Located at Pedra de Lume to the north of Santa Maria, the salt marshes are a strange and mysterious site brushed with pink tones, recalling the Pink Lake in Senegal. The history of the salt marshes is interesting; when Captain Manuel Martins began to exploit the salt, he then settled nearby. France then became the owner, and the 'Salins du Midi' managed the operation until Cape Verde became independent in 1975. So this was a French territory, with its own borders and local currency. The town of Pedra de Lume had a hospital. The huts built by the workmen were called Casa Farou after the name of the person who built them. You can still see them today, together with the poles and their pulleys, railways and the tunnel to access the salt marshes built in 1804. When Cape Verde became independent, production slowed down, and today the salt marshes produce salt just for the islands' consumption. So you will see some workers, but the site is deserted and looks more like a no man's land. However, it is still easy to feel and imagine the bustling life that unravelled here. You can swim in the ponds if you like, which recalls the Dead Sea.
The Pedra Lume port grew with the exploitation of the nearby salt beds. Nowadays it has little to offer other than the bizarre charm of a virtually abandoned village.© Patrice Hauser / EASYVOYAGE
Access to the crater is via a tunnel carved into its rim.© Patrice Hauser / EASYVOYAGE
The salt beds themselves lie in the middle of the crater, some 7m below sea level, and are now only maintained for the purposes of tourism.© Patrice Hauser / EASYVOYAGE
The small-scale production that still takes place here is sold to tourists and at the local market. Meanwhile, the old large-scale production facilities are rusting away.© Patrice Hauser / EASYVOYAGE
A system consisting of winches mounted on large wooden frames was used to transport the salt from the crater down to the port, over half a mile away.© Patrice Hauser / EASYVOYAGE