Cabo Verde

June 25, 2018

Sunset on Cabo Verde's Fogo Island.

After exploring three Canary Islands, we left the EU and flew much farther south to the country of Cabo Verde, our final Macaronesian archipelago.

Like the Azores and Madeira, Cabo Verde (alias Cape Verde) was settled by the Portuguese. Since 1975, however, it has been independent.

Cabo Verde is poor compared to the Canaries where the per capita GDP is four times higher. Yet, Cabo Verde is still the least poor country in West Africa.

I visited the main island in 2013. After five years, the biggest change I noticed was the much more conspicuous presence of the Chinese (as in the rest of sub-Sahara Africa).

Hundreds of Chinese have opened shops around the islands and, among other things, a Macau tycoon is building a massive 275 million dollar casino complex in Praia, the little capital. And that will change everything in Cabo Verde.

On my previous trip I did not visit the island of Fogo and it was fascinating to see the volcano ― Pico do Fogo ― that exploded with waves of lava in 2014.

In front of the active Pico do Fogo (Mount Fogo) volcano
which had major eruptions in 1951, 1995 and 2014.

Rooftops of houses in Portela buried by lava during the 2014 eruption.
Remarkably, nobody was killed.

Left: Not many homes have a real lava in the dining room.
Right: Same house (viewed from the front yard).
This lady gave us a delicious home-cooked meal.

We had a good two-hour hike up the side of the volcano.

On our hike we got high enough to smell simmering sulfur and to see the multi-colored fissure that was the main vent for the 2014 eruption. Also note the massive caldera walls miles away in the background.

Here the walls of the caldera are about 1,000 meters high (3,280 feet). To appreciate the scale, find the "tiny" building with the red roof on the caldera floor. Imagine what that incredible original volcano was like to have produced this caldera that is nine miles across.


Caught this pose while stopping for water on the drive up to Mt Fogo.

Flame trees are always a wonder to behold.
This one is in São Filipe on Fogo island.

Colorful houses in São Filipe produced an almost cubist abstraction here.

Back on Santiago, the main island...

Portuguese built this fort in 1587 (Fort Real de São Filipe) above the first main settlement (now called Cidade Velha or Ribeira Grande).

One colonial street in the old town has been nicely restored.

Enjoying the shade and selling fruits and vegetables in Cidade Velha.

Over 500 years ago worshipers at this church included in transit Vasco da Gama and Chris Columbus.

Small sample of five faces

Cabo Verde was experiencing its worst drought in over 40 years.
Most of Santiago island was parched as shown in the top photo.
Cabo Verde means "green cape" in English but we only saw this one green area.

Real sandy beaches are rare on volcanic islands. This pretty one is by the fishing village of Tarrafal in far north of Santiago.

That concludes our three weeks of travel to ten islands in all four of the Atlantic's Macaronesia archipelagos: Azores, Madeira, Canaries, Cabo Verde. (For the overview, go here.)

Here again are the fellow travelers plus perfect guide Jonathan who ran a glitch-free launch of this ambitious trip. Bonus: weather was wonderful throughout.