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Angola

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824

Angola
Angola is an eye-opener – in more ways than one. Scarred painfully by years of debilitating
warfare and untouched by foreign visitors since the early 1970s, the country remains remote
and undiscovered, with few observers privy to the geographic highlights and vast cultural
riches that lie hidden behind an ostensibly violent veneer.
But, with the recent cessation of a 40-year civil conflict ushering in a prolonged period of
peace and stability, opportunities for exploration are quietly opening up. For outsiders the
attractions are manifold. Despite widespread poverty, inbred corruption and an infrastructure
devastated by decades of indiscriminate fighting, Angola holds a lure that few other countries can match. Here in the heady heat of equatorial Africa you’ll encounter some of the
continent’s most gracious people and discover many of its most closely guarded secrets.
Chill out on expansive beaches, sample the solitude in virgin wildlife parks or sift through
the ruins of Portuguese colonialism. From Luanda to Lubango the nuances are startling.

Luanda (p828) Expansive beaches, expensive bars and tatty overcrowded townships, Luanda is a kaleidoscopic vision
of Angola at the sharp end.
Parque Nacional da Kissama (p832) One of
Africa’s largest, emptiest and most surreal wildlife parks.
Benguela–Lobito Railway (p833) Rattling
and bumping through Benguela’s rural
pastiche is a unique and unforgettable
Angolan experience.
Lubango (p835) Almost untouched by the
war, breezy Lubango offers cascading
waterfalls, spectacular volcanic fissures
and a vibrant small city ambiance.
Miradouro de Lua (p833) A spectacular
lookout over a canyon of moonlike cliffs
that cascade dramatically into the Atlantic Ocean.

CLIMATE & WHEN TO GO

ATMs They exist, but don’t generally
accept foreign cards

ITINERARIES

FAST FACTS

Borders Congo, Democratic Republic of
Congo, Zambia and Namibia
Budget US$120 per day
Capital Luanda
Languages Portuguese and various Bantu
languages
Money Kwanza; US$1 = 80Kz
Population 14 million (estimated)
Seasons Dry (June to September), wet (October to May)
Telephone Country code %244; international access code
%00
Time GMT/UTC + 1
Visas US$75 for 30 days; must be obtained in advance

One Week Visit Luanda’s Fortaleza de São
Miguel (p830), along with the city’s selection of churches and museums before
heading south to Benfica market (p831)
for a spot of heated bargaining. Continue
along the coast road to the Mirado...
ANGOLA
ANGOLA
lonelyplanet.com ANGOLA •• Highlights
Angola is an eye-opener – in more ways than one. Scarred painfully by years of debilitating
warfare and untouched by foreign visitors since the early 1970s, the country remains remote
and undiscovered, with few observers privy to the geographic highlights and vast cultural
riches that lie hidden behind an ostensibly violent veneer.
But, with the recent cessation of a 40-year civil conflict ushering in a prolonged period of
peace and stability, opportunities for exploration are quietly opening up. For outsiders the
attractions are manifold. Despite widespread poverty, inbred corruption and an infrastructure
devastated by decades of indiscriminate fighting, Angola holds a lure that few other coun-
tries can match. Here in the heady heat of equatorial Africa you’ll encounter some of the
continent’s most gracious people and discover many of its most closely guarded secrets.
Chill out on expansive beaches, sample the solitude in virgin wildlife parks or sift through
the ruins of Portuguese colonialism. From Luanda to Lubango the nuances are startling.
Despite advancements in infrastructure and a dramatically improved security situation,
travel in Angola remains the preserve of adventurers, diehards or those on flexible budgets.
But with the transport network gradually recovering and wildlife being shipped in to re-
populate decimated national parks, the signs of recovery are more than just a mirage.
Angola is halfway along the road to political and economic atonement and it would be
a shame to miss out on its dramatic rebirth.
Angola
HIGHLIGHTS
Luanda ( p828 ) Expansive beaches, expen-
sive bars and tatty overcrowded town-
ships, Luanda is a kaleidoscopic vision
of Angola at the sharp end.
Parque Nacional da Kissama ( p832 ) One of
Africa’s largest, emptiest and most sur-
real wildlife parks.
Benguela–Lobito Railway ( p833 ) Rattling
and bumping through Benguela’s rural
pastiche is a unique and unforgettable
Angolan experience.
Lubango ( p835 ) Almost untouched by the
war, breezy Lubango offers cascading
waterfalls, spectacular volcanic fissures
and a vibrant small city ambiance.
Miradouro de Lua ( p833 ) A spectacular
lookout over a canyon of moonlike cliffs
that cascade dramatically into the Atlan-
tic Ocean.
CLIMATE & WHEN TO GO
Situated on the Atlantic littoral in a balmy
subtropical setting, Angola’s climate is heav-
ily influenced by three local peculiarities;
the cool Benguela sea current, the rugged
interior mountains and the presence of the
Namib Desert in the southeast. As a result, the
country boasts a number of distinct climatic
regions, including a wet, tropical northern
jungle, a dryer and cooler central plateau,
and an arid southern belt influenced by its
proximity to the Kalahari Desert.
Although different regions vary significantly,
the best time to visit Angola is during the cooler
dryer months of June to September.
ITINERARIES
One Week Visit Luanda’s Fortaleza de São
Miguel ( p830 ), along with the city’s se-
lection of churches and museums before
heading south to Benfica market ( p831 )
for a spot of heated bargaining. Continue
along the coast road to the Miradouro
de Lua ( p833 ) and the Kwanza River
( p833 ), and round off the proceedings
with a quick tour of Parque Nacional da
Kissama ( p832 ).
Two Weeks to One Month Follow the Luanda
itinerary before catching a bus south
for the spectacular journey to Benguela
( p833 ) and Lobito. A train ride on the
famous Benguela railway ( p834 ) between
the region’s two provincial coastal cit-
ies is a must. Fly on to Lubango ( p835 ),
where you can soak up the fresh moun-
tain air and make a nifty side trip to
unhurried Namibe ( p835 ). Backtrack to
battle-scarred Huambo ( p834 ) for a few
days before returning by plane to the
capital.
HISTORY
Angola’s often violent and bloody history has
left a country endowed with a vast expanse of
natural resources and development possibili-
ties perennially trying to stave off starvation. A
terrain rich in oil, diamonds, iron ore and cop-
per, plus a measurable hydroelectric capacity,
has the potential to be one of Africa’s richest
states. Instead, the more common reality is of
a nation of shattered infrastructure and dev-
astated towns struggling to feed a desperately
poor and eternally uprooted population.
Another Lost Empire
In 1483 Vasco da Gama first dropped anchor
in Luanda Bay and unwittingly pre-empted the
start of a conflict that, save for a few intermit-
tent lulls in the fighting, went on for over half
a millennium. The land now known as Angola
was, at the time, inhabited by a number of
small tribes living in loosely defined kingdoms
that lacked the organisation and administra-
tive cohesiveness of 15th-c entury Europe. But
despite a natural curiosity borne out of years
of seafaring exploration, the Portuguese had
no real desire to settle on this malaria-ridden
African shoreline. Post 1500 the more fertile
and less threatening lands of Brazil held a far
© Lonely Planet Publications
FAST FACTS
Area 1,246,700 sq km
ATMs They exist, but don’t generally
accept foreign cards
Borders Congo, Democratic Republic of
Congo, Zambia and Namibia
Budget US$120 per day
Capital Luanda
Languages Portuguese and various Bantu
languages
Money Kwanza; US$1 = 80Kz
Population 14 million (estimated)
Seasons Dry (June to September), wet (October to May)
Telephone Country code
%
244; international access code
%
00
Time GMT/UTC + 1
Visas US$75 for 30 days; must be obtained in advance
HOW MUCH?
Internet per hour US$3
Cup of coffee US$1.50
Car rental per day US$60
Bottle of wine US$20
Average meal US$10
LONELY PLANET INDEX
1L petrol US$0.50
1L bottled water US$1.50
Bottle of beer US$2
Souvenir T-shirt US$10
Baguette US$1
824 825
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