Cultural Orientation Week Cape Verde

WHY we need you in Cape Verde


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WHAT does the 2 Week Adventure Involve?

Culture week Cape Verde

Why Involvement Volunteers International?







  MIN AGE: 16+


  PROJECT COSTS: (Please Enquire)


Cape Verde is a unique set of islands, around 600km off the coast of West Africa. During this cultural orientation week, we will be on Santiago island, Cape Verde’s biggest and most diverse island. Most Cape Verdean inhabitants, live on this island, particularly in Praia (the capital city). The island encompasses rocky mountains, green valleys, green forests, plantations and some incredible beaches.

Throughout your introduction week, you will be participating in various activities in and around the town of Tarrafal (which has one of the best beaches!). You will get familiarised with Cape Verdean culture, customs and society, as well as learn the local language. This will be of great help before starting your project, in order to communicate on a deeper level with the local community.

You will also have fun exploring the surrounding areas and take part in cultural activities. Cape Verde is a truly unique island and its worth spending some time getting to know your new surroundings.  Please see dropdown section below for full schedule.


Tarrafal (also named Mangui or Mangu), gets its name from the indigenous plant Tarrafe (Tamarix senegalensis). It is located on the Northern part of Santiago island. It is also a municipality (government town) and a fishing town.

Project Tasks

  • To gain an introduction to Cape Verdean culture and become immersed in the local lifestyle
  • To experience the best of the island, explore local areas
  • Enquire a deeper understanding of the local culture

Food & Accommodation

You will stay in our volunteer house in Tarrafal. Rooms are singer gender and shared with other volunteers (around 4-8 per room). Tea, Coffee and Drinking water are provided, as well as wifi, hot showers, lockable rooms, bed linen and fans.

There are ATMs, small supermarkets and some shops and restaurants available in the city centre.

Three meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) during the week and two meals (breakfast, dinner) during weekends are provided. Local food is a mix of West African, European and Portuguese cuisine. Typical is fresh seafood, corns, beans, rice, potatoes, stews and vegetables. Your daily meals will contain a mix of local and various types of Western food.


This is a great way to meet and make friends with everyone else whos volunteering and to feel comfortable before your project starts. You will learn about safety, do’s and don’ts, the local language and other helpful tips, to make your stay more enjoyable. This week can help make a difference with communicating with the local team on your projects, and gives you an insight into the culture in Cape Verde. 

Please Enquire. 

  • Accommodation
  • 3 meals p/day weekdays / 2 meals p/day weekends
  • Arrival airport transfer (Sat/Sun arrivals)
  • Filtered drinking water, coffee & tea
  • 1 day orientation
  • Daily transportation to project
  • In country 24/7 support & emergency assistance
  • Fundraising support
  • University course credits (where applicable)
  • Certificate of Completion
  • Airfares
  • Travel Insurance
  • Tours, Souvenirs & spending money

Mandatory Orientation Day

On your first Monday you will join our welcome orientation day, to get familiarised with your new surroundings, as well as the local culture. Your project will continue as usual from Tuesday and throughout the rest of the week.

  • Welcome meeting, introduction to Cape Verdean traditions and customs, general house rules, code of conduct and sorting important documents
  • Basic Kriolu language lesson
  • Visit to the local supermarket and ATMs, a tour of the nearby surroundings and the volunteer centre.
  • Lunch
  • Spend some time on Mar De President beach, before returning back to the accommodation for dinner.

By bus

“Yasi” is the name for the local minibuses, which are the most popular way to travel within the islands of Cape Verde. They can accommodate around 12 to 14 passengers. For shorter distances and in rural areas there is also the pickup trucks and cab options.

By Taxi

Taxis are frequently found in the cities of Praia and Assomada, with unique painted colours in the two cities. Taxi’s in Praia are painted in beige and taxis in Assomada are painted in white. The taxis occasionally have a meter attached, however they are rarely used, as the rates which are typically accepted are cheaper than they would be on the meter.


  • After breakfast, there will be a welcome introduction to the Cape Verdean traditions and culture. We will sort our any initial documentation before the start of your project, including signing of the code of conduct and collecting copies of passports and visa, etc.
  • Kriolu (also known as Cape Verdean Creole) is the local language. You will have a basic class to get to grips with this new language. This is important, as most of the local people speak Kriolu, Portuguese or French here. Knowing these languages can be extremely helpful during your project.
  • You will then have a tour of the local supermarkets and ATMs, the nearby surroundings and of where you’ll be staying.
  • We will have lunch at the volunteer house.
  • After lunch we take a visit to Mar De President Beach and spend some time on the beach before heading back to the volunteer centre for a delicious dinner.


  • After breakfast you will continue you Kriolu language lessons with a 1 hour class. You will learn how to say the days of the week and months in Kriolu.
  • Then, you will visit the Tarrafal museum and former concentration camp. This was built to house African prisoners who rebelled against the colonial rule. The visit will be an insightful one, where you can learn about the islands past. We will then visit the local market.
  • We have lunch back at the volunteer house.
  • In the afternoon, we take a trip to Ribera Das Prat, another island on Cape Verde.


  • After breakfast, there’s another 1 hour Kriolu class, where you will be learning helpful communication words and spellings.
  • Then you will visit Traz di Munti for a fun pottery class. This is a great opportunity to get creative and interact with some of the locals.
  • We have lunch at the village.
  • After lunch, you will visit the light house, situated along the rocky coastline.


  • After breakfast you will have another 1 hour language lesson in Kriolu, where we will begin learning how to form sentences.
  • We then leave the volunteer house to visit your program site, so you can see what to expect.
  • After lunch we spend time at the project until the afternoon.


  • After breakfast, is the final Kriolu language class, where you’ll learn how to form basic phrases.
  • Then head out on an exciting fishing trip with the local fishermen.
  • We will return to the volunteer centre for a Barbeque lunch.
  • You will then have some free time.

Tarrafal Beach

Tarrafal beach is the closest to where you will be staying and is situated in a pretty cove, popular for snorkelling and diving in its deep blue waters. This is the perfect way to relax on your day off, plus it’s said to be the best beach on the island!

Santa Maria Beach

This stunning beach is one of Cape Verde’s most popular and is situated on Sal island. With golden sand and turquoise blue waters, perfect for swimming, this is the ultimate beach lover’s paradise. There are numerous hotels and restaurants nearby too.

Santa Monica Beach

This is a huge beach on Boa Vista island, stretching for 10km. Much quieter, with few resorts, this expansive beach is perfect for those looking for a more deserted place, away from tourists.

Santo Antao Island

The most Western island in Cape Verde, Santo Antao is the most ‘off the beaten track’ and packed with lush green forest, banana, papaya and mango trees, tall mountains, terrace fields and many walking trails. This island was made for a true adventure!

Pedra de Lume Salt Mines

Visit the salt mines on Sal island, where you can even soak in the salty water. They are surrounded by old volcanic craters and a pretty spectacular view.

Go Shark Spotting

Also on Sal island, is Shark Bay, where you will find groups of lemon sharks swimming up and down the coast line. You can swim out close to them as they are not harmful to humans.

Pico do Fogo

Pico do Fogo is an active volcano on Fogo island, which sits at 2829m. For those who love outdoor adventures, you can climb the peak, which will take around 3-6 hours.

Cidade Velha Old Fort

Cidade Velha old fort is situated on Santiago island (where you will be staying) and is the remains of an old fortress and town built by the Portuguese in 1462. Its situated on a hill with stunning views out over the island.

Mindelo City

This is a very pretty city, with cobbled streets, colourful colonial buildings and a relaxing harbour. Its situated on the island of Sao Vicente, which is known for its music, culture and nightlife, as well as its carnivals. Mindelo is a lively and traditional town with lots of live music during the evenings.

Praia City

This is the bustling and lively capital of Santiago island, home to a great local market selling fresh produce and spices. Here you will find many restaurants, colonial buildings and museums.

Cape Verde has many other exciting activities on offer from horse riding, quad biking, fishing, diving, snorkelling, turtle viewing, kite surfing, and sightseeing in the old colonial towns and villages.

The spectacular and diverse islands of Cape Verde were originally uninhabited, until they were discovered by Portuguese sailors in the 15th century. The country was known for its slave trade throughout the 16th and the 17th centuries but the decline of this trade in the 19th century, sent the country into economic crisis. However, the island survived, as it became an important commercial hub in the 19th century, being a perfect location for re-supply of major ships. In the present day, it still relies on these services, as well as targeting an ever-growing tourism industry.

Cape Verde’s islands can vary dramatically, some being flat, with golden sand beaches and some being mountainous and volcanic. From salt mines, volcanoes, forests, colonial towns and picturesque beaches, Cape Verde is an adventurous destination!

Cape Verde has a mild year-round climate compared to Africa’s mainland, with average temperatures of 26 °C in February and 31 °C in September. Between August and October, the country experiences irregular rainfall, with September having maximum rainfall. The islands are rich in vegetation and forests, with some being particularly dry due to their close proximity to the Sahara. The islands have a number of endemic species (mostly birds and reptiles) due to the country once being uninhabited, however these species are becoming increasingly threatened by human development.

The culture in Cape Verde is very much influenced by the Portuguese, who discovered the island, with Portuguese social and cultural patterns being displayed in some parts. Cape Verdean people are descendants from African slaves and European migrants, resulting in many of the inhabitants being of mixed race. The majority of the population are Roman Catholic, with lots of churches on the island. The locals also love a game of football!

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