Verde, from where the view of the island is splendid. The city is home to many artists of all kinds and many galleries are open to the public. All around Mindelo, beaches abound. The Laginha beach in town is home to many bars which are very popular in the evenings
Accommodation in São Vicente is varied and good qualité : from family guesthouses to charming hotels, in the city or in the countryside, there is something for every taste and every budget
On the island, there are plenty of activities: it is possible to play golf, scuba diving and windsurfing. Hiking along the coast offers beautiful views while giving the impression of being alone in the world.
For all this, São Vicente is an essential stopover, ideal for soaking up the Cape Verdean way of life.
Santo Antão , ecotourism and rural Cape Verde
From Mindelo, the crossing to Santo Antão is by ferry and takes one hour. Disembarking at Porto Novo, one takes an aluguer, or collective taxi, to reach the north in one hour. The route, nicknamed "Estrada da Corda" or " route from corde ", crosses the island via a winding paved road, built by the hand of man stone by stone, in the mountains at more than 1 000 mètres altitude. From the ochre-coloured, arid land of the port, the landscape changes as you travel for miles to offer fresh pine forests and panoramas over the sugar cane valleys. It is the gateway to rural Cape Verde, where the famous grog, or rum, is produced. To make the most of the island, sleeping in the village of Ponta do Sol is better than in Ribeira Grande. It is also the place where trekking, diving, canyoning or mountain bike tours are organized
The northeast of the island is strewn with old trapiches, or distilleries, where it is possible to discover all the secrets of making the national drink, while tasting the beverage
Fogo, volcanic island and dreamy walks
Finally, and to end the trip majestically, direction Fogo, the volcanic island. From Mindelo, the plane is direct and daily. To reach the volcano, take the aluguer and open your eyes. The ascent is magnifique : small houses, pepper trees and shrubs gradually give way to aridity and the first solidified lava flows. In this lunar landscape, shaped by the ancient volcano, a caldera 9 kilomètres in diameter shelters two villages where vines are cultivated, in the middle of other smaller volcanoes. The colours black, ochre, pink and yellow mix at 1 700 mètres altitude. The ascent of Pico do Fogo, with a guide, takes you in three hours to 2 829 mètres, from where it is possible to see the islands of Brava and Praia on clear days. The descent takes one hour. Numerous quieter walks lead to the villages, through the solidified lava flows, but also on the ridges of the caldera cliffs. The site is so fabulous that you have to admire the sunset and sunrise and stay at least two nights
From Fogo, you have to reach Sal via Praia by plane, the last relaxing stop, with beach and swimming on the program. In the plate, a steak of bluefin tuna or a beautiful lobster. Go out for a last grog in a musical atmosphere, lulled by the rhythms of the country, and savour one last time the Cape Verdean way of life. When leaving the archipelago, it is very likely that a certain frustration will arise from not being able to stay any longer and having to leave already. There is only one solution: you will have to come back!
When? From November to July, in season sèche : mild temperatures and strong winds such as the harmattan from December to février ; from August to October, in season humide : heat and rain
How to get there. You can find some direct flights, but most of the time you will have to make a stopover in Lisbon.
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