Angola Travel Guide
Hardly a tourist magnet, more likely to attract blood diamond types, Angola is home to vast natural resources and Africa’s second-largest waterfall. It has now started the monumental task of reconstructing the country after four decades of civil war. In a country of diamond dusted beaches and nearly untouched wildlife, visitors will find Angolans a stoic lot, united by their avid support of football and basketball.
Angolan cuisine is varied and tasty, but food is relatively expensive and restaurants often skimp on hygiene or run out of provisions. Seafood is plentiful and delicious. Accommodation is in short supply and often expensive. Many hotels have recently been refurbished.
When to Go
Angola’s climate varies significantly from the coast to the central plateau, and even between the north coast and the south coast. Things can get pretty damp between October and March, particularly on the inland plateau. Lower and coastal regions are somewhat warmer in the summer (November to April), with average temperatures from 68°F to 75°F. Winter (May to October) can bring fresh coastal breezes and surprisingly low temperatures.
Getting There & Away
Luanda is the main air hub, and there are regular domestic flights linking major towns. Rail services are limited and erratic, and tickets hard to come by. The road network is slowly being rebuilt, but four-wheel drives are necessary to get to most places. There is only one reliable long-distance bus route, from Luanda to Benguela. Luanda has local buses that charge a flat fare.
Health & Safety
The legacy of civil war means that Angola still has a Wild West culture, which is exacerbated by poverty. Beware of any red markers indicating uncleared landmines. Avoid getting involved with the police, who can be trigger-happy. Luanda is not much safer than the rest of the country and most visitors travel under the auspices of a sponsoring organization. Water should always be bottled and sealed and malaria is rife. There are frequent power shortages. Still want to go? Just use common sense and stick to some basic rules and you’ll have a thrilling and unforgettable holiday experience.
Two days in Luanda. Two nights at Kissama National Park. Three days on the beach at Lubango.
Additional time Three days in Benguela. A visit to the Calandula waterfalls.
Luanda: is the capital city and attractions here include the fortress, housing the Museum of Armed Forces, and the National Museum of Anthropology. Apart from this it’s a steamy poverty stricken kind of place.
Museum of Slavery: 16 miles along the coast from Luanda, this museum gives a glimpse into the history of slavery.
Kissama National Park: is located south of Luanda, and offers a large diversity of wild animals. Bungalows in the middle of the park offer lodging, but bring your own food.
Lubango: didn’t see much fighting and is a gateway to the coastal town of Namibe and its first-rate beaches. On the way, don’t miss the Tunda-Vala volcanic fissure, where you can climb to 8,528 feet above sea level.
Calandula waterfalls: in the Malanje area are remarkable spectacles, especially at the end of the wet season.
Benguela: on the coast is Angola’s second most important city and a cultural center. It has kept its laid-back small-town character in a lively big city setting. Come here to experience colonial legacy barely surviving.
Palmeirinhas: south of Luanda is a long, deserted beach. The views are superb, but bathing here is risky.
Playing basketball: is extremely popular and Angola has won the African basketball title on numerous occasions, having taking part in the Olympic Games twice.
Fishing: can be enjoyed at Palmeirinhas and at Santiago beaches, 28 miles north of Luanda.
Art viewing: at the Humbi-Humbi art gallery in Luanda offers cultural delights.
Dancing: Angola has a fantastic tradition of music and dance, and slaves from here took their musical culture with them to destinations in both North and South America]].
Festivals & Events
Angola does not have any well-known tourist-drawing festivals. Christmas and New Years are celebrated, while the biggest festivities are probably the celebration of carnival (Mardi Gras) on the Tuesday preceding the Christian holiday of Ash Wednesday, which begins the period of Lent leading up to Easter. In addition to the national holidays there are various community festivals held by the different ethnic groups.