The Cape Verde Islands really are the most magical place. I visited with Noble Caledonia on a 10-day island hopping cruise that is perhaps the best way to see these islands. Some 200 miles west of the coast of Senegal and inside the topics, most of the islands have small harbours which mean the bigger cruise ships cannot visit here as their drafts are too large.
This has ensured that the islands have maintained their uniqueness and indeed no two islands are the same. All have their own landscapes, culture and delights from volcanic deserts with incredible natural lava sculptures to lush green valleys that overflow with mangoes, sugar cane and bananas. Even some of the population’s gardens have banana trees growing beside the carrots and tomatoes!
The people themselves are some of the friendliest I have met in my travels and they have a vibrancy for music and song. The southern group of islands have much more of an African feel to them whilst the northern have a mixture of European, and African life heavily influenced by the Portuguese colonists. Indeed there is almost a Brazilian feel to their music and their attitude to life.
The markets here will fascinate you in particular the vegetable and fish markets and in both you’ll find colours and smells that will stay with you as happy memories for a long time. Cape Verdians love fish and the freshness can’t be argued as you watch them lining up to buy the catch as the boats come in or cleaning and gutting the catch on beaches before taking it home for lunch. Do try the local wine made from grapes cultivated in the crater of the huge volcano that is the island of Fogo or Grogue, which is still produced in small family distilleries from the sugar cane just like the original Grog, the favourite drink of so many sailors who called here.
And whilst we are talking about beaches, the white sand deserted beaches on some of the islands and the crystal clear water with an average temperature for April of about 23 degrees really invite you to linger around and pass a lazy afternoon. If I can guarantee one memory you will take back with you it’s of the roads. In the mountainous islands, they cling to the cliff sides with precipitous (sometimes both sides!) drops of hundreds of feet by their fingernails, as do some of the villages, not much wider that the minibus we travelled in for our excellent excursions.
There is no doubt the Cape Verdes will soon be discovered by the mainstream travel industry so my advice is to get there before they do. You’ll never regret it.
You can see Steve’s photographs from his trip on his website www.stevenewman.co.uk
To find out more about this fascinating destination and worldwide small ship cruising, Silver Travel Advisor recommends Noble Caledonia.