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Cape Verde

Cape Verde (Portuguese: Cabo Verde, Kriolu: Kabu Verdi) is a country in West Africa. It comprises a group of islands of the Atlantic Ocean, west of Senegal. It is part of the region of islands collectively known as Macaronesia. In October 2013, the government declared that its official name would not be translated into foreign languages and the country is now the Republic of Cabo Verde or simply Cabo Verde in English, although it will probably take many years for this change to enter common usage.

Regions

Cape Verde is formed by 10 main islands and about 8 islets. The main islands are (clockwise from northwest):

Cities

There are 24 cities in Cape Verde.

  • Praia – the capital, on Santiago Island
  • Mindelo – port city on São Vicente, probably the country's liveliest
  • Cidade Velha (Ribeira Grande) – A historic town on Santiago
  • Espargos is the capital of Sal where the airport is and Santa Maria is the main tourist area at the south of the island
  • Assomada is the seat of municipality of Santa Catarina on Santiago
  • Santa Maria - former administrative capital and the most populous city on Sal
  • São Filipe capital of island Fogo

Other destinations

  • Brava, the smallest island, is a botanist's paradise, home to many unique flora that live in its misty forests
  • Pico de Fogo - an active volcano on Fogo that has created a unique landscape best explored on foot or horseback

Understand

Cape Verde (pop. 506,000) is located 500 km from the west coast of Africa. The once uninhabited islands were discovered and colonized by the Portuguese in the 15th century; they subsequently became a trading center for African slaves and later an important coaling and re-supply stop for whaling and transatlantic shipping. Independence was achieved in 1975.

Most Cape Verdeans have both African and Portuguese antecedents.

Climate

Cape Verde’s climate is temperate, with a warm, dry summer. Precipitation is meagre and falls between the months of June to February, peaking in September.

Some islands see almost no rain: these are Sal, Boavista and Maio. The islands with most rainfall are Santiago, Fogo and Santo Antao.

Holidays

The national holiday is 5 July, Independence Day.

Get in

Entry requirements

Citizens of Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Hong Kong, Liberia, Macau, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore and Togo do not require a visa to enter Cape Verde. Everybody else may obtain a visa on arrival at a cost of 25 euros.

By plane

Cape Verde has international airports on the islands of Sal, Santiago, Boa Vista and São Vicente. Connections to Europe, Africa, and the Americas.

Not all the connections are visible to travel booking websites, it is usually worth checking with a travel agent.

From Europe

There are regular flights from Amsterdam, Lisbon (daily), Madrid, Milan, Munich, and Oporto operated by TACV.

TAP Portugal fly from Lisbon.

Jetairfly has cheap flight from Brussels to Sal and Boa Vista.

You can fly direct to Santa Maria on Sal from London Gatwick, Glasgow and Manchester on Astraeus and also with Thomson Holidays from Birmingham, Manchester and Gatwick.

From the Americas

There are regular flights from Providence (weekly), Fortaleza (Brazil) (weekly).

From Africa

West Africa is also serviced by the oldest functioning and leading regional airline TACV Cabo Verde Airlines.

By boat

There are only infrequent, expensive connections to the mainland by ship. On the other hand the islands are commonly visited by yachts crossing the Atlantic (see Hitchhiking boats).

Get around

Timetables in Cape Verde are not to be taken too seriously - don't be too surprised if that boat departs ahead of schedule or if that flight suddenly gets postponed until tomorrow. This is important to consider if you decide to do some island-hopping. Due to weather and other conditions flights may be delayed or canceled. Carry your toothbrush with you and build in some buffer time to your planning especially if you need to meet an international connection.

By plane

TACV Cabo Verde [1] airlines has regular flights between the majority of the islands.

If you can afford to wait until you arrive, domestic tickets are cheaper if purchased in Cape Verde.

If your international flights are booked with TACV, you can purchase a Cabo Verde Air Pass for flights within 21 day period. Price start at €110 for two coupons and €60 for every extra coupon.

TACV flights can be rebooked for 2,000$.

  • TACV Cabo Verde Islands [2]
  • TACV Air Pass [3]
  • TACV (German Site) [4]
  • Cabo Verde Express [5]

By boat

There are ferry services between the islands. Depending on the distance between the islands you are going from and to, flying can be significantly shorter but also significantly more expensive.

By taxi

Nice, new taxis are available in the major cities and are not metered. Aluguers, which are usually either open back pickup trucks with bench seats or 15 passenger Toyota vans, tend to travel between more rural destinations, particularly on Santo Antão.

Talk

The official language is Portuguese, used in all official publications and announcements as well as in business, media and schools, but the local language is Cape Verdean Creole (Kriolu kabuverdianu), a Portuguese-based creole language with 90-95% of the words from Portuguese and the rest mainly from West African languages. It is divided into 9 dialects spoken on various parts of the country. Even though Kriolu is comprehensible to a skilled Portuguese-speaker almost all people can also speak Portuguese as a second language. French Creole is not the same as Cape Verdian creole, and a considerable number also speak English; basically, Kriolu is your first option, Portuguese second, English third.

It is a good idea to know some Kriolu or at least Portuguese, since even though young urban people are often quite proficient in English, this does not apply to old and rural people, and even those who can speak English will highly appreciate any attempt you do to speak Kriolu or Portuguese.

See

  • Cidade Velha, whose name translates to "Old City" was the first European city in the tropics and an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • The Cova valley on Santo Antão - located in a crater of an extinct volcano.
  • The town hall, cathedral and Palace of Justice in the capital Praia.
  • Fogo, an island of volcanoes, one of which erupted in 1995.

Do

  • Game fishing
  • Kite surfing & wind surfing
  • Diving
  • Jetskiing and other water sports
  • Canyoning in Santo Antao

Buy

Money

The official currency of Cape Verde is the escudo, denoted by the symbol "" (a cifrão, a symbol similar to the dollar sign, but with two vertical strokes instead of one) after the amount. Its ISO code is CVE. The currency is fixed against the euro at 110$ per euro.

In the resort islands of Sal and Boa Vista, euros are commonly accepted, although you might receive change in escudos.

Money can be changed from all major currencies at the international airports at Sal and Praia. Bank branches at larger towns will also change money. Larger towns also have ATMs that will take Visa, MasterCard and Maestro.

High-end hotels will accept credit cards. Other hotels will expect cash although many mid-range ones will accept euros at a reasonably exchange rate (slightly worse than the banks). For everything else, expect to pay in escudos.

Costs

Since most goods are imported, the cost of living is moderate to high. On the island resorts of Boa Vista and Sal, the cost of living oftentimes can be compared to their Caribbean counterparts. The island of Santiago is reasonably the least expensive.

Eat

Cape Verde has fantastic fresh seafood. Tuna is common, as is Wahoo - a white fleshed fish with similar texture.

  • Lagostada – a lobster dish
  • Cachupa - the national dish made with maize and potato. Fish or chicken commonly added for flavor.
  • Tosta mista - common toasted ham and cheese sandwich.

European food is common on all the islands. Italian is especially popular on Sal. Vegetarians can ask for omelets or salads.

Drink

Local beer is a lager to drink ice cold, its name is Strela, but you can easily find international beers and other drinks, including some from Portugal.

Sleep

There are plenty of hotels and guest houses throughout the archipelago. Though the largest hotels are based on the islands of Sal (Riu Funana and Garopa hotels--1000 rooms combined), and Boa Vista (Riu Touareg--881 rooms).

Learn

There are 10 universities including institutes in the country. The largest universities are: Jean Piaget University of Cape Verde and University of Cape Verde.

Work

The Cape Verdean economy is largely service-based, i.e., most Cape Verdeans work in industries, hospitals, transportation and tourism related activities.

Stay safe

Crime rates are relatively low. The emergency number is 132.

Stay healthy

In the resorts, the tap water is usually desalinated and safe to drink. In other areas, bottled water is cheap and commonly available.

Respect

People are polite and friendly: they will try to sell you something and if you refuse, they will invent stories about the hardship of their families. It is good to buy something, but important to bargain.

Connect

The telephone system is effective and improving. There is mobile phone coverage in all cities and most towns. Check with your provider as to the roaming costs.

The country also has one Internet service provider.

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Exercise a high degree of caution

The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.

Crime

Violent crime has increased. Petty crime such as pick-pocketing and purse snatching is common, especially in crowded outdoor market areas and particularly in the city of Mindelo, on the island of São Vicente, and in Praia, on the island of São Tiago.

Road travel

The road system is extensive, particularly on the island of São Tiago. Main roads are usually paved with cobblestones but can be narrow, winding, and poorly lit. Most other roads are unpaved. Drivers and pedestrians should exercise caution, particularly after dark. Organized roadside assistance is not widely available. An ambulance service operates in São Tiago, São Vicente, Sal, Fogo Island, and Ribeira Grande on Santo Antão.

Public transportation

Intercity van service can be hazardous due to the bad driving habits of local residents. Taxis hailed from hotels are generally reliable. Car rentals are available on the islands of São Tiago and São Vicente. You should purchase sufficient car insurance. In Praia, city buses and taxis are reliable, clean and in good condition.

Domestic flights are available through TACV, the national air carrier. Delays or sudden cancellations can occur due to violent winds or sandstorms. See our FAQ on transportation in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.

A ferry service operates between Praia and the islands of Brava and Fogo, and between São Vicente and Santo Antão. Delays and frequent schedule changes occur. Boats may have limited space for luggage.

Sea conditions can be treacherous. Mariners should seek local advice prior to travel, particularly to the islands of Fogo and Brava. You should advise local ports of arrival and departure times and provide relatives with your itinerary.

General safety information

Do not show signs of affluence and ensure personal belongings, passports, and other travel documents are secure at all times.

You should travel in groups, particularly after dark. Tourist facilities are limited.

Strong currents and powerful waves make swimming and water sports dangerous at some locations. You should be vigilant on beaches and never swim alone.

Health

Related Travel Health Notices
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
Vaccines

Routine Vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

Vaccines to Consider

You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.

Influenza

Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.

Measles

Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.
 

Rabies

Rabies is a disease that attacks the central nervous system spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from a rabid animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).

Typhoid

Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives, or with weakened immune systems. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should consider getting vaccinated.

Yellow Fever Vaccination

Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Risk
  • There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
  • Proof of yellow fever vaccination is required if you are coming from a country where yellow fever occurs.
Recommendation
  • Vaccination is not recommended.
  • Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.
Food/Water

Food and Water-borne Diseases

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

In some areas in West Africa, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in West Africa. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!

Travellers' diarrhea
  • Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
  • Risk of developing travellers’ diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
  • The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.

Insects

Insects and Illness

In some areas in West Africa, certain insects carry and spread diseases like African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), chikungunya, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, malaria, onchocerciasis, Rift Valley feverWest Nile virus and yellow fever.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.


Malaria

Malaria

  • There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in this country.
  • Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by mosquitoes. There is no vaccine against malaria.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in well-screened, air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider sleeping under an insecticide-treated bed net or pre-treating travel gear with insecticides.
  • Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss your options.

Animals

Animals and Illness

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in West Africa, like avian influenza and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.


Person-to-Person

Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.

HIV

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks and impairs the immune system, resulting in a chronic, progressive illness known as AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). 

Practise safe sex while travelling, and don’t share needles, razors, or other objects which could transmit infection.

Remember that HIV can also be spread through the use of unsterile medical equipment during medical and dental procedures, tattooing, body piercing or acupuncture. Diseases can also be spread though blood transfusions and organ transplantation if the blood or organs are not screened for HIV or other blood-borne pathogens.

Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.

For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.

Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care provider.

High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.


Medical services and facilities

Medical services and facilities

Basic medical procedures are available in Praia and Mindelo, but travellers requiring specialized care or having sustained serious injury may need to be evacuated.

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.

Homosexual activity is illegal.

There are strict penalties for possession, use, or trafficking of illegal drugs.

Foreigners have been arrested for carrying unlabelled pills. For a complete list of prohibited items, please contact the Embassy of the Republic of Cabo Verde.

An International Driving Permit is recommended.

Money

The currency is the Cabo Verde escudo (CVE). Some hotels and restaurants in Praia will convert U.S. dollars and euros into local currency. Major credit cards are accepted in some hotels and restaurants.

Climate

Cabo Verde is very hot and receives extremely little rain throughout the year. The climate is dry and windy. The rainy season usually occurs from August to October, but there has been a severe drought for several years. Fogo Island receives more rain than the average.

Natural disasters are possible due to regional volcanic activity. The last volcano eruption was on Fogo Island in 1995.