Travel in Angola

Although it’s difficult to get and travel through Angola,¬†no doubt that there is something really special about this country that makes it worth all the struggle.

So let’s uncover some of Angola’s travel mysteries and have a look at what to expect while exploring this stunning country.

Markets

Markets are the place where everything happens, they buzz with life and are a great place to meet and talk to some friendly locals and of course, buy fresh produce.

Don’t expect anything fancy here, only a lot of dust, and very basic infrastructures made out of some sticks, mud, and fabrics.¬†The markets are normally massive and depending on the location and time of the day, can also be very crowded, so be patient, and on guard.

It’s also usual to see women and children selling fruits, vegetables and gasoline on the side of the road. You can also see between the¬†thousands of street sellers in Angola, people selling car spares, school manuals, toilet paper, toilet seats, cell phones, well… literary everything.

Beaches

Angola has beautiful, quiet and untouched beaches but also beaches full of life, people and loud music. Angolans love to have a good time, to drink, dance and listen to music being Kizomba, kuduro and Semba the most popular genres.

Angola’s Countryside

Angola’s countryside is the vision of a country that is suspended in time with a past of war that didn’t disappear from its walls.

Picturesque small settlements, baobab trees, rivers, mountains and deserts are the richness of this country. The small settlements tell stories of a resourceful population that makes everything from nothing.

Slams

Slams in Angola are called musekes (musseques), it’s impossible to count how many you will see spreading through the country. An image of a sad reality. Extreme¬†poverty and social inequities.

Nature at its best

Angola is a country with immense natural beauty that changes drastically from north to south, east to west.

What to visit and where to go
  1. Namibe, beaches, a magnificent desert, and Mucubais Tribe
  2. Lobito, great beaches
  3. Benguela, architecture and beaches
  4. Malange, national park and waterfalls 
  5. Serra de Leba, fantastic scenery 
  6. Catumbela, scenery, river and crocodiles 
  7. Cunene, Himba tribe and scenery 
  8. Chibia, Muila (Mumuila or Mumuhuila) tribe and the Mukumba tribal market
  9. Lubango, colonial architecture
  10. Oncocua, traditional place where different ethnic groups live, the Himba, the Mucawana and the Mutua.

Have you ever been to Angola? Find here all you need to know before going on a trip to Angola.

photography ‚Ästall rights reserved ‚Äď Ana Rocha¬†

Discovering Angola – Travel guide

Angola was my home for 2 years and I have great memories about this colourful, warm, magic and not yet well-known county.

Travelling through Angola is a real challenge, that starts with getting a visa.¬†The country is not really open to tourism and to be fair doesn’t really like visitors… Although it seems that things are changing slowly in this regard.

Luanda

If you are lucky enough to get a visa you will land in the international airport of Luanda, Angola’s capital city. An extremely expensive place with a¬†high level of violent crime, where you can’t walk on your own after dark. I’ve been to Luanda many times, but I don’t recommend it.

Angola has miles and miles of coastline, rainforests in the north, the world’s oldest desert in the south, and savannah in between.

Language and food

You need to know how to speak Portuguese to be able to communicate. A very low percentage of the local population can communicate in English.

Outside the big cities eating out is also difficult. There are no restaurants, so you will need to find where the markets are, buy the ingredients and cook your meals.

When you find a place selling food expect it to be expensive and some have poor hygienic conditions.

Transports Р getting around

Compared with Luanda the rest of the country is relatively safer but there are no reliable or safe public transports.

The options are the local minibuses that are called Candongueiros, painted in blue and white or you can also get a ride from a motorbike called cupapatas. 

This is the informal economy, they don’t belong to a company, so there is no timetables, no stipulated stops¬†or standards by any means.¬†

The candogeiro’s driver shouts trough the window to advertise where they are going to. The cupapata¬†is mainly for short distances and will go anywhere you want.

Both options are used by locals but are very unsafe. They¬†have very bad driving habits and do unimaginable things like driving on the sidewalk.¬†I don’t recommend you to use any of these options as a tourist. Because to do it you really need to know well what is going on and speak the local lingo.

Before buying my 4×4 I used those options and was involved in some minor accidents. But you see almost daily road accidents involving both cupapatas and Candongueiros.¬†Road sinistrality in Angola is a serious issue.

Renting a car is difficult and extremely expensive, but getting your vehicle (4×4) is essential. Just bear in mind that driving standards and some road conditions are poor, to say the least.¬†

There is a good road between the capital Luanda – Lubango and Namibe but getting into remoter areas can be rough.

Police Officers

Angola‚Äôs police officers are notorious for asking for bribes‚ÄĒknown as gasosa. It’s safe to say that if you are driving you will not miss this experience.

I can’t count how many times I was stopped and accused of an imagined traffic infraction and then offered to pay for a gasosa instead of paying a fine. My advice is – always offer to pay the fine.

Mines

When exploring¬†less well-established routes outside major towns, mines and unexploded ordnance remain a problem, sometimes even in ‚Äėcleared‚Äô areas. So try to travel on well-established routes.

Accommodation

Outside the capital, accommodation is scarce, expensive¬†and most of the times the conditions are deplorable. Once I stayed in the only place available in a remote country-side village, where there was no running water, the toilet was a hole on the floor, there was no electricity, and can’t even start describing how dirty it was, all of this for $100USD p/night! I know shocking.

Power and water can be cut off for days without notice, having a generator it’s essential.

Sometimes the best option is to camp on a deserted beach ūüôā

Topics to avoid

Basic rules of politeness are essential at all times anywhere you are in the world. But in Angola, there are a few more things that you should keep in mind. Avoid talking about the government, politics and the civil war. Angola is a democracy in name only, and Angolans can be nationalistic and proud.

It will happen that when you are talking to a group of Angolans the discussions will turn to politics, just try to listen more than talk.

Be ready for the mosquitos

Mosquitos are your public enemy number one, try to keep safe. The last thing you need is to get malaria or even yellow fever. To enter the country you’ll need an International Certificate of Vaccination (Yellow Card)

Pollution and lack of basic sanitary conditions

There are a few severe problems with garbage, fly-tipping, open-air sewage, polluted water and in the big cities air pollution is very poor due to the heavy traffic and obsolete vehicles.

Find here more about what to see and where to go while travelling through Angola.

photography ‚Ästall rights reserved ‚Äď Ana Rocha¬†

In the route of Angola’s up-country

Travelling in Angola spoils all your senses, the pace is slow and makes you enjoy the small things in life. Travelling here is not easy and things never go to plan, but if you like adventure, excitement, contact with ancient traditions, different tribes and cultures, this is the country for you.

You don’t travel here because of monuments or museums but for the journey itself, never the destination.

Benguela – Huambo – Bie in the route of Angola’s up-country

Here is a suggestion of a route that you could do when travelling the country. From Benguela to Bié stopping in remote villages and towns. I promise you will find a  beautiful and unspoiled country still far away from hustle and bustle.

Benguela - Huambo - Bie

Benguela – Huambo – Bie

During my trip, people were nice but always suspicious, which is perfectly understandable because the country still remains closed off for travellers, and seeing one in some areas is completely unexpected.  I need to say that being a Portuguese speaker helped a lot.

Angola still has some tribes that had minimal contact with the outside world.

Angola’s up-country, is still very unspoiled and rural, outside the big cities houses are made of natural materials like mud bricks, there is no electricity, running water or sanitation.

Populations live from what the land gives, they lack access to school, health care and have big matriarchal families.
Angola’s up-country has an astonishing natural beauty, strong colours, smells and great warm weather.

photography ‚Ästall rights reserved ‚Äď Ana Rocha