Trip Tips: Scaling Cabo Verde’s volcanic ridges

February 16, 2014 by  
Filed under Wind Energy Tips


PRAIA Feb 14 (Reuters) – Portuguese colonial officers in
the 17th and 18th centuries perceived the West African
slave-trading hub of Cabo Verde as a dead-end posting – often
literally because of its propensity for drought and tropical
disease.

Today the wind-pummeled, volcanic archipelago 600 km (370
miles) off the coast of Senegal is a growing tourist spot,
offering dramatic landscapes for hikers, along with a vibrant
music scene and year-round sunshine. (Map: goo.gl/maps/kq3fW)

In the past three years, the number of tourists going to
Cabo Verde – also known as Cape Verde – has beaten the rate for
Africa’s $34 billion market, growing on average each year by
nearly 20 percent, according to a U.N. report.

National Geographic has called it a “must see” destination
for this year.

Here are tips about getting the most out of a trip to Cabo
Verde from Reuters, whose 2,600 journalists in all parts of the
world offer visitors the best local insights.

YAMS AND PAWPAWS

Cabo Verde’s vertigo-inducing mountains seem to burst
straight out of the ocean and are the perfect destination for
winter hiking.

In Santo Antao, colourful hamlets cling to blades of basalt
rock thrusting upwards across a lunar landscape. In the steep
valley of Ribeira de Torre, thin rivers tumble down waterfalls
surrounded by yam, pawpaw and banana plants. Some of the plunge
pools have guppies that nibble your toes.

Friendly guides can easily be picked up along the way,
although you may have to try out your Creole – a language that
even native Portuguese speakers say they strain to understand.

Most of the population is mixed race, a legacy of the strict
colonial policy of primogeniture that left many whites landless
and with a similar social ranking as freed blacks, referred to
as “branco de dinheros” (white from having money).

Reuters used travel agency Nobai, which can organise treks
across the island and home stays with locals who prepare dishes
such as the hearty Cachupa stew made with green bananas and
manioc. (www.cap-vert-trekking.com/?lang=en)

Or stay in the charming Aldeia Manga ecolodge in the lush
Paul valley with its natural swimming pool and explore on your
own. (www.aldeia-manga.com/en/)

While short hops by plane are possible for most of the 10
islands, Santo Antao can be reached only via an hour-long ferry
from the neighbouring island of Sao Vincente. Be sure to take
one of the sick bags on offer from the stewards as the channel
often churns with rolling waves.

The southerly island of Fogo, named for its active volcano
that last erupted in 1995, offers a nearly 3,000-metre
(9,800-foot) peak for ambitious hikers. Reward yourself
afterwards with a glass of the crisp, mineral-rich white Fogo
wine.

Another option is to walk around the parks on the main
island of Santiago and try to spot wild monkeys.

DANCING THE “FUNANA”

The most famous Cabo Verdan is no doubt the late Cesaria
Evora, known as the “barefoot diva”. Her beautiful morna – the
melancholic national music that fuses Portuguese, African and
island rhythms – can be heard in her hometown of Mindelo. Casa
da Morno, opened by musician Tito Paris, does regular concerts.

On the main island of Santiago, you’re much more likely to
hear the accordion-based “funana” that pulses out of local buses
called hiaces.

Visitors should note these buses do not leave at a scheduled
time but when they are full, meaning they can do laps around
town squares for up to half an hour before departing.

In the capital Praia, you can dance by clasping your
partner’s hand and thrusting it up at 45 degrees from the
ceiling while waggling your hips frantically.

While in the capital, it’s also worth visiting the central
market where you can find delicious artisanal candy made almost
entirely from sugar cane – a great source of energy for both
hiking and dancing.

OTHER OPTIONS

Cabo Verde’s beaches are mostly made of volcanic sand but
not so on the islands of Boa Vista, Sal and Maio, whose
seemingly endless white beaches were created by strong gusts
from the Sahara Desert.

For those keen to avoid the large hotels, check out the
beautifully decorated Migrante Guesthouse in the heart of Sal
Rei on Boa Vista. The charming colonial house is a perfect base
for visiting the island’s remote beaches, exploring the town’s
bars and restaurants or just sitting around doing nothing.
(www.migrante-guesthouse.com/en/guesthouse/)

Kite surfing is popular between November and April when the
winds are all but guaranteed. Divers can explore wrecks and
underwater caves and look out for whale sharks or loggerhead
turtles. Anglers can cast a line off the beaches or head out on
a boat for larger catches.

History buffs will enjoy the 15th century town of Cidade
Velha, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the first
European settlement in the tropics.

(Additional reporting by Julio Rodrigues and David Lewis;
Editing by Michael Roddy and John O’Callaghan)

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