Set in the Atlantic Ocean, over 300 miles from the west coast of the African mainland, this archipelago is famous as a year round destination for those looking to escape the British climate and find some sun. And while many come here to laze on the beautiful white sand beaches, those looking for more activity can explore mountains and volcanoes, follow ancient trails through farmland, kite-surf, dive, snorkel or cycle. Deep sea fishing and whale watching trips are available on some islands between February and May.
The best walking in these islands can be found on the island of Santa Antao (see below) but most of the islands have good walks in their interior and Sao Vicente and the volcanic craters on Fogo also provide some great hiking options. Walking maps produced by a German map company exist for each island but the only walking guide is in German. But, at least on Santa Antao, the trails are well used and marked, so self guided walking is perfectly possible. Those wanting to do some of the more intrepid hikes up volcanoes and mountains would be advised to hire a guide and our suppliers can arrange this for you. Combine Santa Antao, Sao Vicente or Fogo with a few days at the end of your trip at one of the luxury hotels on Sal or Boa Vista and you have a perfect holiday.
Relatively untouched by tourism, Santa Antao is a complete contrast to the better known sandy islands of Sal and Boa Vista. It provides great hiking opportunities – whether for a few hours or a whole day. You will see cliff hanging villages, rugged green peaks, fertile valleys, sugar cane plantations and distilleries producing the local tipple – Grogue. Accommodation is simple but charming with fabulous views of the mountains. There are no direct flights to Santa Antao but it is only a short ferry ride from Sao Vicente.
The main port in Sao Vicente, Mindelo, is the cultural capital of the islands and the most sophisticated town with live music most evenings and tasty food. No trip to Sao Vicente is complete without a climb to the top of Monte Verde, the island’s highest peak with stunning views of the city and across the Atlantic. Accommodation varies from characterful boutique hotels to larger hotels with plenty of facilities.
The Pico do Fogo, at 2829 metres high towers over the dramatic volcanic landscape of the island of Fogo. A trek up to the volcano’s peak will reward you with an incredible view of the original crater (12 km wide) and many smaller more recent craters. The last eruption was in 1995, but a team of volcanologists keep a close eye on it. As well as the hike up to the peak, there are a number of walks around the crater. Fogo has a vineyard producing Cha de Fogo Vino Tinto, a smooth red wine. The landscape is alien and breathtaking. Accommodation is simple but characterful.
Boa Vista is home to some beautiful beaches, particularly those at Praia de Chaves and at Santa Monica. The interior contains a lunar landscape, home to deserts, date trees and abandoned villages. Highlights of the island include the white sand dunes of the Viana desert, the Cabo Santa Maria shipwreck, whale watching between February and May and the arrival of nesting loggerhead turtles from July to September. Accommodation varies from simple guest houses to luxury international hotels.
Sal is a beach-lover’s paradise. As the name suggests, it is also home to the island’s once booming salt trade in the barren centre of the island. Santa Maria is the main resort with a variety of bars and restaurants with both local and international cuisine. There is a conservation project for loggerhead turtles but the main reason people visit is for the white sand beaches and year round sunshine. It makes for a lovely relaxing few days after a more active trip hopping between other islands. Accommodation is mainly in 4 and 5 star hotels with great facilities.
Santiago is home to Cape Verde’s current capital and its UNESCO world heritage listed former capital. It is an island rich in history including its former role as the main slave trading port between Africa, Europe and America. You can still see the first fort built by the Europeans in west Africa. Elsewhere on the island there is some nice hiking through mountains and mango and coconut groves to a waterfall where you can take a dip.
The Peaks of Cape Verde
from £2359 per person
from £1669 per person
Santiago and the Island of Fire
from £1879 per person
British passport holders can enter Cape Verde for up to 30 days without a visa. For further details visit the FCO Cape Verde web pages
No specific vaccinations are required to visit Caspe Verde although you should check your usual vaccinations are up to date. Cape Verde is generally a low risk malaria area but there can be malaria in the north of Santiago between September and November. For more detail visit the NHS Fit For Travel pages on Cape Verde