Brava –The Floweriest Island
Even if Brava with its capital of Vila Nova Sintra is the smallest populated island of Cape Verde, you should not underestimate it: A visit (especially shortly after the rainy season) is rewarded with a sea of flowers. Due to Monte Fontainhas (976 metres) and the location in the slipstream of Fogo, clouds form throughout the entire year above Brava. Thanks to the dew, this creates a plant-friendly climate. On this tropical moist island, date and coconut palms thrive just as well as the colourful oleander bushes, species of hibiscus, almond trees and bougainvillea. If you are looking for a change of pace from the mostly desert-like islands of the Barlavento, this is exactly the right place for you.
Many people think that the town of Vila Nova Sintra, located high on the mountain ridges of Brava, is the most beautiful city of the Cape Verdean archipelago. The sobrados (two-storied houses) with little gardens reveal that the financial circumstances in the city are not quite as meagre as on some of the other islands.
Next to the Praça Eugénio Tavares (named after a morna musician born on Brava), you will see the Nazarene church and the colonial Igreja São João Baptista. You can reach the market from Praça Eugénio Tavares in a southern direction. The eastern entrance to the town of Vila Nova Sintra is guarded by the stone replica of the Columbus ship Santa Maria. On 24 June, the people celebrate Midsummer’s Day around the monument: The women of the city decorate Santa Maria with flowers, fruit and baked goods. They also do the traditional cola, a boisterous dance. The men of the island are usually dressed as sailors, and the children of Vila Nova Sintra are allowed to take the ship decorations home with them at end of the day.
A few kilometres from Vila Nova Sintra in a southeastern direction, the street passes Mirador de Nova Sintra (from which you have a beautiful view across the city) to the two little villages of João d’Nole and Mato Grande. In João d’Nole, a picturesque small town with many little fruit gardens and well-kept houses, you should definitely visit the Igreja Santa Antão. It’s located on a hill above the city and stands at the centre of a green, mountainous landscape shrouded in fog. It appears to defy nature, looking as if it has become part of the mountain and merged into the landscape with its crumbling turquoise facades. Mato Grande offers a wonderful view across the entire east coast of Brava.
You should also head to the northwest coast from Vila Nova Santa. The street winds between the fields and meadows. Hibiscus hedges line the road, just like the impressive rubber trees and even a dragon tree (in Cova Rodela). You will reach the town of Rodela Baixo, which is situated on a rocky headland. It’s worthwhile to hike from here to Fajã de Água, which lies on one of the most beautiful bays of Cape Verde. On the way there, you will pass a bizarre landscape of steeply rising cliff walls, deeply sloping valleys and terrace fields.
You will find the picturesque little town of Cova Joana in the south. After a few more kilometres, you will reach the very secluded settlement of Nossa Senhora do Monte. As its name implies, it’s located directly on a mountain. You can see Alto de Fontainhas (976 metres), Brava’s highest mountain, from the neighbouring village of Mato. The barren landscape even further to the south is home to the very traditional little village of Cachaço. When the weather is clear, you can see all the way to Fogo from here.