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Notes on a trip to Sal, Cape Verde.
I had only vaguely been aware of the existence of Cape Verde prior to it being suggested as a holiday destination. Pointing to it on a map would have been a struggle! After spending a week there in January I'm not likely to forget it's location again.
Cape Verde is an island chain located in the Atlantic Ocean, a few hundred miles off the coast of Senegal. It's remote location means it has only recently become a noted tourist destination, and the recession has kept the number of developments to a minimum right now. Sal is one of less populated islands.
Coming in to land on Sal gave everyone onboard a chance to view the island's barren beauty. From the air it looks like you're about to land on Mars.
We stayed at the Riu Funana, an all inclusive resort in Santa Maria. Unless you're good at haggling I'd recommend an all-inclusive resort as this skill is vital as many shops on the island!
The hotel had it's own bars, pools, entertainment and a private beach.The music played is a mix of reggae, Latin and African styles, sometimes all at once.
The waters around Sal are clear beautiful, and there's a whole host of tours including a glass bottomed boats and fishing trips. If you like seafood then it doesn't come much fresher - you can watch the catch come in on Santa Maria's docks.
In January the weather is dry and a near constant 27C/80F. The cool ocean breeze provides relief from the heat
The locals are a friendly lot, and the motto of the island is 'No Stress'.
The essential destination on Sal is the salt flats which give the island it's name. Salt was a major export, created by pumping sea water into a volcano crater and letting it evaporate. Like the Dead Sea, you can float in the lakes here, which is said to be good for the skin.
A few minutes after you emerge from lounging around you will be encrusted in salt, which the local recommend you leave on until you return to your hotel to wash it off for the best effect. I've no idea if it did my skin any good but it was certainly an amazing experience!
Many other excursions were available, including flights to other islands in the chain for day trips and 4x4 rental for those wanting to drive up craters,
Why should I go now?
Cape Verde is investing in tourism and these beautiful islands are being touted as the 'new Carribean'. We we're able to get everywhere easily without queues or overcrowding, and it should remain this way for a few years yet, but it's only a matter of time before it fulfills it's potential. Get there while's it's still a secret!