Santiago Dances to an African Beat
You will discover the beautiful landscape of Serra Malagueta
Santiago is fortunate enough to offer you everything to make your holiday perfect: a vibrant main city called Praia, the oldest village, Cidade Velha, stunning landscapes and a beautiful beach in the north. Santiago is definitelya major highlight of Cape Verde.
Praia is the main capital of Cape Verde and your first stop when arriving at the Nelson Mandela International airport. The city is diverse and full of bustling activity--women carrying vegetables on their heads, shouting out their prices conduct their daily trade next to young businessmen in suits, hurrying off to work. Visit the local market and the “Plateau” –the historic part of Praia and enjoy a local coffee at Café Sofia before heading off to the UNESCO site of Cidade Velha, only a15 minute drive away.
Cidade Velha, the oldest town of Cape Verde, was founded in the 15th Century and is formed around the lush green valley of Ribeira Grande. The valley and the river made the site very attractive for the Portuguese settlers, hence, they started to build their houses and create villages. The oldest church in the town is called Igreja Nossa Senhora do Rosário and is truly evident of the former times. Its marble graves date back to 1543 and the beautiful, blue, yellow and white tiling is from the 17th Century. Visit the Pelourinho (‘pillory’) which sits beside huge coconut trees where once, long ago, rebellious slaves were punished.
Be sure to make a stop at the Botanical Garden, which showcases the different endemic plants of Cape Verde. You will discover the beautiful landscape of Serra Malagueta on your way up to the north of Santiago. The natural park offers a wide range of hiking treks, whether you seek difficult paths or rather a relaxing hike while you look for interesting photo opportunities. Friendly people working busily on their farms will greet you on your way and laughing children on their way back from school are happy to talk to you. Often, they will invite you to their houses to have a typical Cape Verdean lunch while listening to one of the family members playing morna –a music coming from the heart, expressing the longing for family members living abroad. They serve Cachupa, a traditional meal made out of beans, potatoes, and pork meat. The cheerfulness of the Cape Verdeans is part of their culture and can be seen throughout the country.
Tarrafal, the northern town of Santiago, surprises you with crystal clear, blue water and a white sandy beach under coconut trees. Such a relaxing atmosphere. Take a chance to jump into the water, enjoy a delicious lunch with fresh fish right at the beach or stroll through the quaint village absorbing the laziness of the afternoon. The town offers a variety of pensions (bed & breakfasts) and restaurants.
We recommend taking the drive back via the east coast to experience the Rabelados (‘rebels’), a community which lives completely loyal to their old tradition of the slavery times or shortly after. They live in simple, mulched houses and the older members refuse any civilized innovations such as television and radio. The young Rabelados try to live a more modern life in combination with their old traditions. They paint wonderful, unique pictures and sell them to visitors. Please, keep a polite distance and respect their way of living.
Santiago is truly one of the most beautiful islands in Cape Verde and well worth a visit. Vista Verde tours are the Cape Verde Island specialists and will be happy to help you with planning your perfect holiday.