Capital: Ribeira Brava
Inhabitants: 13,000 people
In three words: Monte Gordo, Dragon tree, village life
São Nicolau is one of the least visited islands of the archipelago. This means you will see almost no tourists on the island; the island receives just 0.6% of Cape Verde’s tourists. The vila, Ribeira Brava, is charming with its colonial architecture, cobbled streets and an impressive Cathedral at the main plaza. During the festival of Nossa Sra do Rosário, the festival that takes place on the1st Sunday in October, the Cathedral is beautifully decorated.
Like its neighbor Santo Antao, São Nicolau offers several beautiful walks in the mountains. Next to the breathtaking landscapes with verdant mountains and vertiginious ribeiras, the visitor is offered the opportunity to experience village life, for instance in the village of Juncalinho or during a long hike. You can explore the trail from Vila Ribeira to Cachação by foot to the top of Monte Gordo, where there is the entrance point of Monte Gordo Natural Park: one of the places where the Dragon tree (Dracaena draco), locally known as dragoerio, grows naturally.
Recommended places to visit:
• Monte Gordo Natural Park: endemic plant species with Monto Gordo, the highest peak of the island with an altitude of 1304 m.
• Ribeira Brava: the pretty main town of the island. A lovely place to wander around. White and colorful houses, small cobblestone streets and a calm atmosphere. The large square is a beautiful sight with the imposing cathedral, Igreja Matriz de Nossa Senhora do Rosário. Try to stay in the vila during Carnival or during another important festivity, e.g. Nossa Sra do Rosário!
• Carbirinho: this unique place with spectacular rock formations is listed as one of the seven wonders of Cabo Verde and it is certainly worth a visit!
• Juncalinho: this is one of the last remaining populated villages in the eastern part of the island (the other one is Carriçal). In August this lagoa becomes the venue for a traditional music festival with international artists.
• Tarrafal: the waters of Sao Nicolau are full of fish (e.g blue marlin) and Tarrafal is one of the main places where this fish is being processed. The fish canning factory near the Port produces canned tuna of high quality.
Note: we recommend to stay not more than a day in Tarrafal because of the extreme temperatures and the small selection of things to do.
Source: Dominicus travel guide Cape Verde, author: Guido Derksen. Bradt Guide Cape Verde, Guia Turistico Cabo Verde 2016 (www.guiadecaboverde.cv)
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