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 – Maldives


Continuing on with islands, we’re taking a look at the Maldives [really I did not plan this – it wasn’t until after I picked this location that I realized it was an island destination :-)] . When I think of this South Asian destination set in the Indian Ocean, I think luxury hotels, azure waters, and blankets of white sand beaches. And also that it is sinking. Actually sea levels are rising and since the Maldives islands are the lowest country in the world,  this is a concern. In 2009 their government stated that they aim to make the country carbon neutral by 2019. In fact some of the inhabited islands may need to be evacuated and abandoned due to climate change. Geographically Maldives is far from a simple archipelago. It has over 1,000 coral islands that lay in a double chain of 26 atolls spanning 298 square km / 115 square miles. These atolls and islands lay above a submerged mountain range. And all the islands are surrounded by stunning crystal clear lagoons. Approximately 200 islands are inhabited with the capital city being Malé.

It is a country that has been one of the poorest in the world. Fishing and and boat building has traditionally been its main industries. In recent years tourism has flourished. Luxury resorts abound and tourism for its beaches and underwater marine life continues to grow. If you want to steer away from the high-end resorts there are a number of guesthouses to choose from as many locals have built their own as a business. The marine life in the Maldives includes corals reefs, over 1,000 species of fish, several species of dolphins, whales, sea turtles, mollusks and much more. Due to warmer sea water temperatures, coral bleaching is a growing concern. It seems a beautiful part of the world yet it is in distress. 😦

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Capital city Malé, Maldives – Photo credit: Shahee IlyasMale-totalCC BY-SA 3.0

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Beach at one of the islands of the Maldives – Photo credit – Nevit DilmenMaldives 09813CC BY-SA 3.0

 

Sunday Special – Sardinia, Italy


Note: I apologize for note posting the last couple of weeks. I’ve had some personal issues to deal with. Though I will continue on now.

Time for island life! Let’s head to the Mediterranean Sea to Sardinia. This autonomous island of Italy is the second largest island in the Med. The island has numerous languages spoken there and all of them share equal recognition.  The capital city is Cagliari which is also the largest city.  The main draws of this destination are the lily-white beaches offset by the bluest waters. Along with beach life comes water sports along the lines of windsurfing, boating, surfing, scuba diving – to name a few. Although these are the biggest tourist draws there is some more to this warm and balmy island.

Heading into the interior of the island will take you away from the tourist crowds to where some locals reside. The topography is rocky and hilly with some of the oldest rocks in Europe. Much of them are part of the Gennargentu Range. There is even a ski resort in the area and Gennargentu National Park.  The interior also is home to a number of ancient megalithic structures dating back to the Nuragic Civilization of the Bronze and Iron Ages. Appearing to be buildings, these Nuraghes are listed with the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It would seem you have a bit of variety on this Mediterranean island. Perhaps I’ll have to make a trip out there one day soon.

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The clear and blue waters of La Pelosa Beach, Sardinia – Photo credit: goldpicasa, Stintino, La Pelosa beach – panoramio (1)CC BY 3.0

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One of Sardinia’s lush beaches – Photo credit: trevis_lu (Luca Giudicatti), Spiaggia rosa, isola di budelli, sardegnaCC BY-SA 2.0

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An ancient Nuraghe found on Sardinia, Italy – Photo credit: WikibiroGonnesa-Seruci02CC BY-SA 3.0

Sunday Special – Réunion Island


A small island that is blessed with natural beauty is tucked away in the Indian Ocean in the shadows of Madagascar and Mauritius. This isle, known as Réunion Island, is located approximately 700 km / 434 miles east and 200 km / 124 miles southwest of Madagascar and Mauritius, respectively. As a French overseas island it is part of the European Union (E.U.) though it remains outside of the Schengen zone thus retaining its own immigration code.

Regarded mainly for its abundance of hiking trails for all levels (over 900 km / 559 miles) its mountainous and volcanic terrain draws outdoor lovers into its fold. With trails for all experience levels one can take in lush rain forests, peer into the crater of an still active volcano (Piton de la Fournaise), gaze at fields of cane sugar, and even learn about the flora, fauna and geology of the area with a discovery trail. In fact, the island has such incredible topography that 40% of it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Though there is more to Réunion than the volcanoes, cirques and calderas.  Stunning beaches, natural marine reserves, flowing rivers and more. Even though it is a French territory there is a mixture of cultures that add a vibrant element to the islands culture. Peoples from Madagascar, Africa, Europe, and Asia all flavour the culture, music, and the food. This place strikes me as a wonderful place to explore and unwind at the same time. 

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Langevin Falls (also known as Grand Galet Falls) in Reunion National Park – Photo credit: No machine-readable author provided. JoKerozen assumed (based on copyright claims)., Cascade LangevinCC BY-SA 2.5

 

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Crater of Piton de la Fournaise, Reunion Island – Photo credit: User: Bbb at wikivoyage shared, ReU PtFournaise KraterDolomieuCC BY-SA 3.0