a VirtualTourist member from Penicuik
What is the best way of seeing the island in April for a 70 year old couple who will be based at the Riu Touareg ? Would the off road vehicles be too uncomfortable ?
We visited Boa Vista and stayed at the Riu Touareg in May 2011.
At that time, work was still being carried out on some of the roads. The journey by coach from the airport (at Rabil) to the hotel was relatively smooth; there was a small section of bumpy, rocky roads, but the majority of the journey was along a newly tarmaced highway.
Some areas of the island can be visited without the need for an off-road vehicle. For example, a coach or minibus will easily handle the journey from the hotel to Rabil, the area around the Riu Karamboa hotel and onto the island's capital, Sal Rei. From there, the road east to the villages of Bofareira, Joao Galego, Fundo das Figueiras and Cabeca dos Tarafes is also fine (if slightly bumpy) for non off-road vehicles.
Some areas of the island are not accessible by paved roads and will require an off-road vehicle. For example, the abandoned village of Curral Velho (not far from the Riu Touareg) and the Santa Maria shipwreck off the northern coast are both accessed by a bumpy ride through sand dunes. The turtle nesting beach at Ervatao, on the island's east coast, also requires a fairly lengthy drive over rough terrain.
At the time of our visit, the Thomson/First Choice vehicles were off the road for maintenance work. The hotel put on a minibus to take us to Sal Rei. During that trip, we spoke to the guide and arranged a private trip around the island in an off-road vehicle. The guide borrowed his uncle's vehicle and took us around the island for a day. There was a lot of off-road driving, and the bumpiest sections were over the sand dunes (to Curral Velho and Santa Maria shipwreck); the rest of the trip, although over rocky and dusty terrain, wasn't too bumpy from what I remember.
There are quite a few photos of the terrain on my Concelho da Boa Vista page ([original VT link] including a travelogue of the day we spent exploring the island by off-road vehicle. This will hopefully give you some idea of what to expect.
One small tip that I will give you is to keep covering your knees in sun tan lotion. It seems obvious, but after a day sitting in the back of the truck, with the wind blowing and my knees exposed to the sun, I didn't realise how badly they had burnt until we got back to the hotel in the evening!
The Riu Touareg is an excellent hotel in a secluded location and the island is well worth exploring.
Have a great trip!
I'm sure you'll have a great time, John...and congratulations on the Golden Wedding Anniversary!
One of my work colleagues stayed at the hotel on his honeymoon and had a fantastic time. A few other colleagues have also visited the hotel since we did and found it to be a wonderful hotel.
Only 14 months to go!! If you think of any more questions before then, feel free to drop me a line and I'll try to answer them as best I can.