Cape Verde Overview
A Lone cluster of islands in the enormous expanses of the North Atlantic, Cape Verde’s far-flung volcanic isles have overcome ages of famine and drought, emerging as an uncommon holiday destination full of quirky native delights. The dramatic cinder sides of Mt Fogo are Cape Verde’s picture-postcard image, and draw a plethora of brisk hikers to the active volcano’s near-3000 meters of scarred lava rivers, which make for a dramatic climb above the brightly colored houses below.
Santo Antão is another haven for hikers, with tropical valleys stretching down to the sea from a forested island spine. For those who prefer their exercise on the water, though, Cape Verde is bliss. With winds that have the whole Atlantic to gather pace, the islands bring in world-class windsurfers who blast across the bays, launching off waves and grabbing air amid the bobbing boats. Sailors are equally well off, and can hop between ports and around the islands at pace. Mountains bikers love it here too, with startling drop offs and epic descents to spend their days hurtling down.
The lively city of Mindelo is Cape Verde’s cultural center, where the mournful sound of traditional music floods out of every bar, and a lively fish market draws in inquisitive tourists. Harsh shots of grogue (Cape Verde’s take on rum) are the local’s choice, while visitors might prefer a street side coffee or slice of cake beside the coastal Eagle Monument.
There’s a package tourist side to Cape Verde too, and the wealthy can gleefully laze through days on deck chairs by the pool or enjoy the warmth of a resort spa. If relaxing is your main aim, though, most will find the gentle horse rides on offer around the beaches of Sao Nicolau a far more notable experience.
Be a little wary of Cape Verde's forceful law - a British overland round the world traveler recently found his world record attempt derailed as the local authorities didn't like him turning up - visa in hand - on a fishing boat. If you travel in a more typical way, though, you'll find sailing and surreal scenery are the two main draws on this unique collection of Atlantic Islands, and the mix of African, Portuguese and secluded Cape Verdean cultures make for an atypical vacation experience.