The Republic of Cape Verde is West African state in the Atlantic Ocean. It is situated 620 kilometres away from the African Coast. The administrative centre of the state is Praia.
The country has a dry tropical climate with frequent trade winds. The annual average temperature is about +22°C - +26°C. It is a bit colder in the mountains. The temperature of the water close to the Atlantic coast is +21 - +26 depending on the season. At the end of August and the beginning of September, in Cape Verde, southeastern monsoons occur and it often rains. The best time for visiting the country is from October to August.
The official languages in Cape Verde are Portuguese and Cape Verdean (regional dialect). French and Spanish are also widespread.
About 80% of the population are the Catholics and near 20% follow the local pagan beliefs.
The largest island Santiago is known for its coral reefs and exotic fauna. This is the favourite place of divers and those who love fishing. Kitesurfers prefer the oldest island Sal.
The second largest island San Vicente offers wonderful beach resorts. There is the Center of Crafts and the tourists can see the natural sights.
The highest peak is on the Fogo Island. This is the main destination for those who love extreme tourism and are not afraid of climbing the active volcano.
The Russian and CIS citizens have to take a transit flight to travel to Cape Verde with a transfer at the hub airports in Portugal, Spain, Great Britain, and French. There are also flights from Senegal, Morocco, and Canary Islands.
The tourists can get to Cape Verde by ferry from Senegal.
There is a cruise ship from the Canary Islands which arrives at Praia and Mindelo.
The travellers from European and CIS countries must obtain a visa to travel to Cape Verde. It is necessary to submit the documents to the Embassy of Cape Verde or the tourists can get a visa on arrival at the airport on the Sal Island. This visa is valid for 180 days however, the tourists are allowed to stay in the country only for a month. To obtain a visa at the airport on the Sal Island, the tourist must provide the original and a copy of the international passport, return tickets and booking confirmation.
Before travelling to Cape Verde, learn more about the Customs rules. The export and import of foreign currency is allowed without any restrictions and it is not necessary to fill in the declaration form. Export and import of national currency is not allowed.
It is prohibited to bring in Cape Verde plants without additional control procedures and phytosanitary certificates.
The tourists are allowed to import and export duty-free five kilogrammes of fruits, personal belongings, cigarettes, and alcohol within the limits.
The staple food in Cape Verde is fish and seafood. The local chefs will surprise the tourists with exotic dishes prepared from lobster, saw fish, sea-bass, squid, and octopus.
The most popular dish among the locals is Cachupa. It is made of a vegetable mix, corn, fish and beef. Well-off people make the dish with meat or seafood and poor people add only vegetables and corn. In Cape Verde people believe that the more ingredients in the dish the better it is. The chefs of each island will offer their own versions of the dish depending on the foods growing on the island.
The locals love soups. They usually make fish or seafood soups. The most popular first course is a Royal prawn soup Chaochuta. The tourists should definitely try a local version of pilaf with seafood and fish broth and a famous speciality Tiokachi (boiled crawfish with peanut and root).
If you crave for a more exotic dish, try roasted lamb liver and blood. A colourful rice and vegetables are a typical side dish for this ‘bloody’ dish.
Those who have a sweet tooth should treat themselves to amazing delicate banana cakes and roasted sweet potatoes. This dish is high in calories and substantial. The local cookies from cassava with wild honey and coconut tarts are also very rich in calories. A cottage cheese pudding with paw paw may seem quite an ordinary dessert but it will delight the foodies with its exotic taste and perfect texture.
The most demanded alcoholic drinks in Cape Verde are Grog and Ponchi. These drinks are produced on the islands San Antao and Sao Nicolau. They keep the recipe a secret but it is known that cane sugar is infused with coffee beans, lime, and eucalyptus.
The official currency in Cape Verde is the Cape Verdean Escudo (CVE). The National Bank issues 1 to 100 CVE coins and 500 to 5.000 CVE bank notes.
Almost everywhere, the tourists can pay with Euro. The tourists can exchange the currency at banks or hotels. You will not be able to exchange the national money to foreign currency so exchange only the sum of money you are going to spend.
Take the traveller’s checks in Euro and you can cash them at hotels and banks. You cannot pay with the checks for products or services. On some islands, the commission for cashing traveller’s checks is very high and you will overpay 10% for Euro to national currency transaction.
You can pay with credit cards only in large international hotels and some restaurants in Praia.
In large cities, there are ATMs but the give only the local money and not all of them accept MasterCard and Maestro. The tourists will have more chances to withdraw the money from their VISA card account (provided that they have a PIN-code). In the Duty-Free zone at the Cape Verde airport on the Sal island VISA credit cards are accepted.
Details of interest
Sightseeing in Cape Verde
If you are staying in Cape Verde, you should not miss a chance to participate in the Cabo Verde Night Festival where you will here traditional Morna songs. Many find the songs very similar to the musical rhythms of Portugal and Africa.
The tourists should definitely see the first fortification building of the Colonial period in the Historic Centre of Ribeira Grande. This Center is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. On the Santiago Island, the travellers can visit the capital city Praia, take a walk across the main square Albuquerque, visit the Praia Ethnographic Museum, and see the Presidential Palace built in the 19th century.
Souvenirs in Cape Verde
The goods made of turtle shell, coconut and ox horn, clay and wooden figurines, pottery and straw baskets are the most popular souvenirs in Cape Verde. Usually, they are all handmade.
In Cape Verde, you will also find very elegant lamps and pottery which are very popular among the tourists. Do not hesitate to bargain in souvenir shops and on the markets and you will be able to bring down the price and buy the souvenirs twice as cheaper.