Cape Verde can be quite expensive compared with other tropical destinations: a decent hotel costs the equivalent of £50-£100 a night; a three-course meal in a quality restaurant is around £15; and hiring a vehicle and driver for the day might cost £75.
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Volcanic islands at various stages of erosion, they range from more than 2,800m high to as low as 390m, and this translates into extremes of landscape between the islands – from brooding volcano to flat desert, and from verdant, mist-strewn mountains to panoramic white and abandoned beaches.
The people are a unique race – part African, part Portuguese, part any race with the temerity to land in this isolated, wave-pummelled place since their discovery in the mid 15th-century.
Cobbled paths lead you up past sugar cane and banana plantations crowded on to narrow terraces, to the spectacular ridge tops.
* Known in the past as the "cinder heap", Sao Vicente has a relentlessly harsh, brown landscape fringed by black lava rock pounded by white surf.
For example, Thomson (08; uk) flies to Sal from Gatwick, Birmingham and Manchester.
Prices start at around £400, but typical trips are significantly more expensive.
* Santo Antao is a cluster of high peaks cut by steep, lush valleys.
Its people live in houses built high up the near-vertical valley sides.
But its lively capital has a rich British colonial history.
Most importantly, it's the party island, hosting a huge Mardi Gras carnival and an August beach music festival as well as plenty of dancing and music-making the year round.
* Menacing Fogo rises sheer from the ocean to a height of 2,829m — a live volcano whose most recent eruption still smokes gently.