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Visit Cabo Verde, Africa

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Cape Verde, or Cabo Verde, is a nation on a volcanic archipelago off the northwest coast of Africa. The islands of Cape Verde are a bewitching blend of Portuguese and African influences. You'll see it in the many European-style buildings and the curious musical styles, but its particularly noticeable in the food. Portuguese fare – especially seafood dishes laden with garlic and olive oil – and more African-style fare – such as stews, beans, maize and tropical crops – comfortably combined on most menus.

Once a colony and slave trade outpost, Cape Verde varies wildly in character and scenery through its 10 islands and five tiny islets. From spectacular verdant mountain ranges, to deserted beaches, with a few volcanic landscapes thrown in for good measure, it's the variety that makes Cape Verde such an unusual and appealing destination.

Music is a key component of life on Cape Verde, and several of the islands stage exuberant carnivals, with the best known being the Baia das Gatas Festival. São Vicente is also renowned for its exuberant festivities.

There’s lush and lively Santiago, the biggest of the islands, which boasts verdant hillsides, jungle and plenty of remarkable wildlife. It’s also the cultural heart of Cape Verde, home to the UNESCO-listed old fort at Cidade Velha.

Cape Verde may have struggled economically since gaining independence from Portugal in 1975, but many argue that it's isolation is a blessing, leaving these islands unspoiled and comparatively undiscovered. Get there before the crowds inevitably catch on.

Things to see and do

Bird-watching

Cape Verde is home to several rare breeds of African birds, as well as unique types of sparrows, swifts and warblers.

Cape Verdean rum

Sample Cape Verdean rum or grog, produced on Santo Antão.

Cidade Velha

Wander around Cidade Velha in Santiago, the first European settlement in the tropics and a World Heritage site to boot. City ruins from the 1600s have survived the ravages of both time and pirates, and Fortaleza Real de Sao Filipe, a dramatic cliff-side fort, provides sea views.

Dance barefoot

Dance barefoot on the beach. Cape Verdean's love dancing, and you're sure to pick up some special moves from the locals.

Fogo

Trek around Cape Verde's diverse islands. Fogo has a beautiful volcanic peak with sweeping views, while Boa Vista has a desert-like quality with shifting sand dunes and palm trees.

Go scuba diving

Go scuba diving around Sal's amazing underwater world. Get up close to Cape Verde's plentiful sea-life.

Live music

Listen to live music on Sao Vicente. Cape Verde is famous for sultry morna folk music, but its inhabitants also like to dance to faster samba and tango rhythms. For a taster, try Cesaria Evora, a national icon.

Surf the waves

Learn to surf or water-ski. Cape Verde has some of the best waves in the world, and most hotels are happy to arrange lessons or board hire.

Watch the sunset

Watch the sunset on Sal Island. Truly one of the most beautiful in the world.