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  • Overview

    Only six hours flying time from the major airports of Europe,the volcanic Cape Verde archipelago, lying in the Atlantic Oceanoff the bulge of Africa, is rapidly emerging as an inspiringholiday destination for those seeking something different.

    The nine inhabited islands are bursting with their ownindividual character and unique musical culture, besides offeringplenty of opportunities for relaxation or active pursuits. Therapidly developing island of Sal is particularly popular, with longwhite sandy beaches luring European beach buffs and watersportsenthusiasts. The main tourist town, Santa Maria, near theinternational airport, is earning its place on the global map as asurfing destination, and also as a major draw for windsurfers andkite surfers, with its trade winds and winter swells.

    A former Portuguese colony, Cape Verde has made remarkablestrides after independence to ensure that it is one of Africa'smost politically and economically stable nations. Despite a lack ofnatural resources Verdeans have managed to focus their economy onthe service industry, particularly tourism.

    Most visitors utilise the inter-island ferries or domesticairline to explore more than just one of these ruggedly beautifulislands, each of which has unique sights or experiences to offer.Sao Vicente is the cultural hub of the archipelago, and it is herethat visitors will encounter the music and nightlife for which CapeVerde has become rightly famous. Fogo and Brava are littered withvolcanoes, while Sal and Mayo offer pristine beaches and undulatingdunes.

    Phrase Book

    English Pronounciation

    The tropical climate of Cape Verde is tempered by trade winds,with temperatures remaining constant most of the year. Temperaturesaverage between 78°F and 86°F (26°C - 30°C) year-round, but it canget hotter on the flatter islands or inland. The weather does varyslightly from island to island in the archipelago, depending oneach island's geography and location. There is almost uninterruptedsunshine from November to May but the winds usually keep the heatbearable.

    The wind can be strong in Cape Verde and although it is greatfor making waves for surfing, it is also important to note thatvisitors should pay attention to the lifeguard warnings and flagsfor their own safety when the surf is powerful. The rainy season isduring August, September and October; the amount of rain is ratherunpredictable and Cape Verde has suffered severe droughts in thepast. When it does rain the showers can be dramatic and sudden. Thesea temperatures are lovely and warm which adds to Cape Verde'spopularity.

    The best time to visit the islands is between March and June(the best waves for surfers are found from April to June).

    Amílcar Cabral International Airport
    Location: The airport is a 1.3 miles (2km) west of the town ofEspargos in central Sal.
    Time: GMT -1.
    Getting to the city: Taxis are available for transport to hotels and towns throughoutthe island, but are expensive. Shared taxis (aluguer) are alsoavailable.
    Car Rental: Car rental is available.
    Fascilities: The airport has a post office, bank, auto exchange machine,restaurants, cafeterias, bars, VIP lounge, duty-free shop,newsagent/tobacconist, gift shop, travel agent, and tourist helpdesk.
    Nelson Mandela International Airport
    Location: 1.8 miles (3km) northeast from central Praia
    Time: GMT -1.
    Getting to the city: There are taxis available outside the arrivals terminal fortransfer into town.
    Money:

    The unit of currency is the Cape Verdean Escudo (CVE), brokendown into 100 centavos. As this is a local currency it cannot beobtained before arrival and cannot be reconverted outside of CapeVerde. There is a bureau de change at the airport. ATMs can befound at the airport and in Sal, Praia and Sâo Vincent. Majorcredit cards, particularly MasterCard and Visa are currentlyaccepted in a few main resort hotels and restaurants. Banks willgive cash on credit cards but commissions are high.

    Language:

    The official language is Portuguese and a patois known asCrioulo.

    Electricity:

    Electrical current is 220 volts, 50 Hz. Round two-pinattachment plugs and Schuko plugs are used.

    Entry Requirements:

    US citizens require a valid passport and visa. A visa can beobtained on arrival. All documents must be valid for six monthsafter the arrival date.

    UK citizens require a valid passport and visa. A visa is notrequired for stays of up to 30 days. A visa can be obtained onarrival. All documents must be valid for six months after thearrival date.

    Canadians require a valid passport and visa. A visa can beobtained on arrival. All documents must be valid for six monthsafter the arrival date.

    Australians require a valid passport and visa. A visa can beobtained on arrival. All documents must be valid for six monthsafter the arrival date.

    South Africans require a valid passport and visa. A visa can beobtained on arrival. All documents must be valid for six monthsafter the arrival date.

    Irish nationals require a valid passport. A visa is not requiredfor up to 30 days. A visa can be obtained on arrival. All documentsmust be valid for six months after the arrival date.

    US citizens require a valid passport and visa. A visa can beobtained on arrival. All documents must be valid for six monthsafter the arrival date.

    New Zealand nationals require a valid passport and visa. A visacan be obtained on arrival. All documents must be valid for sixmonths after the arrival date.

    Passport/Visa Note:Visa:

    Visitors of any nationality require a passport, valid for theperiod of six months after intended stay, to enter the Cape VerdeIslands.

    Travel Health:

    A yellow fever vaccination is required for those arriving froman infected area. No other vaccinations are required for travel toCape Verde, but vaccinations are recommended for hepatitis A,hepatitis B and typhoid, and it is generally advised that alltravellers be up to date on vaccinations for MMR (measles, mumps,rubella) and tetanus-diphtheria. Malaria medication is recommendedfor travel to the island of Sao Tiago. Outbreaks of Brucellosis areoccasionally reported.

    Water is unsafe to drink without prior treatment, and milk isunpasteurised. Medical facilities are limited and some medicinesare in short supply. Visitors should receive free hospitaltreatment in general hospitals on presenting their passports, buthealth insurance is strongly advised, with coverage for emergencyrepatriation. If you require prescription medication for yourholiday it is ideal to bring it with you; make sure you have thenecessary documents from your doctor to get the medication throughcustoms.

    Tipping:

    At least 10 percent tip should be given if no service charge hasbeen added to the bill, and tips should be in local currency.

    Safety Information:

    Visits to Cape Verde are usually trouble free. The politicalsituation is stable and the crime rate is low. The only danger ispresented by occasional hazardous sea conditions around theislands.

    Local Customs:

    Cape Verdeans are friendly and hospitable, however there are afew local customs in Cape Verde that visitors should be aware of.Eating in front of others without sharing your food is consideredrude, therefore eating in public is not generally done. A handshakeis generally a proper greeting, but on occasion women may kiss onthe cheek. People tend to stand close together when speaking, andmay touch each other platonically. Casual dress is acceptable inmost situations.

    Business:

    Business in Cape Verde is conducted in Portuguese or English.Most of Cape Verde's business links are with Portugal. Businesshours are generally 8am to 12:30pm and 2:30pm to 6pm, Monday toFriday.

    Communications:

    The country code is +238. The outgoing code is 0 followed by therelevant country code (e.g. 044 for the United Kingdom). City codesare not required. The archipelago's main cities can be reached byInternational Direct Dialling. A GSM 900/1800 mobile network is inoperation throughout the islands; coverage is good in most towns.Wifi is available in the main town squares on all the islands, andalso in major hotels. Visitors should note that many hotels chargea fee for wifi use.

    Duty Free:

    Travellers to Cape Verde are permitted the following itemswithout incurring customs duty: 200 cigarettes, 1 litre of alcohol,a reasonable amount of perfume or eau de cologne and some giftitems. The import or export of narcotics is strictlyprohibited.

    Useful Contacts:

    Cape Verde Embassies:

    Cape Verde Embassy, Washington DC, United States (alsoresponsible for Canada): +1 202 965 6820.

    Cape Verde Consulate, London, United Kingdom: +44 7876232305.

    Cape Verde Embassy, The Hague, Holland (responsible forIreland): +31 00 355 36 51.

    Foreign Embassies in Cape Verde :

    United States Embassy, Praia: +238 260 8900.

    British Consulate, Sao Vincente: +238 232 3512.

    Canadian Embassy, Dakar, Senegal (also responsible for CapeVerde): +221 33 889 4700.

    Cape Verde Emergency Numbers : Emergencies: 132 (police); 130 (ambulance); 131(fire).
    Cape Verde