Rain is a scarce commodity in Cape Verde. On some of the islands it sometimes only rains one or two days in the whole year. This makes it difficult for gardeners and farmers, who need the rain to grow crops. The rainy season is normally August and September. This year there has been very little rain, but even a small amount is better than nothing. Rain is welcomed in Cape Verde. Here is a field of maze growing on Santo Antão, which has benefitted from some rain. So there will be food to harvest, even if it is not on the scale most of us are used to.
More improvements for transportation and travel within Cape Verde are on the horizon. The government of Cape Verde has initiated a tender for a study on the port facilities at Porto Novo on the island of Santo Antão. The study will look into to the feasibility of expanding the port and improving navigation. It will also consider the costs of any works it identifies.
The port was constructed in 1962 and expanded and modernised in 2010. It can currently accommodate cruise ships of medium size. The existing terminal can accommodate up to 250,000 passengers each year. There are also two ramps for roll-on and roll-off ferries.
The authorities on Santo Antão have been asking for a further phase of expansion so that larger cruise ships are able to dock there.
The forest fire on Santo Antão that we reported on last week has now been extinguished. However, the Cape Verdean Minister of Agriculture, Gilberto Silva, has stated that it will take a lot of hard work over more than five years for the area to recover from the fire damage.
Some 200 hectares (almost 500 acres) were damaged according to latest estimates. This area is some 13% of the whole forest area and equivalent to approximately 200 football pitches. The flames have destroyed trees, endemic plants and water pipelines. These pipelines were installed to provide water to the East Plateau (Planalto Leste).
The causes of the fire are as yet unknown.
With fires breaking out in a number of countries in Europe, a new forest fire has now broken out in the forest on the island of Santo Antão in Cape Verde. This fire has been described as being more serious than the one in June 2017. It is thought that it might be the worst fire to have hit this forest.
The fire is reported to have started in the area of Espongeiro. It as already burnt a large amount of the forest, reports suggest as much as 30 hectares (74 acres) and some houses are threatened..
The fire is described as complicated, given that it is burning on at least three separate fronts. Some families have been evacuated from the areas at risk. This fire destroy an important part of the eco-system on the island. The smoke will also have unwelcome effects on the environment.
This is the third fire that has occurred in this forest in under two months. The Government set up a volunteer fire brigade only two weeks ago as a measure to protect this precious forest.
Santo Antão is the westernmost of the Cape Verde islands and is one of the greenest. Many people who visit Cape Verde will be familiar with islands such as Sal and Boa Vista, which are in large part desert. The further west you go, the higher the mountains and the greener the islands. Santo Antão offers great hiking opportunities. The scenery is spectacular and there are green hills, lovely little villages on hillsides and rocky outcrops.
Many of the roads in Cape Verde are finished with small granite setts or cobbles. These are painstakingly cut to shape by hand and consequently some of the roads take a long time to build. It must be a very hard and tiring job to shape these stones in the heat of the day. Unlike typical cobbled streets in Europe, these roads are comparatively smooth, because the granite is shaped to provide a flat surface. This photograph was taken on the mountain road between Porto Novo and Ribeira Grande on the island of Santo Antão.
Praia Grande (‘Large Beach’ in Portuguese) is on the northeast coast of the island of São Vicente. In the distance is Monte Verde, which is the tallest mountain on the island, reaching a height of 750m. Monte Verde is part of a national park. Of the 93 listed species of flora in the national park, 17 are on the São Vicente endangered list. From the top of the mountain, you can get great views of the whole island and also the islands of Santa Luzia and Santo Antão.
Unusually, there has been rain in Santo Antão, Cape Verde. The rainy season is normally August/September and rain in December is almost unheard of. Rain is such a rare event in the Cape Verde islands, this will be welcomed by residents and farmers. A summary of weather in Cape Verde is available at www.cape-verde-holidays.net/weather
Many visitors to Cape Verde will have been to the islands of Sal or Boa Vista and discovered that there are areas of desert, especially on Boa Vista. However, this photograph, taken on Santo Antão demonstrates that there are also lush green hillsides in this small country, which is only 1850km from the equator. Cape Verde has a variety of landscapes, so something for everyone.
The Telegraph is the latest newspaper to feature Cape Verde in its Travel Destinations section. The article ’10 reasons why Cape Verde is the most underrated winter sun destination on Earth’ by Chris Leadbeater extols the virtues of visiting Cape Verde.
In his article Chris describes how Cape Verde is not a destination that comes to mind when considering a holiday, but he describes the 10 islands that make up Cape Verde as being ‘as beautiful as they are mysterious’.
So why is Cape Verde becoming a popular holiday destination and one that is being featured by the press? Here are just some of the reasons:
It is accessible from much of Europe
There are direct flights to the island of Sal from the UK, from airports such as Gatwick, Birmingham, Bristol, Glasgow and Manchester. There are also direct flights from Gatwick, Birmingham and Manchester to the island of Boa Vista. Airlines that fly there include Thomas Cook and Tui (Thomson). Other islands are accessible via Lisbon with TAP airlines or via Casablanca with Royal Air Maroc. Flights are also available from many European cities, such as Amsterdam, Paris, Madrid, Munich, etc.
The weather is good all year round
Flying for an extra 2 hours, people who traditionally have looked at the Canaries for their winter sun, can take advantage of the Cape Verde weather. There you can enjoy the lovely temperatures that rarely drop below 20C and average between 25C and 30 C in January. The sea around Cape Verde is also much warmer than in the Canary Islands.
There is a variety of accommodation
There is a great range of accommodation available from self-catering apartments and villas to guest houses and luxury all-inclusive hotels. Something to suit every tourist. Some links to accommodation on each of the islands are included below.
It has a unique musical tradition
Two types of traditional music can be heard in Cape Verde, morna which was made more famous by singer Cesária Évora and then there is Funaná. Along with their music, cape verdeans love to dance and visitors are more than welcome to join in.
It is a chance to experience Africa
Cape Verde is an African country and Santo Antão island is the continent’s most westerly point. Santo Antão is a mountainous island and roughly half the island is dry and arid, the other half lush and green. Coffee plantations are to be found on the sides of the mountains.
The volcanic landscape
The islands a volcanic and whilst most are inactive, the volcano on Fogo island erupted as recently as 2014. The peak on Fogo reaches 2,829 m above sea level. There is a community living in the crater and the wine is produced there and is certainly worth tasting.
Island hopping opportunities
Cape Verde comprises 10 islands and each has its own distinct character and landscape. The easterly islands of Boa Vista, Sal and Maio are flatter and contain areas of desert. The western islands such as Santo Antão, São Nicolau and Brava are rugged, mountainous and ideal for the more energetic hiker. A holiday in Cape Verde should take in at least a couple of islands.
Water sports galore
There are many opportunities to enjoy water sports, from swimming to kite surfing. The winter season is the windiest and provides excellent conditions for sailing, wind surfing and kite surfing. One beach on Sal island has been renamed Kite Beach, because of its popularity for kite surfing. In addition, there are opportunities to dive and experience the marine life, which is abundant in the waters around these islands.
For accommodation on each of the nine inhabited islands, see the following links: