Transport in Cape Verde
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Most transportation in Cape Verde is done by plane. There are regular flights to and from the major islands (Santiago, Sal and São Vicente), with less frequent flights to the other islands. Boat transportation is also available, though not widely used nor dependable. In the major cities, public bus transport runs periodically and taxis are common. In smaller towns, there are mostly hiaces and/or taxis.
Types of transport
Railways: 0 km - There are no railways in Cape Verde, although there was a short overhead conveyor system for salt from the open salt lake on Sal to the port at Pedro de Lume and a short stretch of rail track to the pier at Santa Maria used for a similar purpose. Both are now disused.
total: 10,000 km including unpaved tracks accessible only to four wheel drive vehicles
asphalt: 360 km
cobbled: 5,000 km (2007 estimates)
The majority of Cape Verdean roads are paved with cobblestones cut from local basalt. Recent international aid has allowed the asphalting of a few roads, such as part of the highway between Tarrafal and Praia on Santiago and the dual carriageway between Santa Maria and Espargos on Sal. A new ring road has been built from Praia International Airport around the city of Praia.
The primary method of intercity and inter-village transport for Cape Verdeans is by aluguer shared taxis, commonly called Iass. Few Cape Verdeans own cars, but ownership is rising rapidly with increasing prosperity, particularly on Santiago Island.
Ports and harbors: Mindelo on São Vicente is the main port for cruise liners and the terminus for the ferry service to Santo Antão. A marina for yachts is undergoing enlargement (2007). Praia on Santiago is a main hub for local ferry services to other islands. Palmeira on Sal supplies fuel for the main airport on the island, Amílcar Cabral International Airport, and is important for the hotel construction taking place on the island. Porto Novo on Santo Antão is the only source for imports and exports of produce from the island as well as passenger traffic since the closure of the airstrip at Ponta do Sol. There are smaller harbors, essentially single jetties at Tarrafal on São Nicolau, Sal Rei on Boa Vista, Vila do Maio (Porto Inglês) on Maio, São Filipe on Fogo and Furna on Brava. These act as terminals for the inter island ferry services which carry both freight and passengers. There are very small harbors, with protective breakwaters, essentially used by fishing boats at Tarrafal on Santiago, Pedra de Lume on Sal and Ponta do Sol on Santo Antão. Some offer suitable protection for small yachts on passage. The pier at Santa Maria on Sal used by both fishing and dive boats has been rehabilitated.
- 7 operational in 2014 - 4 international and 3 domestic.
- 2 non-operational, one on Brava and the other on Santo Antão, closed for safety reasons.
- Over 3,047 m: 1
- 1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
- 914 to 1,400 m: 3
- Amílcar Cabral International Airport, Sal Island. Opened and began operating international flights from 1939. Named Sal International Airport until 1975.
- Nelson Mandela International Airport, Santiago Island. Opened and began operating international flights from 2005. Named Praia International Airport from 2005 until 2013. Replaced the Francisco Mendes International Airport which served the island from 1961 to 2005, and is now closed.
- Aristides Pereira International Airport, Boa Vista Island. Airport paved and began operating international traffic in 2007. Named Rabil Airport until 2011.
- Cesária Évora Airport, Sao Vicente Island. Opened in 1960 and became an international airport in 2009. Named Sao Pedro Airport until 2011.
International passenger traffic is forecast to exceed 250,000 passengers for the year 2007. Annual growth, mostly of tourists from Europe is anticipated to continue at just under 20%. (Source ASA Cape Verde airport authority)
Main Airlines serving the country:
- TACV Cabo Verde Airlines
- Cabo Verde Express Cape Verde Express
- Halcyonair Cabo Verde Airways
- TAP Portugal
TACV flies daily international flights from Lisbon to Sal or Praia and once a week from Amsterdam, Munich, Paris, Las Palmas, Fortaleza and Boston to one or other of the international airports. It operates on a frequency varying from daily to thrice weekly on inter-island flights to each of the seven islands with operational airports and also to Dakar. It has a fleet of two Boeing 757s and three ATR42s have been replaced by ATR72s. It is currently (2010) undergoing privatization at the insistence of the World Bank.
TACV Cabo Verde Airlines, the national airline, flies once a week from Boston Logan International Airport to Praia International Airport at Praia Santiago island. Currently (2007) these flights are on Wednesdays, but schedules vary and are subject to frequent change. It also has flights four times weekly from Lisbon to Francisco Mendes the recently opened airport at Praia on Santiago island and four times weekly from Lisbon to Amílcar Cabral International Airport on Sal island. There is a flight on Mondays from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport to Sal and on Thursdays from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport via Munich-Riem Airport to Sal. Return flights are just after midnight on the same day.
From Las Palmas in the Canary Islands, Spain there are night flights on Mondays and Thursdays, with departures just after midnight. Return flights are the previous day. There is a service from Praia to Fortaleza, Brazil on Mondays and Thursdays departing early evening and returning at night. All international flights are operated by Boeing 757 aircraft. Most international flights are subject to intermittent delay and sometimes cancellation.
TAP Air Portugal the Portuguese national carrier operates a daily service from Lisbon to Sal with late evening departures returning after midnight and reaching Lisbon in the early morning. Most flights are delayed and onward connections from Lisbon can be missed as a result. TAP and other European carriers provide connections with most European capitals, enabling same day through flights.
From the UK, direct routes by Astraeus from London Gatwick and Manchester Airport to Sal ceased in April 2008, their website has not been taking reservations since May 2008. TACV Cabo Verde Airlines opened a route from London Stansted in October 2008 though it was rumoured that flights were being cancelled due to minimum take up though with effect from May 2008, TACV now fly direct from London Gatwick every Thursday to Sal and Praia. Outbound times depart LGW 12.45pm and arrive SID 17.05pm with return flights to the UK departing SID 03.25am and arriving 11.25am LGW. Indicative prices are £688.40 per adult and £566.60 per child aged 11 and under inclusive of inflight meals and 20 kg checked luggage. There is a Fly TACV website, though as June 2008 no bookings can be made. Reservations should be made via the UK TACV office on 0870 774 7338.
Return fares from European airports are generally around £400 or €600. Fares from North American airports are generally close to $1000 but special offers are often available.
TACV cabo Verde Airines, the national airline has been a monopoly carrier within the island archipelago (2007). It operates services from the main hub airports at Sal and Santiago to Boa Vista, Fogo, Maio, São Nicolau and São Vicente at frequencies ranging from thrice weekly to thrice daily. Air strips on the other islands of Brava and Santo Antão are closed (2007) and can only be reached by ferry services from other islands.
TACV does not publish timetables, but flight times are listed on departure boards, when these are functioning. Tickets can be bought at the TACV shop at each airport by queuing and paying in cash (euros or escudos). Flights are often delayed and sometimes cancelled due to weather or operational conditions. Services are operated by ATR 42 turboprop aircraft, which are currently being replaced (2007) by the enlarged ATR 72 aircraft. Inter island tariffs vary depending on the distance but are generally around €180 return. Air passes are obtainable for multiple flights, when buying an international ticket on TACV.
Halcyonair a private carrier with Portuguese and Cape Verdean shareholders is commenced operations on inter-island flights during 2007. It has obtained the necessary licensing from the Cape Verde Government.
Travel within the islands
There are regular bus services within the urban limits of the cities of Praia on Santiago Island and Mindelo on São Vicente island only. For other destinations the shared bus service known as aluguer is convenient. This operate with fares ranging from €1 to €4 depending on the distance and can be flagged down at the side of the road. They depart once enough passengers have been secured and have no timetable. Generally they operate between outlying villages and the main town on each island. There is usually a service into town in the early morning and a return service in the evening. Services are more frequent on popular routes such as Espargos-Santa Maria. Taxis are available on most islands and generally are available at airports and at ports to meet incoming ferry services. Fares are generally €4-5 according to distance travelled. A supplement applies after nightfall.
Inter-Island Ferries in Cape Verde
Several ferries operate between the islands with much lower fares than the airlines. These are provided by various independent shipping companies and their conditions and seaworthiness vary considerably. Many services depart from Praia at about midnight, arriving in outlying islands at breakfast time. Return trips often depart around mid-day. But service schedules are approximate only and delays or cancellations of service are common. Conditions can be very crowded it is advisable to pre-book a cabin for all but the shortest of trips. Some passages can be very rough during the winter.
Departure days vary according to the season and are frequently altered. Enquire at the shipping offices in Praia and other Cape Verdean ports.
In early 2011, the Kriola, the first of a proposed fleet of ferryboats belonging to the company Cabo Verde Fast Ferry (CVFF) arrived in Praia directly from Singapore. It was custom-built there by the Dutch shipbuilding company, Damen Group. The Kriola operates regular service among the Sotavento islands of Brava, Fogo, and Santiago.
- The Peace Corps Welcomes You to Cape Verde. Peace Corps (April 2006). This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
- Cape Verde Info UK 2007
- Cape Verde Information Cape Verde Expatriate Residents Collaborative Pages
- Cape Verde Information UK
- Cape Verde Information - Cape Verde Transport Information
- Cape Verde Travel Information - Cape Verde Travel