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Cape Verde trekking and diving, a spectacular country

With this article I want to share my experience and the information that I have gathered during the trip to all those who want to travel to Cape Verde. Without a doubt, traveling to Cape Verde offers us endless possibilities, fantastic corners and places to discover and a thousand activities to do. The trip lasted 7 days. Focused on doing the Pico do Fogo Trek and the trekking in the Valle du Paul. Although later a day of diving in Santa Antão.

Without any doubt, traveling to Cape Verde has been an experience and it is a tourist destination on the rise, more than interesting, and it will not disappoint its visitors.

Cima Pico do Fogo
Pico do Fogo Summit

Table of Contents

Travel to Cape Verde, how did it come about?

Browsing the web of Monpetit Travel I observed a trip that by dates suited me perfectly. It was a proposal to travel to Cape Verde!

What did you know about Cape Verde? Well, absolutely nothing, but the photos that I could see on the web immediately caught my attention, so I looked for some more information. Then I could read: Cape Verde the country of no stress. I was instantly fascinated.

What was the next thing I thought? Travel to Cape Verde.

Cape Verde is a country well known for its wonderful diving areas. Its climate is tropical dry, it allows diving all year round. Due to the travel and group configuration, he had not valued the option of doing some diving, later he looked for different formulas to be able to go diving one day, taking into account that afterwards you cannot fly or climb mountains.

Agencies to travel to Cape Verde:

Viatges mon petit: I booked the trip through Viatges Mon Petit with the participation of my great friend Pako Crestas. I recommend any trip you can do with him through his agency.

VISIT CAPE VERD: My agency with local contacts, my link was Gaby. Spectacular attention, decisive and always attentive to everything related to the trip.

Information to travel to Cape Verde.

Cape Verde overview

Cape Verde the country of no stress: the two words that define the lifestyle of this archipelago.

Bandera Cabo Verde
Cape Verde flag

Cape Verde It is an African country whose territory is an archipelago of islands located in the Atlantic. It is located 570 km from the western coast of Senegal and 1,500 km south of the Canary Islands. It has an area of 4,033 km2 and is made up of ten islands and five islets. There are two groups of islands, the southern islands called "Leeward Islands" and the northern islands called "Windward Islands". All of them of volcanic origin. The highest point of the archipelago is Pico do Fogo on Isla do Fofo, reaching almost three thousand meters of altitude. As a peculiarity, the island with the largest and most populated surface is Santiago and the island with the smallest surface, and the only uninhabited one, is Santa Lucía. Cape Verde is also known as the African Caribbean

Barlovento y sotavento
Division of islands according to whether they are Windward or Leeward

Culture of Cape Verde.

Tongue

Although Portuguese is the official language and the language taught in schools, most Cape Verdeans speak Portuguese. Cape Verdean Creole. This is a mixture of the Portuguese and African languages. Currently Creole is being formalized as a written language, with the purpose of making it the official language of Cape Verde along with Portuguese. Although there are some disagreements, since there are considerable variations between the islands. Especially between the Criollo de Mindelo (the cultural capital) and Santiago (the administrative capital).

Music and dance

Traditional music in Cape Verde is a mix of African and Portuguese roots. Forming a fusion of European, African and Latin influences.
The most famous styles are the Morna and the Funaná. The Grammy Award-winning singer Cesaria Évora nicknamed "La Diva Descalza" is without a doubt Mourna's most famous exponent. Typical instruments used in Cape Verdean music include the Violin, Cavaquinho (similar to the Canarian timple), and the Accordion. Iron Bars and Sea Shells are often used as percussion instruments.

Religion

More than 90% of Cape Verdeans are Catholic. Other Christian confessions are established in Cape Verde. These are notably Protestant (Igreja do Nazareno), Adventists (Igreja Adventista do Sétimo Dia) and Mormons (Igreja de Jesús Cristo dos Santos dos Ultimos Dias). There is a
growing minority of practitioners of the Muslim faith, mainly of Senegalese origin.

Foreign exchange

The official currency of Cape Verde is the Cape Verdean Shield, has an exchange rate of 1 CVE = € 0.0090 (date 01/11/2020).

In most places, payment in euros is accepted, but they usually apply much more unfavorable exchange rates for us (approximately 100 CVE per euro)

As a first option if you change at the airport you will lose, they usually apply much more expensive exchange rates than in the same banks. Out of necessity on the first day and as it was a public holiday I was able to change at a “locutorio” type store. They took the bills out of a plastic bag hidden in the store.

They applied the same exchange rate that I could find later. Change in that store was recommended to me by a local person (I would never have imagined changing in that place)

As informed me banks charge you a fixed price of 3 to 5 euros regardless of the amount. I chose to withdraw money directly from the ATM with the card REVOLUT. Since I discovered it, it is the one I use on my trips abroad. In Cape Verde, for taking out any amount the banks applied a commission of 200 fixed CVE to me. REVOLUT I did not apply currency exchange commissions, applying only the exchange rate in force for the day of the operation.

Escudos Caboverdianos
Cape Verdean Shields

Security in Cape Verde

Security information in Cape Verde provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation

Citizen security information offered by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Security in Cape Verde varies according to the islands, being the island of Santiago, with its capital Praia, where there has been an upturn in crimes in general, which increase in time of great holidays, such as Christmas and summer periods, when it occurs a greater number of cases of street crime. In Praia, robberies have been reported, in principle by armed hand (knife and pistol), also increasing the incidence of assaults on houses in middle-class neighborhoods such as Achada de Santo Antonio, Palmarejo Baixo and Plateau (in the latter neighborhood, at night), as well as in the vicinity of the beaches of Gamboa, Prainha and Quebra Canela and the access steps to Cruz de Papa. Extreme care must be taken in neighborhoods such as Tira Chapéu, Brazil, Várzea, Safende or Terra Branca.
 
In addition to Praia, street crime has also increased in the more touristy islands of Boa Vista and, particularly in Sal, where assaults on tourists and careless robberies on the beach have increased. It is recommended not to go out alone at night or travel through places with little traffic. Likewise, it is not advisable to perform acts of ostentation or carry valuables in sight. It is important that the Spanish documentation (passport and DNI), as well as plane tickets, are left in the hotel rooms in the corresponding safe. You can carry a copy of your documentation with you, to identify yourself.
 

recommendations

It is advisable to avoid walking in areas with little or no influx of people, especially at night. On night trips, it is advisable to travel by car or taxi, which is reliable and inexpensive. Hotels are also reliable establishments as well as the national and urban police, which can be accessed without any problem.
 
In Mindelo (São Vicente Island) and Sao Filipe (Fogo Island), robberies have been concentrated in peripheral neighborhoods. In Sal, in the town of Santa María and the beach of the same name. In Boavista, in the capital, Sal Rei, and in Praia de Chaves. Thefts have also been reported in private homes and hotels of medium or low level. Special care should be taken if you visit Cape Verde in private boats, especially in stops in Mindelo and Praia, as there have been cases of theft during the night on board them.
 
Risk zone (should be avoided): None.
 
Medium risk area: Places with little traffic in the capitals of the different islands, as well as neighborhoods of Praia far from the center, especially at night (neighborhoods such as Tira Chapéu, Brazil, the steps of Cruz de Papa, Várzea, Safende or Terra Branca) .
 
Zone without problems: Rest of the country.

My experience

My experience when traveling to Cape Verde: at all times I perceived a safe country, with people close and willing to help. That is if you have to watch and pay special attention in the most touristy places. Here you can read a little scare in Mindelo with a pickpocket. Except for this small incident that we can find in any tourist place, I perceived Cape Verde a safe country.

Health

To travel to Cape Verde, one must bear in mind that the sanitary conditions are not comparable to those of Spain. There is a hospital or health center in the most important population centers. These centers usually have limited means. There are also no good private clinics and in the event of a serious or rare illness, evacuation is recommended. There is a Bilateral Agreement on Social Security between Spain and Cape Verde. It was signed on November 23, 2012. This agreement has not yet entered into force. The existing private medical establishments in the country are small in size and offer consulting services for medical specialties and clinical analysis. In the case of medical emergencies or more serious ailments, it is recommended to go to the public network of hospitals and health centers for a first diagnosis. 

It is very important not to forget the medication that is required, since there is a shortage of medicines. As we can see, the health network is insufficient and they are not very well equipped, with hardly any hospitals. So assess the possibility of hiring private or travel insurance that can cover any unforeseen health issue.

How to get to Cape Verde

By Plane: Cape Verde: has four intentional airports:

  • Nelson Mandela - Praia (Santiago Island)
  • Cesária Évora - (island of Sao Vicente)
  • Amílcar Cabral - (Island of Sal)
  • Aristides Pereira - (Island of Boa Vista).

Plus three connecting airports between islands:

  • Sao Filipe (Fogo Island)
  • São Nicolau
  • Vila Do Maio

International flights are usually operating mostly by: TAP-Air Portugal, Binter Canarias.

Entry of foreign travelers to Cape Verde

To pay the VISA you will not have any problem. Payment is made upon arrival at the airport (there may be possible queues, this is the option I made). The Airport Security Tax (TSA) can be paid in €. The price is 3400 CVE, in exchange for approximately € 31. You can also register in advance.

To register in the travelers registry and pay the Airport Security Tax (TSA) we have 3 ways to do it:

  • On the EASE (Efficient automatic and safe entry of travelers) website of the National Police of Cape Verde: https://www.ease.gov.cv/
  • In a travel agency
  • Upon arrival at the airport (possible queues, this is the option I made)

The visa is mandatory for stays of more than 30 days. Once in Cape Verde, a visa extension can be obtained from the General Directorate of Emigration and Borders, telephone (238) 2611845, or consult the web: www.policianacional.cv

First Day: Flying from Barcelona to Cape Verde -Praia (01/11/2020)

With the desire to start the new adventure, I went to the airport well in advance. To do this, I traveled by car, I value the option of doing it by public transport, but the arrival time (00h) of the return flight made it impossible for me to return to Tarragona by public transport.

To park the car, hire the services of Aparca & go, approximately € 60.

Barcelona Airport - Lisbon - Praia

To make the trip to Praia (Cape Verde) I have to take two planes and make a stopover in Lisbon. For this trip, hire the airline TAP Portugal. The flights left on time and as planned.

As the option of checking a suitcase from Barcelona to Praia was very expensive, I chose to carry the trekking backpacks as hand luggage and a small backpack that is the one you would use on day trips. For this reason, I tried to be with enough time at the boarding gate to be sure to get on the plane first and not have a problem of space for luggage.

Arrival in Praia - Cape Verde

Pay the Airport Tax upon arrival

I arrived in Praia at 12:26 a.m. local time, a little later than I had scheduled (00:05), but nothing out of the ordinary. You need to do the entry visa and go to the hotel, I had a reservation at the Hotel Santa María de Praia.

Assess whether you can leave the first of the plane since there are no more than two officials to attend the entire passage and make the payments of the Airport Tax.

Due to the backpack and the row where I was sitting on the plane, I came out of the last and of course I noticed this in the waiting time to do the VISA. I was last in line! So you have to wait more than an hour to get the visa. Officials are not in a great rush, so I get my first impression of the islands motto: No Stress.

To pay the VISA you will NOT have any problem using Euros €. The price is 3400 CVE, in exchange for approximately € 31. The payment can be done both in cash and by card. Although they are lazy with the card payment option, but if you insist on paying by card they accept it without problems.

You can also register in advance on the EASE (Efficient automatic and safe entry of travelers) website of the National Police of Cape Verde: https://www.ease.gov.cv/. For this online procedure you have to register it up to 5 days before the trip.

At the time of arrival, there was no difference in the queues for the resident and non-resident VISA. The difference of having it registered in advance did not save time, we were all in the same queue.

Transfer by taxi to the hotel.

The transfer from the airport to the hotel was done by taxi. The price of the service was € 15. The car catches my attention, when I go upstairs he tells me that the door does not open, that it is broken, the car is quite dilapidated and it sounds everywhere, but the man is very kind and friendly, making jokes. The journey takes no more than 10 minutes.

To move from the airport to the Hotel I recommend doing it by taxi, for its ease and low cost. Due to the distance and the conditions of the public road that I could observe, I do not recommend at all to do it walking, I do not know how the bus option is, in my case there was no other option than the taxi for the hours that I arrived.

I arrived at the hotel around 01:00. In the hotel there is a German couple and it seems that the hotel reception does not locate the reservation, it took a long time to solve the reservation. Here I was able to observe again: «Cape Verde, country of no stress». For the tranquility that the receptionist gives off in carrying out the procedures.

After looking at different papers, they find the reserve! They give me the key and up to the room to rest.

The room is great! super clean, everything very new and it seems that the bed is going to be very comfortable, so I shower and sleep, I have to visit Praia in the morning and yet it has been quite late!

Fully recommended hotel!
Progeso trip: Cape VerdeThe end
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