AN EXTENSION OF THE SAHARA IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ATLANTIC OCEAN

Boavista contains a real desert in the northwestern part of the island, the Viana desert. Just one kilometer long and about 5 km long, it is characterized by a light sand mixed with grains of black earth. The ocean winds continuously transport huge volumes of sand from the African continent, depositing them on the island of Boavista due to the conformation of the land and the proximity to the mainland. This sand creates real desert dunes, interspersed with a sparse vegetation and some very dark volcanic rocks. The result of this phenomenon is a rainbow of colors and the rapid passage of clouds projects onto the ground an alternation of almost hypnotic light and shadow.

The lunar landscape, amplified by the total lack of artificial sounds, makes this place an obligatory stopping point: it is possible to walk without difficulty, in the tranquility of being a few steps from civilization, without the danger of encountering poisonous animals or quicksand.

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viana desert boavista

This little desert of sand in the ocean is protected by the Cape Verdean government, which prohibits the circulation of motor vehicles and promotes the construction of real “walls” stones to limit the movement of sand dunes, which seem annually to progress towards the coast. Living a desert adventure has never been easier!

Useful tips

– The recommended means to reach the desert of Viana are the pick up or the quad.
– If you go for the first time, we advise you not to go there by yourself: this page lists the official excursions. Beware of going there with people who do not have a regular license or insurance.
– Given its small size, the desert lends itself to very simple walks: bring along water and a snack; in any case, there is a little bar/restaurant near the entrance path, the Viana Club.
– The reflection of the sun on the sand is like on the snow: bring sunglasses, comfortable shoes, sunscreen and a hat; at the top of the dunes it blows a lot of wind, but it is worth climbing to slip and take some souvenir photos.
– If you are lucky enough to happen on a full moon night, a moonlit desert ride will be an unforgettable excursion!

THE EXCURSIONS

VIANA DESERT BY QUAD

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The departure is near the airport, with 4-wheel vehicles for 2 people. Driving the quad is pure fun, very stable and it gives the impression of flying. After passing through Rabil, a small town, you arrive at the dunes of the Viana desert, magnificent sand walls that move with the wind and offer a breathtaking view. Near the desert there is a small bar where you can stop and take a walk on foot. During the tour you travel in single file, to avoid ending up in chasms or dangerous points. Cruise speed allows the passenger to take pictures and the driver has everything under control. The dunes are soft, silent and the sand does not burn because it is very clear.

Once you leave the desert, you will go north to visit the Cabo Santa Maria, one of the last shipwreck of Boavista. Here the terrain is more impervious but don’t worry because the expert guides know perfectly every path!

The excursion is also suitable for children, from 7 years. No special technical knowledge is required and the excursion ends where it started.

2 POSSIBLE DEPARTURES (every day):
– Hotel Riu Touareg: 08.00 / 13.30
– Iberostar Hotel: 08.15 / 13.20
– Hotel New Horizon and Sal-Rei: 08.30 / 13.30
– Hotel Marine Club: 08.40 / 13.40
– Hotel Riu Karamboa/Palace and Chaves: 08.45 / 13.45

RETURN:
– Expected return after about 5h

TRANSPORT INCLUDED
Pick-up or bus directly at the hotel or in the city. Further details will be provided after booking.

EXCURSION PRICE
€ 70 single motorbike
€ 85 double motorbike
Payment on the spot, no upfront payment

Why see the desert of Viana in quad?

As a kind of mini rally, in total safety, you pass through endless fields of red earth, like on Mars, to reach a place so quiet and magnificent to feel on another planet. And the quad gives that bit of adventure that amplifies the experience.

HALF DAY DESERT BY 4x4

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Starting from Sal Rei or from the hotels, the first stop is in Rabil, the nice village 1km from the airport, where you can admire the ancient pottery processing at the famous “ollaria”, one of the few forms of local craftsmanship. Leaving from Rabil you cross the small palm-lined oasis and immediately after you arrive at the Viana Desert. The desert has been formed over the years, from the trade winds coming from North Africa loaded with sand from the Sahara. Viana changes continuously over time, stretches, widens, and every time the landscape offers different beauties.

It’s beautiful walking barefoot on the warm sand and rolling off the dunes, in front of the curious gaze of the goats that live there and feed on the acacias, which border the desert border. Leaving the desert it precedes towards Cabo Santa Maria, in order to admire the famous beached wreck and the sea eagles that inhabit it.

Proceeding towards Sal Rei, a stop at the Church of Fatima, recently renovated, which offers a breathtaking view of the beautiful sandy coves in the middle of the volcanic rocks. To end the trip, a walk to Sal Rei, the main town of Boavista.

2 POSSIBLE DEPARTURES (every day):
From all hotels and Sal-Rei:
Morning: 09:00 AM
Afternoon: 2:00 PM

RETURN:
Expected return after about 4h (half day).

TRANSPORT INCLUDED
Pick-up directly at the hotel or at your accomodation. Further details will be provided after booking.

EXCURSION PRICE (for the car)
€ 80 half day (max 4 people)
Payment on the spot, no upfront payment.

HALF DAY NORTH BY 4x4

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On the road to the history and tradition of Boavista, the first stop is the terracotta factory of Rabil, the ancient Olarìa, where skilled artisans work the red earth by hand and create very nice statues. Leaving Rabil we turn towards the Viana desert, formed with the sands that the winds bring from Africa: you can slide down from the dunes and walk to “hear” the magical silence of this place. The tour continue on a road still made of cobblestones, towards the villages of the North: João Galego, Fundo das Figueiras and Cabeça dos Tarafes, very colorful, full of flowers and hospitable people.

From Cabeça the path take a black run, crossing a surreal landscape of volcanic stones, which leads to one of the highest points of Boavista: the Morro Negro lighthouse. Then go for a 10 minutes walk, where the view is breathtaking. The locals say that this mountain emits a strong energy, in fact in the underlying waters there are some wrecks stranded in the sand, also due to the strong magnetism and currents of the coast.

On the way back the path is the same, but by changing the direction and the view, the emotions are also renewed.

2 POSSIBLE DEPARTURES (every day):
From all hotels and Sal-Rei:
Morning: 09:00 AM
Afternoon: 2:00 PM

RETURN:
Expected return after about 4h (half day).

TRANSPORT INCLUDED
Pick-up directly at the hotel or at your accomodation. Further details will be provided after booking.

EXCURSION PRICE (for the car)
€ 80 half day (max 4 people)
Payment on the spot, no upfront payment.