Public transportation

Public transportation in these islands consists mainly of minivans known locally as “hiaces” (which are supposed to hold 15 passengers). However, minivan drivers often make efforts to fit in more passengers when it suits them. Such minivans are popularly used simply because cars and gasoline are both expensive in this country, making them beyond the reach of most locals. The cost for a typical ride depends on the distance involved (e.g. a 45 to 60-minute trip from one town to another costs 150 CVE (Cape Verdean Escudos) (€1.37 Euro).

Note to first-time visitors: hiaces minivans often go from town to town, so it is best to ask the driver before-hand what his destination is, and whether he is driving when you want to go (to begin with). Often, men working with these drivers shout out the destination, in order to fill the vehicle with passengers. Since drivers will often not take passengers anywhere until his vehicle is full, visitors opting to use such public transportation are advised to board an almost full minivan. Otherwise, getting into a half-empty vehicle can mean a long wait (30 minutes or more). Also, be prepared for passengers with small noisy children, and (if one is going to a rural destination, peasants with live chickens). Speaking of noise, hiace drivers are famed for playing music (often loud) while driving.

Note: tourists with deeper pockets (especially those in a small group) can always opt to hire a hiace driver and his vehicle exclusively, and negotiate a fair rate before boarding. The advantage to doing this is obvious: not having to wait for a vehicle to fill up with passengers before proceeding to your destination.

Another form of public transportation in Cape Verde are “Hilux” vehicles. They are small pickup trucks with two benches built into the long sides of the pick-up bed and covered with a heavy-duty tarp. Within a given town (e.g. Mindelo), they make repeated loops in an area, usually going between one fixed point and then going to another fixed point before turning around and coming back. Each hilux (pronounced ‘eelux’) is distinguishable from the dozens of others by the custom made tarps which combine various colors, designs and logos. The cost for a typical ride runs at 30 CVE (€.27 Euro)

Since hitchhiking is common in various parts of Cape Verde, for those going short distances within a given town, there’s the free ride (locally known as the “Bolea”). If a vehicle is going to your destination and there’s space, the driver will frequently let you hop in his/her car or truck. Many “boleas” are on the bed of a pickup truck.