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INFO + TIPS

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INFO + TIPS 2017-11-30T23:00:02+00:00

Useful Information

  • Language
    Everyone speaks Caboverdean Kriolu (or Creole) though the specific dialect can vary depending on the speaker’s island/area of origin; almost all speak or at least understand the official language of Portuguese; a handful speak English, French and even German; and if you speak Spanish it will get you far as there is a lot of overlap with Portuguese. Also, remember that body language can get you far!

  • Weather
    Cape Verde’s climate is milder but the sea is warmer than that of the African mainland, because the surrounding sea moderates temperatures on the islands and cold Atlantic currents produce an arid atmosphere around the archipelago. Note that since the sun seems to always shine it always feels warmer than the actual temperature, especially during the humid rain season (August through mid-October). Average daily high temperatures range from 79 °F in February to 88 °F in September.
  • Time
    Cabo Verde fluctuates between 3 and 4 hours ahead of the United States’ EST. Currently we are 3 hours ahead.

Cabo Verde at a Glance

  • Official Name: Republic of Cape Verde
    Country Calling Code: +238
    Time: GMT – 1 (currently 3 hours ahead of EST)
    Capital City: Praia on the island Sao Tiago (Santiago)
    Government: Democratic Parliamentary
    Economy: The economy is service-oriented, with commerce, transport, and public services accounting for almost 70% of the GDP (including tourism which accounts for 21.1% of the GDP). Agriculture accounts for 9.2%, fishing accounts for 1.5%
    Currency: Cape Verdean escudo
    Exchange rate: $1 USD = 97 Cabo Verdean Escudos (June 2017)
    Geography: Location: Group of islands in the North Atlantic Ocean approximately 310 miles from the west coast of Africa (Senegal)
    Area: Approximately 1,500 sq. miles
    Terrain: Rugged volcanic islands
    Climate: Tropical dry, with two seasons. Dry season: November to July, tempered by trade winds. Rainy season: August to October. Daily temperatures range from 73 to 84 F
    Population: approximately 500,000
    Life expectancy at birth: 74 years
    Infant mortality rate: .03%
    History: Previously uninhabited, the islands were discovered by Italian and Portuguese navigators in 1456, then settled by the Portuguese who later brought enslaved West Africans to Cape Verde. Positioned on the great trade routes between Africa, Europe, and the New World, the islands became a prosperous center for the slave trade but suffered economic decline after the slave trade was abolished in 1876. In the 20th century, Cape Verde served as a shipping port. In 1951, Cape Verde’s status changed from a Portuguese colony to an overseas province, and in 1961 the inhabitants became full Portuguese citizens. An independence movement led by the African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde (PAIGC) was founded in 1956. Following the 1974 coup in Portugal, after which Portugal began abandoning its colonial empire, the islands became independent (July 5, 1975).
    People: Nationality: Cape Verdean(s). Ethnic groups: Creole (mixed African and Portuguese) 71%, African 28%, European 1%
    Religions: Roman Catholic 77%, Christian Rationalism 1.9%, Islam 1.8%, Nazarene 1.7%, Non Religious 10%, Other 7.6%
    Languages: Portuguese (official); Crioulo (a blend of Creole Portuguese and West African languages)
    Literacy rates: 84% among adults, 98% among youth
    Electricity supply: 220 volts AC, 50Hz. Round, European two-pin sockets

10 Islands at a Glance

  • Boavista – One of the touristy islands known for its isolated strips of flawless beach and rolling sand dunes, perfect for utter relaxation.
  • Brava – Referred to as “the flower island” because its high altitude and misty air allows for more varied vegetation. This is one of the most tranquil islands. Note: you can only reach this island by a 40 minute fast ferry ride from neighboring Fogo island.
  • Fogo – Home of a live volcano, Mount Fogo which last erupted in 2015, this island’s rich soil produces some of the finest coffee and wine in the world. The contrast of colorful colonial buildings against black cobblestone streets and sand beaches are a bonus.
  • Maio – A tiny island with a beautiful beach but not much action as its population is small and tourism is very new to the island. Brightly painted homes dot the port town. A great place to photograph or lay low.
  • Sal – The most touristy of the islands, Sal boasts picture-perfect beaches, outdoor activities and a strip of shops, restaurants and bars. The perfect choice whether you want to engage in a bit of culture and, say, kite surfing, or just relax poolside at an all-inclusive resort.
  • São Nicolau – Known for its mountains and quaint town Ribeira Brava that sits peacefully in a valley, this island inspired the most famous morna song, Sodade.

  • São Vicente – This charming cultural center of Cabo Verde has produced many of the country’s musicians. It is home of Mindelo, the country’s second largest city, which has European flair, a breathtaking boat-filled port and a very decent beach strip. Caboverdeans jokingly refer to São Vicente as Brazilinha or “Little Brazil” because of its grandiose February Carnaval, laid back vibe and party spirit.
  • Santa Luzia – Once used by shepherds as a cattle pasture for horses, mares and donkeys, this itty bitty island is now uninhabited. Its two eastern islets are host to endangered flora and were declared nature reserves in 2003. Santa Luzia can only be visited by small boat and with special permission from the government.
  • Santiago – The first island to be settled and home to Cidade Velha (Old City), the first European colonial settlement in the tropics, it is the most African influenced of the islands. Santiago is the largest island both in terms of land area and population, and is home to the capital city of Praia which has 150,000 residents. Santiago’s mountainous terrain is great for adventurers, and Praia’s vibrant music-drenched nightlife is great for those who like to socialize and party.
  • Santo Antao – The most extreme and arguably the most naturally beautiful of the islands, it is the second largest. Santo Antao is ideal for hiking and mountain biking, or taste-testing grogue, the Caboverdean sugar cane-derived rum. Note: Santo Antao can only be reached by a smooth, one-hour long ferry ride from São Vicente.

Preparing for Your Trip

  • Passport
    To play it safe, your passport should be valid for at least 6 months after you return. Visas can be purchased in advance through the Cape Verdean Consulate in Quincy, MA or can be purchased for $40 (cash!) upon arrival in any of our international airports. If you can prove you are of Caboverdean descent, the visa requirement will be waived.
  • Visa
    You can purchase a visa in advance from the Cape Verdean Consulate in Quincy, MA. However, we usually advise visitors to wait until they arrive in one of our international airports and purchase one on the spot for $40 USD. If you can prove that you are of Caboverdean descent, the visa requirement will be waived for you.
  • Vaccination
    If traveling from the United States, there are no required vaccinations as incidents of illnesses such as malaria are extremely rare and there is no risk at all of yellow fever. However, vaccine against hepatitis A at least 2 weeks before you travel is recommended. Be aware of what you eat, drink only bottled water and wash your hands frequently, and you should have no problem. Public medical care is extremely inexpensive, but should you need care, there are also private clinics that we would recommend.
  • Money
    Most vendors do not accept credit cards – cash only – so bring the cash you think you will need during your stay. Upon your arrival in Praia, A Vontade can arrange to exchange your USD or other currency to the Caboverdean escudo (CVE). Over the past several years, the exchange rate has gone as low as $1 = 74 CVE, but mostly hovered around $1 US = 84 CVE. However, recent rates have been way up: as much as the current rate of $1 USD = 100 CVE! The larger hotels and restaurants, particularly on the touristy islands of Sal and Boavista, take Visa and Master Card. Tipping is expected in restaurants but at an extremely low rate. From our experience, visitors tip a bit more but even a mere 10% is seen as a more than generous tip.
  • Packing
    Luggage – TACV allows each passenger to check one bag up to 70 lbs/31.8 kilos, and to bring one light-weight carry on (up to 11 lbs/5 kilos ONLY – you will be charged $50 for every additional 2.2 lbs/1 kilo) and one personal item such as a camera. TAP allows one bag up to 50 lbs/22.7 kilos. If traveling via other airlines including connecting flights, we recommend that you contact them in advance and inquire about their restrictions. Make sure you weigh your bags before leaving your house! We have seen clients forced to unload items in the airport and it is no fun! Also, when flying inter island via TACV, your one checked bag can only contain up to 26.4 lbs/12 kilos.

    Phones – If you have a smart phone, hopefully it is already “unlocked” (ie. ready for international use) so that you can simply purchase a SIM card here for $1 that works with one of the two Cabo Verde carriers. If not, you can make calls using Skype or can go to one of the calling centers here.

    Jewelry – DO NOT BRING OR WEAR FLASHY, EXPENSIVE JEWELRY. A little bit of real jewelry is fine, but do not overdue it. Like most places with extremes in haves and have-nots, being flashy will be asking for trouble. Costume jewelry is best.

    Clothing – Cabo Verde is a very casual country where pretty much anything goes. We would recommend mostly relaxed outfits (khakis, capris, jeans, shorts, sundresses etc.) and flat, comfortable shoes (sandals, sneakers, flip flops). A few outfits suitable for nights out dancing are also a good idea. Definitely bring a few bathing suits as well as a long sleeve shirt or two or a light jacket in case a cool night particularly in November through May.

    Electrical devices + technology – If you are a techy person and need to have your notebook or smart phone on you at all times, that is fine. While most hotels do have free wifi, most public places in Cabo Verde do not. If you must bring a laptop and are going to want to access wifi on your laptop from various locations, a remote wifi device can be purchased for approximately $12 USD. However, we sincerely hope you plan to unplug and enjoy!!! Cabo Verde uses a 220 volt electrical supply, therefore an electrical converter with a two pin European adapter is required. In the US, this can be purchased at Best Buy or Radio Shack.