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Birdquest’s Cape Verde Islands birding tour explores one of the world’s least-visited archipelagos (relatively few birdwatchers set foot here!), yet a great place to see endemics and other specialities. Our Cape Verde Islands tour explores these arid but scenically dramatic islands and targets all the endemics and important seabirds, including Cape Verde and Boyd’s Shearwaters, Fea’s (or Cape Verde) Petrel, Cape Verde Storm-Petrel, Cape Verde Buzzard, Cape Verde Swift, the extraordinary Raso Lark, Cape Verde Warbler and Iago Sparrow, not to mention the remarkable ‘Neglected Kestrel’, the Mauritius Kestrel of the North Atlantic!
Sunday 8th March —
Saturday 14th March 2020
Leader: a Birdquest leader
Group Size Limit: 9
Tour Category: Mostly easy walking and mostly comfortable accommodations
The Cape Verde archipelago lies some 450km off the coast of West Africa. This group of far-flung volcanic islands, towering up to 2800m out of the Atlantic, is considered a far flung part of the Palearctic region, rather than the Afrotropical realm. Relatively few ornithologists have visited the islands, some of which are inaccessible except by boat.
Here are found some of the most important seabird colonies in the Western Palearctic, with breeding species including Cape Verde Shearwater (split from Cory’s, and nesting only in these islands), Boyd’s (or Cape Verde) Shearwater (split from Little, and likewise only nesting here), Fea’s (or Cape Verde) Petrel (a species that breeds only in the Cape Verdes and the Madeira group), Bulwer’s Petrel, Cape Verde Storm-Petrel (split from Band-rumped or Madeiran), White-faced Storm-Petrel, Red-billed Tropicbird, Brown Booby and even Magnificent Frigatebird.
The landbird fauna is also quite fascinating. Although relatively impoverished, as is typical with remote island groups, there are a number of endemic landbird species; Cape Verde Buzzard (split from Common), Cape Verde Swift, Raso Lark, Cape Verde Warbler and Iago Sparrow. There are also some distinctive forms that have been proposed for full species status, but not yet been widely accepted as such, including Bourne’s (or Cape Verde) Heron (sometimes split from Purple), Alexander’s and Neglected Kestrels (both sometimes split from Common), Cape Verde Falcon (sometimes split from Peregrine), Cape Verde Owl (sometimes split from Western Barn),
In addition, the islands hold the only Grey-headed Kingfishers in the Western Palearctic and the most accessible Helmeted Guineafowls, as well as Cream-coloured Courser, Black-crowned Sparrow-Lark, Bar-tailed Lark, Brown-necked Raven and Common Waxbill. The avifauna of the Cape Verdes is still rather poorly known, as relatively little work has yet been done here, and so ornithological surprises are still quite possible.
The islands were first discovered by the Portuguese in 1460 (or possibly 1456) and at that time they were entirely uninhabited, without any trace of prior human occupation. The islands were soon settled and by 1466 the inhabitants of Santiago had been granted the rights to purchase slaves in Guinea on the African mainland and supply the new colonies in Brazil and the West Indies. As a result of this unusual history, the present day population of the islands is a ‘creole’ mix of Portuguese and African.
For most of their history these arid, drought-prone islands, which have little fertile land, have suffered from an impoverished economy. Farming has never been much more than subsistence, while local fisheries have never been developed. The situation became so bad that by the nineteenth and twentieth centuries that many of the inhabitants were compelled to go to sea to earn a living, or emigrate to the New World. Some islands are still uninhabited, whilst others are quite undeveloped, although this is now changing as tourism finally reaches even these remote outposts. Visiting the more remote parts of the archipelago is still a bit of a challenge, but well worth the effort.
We shall start our travels on the island of Santiago, by far the richest island for endemic landbirds in the Cape Verdes. We will also visit the island of São Nicolau, our base for a boat trip to the island of Raso, the only home of the Raso Lark, and in search of pelagic seabirds.
Birdquest pioneered bird tours to the Cape Verde Islands as far back as 1985.
Boa Vista Option: If there are enough participants wanting to do so, we will arrange an extension after the tour to the arid island of Boa Vista where the last pair of Magnificent Frigatebirds in the Western Palearctic breed on a small islet just offshore. There will also be the chance to spend the night at a colony of White-faced and Cape Verde Storm-Petrels. There is also a small wetland which regularly turns up vagrant shorebirds. The extension will probably be of 3 days (2 nights) duration and cost will depend on the number of participants. Please contact us if you are interested in a Boa Vista extension.
Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels on Santiago is of good standard. On São Nicolau we will be staying in a fairly simple but clean and comfortable guesthouse. Road transport is by coach, minibus, 4x4 or small truck with seats in the back (the typical mode of transport on the smaller islands). Roads are mostly poor (although distances are short).
Walking: The walking effort is mostly easy, occasionally moderate.
Climate: The weather will be predominantly warm or hot, dry and sunny. Although it may become overcast, rain is most unlikely. Strong winds blow up from time to time and it can get quite cool out to sea, or from late evening to early morning on land.
Bird Photography: Opportunities are quite good.
These are provisional prices
Tour Price: £1790, €2110, $2340 Praia/Praia.
Price includes all transportation (including the Praia-São Nicolau-Praia flights and the pelagic boat trip to Raso), all accommodations, all meals, bottled water, some drinks, all excursions, all entrance fees, all tips for local drivers/guides and for accommodations/restaurants, leader services.
Single Room Supplement: £144, €170, $189.
Deposit: £300, €360, $390.
Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency can arrange your air travel in connection with the tour from a departure point anywhere in the world, or you may arrange your own air travel if you prefer. We can tailor-make your itinerary to your personal requirements, so if you would like to travel in advance of the tour (and spend a night in an hotel so you will feel fresh when the tour starts), or return later than the end of the tour, or make a side trip to some other destination, or travel business class rather than economy, we will be happy to assist. Please contact us about your air travel requirements.
Many of the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed on this website. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information, or for more for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOL Certificate
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