Table of Contents
- How to get there
- Local transportation
- Is Angola safe to visit?
- Useful things to know
- What to visit in Angola
Angola is a country in Southwest Africa bordering Congo, Zambia, Namibia, and the Atlantic Ocean. Tourism here is a project in development, even though it’s a territory that offers everything from desert to beaches and jungles.
Wars have devastated Angola until 2002, the Civil War lasting 27 years and taking hundreds of thousands of civilian lives.
After such a dark and bloody history, the country is trying to rebuild its economy, infrastructure, health services, and education system. Poverty is the main social issue, and even though Angola has the sixth-highest birth rate in the world, it also has a very high mortality rate for mothers and infants. Visiting the country and contributing to the local economy will help rebuild it over time, so here is all you need to know before traveling to Angola.
How to get there
Traveling to Angola from the USA requires a tourist visa that can be obtained from the Embassy of Angola in Washington DC. Be prepared for a long flight because there are no direct flights to Luanda. You can board from Houston, NYC, Washington DC, Miami, and Dallas.
Angola’s infrastructure is rudimentary after decades of war, and there’s not much in terms of public transportation. The capital, Luanda has connected roads to other cities that are served by buses. There are not many taxis available, not even in the capital, so consider discussing transportation from the airport to your hotel before you arrive. If you want to travel to more remote areas you might have to hire a driver, and many of them drive illegally and might put their passengers in danger. Always ask to see the documentation, and register your stay with the police and the immigration office.
Accommodations are scarce and expensive. You can end up paying even $100/night for very basic conditions.
Couch-surfing is the budget-friendly way to get some sleep and have someone to show you around.
Visiting Angola means sightseeing and enjoying everything nature has to offer in this part of the world, so camping must be on your list. Fortunately for you, because there are not many tourists in Angola, you’ll have much of it to yourself. However, keep in mind that this might require a local guide since it might be dangerous to be there all alone in nature.
Is Angola safe to visit?
Poverty often goes hand in hand with a high crime rate, especially in the bigger cities and on the road. Thieves and violent criminals mostly target tourists, so try not to have any valuables on you when walking around. Even though the military has a strong presence in the area, it is not advised to take a night jog, especially not by yourself, and especially not if you are a woman. Sometimes criminals target cars and steal them, leaving the tourists stranded in unknown locations.
Public workers such as the ones in the airport or at customs tend to be corrupt and ask for bribes to let travelers pass.
Useful things to know
Angola’s time zone is GMT+1.
You can’t use your card anywhere, so you will have to always have cash on you. The country’s currency is Angolan Kwanza.
The official language is Portuguese, but there are other 46 languages spoken nationwide.
Malaria (yellow fever) vaccination is mandatory, as well as a passport with at least 6 months from the expiration date.
What to visit in Angola
Luanda is overpopulated but the city developing on the Atlantic Ocean’s shores is charming in its way.
The local food is great but a bit pricey in some restaurants. Here are some of the restaurants I recommend you should try in Luanda:
If you want to learn about the history of Angola, the best thing to do so is at the Saint Michael Fortress, followed by the National Museum of Slavery, and the Mausoleum of Agostinho Neto. The Ship Graveyard is one of the eeriest places in the city and well worth a visit if you have time to spare.
Quiçama National Park
Address: 7H2M+28W, Cacula, Angola
Quiçama National Park is the only one open to tourists, but it covers an impressive 4000 square miles. If you’ve ever wanted to see the African wildlife this is one of the best places in Angola to try your luck.
The park is part of the lion conservation efforts, so hiring a guide or being part of a tour is a must if you want to avoid an unwanted encounter with a “playful” giant cat. Other species you can see in their natural habitat here are elephants, giraffes, zebras, ostriches, and primates. And it’s close to the capital, which is a plus.
Tunda Vala Fissure
Address: There is no exact address on Google Maps, but this pin on the map should be enough to help you get around
The Tunda Vala Fissure is one of the attractions Angola is best known for. This natural spectacle rises up to 200 ft above the sea and hiking to the top of the cliffs will give you one of the best views in Angola.
There is no exact address on Google maps, but this might help you a bit.
The Dala Waterfalls can easily be considered one of the most impressive waterfalls in Africa. The 200 ft waterfall flows through a lush forest that resembles a scene from a fairy tale, and it can be admired from a suspended bridge nearby. If you love it and want to spend more time in the area, there are accommodations available only 150 ft away from it.
I couldn’t find the exact address of the forest, but since this is a protected area, it might be best to talk to someone local from the community and ask them how you can get there or contact the Transfrontier Conservation Areas who are working to protect the natural heritage of this area.
The Mayombe Forest is one of the best places to visit if you want to see rare primates such as gorillas and chimpanzees. There’s also a small town, Buzo Zau, with facilities for the tourists who want to enjoy this unique experience for a while.
If you are planning to stay longer in Angola, then a two weeks rainforest safari trip might be one of your lifetime experiences. The whole trip might be pricey since this can cost up to $6,999 for one person.
I hope this information helped you out before your trip to Angola. As always, for up-to-date information about traveling to Angola please visit the official website where you find if there are any recommendations or restrictions for US citizens.