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An Undiscovered Africa: Cabo Verde By Ann Brown

Travelling: Black Westchester's New Travel Section

Sunset on Santiago Island [Photo credit: Joli Moniz]

Santo Antão Island [Photo credit: Joli Moniz]

Santo Antão Island [Photo credit: Joli Moniz]

Cabo Verde. Never heard of it? Don’t worry; a lot of people haven’t, though Cape Verde did get some name recognition through hip-hop socialite Amber Rose, who is half Cabo Verdean.

Most people think Cape Town when they first hear the name. But that’s over in South Africa. Cabo Verde is actually a group of 10 islands (9 inhabited) off the coast of Senegal in West Africa. It won its independence from Portugal in 1975. And it is a great getaway from the U.S, being just a little more than 6 hours from the East Coast. And think of all the tasty seafood you can have.

Mindelo, São Vicente Island [Photo credit: Joli Moniz]

Mindelo, São Vicente Island [Photo credit: Joli Moniz]

A visit to Cabo Verde will be filled not of safari adventures, but of cultural exploration. And there are some activities as well, such as climbing an active volcano on the island of Fogo. (The Pico do Fogo volcano actually erupted in 2014, but it is now being scaled again).

Start your CV jaunt on Santiago Island, it’s the largest of the island and is home to the capital city–Praia. Santiago is also home to half the nation’s population. It was the first of the islands to be settled in 1462. Today that first settlement/town,  Cidade Velha, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

On the island of Santiago, not only can you enjoy the thriving and growing city but you can head to countryside is a great visit for a get away. There are a number of countrysides actually–some beach destinations others include farms and some easy hiking.

If you do head to Fogo island to venture up the volcano, also make sure take time after your climb to taste test the local coffee and wine.The coffee is so unique and satisfying that one of the brands, Fogo Spirit, struck a deal with Starbucks in America.  The wine industry took a big hit when the volcano eruption caused a temporary stoppage of the 140-year tradition of wine-making in a small Fogo village called Cha das Caldeiras, which was destroyed completely. It will take years to get the wine-making in this area back up and running. But there were some vineyards and producers left in the region, including Vinha Maria Chaves.

Sal [Photo credit: Joli Moniz]

Sal [Photo credit: Joli Moniz]

If it’s all-inclusive resorts with glorious beaches, then it’s Sal and Boa Vista you will want, such as the Riu Resort brand. But be forewarned, these are two islands favored by tourists. Both islands feature whale, dolphin, and turtle watching.  If you are not about hanging with tourists and are not into the all-inclusive thing, both islands have cool independent hotels, such as Hotel Odjo D Agua in Sal. Hotel Odjo D Agua Sal is Cabo Verdean owned, where as most of the big all-inclusives are foreign developments.

If you head to CV during carnival time–normally held 40 days before Easter on the Catholic calendar; 2017 dates are 28th February and 1 March–go to São Vicente or São Nicolau. They host two different types of carnivals. São Vicente’s carnival is a big, flashy show with a major Brazilian flair. São Nicolau is more rooted in tradition and features amazing floats that are designed to maneuver the narrow, hilly streets of the area.

There is still Brava, which is a boat ride away from Fogo, the smallest inhabited island island of flowers; Maio, known for its sandy beaches and large forest; and of course, the uninhabited island of  Santa Luzia, which you can visit to see one of CV’s most prized nature reserves.

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Black Westchester - News With The Black Point Of View is an online news magazine for people of color for Westchester and the Tri- State area of New York at every economic level. Our mission is to promote the concept of “community” through media.
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