Tag Archives: africa

Backpacking on Cabo Verde

I must admit, when I bought the flying ticket to Praia, Santiago, I didn’t think very deeply about it. I knew I wanted to get to Fogo island, as there’s a volcano, not too different from Teide. After I got the flying ticket, I started to search for information and realized, there is little if some. Which is actually the reason I’m writing this down. Maybe it’ll help somebody who has decided to do similar trip.

First of all, Cabo Verde is a tourist destination, but majority of the tourists will go to Sal or Boa Vista, if they feel adventurous, they’ll go to Santo Antao. If you decide to go to Santiago, you’re pretty much out of tourist buzz. That brings good things and bad things. You certainly get some authenticity, but you don’t get by using other language than Portuguese or Creole. Forget about English.

One of the first things you might notice is the lack of tourist guides and maps. There’s only one chapter of the Lonely planet guide to West Africa. Luckily enough they sell pdfs of the sole chapters individually, so one doesn’t have to spend unnecessary money on the whole book. The chapter has 30 pages and it’s nearly not enough. Though, you’ll get some tips out of there, considering what to see etc.

Transport between the islands

Most of the islands have airport, exception being Brava and Santo Antao. Santiago and Sal have international ones, so that might be your entry point to the country. Both of them issue visa on arrival. If you want to do little bit of island jumping, there are two options: boat and plane. I met quite a few people who went by boat to Fogo, all of them claiming that they go back by plane. Plane is not that much more expensive, if you book directly on TACV website. If you book in advance, you end up with something like 100 euro for a return trip Santiago – Fogo. According to locals, not a bad price. Boat was 70 euro. Some travel Cabo Verde pages will claim that you might have troubles with booking and offer to book for you for 10 euros. Skip that, at least with Safari and paying online by Visa, I had no problem.

Maps

I had trouble getting maps for any place in Cabo Verde.  You can get decent hiking maps for Santiago in a souvenir store in Plateau in Praia (close to the end of the main pedestrian road, the end with lyceum), for Fogo, the maps are available in Zebra travel in Sao Felipe . The towns… well, people rarely use street names there, city maps won’t get you anywhere. Deal with it, it’s hard only during the first day.

Accommodation

Santiago is not prepared for tourists. Yes they do have quite a few fancy hotels, occupied mostly during volcanologists conferences, but the budget options are scarce and probably will be.  I found my accommodation in Praia through AirBnB, Brothers & Barros Hostel, newly opened hostel with nicely clean rooms for 20 euro/night. If you happen to get the tip from here, say hi to Danilson, the owner, from Jana from Czech republic. The hostel is not located on Plateau, but you can get there easily by public bus (they have quite convenient system of buses in Praia, once you figure which number goes where).  Plus, you cannot get more authentic than this. Don’t forget to get a fish on a street corner grill. It’s the best one I had, and costs only 2 euros.

The situation on Fogo is slightly better, still there are not many places to choose from. I went for Pensao Las Vegas as it was the cheapest option (20 euro/night), but if the next time, I’d go for Casa Beiramar, slighly more pricey, but worth it (read further). Both are located in the old town, so you’re pretty much in the center of everything, close to the markets etc.

Hiking and sightseeing on Santiago

If you decide to hike on Santiago, you’ll likely be the only hiker on the path. There are two hiking areas, national park Serra Malagueta and Rui Vaz, above Sao Domingues. In Serra Malagueta, you can even pick up very non- accurate map, but the guys from the local visitor’s center will show you the way and let you pay couple of ECV for the entrance. Not a big deal, but you’ll have to guess big part of the hike. Luckily enough, it’s circular. But the surroundings are stunning. Area around Rui Vaz is also really nice. You can just get of the bus in Sao Domingues, hike up to Rui Vaz (road) and from there, go to Sao Jorge, where is a small botanical garden. It’s a stunning hike amongst beautiful rock formation, but check out WikiLoc (I marked the path there). There are few path markers, but don’t rely on them. The botanical garden is free.  You’ll be able to catch a bus in Sao Lorenzo, on the main road, otherwise taxi it is. Buses from praia cost about 3.5/4.5 euro one way.

Serra Malagueta, Santiago

Serra Malagueta, Santiago

There’s also a nice walk from Cidade Velha to Fortaleza above the city. All in all, Cidade Velha is worth visiting, it takes just 15 minutes from Praia to get there. But bear in mind, the bus doesn’t go from the main ‘bus station’ in Sucupira market, but from Terra Branca. The bus costs approximately 1 euro.

Hiking around Fogo

Fogo is easily a hikers paradise. But, there’s but… In November 2014, the volcano exploded and buried two villages, which served often as a base camp for hikers, under the lava. Sad for locals, sad for hikers. The prices for a simple hike therefore rocketed up because of the cost of transport. You sure can rent a car there, but at 80 euros/day you just don’t want too. Hiring a driver for the whole day will cost you the same. Besides he know where to go and knows  how to drive on those stony roads. If you want to arrange a trip, your bet is Casa Beiramar, Mustafa, the owner is a climber/mountainer and loves Fogo. He can help you arrange a hike or climb anywhere on the island. He’s got some accomodation up in Cha de Caildeiras… well, rebuilding now, so even the trip to the peak will be doable with him again. He arranged a drive around the island for me, with a stop  for a hike amongst the coffee plantations in Moisteros, 80 euros for the whole day. Transport to Caldeiras, without the facilities can be also arranged there. Without guide, 50 euros.

Sulphur, Fogo

Sulphur, Fogo

Needless to say, it’s not cheap, but if you don’t know your way around (you most likely don’t as the inaccuracies are big), it might easily be an only option. I did the hike above the new explosion, which was memorable, but little bit short. A recommendable hike might be Bandeiras, hiking along the rim of the big caldera.  Sadly at the current prices, it’s 140 euros, which for me alone was way over my budget.

Safety

It’s sub-saharian Africa and you should act accordingly. While on Fogo, every crime rises attention, in Praia, petty crime is arising. I wouldn’t go around alone at night, but otherwise the country felt reasonably safe.

Pricing

All in all the general cost of things

  • flight between the islands 100 euros
  • Accomodation 20 euro/night cheapest
  • taxi praia intl – city center 10 eur
  • public transport in Praia 40 cents/ride
  • Local transport half the Santiago island for 5 euros
  • moderate restaurant 6 euro/dinner
  • cup of coffee around 1 euro

 

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Cabo Verde, April 2015

This gallery contains 11 photos.

After visiting all of the Canary islands, the next stop was quite natural, some archipelago belonging to Macaronesia. Turns out it’s quite easy to go to Cabo Verde, off coast of Senegal. I’ve chosen two islands, Santiago and Fogo. It … Continue reading

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La Gomera, March 2014

This gallery contains 11 photos.

No matter where you live, you always keep telling to yourself that the places close by are ‘to be visited later’. And then you move away, realizing how much you’ve missed and suddenly those places are hard to visit. So … Continue reading

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Carnaval 2013, Santa Cruz de Tenerife

This gallery contains 22 photos.

Normally, I don’t like to take pictures of people. But carnival is not normal occasion. It’s as far from normal as it can be. Carnival in Santa Cruz de Tenerife is the second largest in the world, right after the … Continue reading

Road to nowhere

Hiking around the small villages has it’s perks. Like running into newly build roads leading to nowhere. This is a road near Arguayo, close to Santiago del Teide. The picture is another HDR. It was partly overcast so the hike had a nice atmosphere. Also the empty roads gave slightly apocalyptic feeling… I hope it’s somewhere there in the photo…

Road to Nowhere

Slightly surreal Teide

Today, we made a really nice hike up Montaña de Guajara (2.817 m). Starting from Parador in Las Cañadas, up the south-eastern side, to the top and then back to Parador. It’s a pretty nice loop. Anyway, it was one of the days, when La Laguna reminds everybody of Mordor and when you drive up, it’s sunny. The clouds below when you’re in the Teide National Park are always impressive, so I took couple of pictures. Recently I’ve found myself in the ‘HDR hole’, so I made one more HDR. Let’s not pretend it’s real or something. I’ve done it exactly so it doesn’t look real. I like the tone of the picture and the details of the clouds. Thinking of this, one can be pretty sure that it’s really gloomy underneath. Anyway, opinions welcome…

 

Teide from La Tarta Viewpoint

Teide from La Tarta Viewpoint

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Teide in HDR, Tenerife, November 2012

This gallery contains 18 photos.

I’ve decided to try making couple of photos in high definition range aka HDR. Teide National Park is a perfect place to try it out, since the nature is wonderful by itself. We managed to go there during a day … Continue reading

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Tenerife in B&W, 2012

This gallery contains 10 photos.

There are couple of places on Tenerife I really like. One of them is definitely Teide National park. The nature there is simply fascinating, it looks like some other planet. Every time I go there I’m simply amazed. And why … Continue reading

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Tenerife, Spain, Fall 2011

This gallery contains 27 photos.

I have moved out of the Czech republic, and my choice? Tenerife. So from now on, I’m spending my time on this beutiful island. So that means there’s going to be more albums dedicated to my new home. But for … Continue reading

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Morocco, September 2008

This gallery contains 54 photos.

Unbelievably colorful and amazing country. Mountains, rocks and my beloved Sahara desert. This is Morocco for me. I’ve spent three weeks in this wonderful country, travelling around and getting to know people and culture. It’s one of the places I’d … Continue reading