Brava – the flower island

 

Brava ( Portuguese for ‘angry’) is the smallest inhabited island, but at the same time the greenest, of Cape Verde, in the Sotavento group. First settled in the 1540s, its population grew after Mount Fogo on neighbouring Fogo erupted in 1675. Its main industry was long whaling, but the island is now primarily agricultural.

 

The uninhabited islets Ilhéus Secos or Ilhéus do Rombo with parts of the town of Nova Sintra.

 

Practically the whole island is a stratovolcano. It lies in the lee of the enormous Fogo volcano. Volcanic activity on the island has been mainly located along three sets of lineaments, which all intersect at the crest of ground that forms the highest part of the island. Brava has no documented historical eruptions, but its youthful volcanic morphology and the fact that earthquake swarms still occur indicate the potential for future eruptions.

 

North of Brava are two small islands with 4 islets, 3 of them are west of Ilhéu de Cima. The islands are Ilhéu Grande.

 

The island’s main town is Vila Nova Sintra. The island has schools, a lyceum, a gymnasia, churches, and a square (praça) in honour of the famous musician Eugénio Tavares.

 

All of the five villages lie north of the mountaintop, which has four main roads including Furna – Vila Nova Sintra and Fajã de Agua and south to Nova Sintra do Monte and slightly south of the mountaintop. The two large islands north of Brava are uninhabited. The mountain valleys dominate the south, the east and the west. The north has a few valleys.

 

Precipitation arrives from the trade wind clouds. The island is covered with a leeward cloud so that evaporation is reduced and the vegetation is more abundant. Key inhabited places include the village of Vila Nova Sintra. The village of Furna has a commercial port.

 

 

Settlements 

 

Geographical features 

    • Ponta do Alto, located in the southwest

    • Ponta da Pesqueiro Grande, the westernmost point on the island.

    • Ponta da Rei Fernando (Portuguese for King Fernando), located in the east.

    • Ponta da Aguada, a bay located in the east

    • Quebra Cabeças, located in the south-southwest

    • Monte Pesqueiro, located in the west-northwest

    • Ponta da Incenso, the northernmost point on the island

    • Ponta Jalunga, located in the northeast

    • Ponta Mórea, located in the east southeast

    • Cova do Mer, located in the southeast

    • Ponta da Vaca

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

How to get to Brava? 

The airport, inaugurated in 1992, was closed because of the strong winds. The airline service ended in 2004.  

You can combine your visit to Brava with a visit to the neighbour islands Fogo and Santiago.

 

Brava can be reached from Praia and Fogo almost exclusively via the passenger/cargo ferry, the Kriola.

The Kriola is the first of Cabo Verde Fast Ferry‘s fleet of inter-island catamarans and connects the Sotavento islands of Santiago, Fogo and Brava. 

 

The Kriola typically leaves Furna, its home port, at 7:30 on days of operation and returns between 09:30 and 11:00, depending on the day. 

The route is typically BRAVA-FOGO-SANTIAGO-FOGO-BRAVA, but at least one day a week it makes a BRAVA-FOGO-BRAVA run. Travel time between Brava and Fogo is approximately 0:40 and approximately 3:30 between Fogo and Santiago (Praia). 

 

The main harbour of Brava is Furna, on the east coast of the island. Buses and taxis are common, especially when the Kriola arrives in port. 

On Brava you can reach the villages by “Aluguer” bus. There is no fixed schedule, as the aluguers wait until enough passengers have come before leaving.  A few taxis are available as well. 

 

Where to stay?

In the villages Nova Sintra and Fajã are boarding-houses and you can find rooms for rent in houses of local residents of the other villages.  We can find out a boarding-house that suits you: info@cabocontact.com

 

Trekking

The places worth visiting can be seen in half a day, because the island is so small.  You can go on foot or by car to Miradoura de Nova Sintra with a general view of the town.

Then walk up to Pico of Fontainhas, the island’s highest mountain peak.

It’s worth walking until Nossa Senhora do Monte, where you’ll see many terraces.  The village is encrusted in the mountains and it was elevated in 1826 as a pilgrimage spot. 

 

Walking tracks:

 

-Vila Nova Sintra – Sorno – São Pedro – Vila Nova Sintra (9km, takes about 5 hours)

-Vila Nova Sintra – Levadura – Fajã d’Agua (6km, 2 hours)

-Vila Nova Sintra – Mato Grande – Monte Fontainhas – Mato – Nossa Senhora do Monte – Cova Joana – Vila Nova de Sintra (9km, 4 hours)

 

 

You can choose to do these tracks with a tourist guide as well.

 

 

Cuisine  

Only in the villages Nova Sintra, Fajã and Furna you’ll find restaurants.  The island’s traditional dishes are Xérem (maize-meal) an Djagacida.   A typical dessert of Brava is mango and pumpkin ‘pie’ (torta). 

  

Hospitals and Health Centers

Delegacia de Saúde, Nova Sintra tel. (+238) 285 17 06

  

History

Brava was discovered in 1462 by the Portuguese and the first settlement was founded in 1573. The slave trade was common in Cidade Velha. In 1680, the inhabitants fled from the nearby larger island of Fogo after its volcano erupted and lava began to flow and to devastate that island. In the 17th and the 18th centuries, pirates raided the bays of the island and continued until the 19th century when whaling was common from the ships of Europe and North America.

 

Emigration began as American whaleships sailed people from Brava to the northeastern part of North America, especially along the Eastern Seaboard. Most of the immigrants from Brava settled in Boston, Massachusetts, Providence, Rhode Island and New Bedford, Massachusetts.

 

Famous residents

Brava’s most famous son is the musician Eugénio Tavares; he used the traditional morna and wrote in Cape Verdean Creole.  A statue dedicated to Eugénio Tavares is in the main square of Vila Nova Sintra and is encircled with a beautiful garden with trees, sunflowers, flowers, grass and other types of plants. Other notable persons include Hermano da Pina and Armando da Pina who live on the Eastern Seaboard.

 

Population

Brava is the least populated island of the inhabited Cape Verde islands. The population has been decreasing over the years, primarily due to the migration to other islands and emigration (especially to the United States and Portugal).

 

Economy

The main economy of the island is agricultural, related to irrigation and fishing (the island’s main production). Trading and private households depend on income from Cape Verdean residents from North America. Brava never had a lot of tourism. Tourism slowly boomed. The island is unsuitable for beach tourism because the steep shoreline allows few beaches.

 

Places to visit

  • Vila Nova Sintra, an idyllic town with a museum, traditional Portuguese architecture, several churches and many shops.

  • Vinagre (Portuguese for Vinegar)

  • Fajã de Agua, a small harbour on the West coast with a natural swimming pool, called “piscina“.

  • Nossa Senhora do Monte, a village in the mountains with a pilgrimage church.

  • Cova Rodela, a village in the mountains with an impressive dragon tree in its main street.

  • There are many beautiful walking tracks on the island.

 

Diary of two Brava- visitors