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Praia, Cape Verdes capital

Praia the capital city

Formally, Praia de Santa Maria, it is built on cliffs overlooking
a bay. It has a colourful local fruit and vegetable market and a fish market
down by the harbour quay. It is a sprawling Latino city, with junkyards and a run-down shanty town behind the new blocks of flats. There are a lot of Senegalese street traders who will hassle tourists. It has few restaurants or tourist interests. B from Manchester was sympathetic.

"Praia has very well hidden charms! Be prepared for a lot of litter; public urination (no public lavatories means no alternative); crumbling ex-Colonial buildings; and a modern quarter where the modern architecture tends toward Sino-Stalinesque, many of the building projects having been supported by China. There is dust everywhere and as you drive out of Praia the hillsides for miles are marred with concrete and tin shanties. "

B ans S from Iowa enjoyed the markets

""Praia is a city of 105,000 (roughly one-quarter of the nation's total). The island was once a stopping-off point in the slave trade and is more African in culture than the northern islands. Young people with cell phones are a common sight in downtown Praia and around the Sukupira - a busy warren of tin-roofed stalls. Rock music, Cape Verdean morna and funana and even Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" came from transistor radios and boomboxes as we moved from stall to stall looking for local souvenirs on a warm, sunny afternoon. The central market is something of a transportation hub. Toyota sedan taxis queue up waiting for local fares, and nine-passenger Hiace (pronounced yahss) vans circle the market until they collect sufficient travelers to depart for the mountainous interior"

H from Lincoln found nothing positive to say

"Santiago - awful, very pushy, very black. Someone runs off with your bags. You have to leg it after your luggage. Was there anything nice in Praia? - No. People look at you in an intimidating way. "

D from the Canaries is explicit

"I have been to Santiago and from what I saw it's a dump. You have no services like you do in Sal. People still use buckets then in the morning dump it in the road and God it stinks. This is not hearsay. I was there and smelt this myself. You have to visit. It's no good buying from pictures on the internet."

M from London wasn`t expecting much

"Everyone I had spoken to in Sal, locals, foreign builders and some visitors had said they did not like it here. I arrived with an open mind looking for potential rather than what exists. Having travelled previously to Mombasa, I was ready for anything. With the exception of the Internet cafes and the cars it would have been no surprise to bump into Humphrey Bogart. It has traffic lights (inoperative), wrecks on the shore and is poor."

Beaches around Praia have been closed by the Cape Verde Chief Medical Officer

H from Wilts was unimpressed with the rubbish.
"We took a day trip to Sao Tiago and were horrified with the litter situation - there was rubbish everywhere and fear that Sal could be heading in that direction too."

G from Scotland feels it will turn out better than Santa Maria.

"I think that long term, Praia will become the new Cape Town, assuming the casino is built and Praia bay is cleaned up as planned. This will only bring more interest to the island. A taxi driver gave me a tour of the island and it was stunning. My aim is to sell my Sal villa in 5 years and keep the Sambala property long term as I see so much more potential on Santiago to keep my interest. If people are flocking to Cape Town which is crime-ridden, engulfed by shanty towns, and cold for 6 months of the year, then Santiago definitely has potential to go one better. A bit of pioneering spirit and financial risk required."

Praia airport taxi overcharging

Do not permit someone shouting taxi to grab your bag on arrival at Praia. You will be charged several euros for a tout pushing a trolley a few metres. Worse still you will likely be delivered to a taxi driver who will con you. The official fare is 500 escudos in day time but they may demand 1,000 or 2,000. Another favourite trick is to sit in the driving seat with the engine running and drive off with your large note without giving you change. This has not happened so far at Sal. B from Manchester got caught once
"A couple of practical points: arriving at Praia in the early hours of the morning we were charged 12 Euros for the drive to the hotel. Once we'd got our bearings we realised how short that distance was! The next time - in the daytime - we negotiated to 3 Euros."

Crime and Mugging

If you walk alone around Plato, the central district of Praia for long enough, you will certainly be attacked. Some robbers pretend to be beggars and will grab your wallet if you disclose it. Others attack from behind, ripping off money belts. Some use broken glass or knives to threaten. We met two victimns in one day and narrowly escaped attack ourselves. A large and strong Frenchman lost his money belt to an assailant with a broken bottle and a Fogan lost his wallet. We were only saved by the intervention of armed soldiers who knew the attacker and warned him off. Even the Nato troops, trained in unarmed combat, would not venture there at night.

Do not ever walk in Plato district of Praia at night or alone


Prainha, where the two luxury hotels are is an oasis of calm in the diplomatic quarter with outlooks onto rocky headlands and one of the few sandy beaches.But there is not much life there outside the hotels, which are guarded night and day.

Hotels on Santiago Island

Flights to Santiago Island