The little country with so much to offer
Like pieces of the world’s end borne by a sea breeze, the Cape Verde islands float off the coast of northern Senegal in the Atlantic Ocean. With its contrasting landscapes, wild and sometimes harsh environment, patchwork of colours and melting pot of cultures, this little country gradually reveals its identity as you hop from island to island.
In the beginning, God created the world… then, tired from his creation, the Almighty rubbed his hands above the ocean. And this, so the legend goes, brought crumbs of divine earth tumbling down, which emerged from the sea as the ten “rocks” of Cape Verde. Embark on a little ride through a compendium of Cape Verdean marvels.
Santiago, the African island
Santiago is the archipelago’s largest island, its cradle and its economic heart. This is where the navigator Antonio da Noli disembarked in 1460 to found Ribeira Grande, now Cidade Velha. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it was a crucial port of call for the African slave trade in the 16th You can visit the ruins of its old cathedral, its royal fortress and the pillory in the city’s main square. Each of these sites is steeped in history. Around a dozen kilometres to the east lies Praia, the capital of Cape Verde. In the historical Plateau district and under the covered market of Sucupira, African, Portuguese, Mediterranean and Latin American influences all converge.
Fogo, the volcanic island
To the east of Santiago stands the extraordinary Fogo, the “black pearl” of Cape Verde:, the great volcanic island that also produces wine and coffee. Rising up with Pico do Fogo – the country’s only active volcano – the island towers above the archipelago from its lofty 2,800-metre peak. Scaling Pico do Fogo and exploring its caldera are, of course, must-do, activities that promise breathtaking landscapes and panoramas.
Brava, the wild island
A fragment of wilderness and authenticity that can only be reached from Fogo, Brava is the smallest island in the archipelago. Enveloped in fog and cooler temperatures, it is a paradise for birds, who benefit from the luxuriant, breathtakingly beautiful vegetation. Hibiscuses dominate this setting, hence its nickname: “the island of flowers”.
São Vicente, the cultural island
On the island of São Vicente, the beautiful, festive town of Mindelo leads a carefree existence nestled in a bay surrounded by hills. The archipelago’s cultural capital and a hotspot for art and music, Mindelo is the birthplace of Cesária Évora. also known as the Barefoot Diva. It was she who delivered the best rendition of Morabeza, an upbeat yet wistful – and typically Cap Verdean – song, to the beat of languorous mornas. Another emblem of Mindelo is its carnival, which delivers a climax of colours and extravagance!
Santo Antão and São Nicolau, the green islands
Santo Antão and São Nicolauare the two greenest islands in the archipelago. The sharp relief of Santo Antão is tempered by the gentler slopes of São Nicolau. On Santo Antão, hiking enthusiasts can enjoy treks into the heart of the lush Paul Valley or along the cobblestoned Estrada da Corda road that crosses the island from north to south. Ramblers, meanwhile, will appreciate São Nicolau’s easier footpaths as they look for rare and splendid dragon trees.
Sal, the salty island
Beaches, turquoise water and coral reefs, diving, surfing and windsurfing: the island of Sal will appeal to both holidaymakers who want to relax and those looking for some watersports fun. The white sandy Santa Maria beach, at the island’s southern tip, is especially popular. Its Ponta Preta waves are renowned among experienced surfers and kitesurfers alike. Inland, the Pedra de Lume salt ponds are now one of Cape Verde’s protected natural sites.
Culture, nature, beaches and adventure: this little country is every bit as wonderful as its larger counterparts!