Angola is a country in Central Africa. It is bordered by Namibia in the south, Zambia in the east and the Republic of Congo, as well as the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the north. The country is rich in natural resources: It has large reserves of oil and diamonds, hydroelectric potential, and rich agricultural land. Despite this, Angola remains a very poor country, having been ravaged by a bloody civil war in the early 1970s.
The people of Angola are stoics. They have a deep understanding of patience, and avoid blaming the difficulites the country faces on the fact that there was war. In fact, Angolans behave as if there was no war although it is deeprooted in every Angolan. Music is the heart and soul of every Angolan, it can be heard anywhere and they use anything as an excuse to party. The country has a wide range of music, mainly Kuduro, Kizomba, Semba, and Tarrachinha, the latter being more sensual than all the others. In all, it is safe to say that Angolans are fun and loving people with a thirst for more of what life has to give.
Angola was a Portuguese overseas territory from the 16th century to 1975. After independence, Angola was the scene of an intense civil war from 1975 to 2002. The country is the second-largest petroleum and diamond producer in sub-Saharan Africa; however, its life expectancy and infant mortality rates are both among the worst ranked in the world. In August 2006, a peace treaty was signed with a faction of the FLEC, a separatist guerrilla group from the Cabinda exclave in the North, which is still active. About 65% of Angola's oil comes from that region.
Like the rest of tropical Africa, Angola experiences distinct, alternating rainy and dry seasons.
The coastal strip is tempered by the cool Benguela Current, resulting in a climate similar to coastal Peru or Baja California. It is semiarid in the South and along the coast to Luanda. There is a short rainy season lasting from February to April. Summers are hot and dry, while winters are mild. The northern part has a cool, dry season (May to October) and a hot, rainy season (November to April). In the interior, above 3,300 ft (1,006 m), the temperature and rainfall decrease. The interior highlands have a mild climate with a rainy season from November through April followed by a cool dry season from May to October.
The heaviest rainfall occurs in April, and is accompanied by violent storms. The far north and Cabinda enjoy rain throughout much of the year.
Officially 220V 50Hz. Outlets are the European standard CEE-7/7 "Schukostecker" or "Schuko" or the compatible, but non-grounded, CEE-7/16 "Europlug" types. Generally speaking, U.S. and Canadian travelers should pack an adapter for these outlets if they plan to use North American electrical equipment in Angola.
Also, be aware of the power related problems in Angola. If you plan to rent a house, you for sure should rent a house with a generator. Power outages are quite frequent.
Mussulo Island is a beautiful extension of land situated in the south of Luanda. It is famous for its natural beauty. It is a place one has to visit, one of the most known tourist attractions in Luanda. There one can find everything, from fishermen to the most beautiful and modern restaurants. You can have your sun tan, hide below the shadows of coconut trees and palm trees, relax with peace of mind, have fun with diverse aquatic sports, find accommodations in paradisiac motels, and explore some of the typical food such as ‘pirão’, funge, and moamba.
Almost all nationalities must get a visa prior to arrival. It is not possible to obtain a visa upon arrival. Your passport must be valid for another six months minimum and contain two blank pages. Travellers need an international vaccination certificate for entry as well indicating yellow fever inoculation within the last ten years according to the Angolan government, but at least on the Namibian/Angolan border, this is not an issue. You also need a letter of invitation from a private individual, organization or company stating that they will take responsibility for your stay. Namibians don't need a visa for Angola. When obtaining a visa from countries to the north, you will often only be issued a five day transit visa for Angola. If travelling by road, this will only give you enough time to get to Luanda where it takes up to four days to get another five day transit visa. If you're coming into Angola from DR Congo, you may well need an Angolan visa before entering DR Congo.
Luanda-4-de-Fevereiro is situated 4km outside Luanda. There are public phones and bank facilities at the airport.
Reliable Taxi facilities are pretty much non-existent Eco Tur do run reliable airport transfers.
TAAG Linhas Aereas de Angola has flights between Luanda and some states in Africa, for example to South Africa (Johannesburg), Namibia (Windhoek), Zimbabwe (Harare), Democratic Republic of the Congo (Kinshasa) and the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville). TAAG recently started to have two or three weekly flights to Rio de Janeiro (Brazil).
There are no railroad links between Angola and other nations. However, the Caminho de Ferro de Luanda (CFL), a Luanda to Malenge train route, has been back into service by the Chinese Railway Construction Company and might reopen to passengers on the end of December 2010. For motivation, there will be three different passenger classes on the Luanda to Malange service, which are Primeira, with reclining leather seats with individual television sets; Exspresso, with comfortable chairs arranged in fours around tables and communal televisions; and Tramway, the cheapest option fitted out with benches to maximize passenger numbers. Ticket prices are yet to be announced, but there is hope that the standard fare will be less than 2,500 kwanzas ($26; £17). With trilingual signage (English, Portugese, and Chinese) and clean, modern carriages with functioning toilets and a restaurant car, get ready to go there and see for yourself.
The other train routes, the Caminho de Ferro de Benguela (CFB) and the Caminho de Ferro de Mocamedes (CFM), will hopefully come back into full service by the end of 2012. A small stretch of track that's in use between Lobito and Cubal in Huambo province has a plan to extend its passenger services to Huambo city by early 2011.
You can go in from Namibia at the border post near Oshikango(Namibia)/Ngiva(Angola).
Entering from the North was, as of 2002, via Luvo, a small town on the Kinshasa-Matadi 'road'. If you want to drive through Angola, it's a real experience. Off the beaten track, road conditions might not be quite what you are used to so be prepared, particularly during the rainy season where potholes are likely to be a frequent occurence. Also, keep a look out for livestock and the overloaded vehicles of the Angolan residents.
There are no bus links between Angola and other nations.
There are no official ferry links between Angola and other nations. As of 2003, it was at least possible to enter Angola via a small passenger ferry near Rundu in Namibia. There was both an Angolan and Namibia border official present. The crossing was mostly used by Angolans for the purposes of acquiring food and other supplies in Namibia. There are (as of 2007) ferries running from the enclave of Cabinda to Luanda, which can be useful to avoid the unstable DRC. They carry cars as well. Seek local advice for when they depart. Sources claim that they run twice a week, cost $180 per person (bike included), and take 14 hours to do the trip (2005). If there are no ferries, there might be cargo planes that you (and your car) can ride on between Cabinda and Luanda . Be warned - these planes are unsafe. Use them at your own peril.
In Luanda: the Mussulo island for clean tropical beaches and water sports, the Benfica Market for Kwanza River.
Eco Tur Angola do various bespoke no tours Angola including Kissama with specialist game viewing vehicles.
In Benguela: Baia Azul for beautiful desert beaches. Art deco architecutre in Beguela. Lobito City for the Restinga Penisnula and ice cold draught Cuca beer, the Benguela Rail road, and fantastic scenery!
In Kwanza Sul - Cubal Canyon, Conde Hot springs and Cachoeiras / Binga Waterfalls, with the Cambambe Dam on River Kwanza. Waku Kungo plains has fantastic scenery!
In Malange - Kalandula Waterfalls and Pungo n'Dongo Black Stones.
In Huila - Serra de Leba, Tunbda Vala Gorge, Mumuila tribes people, fantastic scenery and much more!
In Namibe - Arco Lagoon, beaches and a desert, and Mucubais Tribes People.
In Huambo - City Tours, Alto Hama hot springs, and fantastic scenery.
In Cunene - Himba tribes peoople, Ruacana Falls, and fantastic scenery.
A very low percentage of the local population can communicate in English. Traveling in Angola, therefore, requires a minimum of knowledge of the Portuguese language. Also, due to the fact that lots of people migrate from neighbouring countries to Angola, it is sometimes possible to use French and Afrikaans (for Namibian / South African people).
There is little literature on Angola available at all, and most of the available literature is in Portuguese or (in some cases) French. Bay of Tigers: An Odyssey through War-torn Angola by Pedro Rosa Mendes was translated from the Portuguese and published by Harcourt in 2003. Mendes traveled across the country by train in 1997 while the war was still going on in Angola, it's a very fascinating look at the people and the nature of life there during the war.
Try also John Frederick Walker's "A Certain Curve OF Horn", documenting the history of the magnificent and sub species of Antelope unique to Angola - "Palanca Negra Gigante" (Hippotragus níger variani).
Another excellent read is Ryszard Kapuściński's compelling journalistic narrative Another Day of Life in which he reports on the chaotic period leading up to Angola's independence from Portugal in 1975. As one of the only journalists in Angola during this very dangerous period, his perspective is rare and full of insight.
The official currency of Angola is the Kwanza (AOA). As of January 2010, 1 USD = 89.55 AOA, 1 EUR = 126.44 AOA, and 1 GBP = 145.82 AOA. It is prohibited to import or export any sum of kwanza, and attempting to do so will result in confiscation of the currency and penalties levied.
Just south of Luanda, the Benfica Handcrafts Market offers the best prices for handcrafts and souvenirs. This is an open market where local artists and artisans display their products, and bargaining is not only acceptable, but recommended. The products range from sculptures and paintings to jewelry, batik cloths and accessories.
Generally, eating and dining out is not very easy in Angola, not even in Luanda because food is expensive and many of the less well equipped restaurants have poor hygienic conditions. Nonetheless, Angolan cuisine is varied and tasty, with local dishes based mainly on fish, cassava products and spicy stews. Angolan seafood is abundant and very good, and the Angolan coast is a special place to eat fresh lobster right off the fisherman's boat. Tropical fruit in Angola is also a treat, for artisanal means of production have maintained organic methods, and rich fruit flavors, unusual to the Western palate accustomed to industrially produced tropical fruits. If, however, you are situated in Luanda and need to dine, it is recommended that you get to Ilha de Luanda, where beach-restaurants (of varying price-classes from very exclusive to rather informal) can serve most foreign needs. It should also be said that restaurants in Luanda are increasing in numbers and quality, since the recent peace has brought stability and significant investment to the country.
Generally, all restaurants accept USD in cash. Credit cards will not be accepted.
World class hotels include the Tropico Hotel, the Alvalade Hotel, Le President Meridien Hotel, the Continental Hotel, and the Palm Beach Hotel, among others.
In general, you shouldn't travel within Angola without the assistance of qualified personnel. However, if you follow some basic rules, traveling in Angola isn't dangerous. First of all, traveling after dark and alone is never a good idea. If possible, join with several cars of the same make and model because of the possible need for spare parts. Carry a satellite telephone in the case of a breakdown or other emergency. Be aware, that while Iridium satellite phones have global coverage, Thuraya satellite phones have coverage in most of Angola, but may not have coverage in the southern parts of the country (check the Angola Thuraya coverage map for details).
For the city of Luanda, other rules apply. Stay in your car (with the doors locked) while you're outside reach of security personnel, which you will find at all hotels and restaurants.
Avoid using your camera in front of police (dressed in blue uniforms). Photography will result, at best, in a very heavy fine, but could also have more dire consequences. Throughout Angola, taking photographs of sites and installations of military or security interest, including government buildings, may result in arrest or fines and should be avoided.
Travelers should also be advised that the Angolan currency (the Kwanza) may not be taken out of the country, and travelers are subject to confiscation of local currency at the airport.
NEVER step beyond the red and white HALO Trust posts. These denote mine fields. In fact, beware of anything surrounded by any kind of red stones or similar markers.
Travelers should only drink mineral water or, in an emergency, boiled water, because water in Angola is untreated and therefore, tap water is not safe. Because malaria is endemic to this country, travelers should also avoid mosquito bites by using with insect repellent and repellent-impregnated bed nets. Futhermore, there is a risk of being bitten by the tse tse fly while in Angola, which causes sleeping sickness; consult a doctor immediately if you start having insomnia.
AIDS and HIV is prevalent among adults in Angola at 4.0% or 1 in 25. Avoid having unprotected sex.
The phone country code of Angola is +244. Telephone connections, cellular and landline, are heavily overloaded, making communication difficult at times. International lines are, however, often better.