Tuesday, 4 April 2017

ANGOLA: Ever Thought Of Visiting Angola? First Read This Before You Go

Angola borders the Atlantic ocean and has 1,650 km of coastline.

The phone country code of Angola is 244

Angola is a country in Central Africa rich in natural resources. It has large reserves of oil and diamonds, hydroelectric potential, and rich agricultural land. Despite this, Angola remains very poor, having been ravaged by a bloody civil war from 1975 to 2002.

Angola may have its issues, a civil war that ravaged the country and many of its national parks, poaching problems and difficult to obtain visas but that should not stop you visiting this country. It is after all the largest country in Africa and has plenty to offer.

From nature at its most spectacular with springboks, lions, elephants and gorillas, to forgotten but beautiful buildings from the Portuguese colonization here.

Angola boasts an expansive coastline of Atlantic Ocean beauty and a beautiful blend of grasslands, savannas, tropical forests and urban expanses inland.

The capital of Angola is full of stark contrasts. The beautiful Atlantic Ocean views are disrupted by busy ships and the high rise modern looking buildings are contrasted by lean to huts built to accommodate people in the rapidly expanding city.

Over-population is apparent in other ways too, namely the insane morning traffic and the stink that regularly trouble the city. Despite all these problems however, Luanda certainly has its charms and is another side to Africa that is worth experiencing.

Angola is a country trying to make a name for itself on the global stage. It claims to be the fastest growing economy in the world, with various forms of mining exports supporting the claim and the tourist industry is attempting to grow in the same way.

Advice against visiting the country is fairly common but there is also useful advice on places that can be reached and how to enjoy them safely. Obtaining a visa can also be made easier or harder depending on where you are travelling and who will be accompanying you.

With all the bureaucracy aside however, Angola is undoubtedly a beautiful and mysterious country that will reward any traveller adventurous enough to embark on a journey to the country. So let’s explore the best places to visit in Angola.

It's 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 people of Angola are stoics. They have a deep understanding of patience, and avoid blaming the difficulties the country faces on the fact that there was war. In fact, Angolans behave as if there was no war, although it is deeply rooted in every Angolan.

Music is the heart and soul of every Angolan, and can be heard everywhere with anything used as an excuse to party. Angola has a wide range of music, mainly Kuduro, Kizomba, Semba, and Tarrachinha, the latter being more sensual than all the others.

All in all, it is safe to say that Angolans are fun 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. The Portuguese were nearly all exiled convicts who became slave traders and later participants in the "forced labour" trade.

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, these riches are in the hands of the "big people": Angola's politicians, miners, oilmen and the associated multinational corporations.

Angola's 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, US and Canadian travellers 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.

Greater Luanda
The population centre of the country and home to the capital Luanda.

Northern Angola
Northern area mostly bordering Democratic Republic of the Congo with significant areas of rainforest.

Central Angola Highlands
A series of irregular, high escarpments which drop steeply to the Atlantic coast.

Southwest Angola
the most arid region of the country with savanna plains and the northern continuation of the Namibian desert

Southeast Angola
Mostly savanna plains interesected by five great rivers

Cabinda
Northern exclave on the Atlantic ocean with a huge proportion of the nation's oil reserves and an active secessionist movement

Cities In Angola
- Luanda - the capital
- Benguela
- Huambo
- Lobito
- Lubango
- Namibe
- Kuito
- Menongue

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.

Visa Requirements
Angolan visa requirements discourage tourism, especially in comparison with other Southern African countries that give many nationalities visa on arrival.

All nationalities, except those who hold passports from Namibia, must obtain a visa prior to arrival. Nationals of Cape Verde can obtain a visa on arrival, provided it has been pre-arranged before departure.

Your passport must be valid for another six months minimum and contain two blank pages.

Travellers need an international yellow fever certificate in order to obtain a visa, as well as (except for tourist visas) a letter of invitation from a private individual, organisation or company stating that they will take responsibility for your stay.

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.

Reaching By Plane
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 and São Paulo (Brazil).

- Emirates flies directly from Dubai and from there to more than 100 destinations worldwide.
- Ethiopian Airways flies from Addis Ababa to Luanda.
- South African Airways operates from Johannesburg to Luanda.
- Royal Air Maroc flies from Casablanca to Luanda.
- Air France between Paris and Luanda
- British Airways offers direct connections between London and Luanda
- Brussels Airlines flies from Brussels to Luanda.
- KLM flies from Amsterdam to Luanda.
- Lufthansa flies from Frankfurt to Luanda.
- Sonair's Houston non-stop Express. The company is the first to provide direct transportation of passengers and cargo between Angola and the United States. The airline provides three times weekly service from Houston to Luanda.
- TAP Air Portugal flies daily from Lisbon to Luanda.
- Kenya Airways from Nairobi to Luanda

Reaching By Train
Angola's train system is finally being restored with the help of Chinese firms after more than 30 years of disuse. There are three main lines which are not connected to each other.

The northern line, Caminho de Ferro de Luanda (CFL) between the capital Luanda to Malenje is back to full service.

There are three classes, 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 hover around AOA2,500 (USD26; GBP15). Carriages are clean and modern with functioning toilets and a restaurant car.

The middle line, Caminho de Ferro de Benguela (CFB) has just started services between Lobito, Cubal and Huambo with the intention of reaching Luau at the border to the Democratic Republic of the Congo before the end of 2012.

The southern route, Caminho de Ferro de Moçâmedes (CFM) between Namibe, Lubango and Menongue is starting services by fall 2012.

Reaching By Car
You can go in from Namibia at the border post near Oshikango - Namibia and 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 occurrence.

Also, keep a look out for livestock and the overloaded vehicles of the Angolan residents.

Since 2006 there has been extensive road building by China, so travel is getting smoother. However, the construction has not always been the best quality - so check on current road conditions.

Travelling by road from anywhere you will need the following:
As you will need a 4 x 4 vehicle you should have the following documents:

- Police clearance from country of origin, where the vehicle is registered, original registration certificate of the vehicle, licence discs or insurance that is up to date.

Make copies of these documents and get them certified.

- Make a copy of your passport and soon after entry before going to customs and so after immigration make copies of the entry stamp.

- Have a passport sized photo.

- Ensure that you have a colour photo of you car front, rear and driver´s side. If you do not have these documents, your car will not be allowed into the country. If you are not the owner of the vehicle, have an original (and copy of the original) letter from the owner clearly stating (your name, passport number and driver´s license) that you have been authorised to drive the vehicle into Angola.

- This applies if you are a foreigner and not a resident. If you are Angolan or a resident foreigner - you will not be allowed to drive into angola in a vehicle that is more than 3 years old and not a left hand drive!

Reaching By Bus
There are buses between Angola and Namíbia

Reaching By Boat
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 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. 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.

The tourism industry in Angola is based on the country's natural beauty, including its rivers, waterfalls and scenic coastline.

Angola's tourism industry is relatively new, as much of the country was destroyed during the post-colonial civil war which ended in 2002.

Unlike most countries in the region, which generally give US, EU, and many other citizens a visa on arrival or require no visa at all, Angola has complicated and onerous Soviet-style visa requirements (official letter of invitation, documents concerning purpose of travel, copy of travel itinerary, proof of funds, etc., all of which are sent back to Luanda for approval).

This antiquated attitude to tourism places the country at a disadvantage in a competitive market for international tourism.

Cameia National Park
Cameia National Park is a visitor attraction in Angola. It is a national park in the Moxico province of Angola, located at about 1100 m above sea level. It shares its name with the nearby municipality of Cameia.

The Cameia–Luacano road forms the northern boundary of the park with the Chifumage River forming the southern portion of the eastern boundary and the Lumege and Luena rivers the south-western boundary.

Much of the park consists of seasonally inundated plains that form part of the Zambezi river basin, with the northern half of the park draining into the Chifumage river.

There are also extensive miombo woodlands, similar to those in the Zambezi basin of western Zambia. The park is a sample of nature not occurring elsewhere in Angola. Two lakes, Lago Cameia and Lago Dilolo,the largest lake in Angola lie outside the park boundaries and both have extensive reedbeds and grassy swamps that are rich in aquatic birds.

Cangandala National Park
Cangandala National Park is another visitor attraction in Angola. It is the smallest National Park in the country and is situated in the Malanje province. It is situated between the Cuije river and 2 unnamed territories of the Cuanza River, with the towns of Culamagia and Techongolola on the edges of the park. The park was created in 1963 while Angola was still under Portuguese colony.

Iona National Park
Iona National Park, located in Namibe Province, is another popular tourist destination. It is about 200 kilometres (120 miles) from the city of Namibe and, at 15,200 square kilometres (5,850 square miles), the largest in the country. Before the Angolan Civil War, Iona was an "animal paradise, rich in big game".

However, as is true for most Angolan national parks, illegal poaching and the destruction of infrastructure have caused considerable damage to the once rich park.

The park is also known for unique flora and incredible rock formations.

Mupa National Park
Mupa National Park in the southwestern Cunene province was proclaimed a National Park on 26 December 1964 while the country was still a Portuguese colony.

The park is significant for its expected wide though generally unstudied avifauna.

Many Angolans reside within the park, which, along with nomadic pastoralists and mineral prospecting threatens to destroy the park's birdlife.

Even though the park was initially proclaimed to protect the giraffe sub-species, Giraffa camelopardalis angolensis, by 1974 none were left because the morphology of the White Giraffe leaves it particularly vulnerable to landmines left over from Angola's civil war compared to other giraffe sub-species.

Other mammals which occurred, include lion, leopard, wild dog and spotted hyena.

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.

The sole official language of Angola is Portuguese. Over 39% of the population has Portuguese as their native language, and 80% of the country in general has at least some knowledge of Portuguese. Compared to other African countries, the knowledge of the colonial language in Angola is extremely high, and used as a native language on a far wider scale.

A very low percentage of the local population can communicate in English. Travelling in Angola therefore requires a basic knowledge of the Portuguese language, or a local guide/interpreter.

Also, due to the fact that many people migrate from neighbouring countries to Angola, it is sometimes possible to use French or Afrikaans.

There is little literature on Angola available at all, and most of the available literature is in Portuguese 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.

Find a few words and phrases in Portuguese:

Hello=Olá

How are you?-Como está?

Fine and you?- Bem e tu?

Goodbye-Adeus

See you later-Até logo

Good morning-Bom-dia

Good afternoon-Boa-tarde

Good evening-Boa-tarde

Good Night-Boa-noite

Shopping
The official currency of Angola is the new kwanza (AOA) and has been one of Africa's more stable currencies for the last few years.

Although the import or export of any sum of kwanza had been strictly prohibited, the ban was lifted in February 2012, so travellers are now allowed to bring in or take out up to AOA50,000.

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 jewellery, batik cloths and accessories.

Wine And Dine
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.

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 US dollars in cash. Credit cards will not be accepted.

The legal drinking/purchasing age of alcoholic beverages is 18

Accomodations
World class hotels include the Tropico Hotel, the Alvalade Hotel, Le President Meridien Hotel, the Continental Hotel, and the Palm Beach Hotel, among others.

Due to the oil boom, costs can be extremely high and this includes hotels. Cheap hotels are hard to find and are dirty.

Security
In general, you shouldn't travel within Angola without the assistance of qualified personnel.

However, if you follow some basic rules, travelling in Angola isn't dangerous. First of all, travelling 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.

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.

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.

Due to the high rate of HIV in the country, all forms of prostitution are illegal, and punishments are severe.

Health
Travellers should only drink mineral water or, in an emergency, boiled water, because water in Angola is untreated and therefore not safe.

Because malaria is endemic to this country, travellers should also avoid mosquito bites by using insect repellent and repellent-impregnated bed nets.

Furthermore, 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.

Manners
Smiling around natives is incredibly important. It shows respect. Also, avoid criticism on the way Angola is or talking about the war around natives.