Huge white sand dunes. With small oases where you will find acacia bushes, palm trees, coconut and date palms. Nature is pure, just as it should be. That is the Viana desert (Deserto de Viana). The Viana desert is an extension of the famous Sahara desert, but now on an island in the middle of the Atlantic. A beautiful landscape which is worth a visit.
The Viana desert is 20 kilometers long and 4 to 5 kilometers wide. The western side is the most overgrown with bushes, palms and other trees. On the east side are the white sand dunes. This area is approximately 2 by 5 kilometers. The largest sand dunes have a height of about 50 meters. The beautiful sand dunes suddenly appear. Because of the beautiful landscape and the tranquility, this is a unique place.
How did the Viana desert arise?
The trade winds from the African continent to the sea carry a lot of sand from the Sahara. Part of this ends up at Boavista. Because of the wind, different sand dunes are formed, which is why the area is also called the ‘walking sand dunes’. In order to limit the movement of the sand dunes to the coast, the government of Cape Verde encourages the construction of stone walls. Because the area is so special, the Viana desert is also a protected area.
Tips for visiting the Viana desert
- Hiking in the dessert is not difficult. Because of the relatively small size you will also not easily get lost. It is always recommended to bring enough water and some food. In the desert there is a connection with the mobile network with your phone.
- It can be warm in the desert, especially if it is cloudless. By the reflection of the sun it has more impact on your skin. So bring sunglasses, a cap and sunscreen.
- Sunrise can be beautiful in the Viana desert. It is beautiful because of the sun – shadow effect. The same goes for a night with full moon, this is an adventure in itself.
Viana desert on list of Seven Wonders Cape Verde
The natural wealth of the Cape Verde islands is very diverse and unique. The Viana desert is one of the seven natural wonders of the Cape Verde islands. The natural heritage of the archipelago. The seven natural wonders are spread over the different islands of Cape Verde.
How do I get to the Viana desert?
The sand desert of Viana is situated in the northwest of the island of Boavista. At the east of the capital Sal Rei and the village of Rabil, and to the west of the village of Bofarreira you will find the desert. See also the red dot on the map below. The Viana desert is easy to reach by for example a 4 × 4 car, quad or on horseback. Of course there are tours to the desert, excursions can be booked in Sal Rei.