Overview

You don’t have to go all the way to Rio de Janeiro carnival, in Brazil, to be part of one of the most colourful events of the year in Cape verde. We’re talking about the Carnival in Mindelo on the island of Sao Vicente, which combines a days of music, dance and colourful street processions.

The Mindelo carnival, also known as the Creole festival, is a spectacle not to me missed as the streets come alive with colourful dance troops and spectacular floats, each competing to win the coveted carnival prize for being the best. Unlike Rio, this is very much a local affair, but in recent years it has become increasingly popular with people travelling to the island from all over the world who all come to join in the celebrations and watch this colourful and vibrant festival of life.

Often referred to as the cultural beating heart of Cape Verde, Mindelo has a world- renowned reputation for its music scene which blends various genres like Morna, Tabanka and Coladeira. Each day you can listen to live music and local musicians perform impromptu jamming sessions in the streets, bars and cafes.

Preparations for the carnival start almost as soon as the previous carnival has finished and is very much a community affair as it takes months of planning, involving families, members of the community and the local government. The celebrations start in January with colourful parades held every Sunday. The week leading up to Shrove Tuesday (in 2019 from the 2nd to the 6th of March) is crammed with parties and other events, which you too can join, eventually culminating in the main parade, which runs late into the night and shouldn’t be missed.

We suggest you stay at the Terra Lodge, which is within walking distance of the town centre and many restaurants and bars. Here you can relax in your hammock on your balcony and find some peace and tranquillity if you temporarily want to escape the carnival madness.

We give you plenty of free time to immerse yourself in the carnival festivities on your own, but have also included three activities, an informative guided walk of Mindelo which finishes at a guitar making workshop, an interesting and exhilarating off road Jeep tour of Sao Vicente and a day trip to neighbouring island Santo Antao, where one of our local guides takes you on a tour of the island.

After the Carnival, we’ll give you a flavour of another island, by flying you to Santiago, Cape Verde’s biggest island. Here another of our local guides will show you around the oldest settlement of Cape Verde – historical Cidade Velha, before you continue your journey to the coastal town of Tarrafal. Here you can spend your days relaxing on the small sandy beach and exploring the little coves, or watch the fishermen come in with their latest catch.

Just like the Carnival preparations which start as soon as it has finished, you need to book this trip well in advance to avoid any disappointment.

Itinerary

Depart Heathrow and fly to Lisbon, where you stay overnight at the Tryp airport hotel. Let us know if you are interested in Fado Music and we can arrange a table for you in a restaurant where they also perform live the traditional Portuguese Fado music.
After an early breakfast you make your own way back to the airport and fly to Sao Vicente where on arrival you will be met by your guide. The Terra lodge where you will be staying for five nights is a residential area, but within walking distance of the town centre. Depending on the day that you arrive, you can join one of the many carnival parties or if you are there on a Sunday, see the colourful Mandinga parade.
One of our local English-speaking guide will pick you up from your hotel and will proudly show you all the popular sites of his town. Of course this is also the perfect opportunity to ask him about all the Carnival festivities that are going on in Mindelo. At the end of your three hour stroll you end up at guitar-making workshop, where you may be treated to an impromptu musical session. The rest of the day and evening is free.
We have left today free for you to join in the festivities or you can relax by the pool of your hotel.
Our full day off-road Jeep tour is a great and different way to see parts of the island you otherwise wouldn't see, like deserted beaches and volcanoes. Our guide will remind you before you depart that you shouldn't forget to bring your swimwear and towel. There plenty of opportunities for a refreshing dip when you visit the black sandy beaches, or at Baias das Gatas. In the evening you can join the carnival festivities again.
It would be a shame not to visit neighbouring island Santo Antao, which is why you will be catching the ferry across. Here another one our knowledgeable local guides will already be waiting for you to take you on a tour of this beautiful island with its jagged peaks and steep green valleys. After lunch in the fishing town of Ponta do Sol, you can stretch your legs a bit and wander to Fontainhas village. In the late afternoon you catch the ferry back to Sao Vicente again. Tonight is your last chance to join carnival festivities.
After the carnival on Sao Vicente you fly to the island of Santiago, where you will be met by another guide, who will accompany you on a stroll of Cidade Velha - Cape Verde's oldest settlement - before taking you to the coastal town of Tarrafal where you stay for another four nights.
Free days to relax on the sandy beach, explore the surrounding coves and watch the fishermen and their latest catch. If you are interested in stretching your legs, then we could organise an interesting walk for you in the nearby Serra Malagueta Natural Park.
After an early breakfast you will be driven back to the airport for your flight back to the UK, via Lisbon.

Price Per Person

We can create a tailor-made holiday to suit your budget.

Jan

£1754

Feb

£1754

Mar

£1754

Apr

£1772

May

£1772

Jun

£1772

Jul

£1772

Aug

£1772

Sep

£1772

Oct

£1772

Nov

£1796

Dec

£1820

INCLUDED: International flights (guide price only), accommodation in twin share, en-suite rooms on a breakfast only basis throughout. Return airport transfers on Sao Vicente and Santiago. Inter-island flights per person Sao Vicente/Santiago. 4 x guided excursions as detailed in the itinerary. Visas and support from our team in Cape Verde, and air ticket reconfirmation (if required). EXCLUDED: Meals not specified above and insurance. Additional excursions on free days.

Accommodation

After one night in Lisbon, you will be staying for 5 nights at the Terra Lodge in Mindelo and 4 nights at Villa Strela in Tarrafal.

Activities

We have included four activities accompanied by an English speaking guide and more can be added. If however you prefer to go to the Carnival activities instead then we can always change the itinerary

Location

On this trip you will be visiting two Cape Verdean islands. Sao Vicente in the north and Santiago in the south.

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