Photo story: the landscapes of Cape Verde

The landscape of this scattered Atlantic archipelago veers from one extreme to another.  Lush peaks brood over desolate ashy desert, Martian-red canyons run into white-sand bays, and towns and villages bubble with a distinctive Afro-Portuguese culture.Thursday, 11 July 2019

By Massimo Ripani
Photographs By Massimo Ripani
Cape Verde.
Cape Verde.
photo by Massimo Ripani

“There’s nothing here!” exclaim two girls on a beach on the island of Santo Antão. And it’s true. West of here, the next landfall is the Caribbean, separated by some 2,000 miles of open Atlantic Ocean. Still, there’s plenty of life on this archipelago, from Sal island’s ramshackle desert bars, kite surfers and barefoot fishermen landing their daily catch, to Boa Vista’s vibrant, Portuguese colonial streets.

Santo Antão.
Santo Antão.
photo by Massimo Ripani
A colourful sign.
A colourful sign.
photo by Massimo Ripani
Boa Vista.
Boa Vista.
photo by Massimo Ripani
Street in Boa Vista.
Street in Boa Vista.
photo by Massimo Ripani

The abandoned saltworks of Pedra de Lume, in Sal island’s northeastern corner, is reminiscent of the Dead Sea. The ocean infiltrates the crater of an extinct volcano, forming lunar salt flats and super-buoyant saline pools.

Pedra de Lume.
Pedra de Lume.
photo by Massimo Ripani
Houses by the beach.
Houses by the beach.
photo by Massimo Ripani

São Vicente reveals more of Cape Verde’s Creole soul: a blend of Portuguese and African cultures that makes these islands unique. Here, bars play melancholy melodies by Cesária Évora — nicknamed the ‘Barefoot Diva’ — as locals play dominoes and sip glasses of grogue (sugar cane rum) in the streets. While in Sal’s mural-painted capital, Santa Maria, you’ll find few tourists, but plenty of impromptu games of beach football, which are only marginally less noisy than the daily fish market.

Playing football in the waves.
Playing football in the waves.
photo by Massimo Ripani
A local transports fresh produce.
A local transports fresh produce.
photo by Massimo Ripani
Terraced mountains in Santo Antão.
Terraced mountains in Santo Antão.
photo by Massimo Ripani

See more images in our gallery:

Published in the March 2019 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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