Cape Verde, is a very diverse country from the people to the county’s landscape, it’s perfect blend of Portuguese and other West cultures makes it an interesting country to see.
Cidade Velha, or ‘old city’ is located on Santiago Island. This UNESECO World heritage site was the first city founded in modern day Cape Verde. With ruins, monuments and museums, this town feels like walking back in time. It is eerily peaceful compared to its horrendous past but really helps visitors understand Cape Verdean history.
Carnival/ parties: Now many people think that carnival is just a good fun time, which it is, but it’s also so much more. Cape Verdean carnival is unlike any other, celebrating the country’s people and cultures.
Traditional ethnic groups such as the Mandinga (west African ethnic group) parade the streets in traditional attrie, dancing traditional dances. Carnival is celebrated between February and March (the exact dates change each year) on all the islands but Mindelo carnival is said to be the best (Sao Vincente Island). Even if you don’t make it to carnival, do make sure you experience the nightlife in the country as traditional dances such as kizomba (Originating from Angola) are commonly seen being danced.
So how will you get to these spots? Taxis are often your best bet around the islands as they are cheap and have meters in them so no need to haggle! However, if you are in the capital – Praia on Santiago island you can save even more money by hopping on busses costing 150 escudos (1.5$) per ride. Accommodation also is cheap depending on the season you are going, if you go during carnival season (February – March) you will be looking at paying around $100 per night for a budget single room. Rooms sell out fast so book them well in advance! During the off-peak seasons, you can find accommodation ranging from $15 – $100 upwards per night.
Sierra Leone has a very interesting history, as it was originally seen as a country for ‘free slaves’ to return to. It was very interesting meeting Sierra Leoneans with Nigerian names and seeing the influence of other black cultures like reggae (Jamaican) within the country. Some must see areas are:
National museum. This museum located in the capital, Freetown, is an amazing start to understanding Sierra Leonean history. It is always better to get a guide as there aren’t many descriptions about the artifacts.
National market (located by the national railway museum): This market was the most organised market I’ve ever been to. With so many pan African designs. From wood carvings to jewellery and accessories. This market perfectly represents West African cultures and designs with traditional Nigerian (Ankara) and Ghanaian (Kente) print used on the clothing.
Bunce Island and Banana Island; though, these islands are filled with beautiful beaches, they have an extremely dark past as they were used as slave trading and shipping stations. These islands have their own history told through the ruins and monuments. I highly recommend going with a guide.
The best ways of getting around the Freetown are Tuk tuks and taxis. Tuk tuks are very convenient and cheap. Though there are not any meters there are set prices per destination which all the locals know about. You’ll soon pick these up after a few rides, night-time rates are higher. Tuk Tuks are often shared, but you can pay extra to not share or take a taxi, taxis are more expensive. Accommodation is quite pricey in Freetown (the capital) with an average hotel night costing around $70 per night. Privately owned accommodation such as Airbnb is available and cheaper but can be very basic.
Ghana, also known as the gold coast, offers a lot more riches than just gold. Ghana has heavily influenced the continent as it was the first sub-Saharan African country to declare its independence from European colonisation which led to the other African countries following suit. Ghana today, has become a great tourism destination and here are a few attractions that’ll make you understand why:
The Mosque of Larabanga also known as the ‘Mecca of west Africa’ is the oldest mosque in West Africa dating back to the 14th century. Built by Sudanese architects, this magnificent functioning mosque is an example of precolonial African architecture.
Asante traditional buildings. This UNESECO World heritage site shows the traditional homes the Asante civilisation. Why not take a walk through these homes to better understand traditional Ghanaian homes, cultures and customs.
Centre of National Culture. Here you’ll be able to experience Ghanaian heritage and culture through different art forms.
Cape Coast Castle also known as the slave castles is a fortress built in the early 17th century for the purpose of trading slaves. Why not tour the town and experience the dungeons also known as the ‘slave holes’, chapel and museum.
Motorbikes or ‘okadas’ are a common form of transport used here. Usually you would get on the back with the driver. Buses and taxis are also common forms of transport used. Accommodation isn’t too expensive with hostels costing around $15 per person per night and double rooms costing around $40 a night.
With a continent so rich, it is no surprise that there are so many more unmentioned attractions in both these countries and other West African countries. But I hope these 5 countries help you understand just how rich and diverse African cultures are. Which country will you be heading to?
Adeola is a world traveller and influencer focusing her area of travel in the continent of Africa, being her passion at her core. The aspiring writer wants to use her story to educate those about what different African countries are really like through the gaze of a first generation British Nigerian. Her solo travels through the continent aim to inspire others giving not only her stories but useful facts about each country. Adeola aims to establish business partnerships across the continent with local craftsmen through her scheme called AdeAfricaSupport.
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