How to get to know the real Cape Verde!
Cape Verde is a beautiful archipelago close to the coast of Senegal, West Africa.
The country has become a popular destination in recent years, especially for those looking for fun in the sun.
The beaches of the islands Sal and Boa Vista attract many thousands of visitors each year, and the numbers keep rising.
This African archipelago is a wonderful beach destination, but if you are looking to get a deeper experience the hotels and resorts in different parts of the country are not the way to go.
To get to know the real Cape Verde here’s what you need to do!
Do your research
Don’t be afraid to get out there. Cape Verde is a destination that will ‘reward’ your desire to explore places beyond what is well known with tourists.
Some of the most beautiful spots in the country are places that receive the least amount of foreign visitors.
The big tour operators are quick to warn people about safety issues outside of the hotels and resorts.
For these companies it’s very lucrative that tourists buy and book anything they do with the tour operators instead of with small local businesses.
Before traveling find out everything you can online. This can make a huge difference in the way your trip turns out.
Whatever island(s) you choose to visit when traveling to Cape Verde, staying at a small family run bed and breakfast or an Airbnb accommodation is a great way to get to know locals and support the local economy.
Right now the tourism industry in the country is too much focussed on large enterprises, instead of tourism truly being used as a way to change life for the many people that are part of the lower social classes of Cape Verdean society.
Ask if you can have some cachupa, Cape Verde’s most traditional meal, for breakfast.
Find out what events are being organized around the time and place you’re staying.
Get information about spots most people don’t know about that you can visit.
Go Hiking In Cape Verde
Cape Verde’s most popular hiking spot is the island of Santo Antão.
It truly is a paradise for nature lovers, and the best thing is that it’s impossible to compare the number of visitors to the islands Sal and Boa Vista.
There are many hiking trails you can do on the island without encountrering other people, other than the locals.
To get the most out of your visit to Santo Antão, travel to the ‘southern’ part of the island.
The villages of Monte Trigo and Tarrafal de Monte Trigo are two very special villages.
The part of the island where both villages are located, is very secluded from other parts of Santo Antão.
From Tarrafal de Monte Trigo you can only reach Monte Trigo by a hiking trail that get’s you there in 3 hours, or by taking a ferry.
Other Cape Verde hiking hotspots:
– São Nicolau, an island that has even less touristic development than Santo Antão.
– Fogo, the place where you can hike to the Pico de Fogo vulcano, that erupted in 2014.
– Brava, Cape Verde’s smallest island.
Meet people in Cape Verde
Cape Verdeans are known to be very cultural and talented people. Cesaria Evora, ‘the queen’ of the country was one of the first people to put Cape Verde on the map with her amazing sound of Morna and Coladeira.
Live events with traditional music is something that happens almost anywhere in the country, and although sometimes very improvised and spontanous, it’s one of those things you have to experience.
Morna is an emotional music genre which speaks about the difficulties of emigration and missing home.
The number of Cape Verdeans living outside the country is so much bigger than the number of habitants Cape Verde has today (550.000).
Learning more about the history of the country is an important part of a trip to the islands.
Morabeza is a word which is often used to describe Cape Verdean hospitality.
Cape Verdeans are open, welcoming and friendly people who generally love to connect with travellers.
But of course there can be a difference in atmosfeer between the ‘big city’ capital Praia and the country side of Santo Antão.
The current main touristic offer regarding Cape Verde gives visitors a very narrow view of what the country is all about, and does not provide fair opportunities to locals at the same time.
This means that you have the chance to get to know a special place on an intimate level, while giving back to the local population by expanding touristic activities where locals are in full control. That is the way to get to know the real Cape Verde.
Freddy Gomes is the creator of Mindelocaboverde, a website that focusses on promoting sustainable and respectful tourism initiatives in Cape Verde.
He’s the first and only in the country registered with Pack for A Purpose, and also runs a small Non-Profit Foundataion called Sonvela.