Kriol Jazz Festival
8 days - April 9-16 2013
Cape Verde consists of a group of 10 islands, some 600km off the coast of West Africa. The uninhabited islands were discovered by the Portuguese in the 1460s and became integral to the slave trade between Africa and Brazil. It's the mixture of Portuguese and African culture that gave birth to the Creole language and the islands' distinctive music.
(c) Alex Robinson
Cape Verde became independent in 1975 and has become a popular holiday destination for its sunshine, laid-back atmosphere and spectacular scenery. There are roughly half a million inhabitants on the islands with about half of the population living on Santiago, our home for this tour. The country has traditionally relied on agriculture and fishing but tourism is becoming increasingly important.
The great musical ambassador of Cape Verde was, of course, the singer Cesaria Evora who passed away in 2012, and whose distinctive smoky voice is still recognised the world over. She is well known for singing in the traditional song style morna, akin to Portuguese fado, accompanied by guitars and delicate cavaquinho ukulele. The music is most strongly associated with the Cape Verdean island of São Vicente, but is nowadays heard all over.
Santiago has a dominant African population and the island's music reflects that with percussive music at the fore. It's traditional styles like batuque - a rhythmic song performed by women - and funana - played on accordion accompanied by an iron scraper - that are associated with Santiago. The Kriol Jazz Festival includes a wide variety of music however, with artists from the world over, especially Lusophone countries like Brazil and Angola as well as Senegal and Mali on the West African mainland.
All Songlines Music Travellers will receive an information sheet about the local music plus recommended recordings and DVDs.
Cape Verde Itinerary
Day 1 Tues
Today we check in at our hotel in Praia and meet our Songlines Travel Leader. The rest of the day is free for you to explore the town. (Many of the group, if flying via Lisbon, may be arriving late tonight and will meet their Travel Leader on Day Two, but accommodation is booked from mid-afternoon today). Your Travel Leader is already in town so if arriving on a different flight today, you can make contact in the early evening.
Day 2 Wed
After breakfast we meet up with our Songlines Travel Leader for an introductory briefing and a chance to talk through plans for the week ahead. The morning is then free for us to rest or to take a stroll around Praia on an orientation walk with your Travel Leader, to give you a sense of what there is to see. After visiting the Ethnographic and Archaeological Museums we might end up at Gamboa Beach - not an ideal beach for bathing, but a popular meeting place for local people. In the afternoon we have arranged a guided tour to Cidade Velha, literally the 'old town' and the original capital of Santiago, a place with strong connections to the slaving days of the past. Cidade Velha, once known as Ribeira Grande, was the first capital of Cape Verde. We can visit the fortress of São Filipe, the Pelourinho, the Sé Catedral, the Church of Nossa Senhora do Rosário and the convent of São Francisco. Today is really a day to chill and relax after a long flight. Many of the musicians will already be in town so we may have the opportunity to catch up with some of the performers as they warm up for the festival.
Day 3 Thurs
This morning, after breakfast, we meet up with our transport and guide for a tour of Santiago Island. We will potentially visit Sao Domingo, to see its handicrafts, and Sao Jorge dos Orgaos, before stopping in Assomada, Santiago's second city. We make our way back to Praia via the rugged Santiago coast and the villages of Porto Formoso and Pedra Badejo. This is our chance to explore the interior of the island before the festival gets underway. This evening there is a pre-festival concert showcasing upcoming musicians.
Day 4 Fri
Today marks the start of our look at the music scene of Cape Verde as our Travel Leader has arranged a private concert and lunch with local musicians as an introduction to the music of the islands, prior to the start of the Kriol Jazz Festival tonight. Meeting up at the hotel in the early evening, we head towards the music that will take us into the night.
Day 5 Sat
The day is left free for personal exploration; much depends on how active you want to be after the festival last night. You may prefer just to relax, but if you are feeling active walks and treks are available - to Ribeira de Aguada or Principal if you want something easy, or to Portao da Boa Entrada for something more strenuous. Such walks or treks, as well as visits to banana and coconut plantations, can be arranged with your Travel Leader. In the evening we return for our last night at the Kriol Festival.
Day 6 Sun
After breakfast we transfer to the village of Tarrafal, a small fishing settlement with two of the most beautiful sandy beaches in Africa - one black and one white. It's an ideal place to chill and relax for a couple of days.
Day 7 Mon
Our last full day gives those who feel active the chance to indulge in water sports, while the less energetic can relax at the beach and enjoy the pace of life on Santiago. In the evening we hope to find some local music.
Day 8 Tues
After a morning on the beach we transfer back to Praia where our tour ends and it's time to head for the airport and home. For those who are flying back via Lisbon, there is time for a last dinner together in Praia, as the flight home does not depart until late.
Tour Price (excl flights) £895 per person
For information and reservations, call Songlines Music Travel on 020 8505 2582
(c) Alex Robinson