Angola


Overview

Angola travel guide, including map of Angola, top Angola travel experiences, tips for travel in Angola, plus waterfalls and desertscapes

Yes, Angola endured decades of civil war, but it's come out the other side and is slowly returning to its former glory. Angola is not a country for beginners. As yet, there is limited infrastructure and accommodation, but for travellers looking for adventure without the crowds, it's a joy.

With terrain ranging from tropical rainforest in the north, desert dunes in the south and the third-highest waterfalls in Africa, there's plenty to see. The Tunda-Vala volcanic gorge near Lubango offers spectacular views of the valley below, while the fortress of Sao Miguel is the perfect vantage point from which to see Luanda in all its glory. For beaches and whale watching, colonial Namibe is the place.

Angolans are a fun-loving bunch and the nightlife in Luanda is jumping, especially around the carnival in February. Visit Angola now before everyone else does.

Wanderlust recommends

As substantial areas of Angola really haven't developed to accommodate any form of tourism, most travel is restricted along the coast south of Luanda towards the Namib Desert.

  1. Visit edgy Luanda, home to some fine colonial architecture, great dining, and good markets
  2. Shop at a local market at the coastal town of Namibe, also a good town for whale-watching
  3. Hang out with the elephants in Kissama National Park
  4. See unearthly landscapes and cave paintings in the Namib desert
  5. Fish, lounge or swim - there are many fine beaches around Lobito, especially Baia Azul and Praia Morena.
  6. Photograph the Kalandula Waterfalls, especially impressive at the end of the rainy season

Wanderlust tips

Angola is still recovering from a long civil war and infrastructure is basic. Have patience, be on your guard against crime and carry certified copies of your documents - there are on the spot fines for not carrying valid ID.

If you're camping in the wild, you should register with the nearest immigration office or with the local police - again, you risk being fined you don't.

Further Reading

Travel in Angola: vital stats

  • Capital of Angola: Luanda
  • Population of Angola: 14.3 million
  • Languages in Angola: Portuguese and various Bantu languages
  • Time in Angola: GMT +1
  • International dialing code in Angola: + 244
  • Voltage in Angola: 220AC, 60 Hz
  • Visas for Angola: Angola visa
  • Money in Angola: Angola kwanza (AOA). Angola is a cash economy, but there are no ATMs and travellers cheques are almost never accepted. Only major hotels and airlines will accept credit cards. Tipping is not officially encouraged.
  • Angola travel advice: Foreign & Commonwealth Office

When to go to Angola

It is very dry and hot in south-west Angola all year round. The hottest months are from October to March, but it's worth remembering that nights are cool in the desert. Areas further north are best visited when the climate is drier and cooler (May-October).

The north is best avoided during the rainy season (heaviest rainfall is in April), when many Angolan roads turn to mush.

International airports

Luanda (LAD) – 4km from the city

Getting around in Angola

Angola's transport infrastructure is very basic. There is a good road between the capital Luanda and Lubango and Namibe, served by buses and candongas (minibus taxis).

Getting into remoter areas such as national parks and the Namib Desert by anything other than expensive vehicle and driver hire is currently very difficult.

Angola accommodation

It’s worth bringing a tent to Angola as accommodation is scarce. Bear in mind that tourist numbers are low too, so at least you’ll have the sights to yourself.

In Luanda, demand for tourist-standard rooms far exceeds supply and prices are very high. Reservations are essential and confirmation is advised. There are campsites in Namibe and Lubango.

Angola food & drink

On the coast, fresh fish and shellfish are abundant and mouth-watering, particularly mussels, clams and the biggest oysters you will ever see. Otherwise the cuisine is an Afro-Portuguese fusion including dishes such as bacalhau (salt cod) and delicious feijoada (black bean and pork stew).

Health & safety in Angola

While travel in south-west Angola carries few risks, caution is needed elsewhere in the country. Care should also be taken at night in the capital, Luanda.

Speak to your GP or travel clinic about vaccinations. Malaria is endemic in Angola. Going off the beaten track is not advised because of Angola's landmine problem and travel is not recommended in certain provinces.