Some countries shine brightly on the world map. Your eye is drawn to them before your brain kicks in. The United States is one of them. So is France. The same goes for Italy, which dangles its shapely leg in the waters of the Mediterranean.
Cape Verde – it is perhaps fair to say this – is not one of these countries. It hides in the Eastern Atlantic – guarding itself as a group of 10 strong islands which, born of volcanic fury, are as beautiful as they are mysterious.
Where are they exactly? OK – let your gaze drift across Africa. Look to the left flank of the continent. Head south through Morocco and Mauritania until you find Senegal – then drag your vision 350 miles west.
There you go, Cape Verde.
But then, a lack of profile doesn’t disqualify a country as a viable travel destination. Indeed, in the case of Cape Verde, it is a matter of curiosity. There are many reasons to consider the archipelago for a vacation getaway – but the 10 listed below are a great start.
1. It’s more accessible than you think
There’s no denying the distance involved. The Cape Verdean capital Praia is about 2,837 miles from London; the drive to get there will take you almost to the equator. And yet, the country is easily accessible from the UK.
There are direct flights. Tui Airways (020 3451 2716; tui.co.uk) flies to the Isle of Sal – which has the main international airport – from Birmingham, Bristol, Gatwick and Manchester. The same airline calls on the island of Boa Vista from Birmingham, Gatwick and Manchester. Each of these services takes about six hours.
Portuguese national airline TAP (0370 099 0028; flytap.com) is an alternative option, flying to Sal and Boa Vista – as well as Santiago and Sao Vicente Islands – from Lisbon. It also flies to the UK (from Lisbon), landing at Heathrow, Gatwick, London City and Manchester.
2. It offers year-round sunshine
The Canary Islands tend to be our go-to destination for a good dose of heat in the depths of December, January and February. But those willing to fly an extra two hours in the Atlantic tend to be rewarded with Cape Verdean weather, which rarely deviates from the upper 20 degrees Celsius at any time of year. The closest temperature difference to the archipelago is the five-degree gap between the January average of 25°C and the 30°C that defines September.
Hours of sunshine? Between five and nine. Attractive.