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Cape Verde. You’ll keep coming back

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Fun facts

In 2018 Cape Verde was the number one country that saw the biggest growth in web searches, based on the last ten years.

Cape Verde is considered one of the top 3 spots in the world for fishing the Blue Marlin.

Cape Verde’s Mindelo Carnival is one of the biggest celebrations in the West African region. It attracts visitors from around the world and was featured on CNN’s Inside Africa in 2019.

In 2018, a video of Will Smith singing along to a recording by Cape Verde musical legend Cesaria Evora went viral.

Cape Verde is a beautiful archipelago a few hundred miles off the coast of Senegal, West Africa. The ten islands of the country (nine are inhabited) have a lot to offer visitors thanks to their different characteristics. One of the mottos of Cape Verde as a tourist destination is 'One Country, Ten Destinations'. If you look at all the islands and their characteristics (including the uninhabited and protected Santa Luzia), you can only conclude that this small island paradise in the middle of the Atlantic is a unique holiday destination.

In recent years the country has mainly been promoted as a beach destination. Those who look beyond the big hotels and resorts get rewarded by experiencing adventure, culture, local cuisine and of course the morabeza Cape Verde is known for. Morabeza is a reference to the hospitality, openness and relaxed nature of the people of Cape Verde.

Beaches

The beaches of the islands of Sal and Boa Vista are the most visited places in Cape Verde. The country’s capital city is Praia, a word which means beach in Portuguese (the island nation’s official language). This just goes to show how integral beaches are to Cape Verdean life. Thousands of people travel to the country for a period of fun in the sun, enjoying an all-inclusive package in one of the beautiful resorts along the coast.

Cape Verde’s most popular beach is Santa Maria, on the island of Sal. Although Sal and Boa Vista receive the most foreign visitors, other islands of Cape Verde have amazing beaches as well. Some of the country’s most breathtaking beaches are located on the islands of Maio, Santiago and São Vicente. 

Caption: If you love sun, sand and sea Cape Verde is a must. Each of the country’s ten islands has alluring beaches.

Adventure

If there is one island in Cape Verde where you can do some fantastic hiking and trekking, it’s Santo Antão. This is the country’s second biggest island, and it’s located just an hour away by ferry from the ‘culture island’ of São Vicente. Santo Antão is often referred to as the 'island of the mountains', and many people consider it to be the most beautiful island of Cape Verde.

Santo Antão has a small population; about 40,000 residents, which is half of São Vicente’s population, although Santo Antão is at least four times larger. The island has many hours of incredible hiking trails through uninhabited parts of the island. Some of the routes can take up to eight hours. One of the best routes of the islands takes you through the impressive Cova crater at an altitude of about 1,200 metres and then down the spectacular valley of Paúl.

Another adventurous island is Fogo. On this island you can hike up to Cape Verde's highest point. Climbing up to 2,900 metres also means you get to experience what it is like to be so close to an active volcano.

Caption: There is more to Cape Verde than lounging on the beach. You can hike the mountainous inland terrains and participate in watersports.

Culture

São Vicente is one of the smaller islands of Cape Verde. Its capital city is Mindelo, the second largest city of the country, is seen as the ‘cultural capital’ of Cape Verde. The city has earned this reputation because of the many events, including festivals, it hosts each year.

Carnival in Mindelo is the biggest cultural event of Cape Verde. During the week of Carnival the entire city of Mindelo seems to shut down for the festivities. But Carnival in Mindelo usually starts months before the big week. The first carnival events start around October or November, when the official Carnival groups choose a theme song and their kings and queens.

The first parades hit the streets of Mindelo right after New Year’s Eve. Every Sunday afternoon the Mandingas (a group formed as a tribute to the tribes from countries in the region such as Senegal and Gambia) parade from the outskirts of the city to the centre of Mindelo. Thousands of people join them creating a spirited, joyous and chaotic party.

Caption: Carnival in Mindelo is one of the highlights of the Cape Verde social calendar. And best of all, visitors are encouraged to participate by the welcoming locals.

Music

Cape Verde has a rich and vibrant musical heritage. Late musician Cesaria Evora is probably the island nation’s best known public figure. The late Cesaria was born and raised in Mindelo. Her legendary body of work is known all over the world, and even people who don’t know anything about the small archipelago have heard her music. Cesaria’s song Sodade, a classic morna, can be described as Cape Verde’s unofficial national anthem. People travel to Mindelo for the many live music shows.

Since 1984, every second weekend in August the Baía das Gatas Music Festival takes place. It is Cape Verde’s biggest music festival, which Cesaria has headlined many times. It has attracted international stars such as UB40, Nelson Freitas and Morgan Herritage. The 2019 edition will take place from the 9th to the 11th of August.

Caption: Cape Verde’s music is a result of a fusion of culture, exhibiting African, creole and Portuguese influences.

Kitchen

Fogo is one island in Cape Verde where you can find everything you wish for when it comes to gastronomy. This mysterious island is one of the ‘southern islands’ of Cape Verde, and is located to the west of Santiago. Its capital city was built on top of a hill side, so from most parts in the city you have a stunning view of the ocean and the neighbouring island of Brava.

São Filipe is one of Cape Verde's most beautiful cities, with gorgeous architecture. From São Filipe you can reach the Pico de Fogo volcano in about an hour. The lovely route takes you to the village of Chã das Caldeiras, located at an altitude of 2,100 metres.

Fogo made headlines all over the world in November 2014, when the Pico de Fogo volcano erupted. The entire population of Chã das Caldeiras was evacuated, though many residents eventually returned.

The area is known for its fertile soil and beans, mango, peaches, apples and grapes are produced in abundance. Grapes are only harvested once a year, but are crucial for one of the islands most important exports: Vinho de Fogo. The wine has won several international awards, and in 2018 received an award for 'Best Extreme Wine' in Italy.

In Chã das Caldeiras, in a little improvised restaurant with a spectacular view of the volcano you can enjoy a very special dish. Dona Isabel prepares a delicious sweet chicken. Azeitinho, a locally grown fruit, is used to make a jam. The jam is then used to cook the chicken in, giving it an distinctive taste you won’t come across anywhere else. The dish is served with a traditional homemade Manecon wine. 

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