Cape Verde (sometimes referred to as the Cape Verde Islands)
Cape Verde is an archipelago of ten islands and three islets in the Atlantic ocean about 500 km west of Senegal.
Major Cities in Cape Verde
The largest cities in the Cape Verde islands include the capital, Praia, which is on the island of Santiago, and also Mindelo on São Vicente, and Asssomada on Santiago.
Cape Verde Climate and Geography
Cape Verde is a horseshoe-shaped archipelago of ten volcanic islands off the coast of Africa, and is part of the larger island group called Macronesia. The islands include (from east to west) Boa Vista, Sal, Maio, Santiago, São Nicolau, Fogo, Brava, São Vicente, and Santo Antão. The islands cover a total of 4033 sq km, an area slightly larger than Rhode Island, and have 965 km of coastline between them. Although they are all volcanic in origin, the islands host a wide variety of terrain ranging from rocky plains, to sandy beaches, to salt flats, and steep volcanoes. The tallest point is the active volcano Pico do Fogo, which stands 2,829 m above sea level and last erupted in 1995. Receiving little rain the islands are largely rocky and unfriendly to plant life.
Although hot, Cape Verde’s climate is milder than in nearby Africa because the cool sea currents help to cool the air around the islands. Cape Verde’s weather is sunny most of the year and the archipelago receives little rain. Because of this the Cape Verde islands are prone to drought, and are classified as arid and semi-desert. Most rain occurs between August and October in short, heavy bursts. The average temperature in Cape Verde at sea level ranges from about 19°C (avg. low) to 25°C (avg. high) in February to 25°C (avg. low) to 29°C (avg. high) in September. It is important to remember, though, that most of the islands are steep and rugged, and that the temperature in Cape Verde varies depending on altitude.
Description of Cape Verde
Cape Verde’s population (who are referred to as Cape Verdeans) is around 567,000. About a quarter of the population (128,000) lives in Paraia, and another 70,000 lives in Mindelo. Official language is Portuguese, but most people’s first language is a Cape Verdian Creole. Cape Verde is generally considered to be a developing country, but has a reasonably stable democratic political system.
Cape Verde was never meant to be lived on. It was uninhabited until the 15th century, and rightly so. There are few natural resources, limited fresh water, and little arable land. About 90% of the food consumed in Cape Verde is imported.
In recent decades Cape Verde has been striving to improve its tourism sector and has been having some success and options for holidays in Cape Verde have been improving. Between 1994 and 2000 58% of foreign investment in the country was in the tourism sector, and between 2000 and 2009 the country had one of the fastest-growing tourism sectors in the world. In 2010 382,000 people visited the archipelago which is, despite its economic situation, relatively safe for visitors.
Because of its isolation, Cape Verde it is home to many endemic species, mainly flora, birds, and reptiles. 664 plant species, two of which are threatened, are listed as endemic to Cape Verde. There are many endemic bird species, and 130 migrant birds visit the islands. There are 12 endemic species of lizards on the islands including the Cape Verde giant gecko. The surrounding ocean also provides excellent turtle habitat. As of 2003 Cape Verde had 48 protected areas, but they only covered 0.3% of the land area.
The Cape Verde islands are considered by some to be one of the top ten coral reef biodiversity hotspots in the world. With reef diving, wreck diving, and cave diving all readily available, snorkeling and scuba diving there are said to be amazing. With strong consistent winds, Cape Verde is world famous for windsurfing and is also excellent for kitesurfing and sailing. The surfing in Cape Verde is said to be awesome, and the website WannaSurf.com lists 13 breaks, most of which are rocky or reef breaks that can accomodate all levels of surfers.
Hiking, trekking, and caving are all spectacular there, especially on Pico de Fogo, which said to be one of the most spectacular conical volcanoes in the world. The hiking on Santo Antao is also beautiful. Because of the generally loose and unstable rocks that comprise much of the archipelago, there is little climbing in Cape Verde. Despite this Cape Verdeans have been taking a greater interest in the sport in recent years, and there are some guides that take out small groups.
If you’re just looking for a beach to lie on, then your best bets are the white sand beach of Santa Maria on the island of Sal, or, if you want something a bit more secluded, Santa Monica beach on Boa Vista. Several species of turtles inhabit the ocean surrounding Cape Verde, many of which are endangered by hunting. The best way to see these turtles, and contribute to their protection, is to take a turtle watching tour with SOS Tartarugas or visiting the hatchery on Ponta Preta. All proceeds go towards turtle conservation.
Outdoor Adventure Activities in Cape Verde
• Stand-up paddle boarding
• Scuba diving (wreck, reef, cave)
• Surfing (all levels)
• Kayaking (sea)
• Caving and spelunking
• Hiking/trekking (all levels)
• Rock climbing (all levels)
• Mountain Biking (novice to expert)
• Horseback Riding
Budget Travel in Cape Verde
- Being relatively small islands that don’t receive many backpackers, budget accommodation on the Cape Verde islands is limited. A couple of the cheaper options are the Solar Windelo on Mindelo where you can find rent a two-person studio for $18 USD per person per night, or the Casa Cavoquinho on Santo Antao where you can rent a room for two for about $25 USD per person per night.
More information about hostels in Cape Verde can be found here.
- About 90% of the food on Cape Verde is imported, so food tends to be costly compared to other things. Cape Verde restaurants will probably eat up your budget quickly. Shopping in local markets and eating at small local restaurants is the best way to stretch your food budget.
I like to use World Nomads. It’s not too expensive and signing up is fast and straightforward. They also have pretty good coverage for sports equipment like surf and snowboards, but it varies depending on your country of origin, so be sure double check. You can get a free quote on their website.
Photos of Cape Verde
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Cape Verde Map
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The information on this page was provided by My Destination Cape Verde. If you want to know more about Cape Verde they are the people to ask.