Jake’s Cape Verde Walking Essentials

The Cape Verde islands are a fantastic destination for those looking for some warm-weather walking across spectacular and varied terrain, but preparation is always the key to an enjoyable ramble so I just thought I’d pass on a few tips that hopefully may be useful.

Do I need hiking boots?  I often get asked this question and my answer is no, you don’t necessarily need big, chunky hiking boots.  As long as you have footwear with good grip and support you’ll be fine.  Many of the walking routes around the islands take place on cobbled donkey tracks and rocky mountain paths, so I would probably advise against ‘adventure sandals’ otherwise there may be a few stubbed toes!  Personally I always walk in a pair of Salomon walking trainers which I find very comfortable, and they are quite lightweight and handy for wearing away from the trails too.  Whilst on the subject of footwear I also recommend wearing proper walking socks even though this might sound a bit bonkers for walking in a hot country – whilst thin socks will be a bit cooler you’ll run the risk of increased rubbing which’ll only lead to blisters. And nobody wants blisters during a walking holiday!

What basics do I need to take in my day pack?  Mostly the walking days that we arrange in Cape Verde are done with a local guide and a basic picnic lunch is usually included.  But walking in the sunshine will sap your energy so the most important thing to take with you is PLENTY OF WATER! Bottled water is readily available, and you can ask your guide to make a stop on the way to the start of a walk if you need to purchase supplies.  Personally, I always take a 2l bottle of water with me if I am going for a day out hiking.  I always take some sweets too, essential for those times when you are feeling a little exhausted and just need a little pick-me-up to lift your spirits! As mentioned above a picnic is usually provided and this usually comprises a sandwich, a chocolate bar and a piece of fruit (usually a banana or an apple), plenty for lunchtime but you’ll probably want to take some more fruit and a couple of snacks, and my tip is to grab a couple of these items at breakfast time.  Away from the subject of food I also usually take a light waterproof just in case of showers – quite a rare occurrence in Cape Verde but it can sometimes be a little cloudy and drizzly on the higher-level walks – and some plasters or compeed in case of any blistering.  Another key ingredient is sun cream, don’t forget the sun cream.  And don’t just leave the sun cream in your bag, make sure you apply it before you head out and again when you stop for lunch if need be!

Will I need to wear some sort of hat?  The answer to this question is yes, absolutely.  It is lovely to get out and about in the sunshine but you need to bear in mind that there isn’t all that much shade along the walking routes so you will be at the mercy of the sun’s rays all day long.  Going out without suitable headgear could have dire consequences, and the last thing you want is to waste a couple of your holiday days being laid up in a hotel room with sunstroke!

Is that it, am I all set to hit the trails?  Essentially yes, if you follow these (pretty obvious!) tips you should be ready to head out and enjoy some breath-taking walking in Cape Verde.  Of course, there are also other, perhaps non-essential, items that you might want to pack too – some compact binoculars are always a good idea, and a small USB travel charger can come in useful if you are planning to take loads of photos and videos on your camera, tablet or smartphone.  Always have some cash with you too as you might pass a bar or shop from where you can grab a much-needed ice cold drink!  One of the best walking experiences I’ve had in Cape Verde was last November when Max and I walked the absolutely stunning trail down from Cova into the Paul Valley on Santo Antao.  It was tremendously hot and we were out walking in the middle of the day – just as we were coming down into the valley we encountered a young lady with her daughter carrying a bucket filled with ice and various bottled drinks from beer to coca cola.  €2 got us a coke each, and it was probably the most enjoyable 330ml that has ever passed my lips…

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