You may well have heard of the escudo before – after all, Portugal used to use this as its currency before the euro came along. However there is still one place in the world that uses a form of the escudo, and this is Cape Verde.
The escudo is divided into 100 centavos, although with this particular currency you won’t have to worry about using it. The centavo has been consigned to currency heaven, since it no longer exists. You might just come across the odd coin but even then you can’t take it home as a souvenir – this is illegal!
Of the coins you can use, they are denominated in 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 escudo amounts. There are several notes too, denominated as 200, 500, 1,000, 2,000, 2,500 and 5,000 escudos.
The amounts are written in a form that might look odd to begin with. This is because the currency uses what looks like a dollar symbol, although it is actually a cifrao. If we use the dollar sign for ease of use here, we can see that an amount of 20 escudos is actually written as 20$00. In a sense you have to think of the cifrao as the decimal point so you get the amount right when there are a lot of zeros involved! It seems strange to begin with but you will soon get used to it.
Before Cape Verde used the escudo it got by with the Cape Verdean real. However this currency met its demise in 1914 when the escudo was taken on. Perhaps not surprisingly it was pegged to the value of the Portuguese escudo. Indeed this remained the case until the escudo was replaced by the euro in Portugal. Since then the currency has been pegged to that instead. This is not done on a 1:1 basis, but instead on an agreed exchange rate level.
You will soon find it is impossible to get any escudos until you get to Cape Verde. This is because it is against the law to take in any of the local currency. You can’t take any out of the country either, so make sure you spend whatever you have left before you board your flight home. Try and reduce the amount of cash you have on you for the last days of your holiday so you can do away without getting more.
You can take euros in with you since these are among the easiest currencies to exchange, although other major currencies should be fine as well. You might be wondering whether traveller’s cheques are a good idea. In reality while it is not impossible to exchange them in Cape Verde it is not always the easiest of activities either. Only in the major areas that are used to tourists should you attempt it, and even then you might meet with disappointment.
Don’t expect to be able to pay with a credit card – you will be lucky to find anywhere that takes them. You might get lucky with a Visa card if you are staying at one of the major hotels in Cape Verde. If this is the case, check in advance to see if they do accept your particular card.
Cards are useful in terms of using them to get more cash at a cash machine, but again, make sure your card can be used in this way. Really, cash is the main way to pay for anything in Cape Verde – slightly inconvenient unless you are prepared, but that’s the way things are.
All you need is to have access to a good currency converter to get these figures. Since this is a less commonly-known currency the more basic converters that stick to the best-known currencies may not list it. You’ll need an advanced converter that also offers up-to-date conversion rates throughout the day. Try using the ISO code CVE to see if a particular converter has it as quickly as possible. It can save you a lot of time.
If you have reached the stage in your travel plans where you would like to find out what Cape Verde is like to travel to and in, you need the UK government’s official website. They provide travel advice that is regularly updated to reflect the latest information. You can visit the site here - https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/cape-verde/entry-requirements.
For the most part holidays to this part of the world are well-spent and very enjoyable. At the time of writing there was an outbreak of Ebola in nearby countries but as yet no one in Cape Verde had been affected. However for safety’s sake you should always check the latest information given on the situation in Cape Verde before you travel. The area has volcanoes too, one of which has erupted relatively recently, so there are other natural incidents you should be aware of before you go. For the most part you should be fine but it is best to be safe.
Petty crime is a slightly problem here but not in any major way. You should however be alert to the potential for petty crime to take place. If you can book into a hotel that offers a safe as a standard measure in your room, by all means do so. This will provide you with somewhere to keep excess cash (particularly important in Cape Verde where this is your main means of paying for things), jewellery and of course your passport. Try not to carry any more cash than you need to, and keep visible jewellery and valuables to a minimum as well.
Cape Verde actually isn’t a single island. Instead it is an archipelago, which basically means it is a collection of islands. They are volcanic in nature and can be found in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. You might also hear the country referred to as Cabo Verde.
The capital is a city called Praia, a word you may recognise if you have any familiarity with destinations in Portugal. Praia actually means beach in Portuguese, which is the main language on the islands, along with Cape Verdean Creole. Praia can be found on Santiago Island; depending on where you fly from you might start your holiday here since Santiago has an airport, one of four you might arrive at.
The city is worth wandering round to see some of the sights. Perhaps most notable of these is the charming Municipal Palace, which features a strong sense of Colonial architecture.
Since there are several islands in Cape Verde as a whole, it makes sense to plan your holiday carefully. By exploring the islands individually in a virtual sense first, you can better plan which ones you would most like to visit. There is plenty to do in terms of experiences as well, such as taking a quad bike trip across beach areas, or head out on an off-road safari. There is plenty of off-road activity to be had here, so if you get the chance to enjoy some you should definitely go for it.
There are lots of water-based activities you can try out as well. Why not rent a boat for the day and explore the waters around some of these islands? Even better, look to book a place on Neptunus, the famous glass-bottomed boat that leaves from Santa Maria Pier in Santa Maria. The tour lasts for an hour and a half and you can see some shipwrecks in the bay area, as well as experiencing the fish and other life beneath the waves. Island trips are another option you could choose, giving you the best way to learn more about each island.
Cape Verde is a superb place to go and with so many islands to choose from, each one offers its own encapsulated holiday experience. While you can travel from one to another on day trips, it is best to explore each island online first – at least to a degree – so you know which one you would rather stay on. Some people are happy simply to stay on one island and explore that, rather than going further afield. It depends on the type of holiday you would like to enjoy.
Perhaps you will return to Cape Verde in the future to see another island in its collection. Once you have seen one you will want to explore further and enjoy more of its treasures. There are certainly plenty of them to be seen and appreciated. From volcanoes to calm waters and gorgeous beaches, you will have no end of things to see, do and enjoy during your time in Cape Verde.