With the small African island state Cape Verde you travel a piece of Africa made of golden desert sand and black lava rock, because the 15 islands off the West African coast are all of volcanic origin. What is still part of the landscape and what makes the islands (in addition to the very mild, oceanic climate) a hiking paradise are: lush green valleys, mangroves, pine and cypress forests, meter-high agaves, date palms, volcanic landscapes pierced by gorges with tropical flora, mountain ranges with rough rock as well as coffee and banana plantations and the Pico do Fogo. In many places, this beautiful nature is criss-crossed by a close-knit network of trails that lead you through the natural diversity… and past a number of remote villages. The island of Santo Antao is particularly popular for hiking. In addition, the Cape Verde Islands are also ideal for beach holidays – with beautiful sandy beaches – especially on Sal, Maio and Boavista Prai do Estoril – where you can relax, but where diving is also offered, because you are in the sea in front of the islands several shipwrecks from the 16th century. Hiking, beach and culture can be found on the main island of Santiago. Cape Verde came to culture from 1445 – the year in which Portuguese sailors discovered the islands. Today you can expect a cultural environment in which the European and African cultures mixed, in which you can marvel at the magnificent colonial architecture in Cidade Velha, for example,
On the island of Sal
its miles of sandy beaches in the southern part of the island in front of the turquoise, crystal clear sea have led to the development of a tourist center in and around Santa Maria. If you combine your trip and your stay on Sal with swimming, sunbathing, windsurfing or diving with an exploration tour of the island, you should also visit the Buracona cave diving site in the northern area of its west coast and possibly bring the appropriate equipment with you.
Buracona cave diving site
The way to Buracona leads over a gravel road to an unattractive section of the lava rock-covered coast. The cave can be reached via three entrances, which are located below the cave. The dive should take place at lunchtime between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Because only at this time can the sun, standing vertically above the cave, send its rays through a hole in the collapsed cave ceiling. This creates a laser-like beam of blue light in the water of the cave, the sight of which becomes a fascinating experience.
The Olho Azul of the Buracona
But what does someone do who visits the Buracona or is taken here as part of a study trip and does not want or cannot dive?
Fortunately, he does not have to do without the experience of the Olho Azul, the “blue eye” even with dry feet. He can orientate himself at the natural bathing pool between the rock, which is repeatedly filled with fresh sea water during the course of the tides In this pool you can discover a hole about three meters in size, in which the blue light shows up as an eye, also at lunchtime. But be careful when looking in – there is no protective railing and falling into the cave without equipment is certainly not for everyone and not harmless.
Steep mountain slopes with fascinating rock formations, green, spacious valleys and the wild coast right on the doorstep: the Cape Verde island of São Nicolau (“St. Nicholas”) is a true paradise for nature lovers. With its 388 square meters, it is one of the smaller islands and is located in the north of the archipelago.
The island and its landscapes
Basically the whole island is very mountainous. The hills and mountains are criss-crossed by many narrow, green valleys; in the north the land is most fertile. The highest mountain is the “Monte Gordo” at 1,312 meters, which is located in the northwest of São Nicolau.
The island is particularly exciting for nature and sports lovers who enjoy mountain biking or hiking. Behind every mountain there is a new, fascinating natural spectacle and you just can’t get enough of the breathtaking surroundings. In the south and east of the island there are very few and partly abandoned settlements and villages.
The cities on São Nicolau
The capital of the Cape Verde island of São Nicolau is Ribeira Brava (“fizzy river”) and is geographically very central in the middle of the island. In the midst of the magnificent mountain scenery, the small town offers unique views of the surrounding landscape. About 60 percent of the island’s inhabitants live in Ribeira Brava and work there. With the colorful houses in pastel tones and a central square with a blue-washed church, the city looks very picturesque.
Tarrafal is about 26 kilometers to the north-west. There is the largest port on the island. A little further north at “Praia da Luz”, a very wide stretch of beach with black lava sand, bathing holidaymakers also get their money’s worth. Although the coasts of the island are otherwise rather wild and difficult to access, the sea at Praia da Luz is calm and you can spend a pleasant day at the beach with the family.