How to Travel Around Cape Verde Safely

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Public transport is surprisingly good in Cape Verde. But here's what you should look out for while getting from A to B.

Photo © Getty Images/Robert Harding Productions

Road conditions and driving habits are considered to be fairly adequate in Cape Verde. One of the biggest problems you'll encounter is more of an annoyance: cobblestone roads. This material is most common on the islands of Fogo, São Nicolau, Brava, Maio and Boa Vista.

Rain can make cobblestone roads slippery. Asphalt is more common on Sal, Santiago and São Vicente. There has been a continuing project to switch cobblestone surfaces to asphalt.

Rural roads, no matter the material of which they're made, can be dangerous due to poor lighting. It won't be uncommon to see people or livestock walking in the roadway, so it's important to keep your eyes on the road and drive carefully at night in these country areas. Roads are subject to mudslides and falling rocks if they are in mountainous areas.

The smoother roadways on the newer asphalt roads can invite speeding, as it's something Cape Verdan drivers couldn't previously do on bumpier roadways. Other naughty driving habits include aggressive driving and drink driving, which is considered problematic in Cape Verde. Sundays seem to be a prime time for boozy natives behind the wheel in addition to after holidays, festivals and concerts.

Drivers on the islands also have a tendency to drive into the opposite lane, even when you can't see around the bend or are in a mountainous area with steep drop-offs.

If you want to rely on public transpiration, buses are the way to go for cheap, clean, regular service. Buses are reported to be in good condition and are well-kept. Taxis are another good option.

If you want to get between the islands, it depends on where you want to go, as certain islands, like Santiago and Brava, are only able to be visited by watercraft. You can hop on a ferry or fly in a propeller plane, but flights are not always direct. Sometimes flights get cancelled if weather conditions or poor visibility pose problems.

Travelers have also reported luggage delays of as much as two days because the small planes cannot carry that much luggage.

You can get transport via intra-island by way of minivans or converted pickup trucks. If you get the latter, you'll basically be riding in the back of a pickup bed. If that doesn't make you queasy enough, the drivers aren't always the best, often speeding and drunk driving or packing too many passengers into the back. Obvious precautions would involve surveying the driver to make sure he isn't intoxicated and not stepping into any vehicle already weighed down by too many passengers.

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