Cape Verde - I thought everything is green here

Off the coast of Africa is Cape Verde

On the comfortable flight from Sao Tomé to Cape Verde I had 3 seats on my own (jackpot) and arrived at 5 o'clock on the island called "Sal". The country has around 10 main islands. After Sal (the main tourist island) I will continue to Santiago (the main island). 

The plan was to rent a car, drive around the main island "Santiago" and see the strongly advertised green lush mountain areas of the country.

Cape Verde is said to be popular among European tourists and that is visible in the annual amount of immigration statistics. The country improved the immigration process in recent years and nowadays it's very easy to get in.

One question that many visitors ask is eVisa or Visa at the airport.

So is it better to have an e-Visa or a Visa on Arrival?

I was curious about the visa situation as the internet says it's possible to get a visa on arrival but it takes hours to wait until getting it. Other sources said it takes hours when arriving with the eVisa.

Before starting my trip it was unclear if it would be better to get a visa on arrival or to enter with an eVisa already. Nowadays most tourists arrive with a prearranged eVisa.

But it doesn't matter...! Long waiting times in both cases.

My experience was that it doesn't make a difference if arriving with an eVisa or getting a visa on arrival, because on the island of Sal all passengers use the same queue on immigration. There was exactly 1 officer at the counter for about 4 dozen passengers, whereby it takes 1-2 minutes to check each passenger, which quickly leads to a long waiting time.

I needed a visa on arrival and could pay everything by credit card. No cash was necessary.

Day 1 - Arrival in the Island of "Sal"

After the first rays of sunshine were visible I took a taxi to Esperagos, the biggest city of Sal. Sal is one of the big islands in Cape Verde and next to the main island around Praia, the most famous for bathing tourists.

"Esperagos" in the early morning

When the plane landed it was still dark, so I slept an hour at the airport until the sun started to appear. 

From the airport to Esperagos (the town) it took about 10 minutes and I was there at 7 am.

The shops open at this time and I could go straight into a nice coffee shop to enjoy good coffee and croissant. There are cheap Sim Cards for 3 Euro with several GB of data included.

Leaving SAL Aiport in the morning

A coffee in Esperagos. Great view from the hill!

I had time to pass the time until around noon.

In Esperagos there is not much to see as a tourist, but there is a hill where you have a great view over Sal. Most visitors come here to spend their holiday in Santa Maria which is the most popular beach area of Cape Verde.

At noon I had to be back at the airport to fly to Praia. Praia is the capital of Cape Verde and is located on another of the many islands.

In the morning in Esperagos
Walking in EsperagosWhat to do in Esperagos2 hours in EsperagosAt 8am in Cape VerdeLow traffic in Cape VerdeAfrican Mall in Cape Verde

View from above from "Mirador (Balcony)"

I left my luggage in a supermarket so I didn't have to carry everything up the hill. The hill is in the middle of Esperagos and the view in the morning is great. But it was quite cold in the morning.

From the supermarket and the village below, it was 5 minutes to the top.

Lookout in Esperagos
Great view on the island of SalSalt on the island of SALArchitecture in Cape Verde

Back to the airport in Sal - soo many tourists!

After an early lunch, I went back to the airport. It was crass to see how crowded with tourists this was. Unbelievable how many European tourists come here.

Touristy Cape Verde in Sal

Praia! Arrival in Praia, to pick up the rental car

From Sal, I flew with Binter Airline and had a delay of more than an hour for the short 45-minute flight. 

That's quick, but the fact that I had to pick up the rental car in Praia later this afternoon, I still had to hurry. Tomorrow is a public holiday.

So if I wouldn't be able to pick up the car on time today, the idea of visiting the landscape would be messed up.

The taxis from Praia airport to the city all have a fixed price of 10 euros and the trip took 10 minutes.

The beach of Praia
Not much green to seeAfternoon at the lookout from the PlateauBeside the Palace of the PresidentPalmeira Praia routeColonial style in PraiaPeople life at the edge of the coast

See a bit of Praia after arrival, around the area "Plateau"

Had a few more hours until the sun went down in Praia and I had to pick up the rental car. 

I had my hotel on the "Plateau", which is the center of Praia. The restaurants here on the plateau are geared for tourists, accordingly also the prices, which are almost like in Central Europe.

Tomorrow I will drive around the island all day by car.

The car rental companies brought the car directly to the hotel in the late afternoon and so I can leave tomorrow morning.

Portuguese explorers deteced and moved to the islands
Cape Verde has 4000 square kilometres240000 of Cape Verdeans live on the main island70% of the population live in urban centersPraia has a plateau area with most statuesClean streets in Cape VerdeTheft robbery are common in Cape Verde

Day 2 - Road trip around the island "Santiago"

I started right after breakfast. The sun rose before 7am and so a promising day with good sunlight. The roads are very good and all over asphalted or paved. Also the traffic is very little and driving is very pleasant.

First impression? Everything is so "brown" somehow!

After the first kilometers outside of Praia, I noticed how brown the surroundings are. But somehow nicely brown.

Where is the "green"?

From all the brochures and pictures on the internet, I thought Cape Verde was totally green, but that didn't seem to be the case.

Hills everywhere in the middle of the island
Mountain archipelago in the Atlantic OceanCape Verde has many hiking trailsNot much green to crop for farmersAfter 1 hour from PraiaWaiting for the bus to the townGood for taking images

Nice views on mountains all along the way to "Assomada"

The streets were in very good condition and it was easy to drive.

A bit more green than other places in Cape Verde
Easy to drive through the mountainsSantiago is probably in springThey speak portuguese in the mountainsThe mountains are remote and quietColdest month is above 18 °CGood conditions to drive with rental

The road soon led up into the mountains passing small villages. The winding roads became more and more but the roads were always good to drive. My goal was to arrive in Tarrafal before noon.

Small villages along the way through the mountains.

The tallest Pico de Antónia with an elevation 1400m
Pico in the middle of the islandResidents like their climateThe island is mountainousThe west coast is ruggedGoing down to Tarrafal30 minutes from the north

At the end of the island is the city "Tarrafal"

Tarrafal is in the north of Santa Maria, and there the biggest place. 

In this small town is probably the most beautiful beach on the island and as it looked like, also inhabited by most tourists.

There is a restaurant directly on the beach where I had a very cheap but great coffee with a view on the water and the mountain. Interestingly, everywhere on the island, I was able to pay with Euro or credit card.

Approaching the north city of Santiago
Women in Cape Verde walkingWhite building beside the lakeGood for tourists in Cape VerdeGood shops and restaurants in TarrafalMany restaurants to get a coffeeAround the Câmara Municipal do Tarrafal

Not too crowded is the "Tarrafal Beach"

The beaches are small but do not have many people, although it is in the middle of the Christmas holidays and New Year.

Tarrfal Beach
North of Santiago is TarrafalUnique boats to get fishFishing is favorite job in Cape VerdeSmall fishing boats in Cape VerdeRestaurante Baia VerdeGreen beach at TarrafalSafe to swim in north of Cape VerdeWoman has a photoshootingCape Verde artistic painting

Continue to the village on the east coast "Calheta"

After lunch with lots of good fish I continued driving.

After a few minutes of driving the police made a check and waved me out. I didn't have enough time to put on my seatbelt either. They saw that but didn't say anything.

It seems tourists have a little bonus here, but it is understandable, the country lives mainly from tourism.

Towards Ponta Verde
Cape Verde is nice at the east coastAround Cape Verde with a self drive carEast coast of Santiago is wonderfulWindy area and nice to swimCape Verde criminals painted at the wallSantiago has many coastal villages

Many unfinished houses

There are many unfinished houses all over the whole island. They will become nice houses once finished but many of them are not painted.

Half-finished houses all over. Some of them are finished and inhabited, but they are not painted. 1000 houses are standing around which are not painted.

Unfortunately, nobody could explain this to me, but I guess it has a Chinese background, for example, the paint is from China and suddenly it has become expensive and nobody can afford it anymore.

A few examples of unfinished nice housed on the north side of the island.

The fortress of the Cape Verde east coast
Many houses are unfinnished in Cape VerdeThey run out of painting to paint housesChina didnt deliver color to paint housesFinnished to live but no more color availableCape Verde has many grey housesCape Verde house which is finalized

Continue on the east coast to "Pedra Badejo"

The roads are perfectly built. A dream to drive around with a rental car.

On the north side of the island along the coast, it was easy and nice to drive. There are sections of road that were built with cobblestones.

But also on the north side of the island, the landscape was completely brown. Brown brown brown everywhere!

Coast of Pedra Badejo
Cape Verde east coast is good to self driveThe bay in the east coast Pedra BadejoWomen waiting at the streetArchitecture of Cape Verde is PortugueseCape Verde bayPerson gets hit by a wave in Cape Verde

Found a few small green areas in "Fazenda"

A small oasis appeared on the north side of the island.

This was the greenest place I have seen in Cape Verde and I suspect that some "Chinese hands" were involved here as well.

Greenest place on Santiago
China made it green by delivering waterAre to buy palms in Cape VerdeDriving by rental car throught the green Santiago

The influence of China is everywhere

On the way back to Praia and the fishing town, I noticed another impressive example of Chinese construction effort in Africa. China's support is evident all over the island, most of it in infrastructure.

The Chinese make no secret of hiding it (why should they?), and build universities in Chinese architecture and write the construction project in Chinese language.

China gives lot of money to Cape Verde
Lots of China money in SantiagoChina help in AfricaChina built

The fishing town on the west of the island "Citadella"

Before I drove back to Praia, I made a detour to the southeast of the island where the village called Citadella is located.

It wasn't really that breathtaking, but it was worth a visit and better than driving back to Praia and dropping off the car.

It is a small fishing village with a castle on the hill.

The west coast of Cape Verde
Citadella is a calm townFishing in CitadellaPersons walking through CitadellaFishing town of Cape Verde at the eastCape Verde in backgroundPeople go fishing

Day 3 - Happy new year in Cape Verde

Yesterday was the 31.12.2020 and in the neighborhood San Antonio, at the port of Praia, it was a New Year's Eve concert. Public and free for everyone was the event with music and live DJ. Obviously it had a lot of tourists and locals.

Happy new year 2021 from Cape Verde

New Year's Day in Praia is quiet

The first day of the year and as in most places on earth everything is closed. It's like a ghost town here too. The otherwise busy shopping mall on the "Plateau" with hundreds of tourists was completely empty.

Not a single shop was open.

No more people in Praia
My last day in Cape VerdeOnly two people walk around on new year in Cape VerdePraia paintings

An African capital without the noise

I had the whole day here in Cape Verde and walked around for a few hours without any plan. It was all very quiet and the overloaded market was completely empty.

It was my last day on this trip through very difficult African countries.

I didn't think the whole trip through Angola, RC, DRC, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tome, would turn out like this and that I could travel all of them. Especially as there are so many problems with visas.

So the more pleasant it was to enjoy this last day and to look back and see that it worked.

From the bottom it looks like a fortress
New year approaching and people are lazyNo one goes outside in 2020Arquivo Nacional de Cabo VerdeYoung to old walks around in 2020Faces are important in Cape VerdeFarmer and fishermen of Cape Verde as Graffity

Day 4 - Going back home

It's 3am and I'm sitting in the airport in Praia. At 5 o'clock the flight to Casablanca leaves and then home.

Revisit someday? Yes.

I will revisit Cape Verde but next time in another season or definitely other islands with more green mountains. There are so many different islands and each looks completely different. I'm excited :)

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