With the increased tourism to the archipelago, especially the islands of Sal and Boa Vista, there seems to be an increase of inflated taxi prices from the airport and baggage scams.
As previously documented, we explained a rough guide to taxi prices on the island of Sal. This still holds true, but it is time to be aware of rogue prices. Here’re our stories.
Sal Airport to Santa Maria Village
We landed again on Sal a few months back, three people and four suitcases. The smaller saloon style taxi was too small and hence we were escorted to an estate style car. Once on board and asking the price, we were told 2,000 CVE. Challenging the price should be no more than 1,500 CVE, the driver answered the additional 500 CVE was because his was an estate car. I couldn’t argue his logic as I would have to take two saloon cars for passengers and luggage, the price thus equating as 3,000 CVE. However, this was the first ever time I have encountered this concept. Returning to the airport, the price for an open top Aluguer pickup back to the airport for three passengers and four bags was the normal and expected 1,500 CVE.
Boa Vista Airport to RIU Karamboa
Last week we took a few days to visit the island of Boa Vista. We opted to stay on the all inclusive RIU Karamboa. Not my cup of tea, but a nice pool for our 10 year old and easy going dining and entertainment for the adults. We did not know beforehand, but the RIU Karamboa is no more than two kilometres from the airport arrivals hall. You could walk it! Unlike Sal, most of the public transport is the Aluguer style pickup. The price charged for two adults, one child and two bags was 10 Euro. The equivalent of 1,000 CVE was given without debate, although I felt it was extortionate. To put this into perspective, that’s five times more than the equivalent distance and day rate of 200 CVE in Santa Maria from one side of town to the other.
One evening we took the opportunity to visit Sal Rei. The price for a one way trip was 1,000 CVE for a 9KM distance. Taking the time to chat to the driver en route, he said that the price from the airport to the Karamboa was 6 Euro (600 CVE). He said the price to Sal Rei from the Karamboa was 10 Euro (1,000 CVE) with an evening rate from Sal Rei to the Karamboa being 15 Euro (1,500 CVE). He explained that if he picked us up for the return trip, he would charge the same outgoing rate of 10 Euro (1,000 CVE). These prices seemed more reasonable and confirmed we were ripped off during the airport transfer.
Time to fly again, we asked the Karamboa hotel reception to order a taxi. When questioned, the receptionist explained the price would be 5 Euro (500 CVE). With a smile on my face I said we were charged 10 Euro from the airport to the hotel, to which he chuckled that the drivers will charge what they can get away with.
Knowledge Is Power
The key thing here is the old adage ‘Knowledge is Power’. Where once I would be happy with an unmetered taxi price, today I am not. With the increase of European travellers, the drivers are now taking advantage. Putting it bluntly, they’re taking the piss. This is not fair and it’s time to take a different approach and not support airport taxis. As an independent traveller, it’s time to book transfers beforehand at an agreed price. However, if I have to take an airport taxi, no more will I take the first taxi in the queue, but will now ask a price, then haggle with the other drivers too. Where once I was never happy to haggle a price as the price always seemed to be the same, whichever driver or whatever route, today the tables have turned and the tourists are being ripped off.
The Baggage Scam
I have to confess, I fall for this one time, time and time again. Not just here in Cape Verde, but in other worldwide destinations too. However, it seems to be more prolific here. It’s the blatant bait and trap scenario. Existing the arrivals hall, you are beckoned with the call “Taxi?”. You nod or answer “yes” to which your bags are grabbed and pulled towards the taxi queue. Like me, you’ll probably assume this bloke is the driver, as he humps your suitcases into the car. Oh no! He’s the baggage man. He now wants a Euro, a Pound or any gold coloured coin. Say no or gesture you don’t have any change and you will be met with his Criolean wrath. If you’re happy to pay a gold coin for a 20 metre haul of your luggage, then happy days. If not, then be aware.
Our arrival to Sal yesterday was no exception, but this time I recognised the guy from last week. “Taxi?” he yelled at me but this time I asked “Are you the driver? How much?”. I was then politely waved through to the taxi queue as he beckoned the couple behind “Taxi?”
Like many I guess, I do not mind paying for service. Indeed I may leave a tip, sometimes to the banter of my children, saying I am too generous. However, times are changing here on Sal and it seems too, the same on Boa Vista. It seems the tourist is seen as the cash cow and it’s time to become more savvy.