Sunday Special – Cape Verde (Cabo Verde)


Now this week I did pick an island nation! And why not? Today we will check out Cape Verde (or Cabo Verde) which lies 570 km / 350 miles west of Africa in the central Atlantic Ocean and is made up of 9 inhabited volcanic islands and 8 islets. It had been isolated and uninhabited until the 1400s CE when it was colonized by Portugal. In later centuries it was, sadly,  a major port in the slave trade due to its location. After the end of slavery the island saw a marked decline in economics until it became another popular port and stop in the shipping industry. The Portuguese then incorporated it into an overseas department in 1951. Seeking independence, Cape Verde gained it peacefully in 1975. Today it is a stable, democratic, liberal, and among the highest developed countries in Africa.

The capital city of Praia is located on the southern tip of the island of Santiago, which is also the largest. Santiago is where most of the population lives though the other islands do offer activities and interests such as hiking, beaches, snorkeling, surfing, culture. Here are a few more bits of info:

  • Santiago – The landscape is varied and ranges from beach to mountain, steppes to valleys. The capital city of Praia offers plenty.  The plateau area contains many older buildings and architecture such as the old city wall, the Presidential Palace, and Praia Cathedral. Rumour has it that some of the best waves are found around Praia so this makes it a good location for surfing. 
  • São Vicente – This island is home to the town of Mindelo which is considered Cape Verde’s cultural capital with traditional music being played regularly at cafes and restaurants along with modern pop music. Meandering around town you can take in the Mercado de Peixe (fish market) and a local market. Windsurfers and surfers can take to the water on beaches.
  • Boa Vista – The third largest island it is renown for its sandy beaches making it a paradise for sun worshippers looking for quiet getaways. The Cape Verde music of Morna originated on this isle. It is also a protected haven for loggerhead turtles as a result of the work of The Turtle Foundation which also looks for volunteers to help protect these gentle creatures.
  • Sal – Once a spot for the mining of salt this now small and flat island is building its tourism industry. With barely any cloud cover this island is perpetually sunny. Trade winds provide impressive conditions for surfing and windsurfing for much of the year. 

The remaining island all have something to offer, even if for a short duration. Cape Verde strikes me as a place where you will not be bored yet still retain a relaxed vibe while visiting.

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Beautiful Chaves Beach on Boa Vista Island, Cape Verde – Photo credit: RomazurChaves Beach in Boa VistaCC BY-SA 3.0

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Catching some wind on Sal, Cape Verde – Photo credit: CayambeCape Verde Sal kitesurfingCC BY-SA 3.0

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A misty day on the island of Santiago, Cape Verde – Photo is Public Domain (XanduÓrgãos, Santiago, Cape Verde, marked as public domain, more details on Wikimedia Commons)

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Sunday Special – Zambezi River, Africa


We have reached the end of the alphabet and with that we are looking at Africa’s great Zambezi River (also spelled Zambesi) where it flows through six countries, feeds the amazing Victoria Falls, and finally empties into the Indian Ocean. Africa’s fourth largest river runs east through Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and on through Mozambique to the ocean for 2, 574 km / 1,599 miles. 

This amazing river (often referred to as the River of Life) has been a vital source of life for centuries to the peoples and wildlife around it. Though in recent times it has been dammed to harness hydroelectric power in two major areas: the Kariba Dam between Zambia and Zimbabwe and Cabora Bassa Dam in Mozambique. Although these dams bring hydro power to these countries there are side-effects to the river and its wildlife as well. 

The Zambezi River is divided into three sections: Upper, Middle, and Lower Zambezi and then ultimately forming the river’s delta. The incredible Victoria Falls marks the border of the Upper and Middle Zambezi and is a border for Zambia and Zimbabwe. Spanning total width of over 1,700 m / 5,600 feet and dropping 108 m / 354 feet it produces the world’s largest sheet of falling water. The mist produced floats above giving it a cloud-like appearance. 

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Victoria Falls seen from Zimbabwe – Photo is Public Domain

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The Zambezi River is known as the “River of Life” and supports wildlife like this hippo. Photo credit: Bernard GagnonHippopotamus in the ZambeziCC BY-SA 4.0

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Sunset on the Zambezi River, Zambia. Photo credit: Joachim HuberZambezi River, Zambia (2546105466)CC BY-SA 2.0

Sunday Special – Okavango Delta, Botswana


The 1000th UNESCO World Heritage site is Botswana’s expansive Okavango Delta. This delta, deep in the heart of the Kalahari Basin, is fed by the Okavango River which has transported sand through its waters from Angola for centuries. The uniqueness of the Okavango Delta is that one would not expect it to exist in such a parched land, yet its waters collect with flooding from the river in January and February and rains in April and May.  Hot temperatures result in evaporation of 36% of the water. All this produces varying levels of water through an area of 250 x 150 square km / 155 x 93 miles and an elaborate and extensive eco-system. Wildlife abounds here with mammals, birds, reptiles, fish and plants species each into dozens and hundreds. It is a world in and of itself, often dry and often wet. It has been declared one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa.  

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Group of Lechwe, Okavango Delta – Photo credit:  Original uploader was PanBK at en.wikipedia, Group-of-Lechwe-at-dawn, CC BY-SA 3.0

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Zebra’s of the Okavango Delta – Photo credit: diego_cue, Zebras in the Okavango Delta – Botswana – panoramio, CC BY-SA 3.0

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Water lilies growing in Botswana’s Okavango Delta – Photo credit: diego_cue, Water lilies in the Okavango Delta – Botswana – panoramio, CC BY-SA 3.0

 

 

Sunday Special – Chefchaouen, Morocco


A – B – SEE! Our alphabet tour continues to Chefchaouen in northern Morocco. My sister, some friends, and I have chatted about going Morocco, perhaps next year, and Chefchaouen is on the list!!

Nicknamed “The Blue City” as many of the buildings are painted in various hues of blue, it is set against the backdrop of the Rif Mountains and is located not far from Tangiers. This popular tourist locale seems to be perfect for wandering. Visit the Medina to take in the streets, shop for local handicrafts and goods in the souk, and stop at a nearby cafe to people watch. Continue to feel the pulse of the town in its main square Plaza Uta el-Hamman and fill your belly with a visit to one of its many restaurants. Need a break and want to be pampered? Then a visit to a hammam (steam house) to unwind. To get your heart pumping there are some beautiful hikes and the landscape looks amazing. Rif Mountain hiking trails that are both beginner and advanced are available. Make sure you are properly prepared.  It looks like a charming town and I can’t wait until I wander there!

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A street in Chefchaouen – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Photo taken and owned By Yaleyla (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Shops in Chefchaouen, Morocco – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned By YoTuT from United States (Chefchaouen, Morocco) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons