Africa Travel and Life

Angola

Nurture your adventurous spirit and experience a pristine unpolished Africa. Angola nestled against the world’s oldest desert, Namib, offers a unique mix of adventure, luxury, history, art and culture amidst a natural landscape of the world’s most rivalled waterbodies …. rivers, waterfalls and the impeccable coastline of the Atlantic. Venture out of the capital city of Luanda and begin your expedition of a lifetime. In 1648, a Portuguese fleet out of Brazil landed in Cabo Ledo, beginning seven years of Dutch dominance. Situated in southwest Africa, visitors explore untouched nature, cultural diversity, and unique wildlife with hospitable locals who together make Angola a fascinating destination.

Home to several national parks, Angola is a dream come true for those wanting an encounter with wildlife.

Visit the 3,609 feet breathtaking Cameia National Park, a 1938 game reserve that became a national park in 1957. Beyond the wildlife, Cameia’s beauty lies in the oasis of water bodies that envelope the Park. The Zambezi River, Africa’s fourth longest river which flows direct to the Indian Ocean borders the park, along with the Chifumage, Luena and Lumege rivers. Lago Dilolo, Angola’s largest lake serves as a catchment at the foothills of the Park. Enjoy an adventurous safari where you will find wildebeests, tsessebe, Lechwe antelopes and the reedbuck.

Cangandala National Park

Cangandala National Park between Cuije and Cuanza Rivers bears a unique wildlife story, that begins with a single bull flown in from the Luando Reserve to join nine females. From this union, one male calf named Mercury was produced. With all hope and responsibility on Mercury, he rose to the occasion as the master bull in Cangandala and successful bred the local herd, which makes for an exciting wildlife viewing at the Park today. Be on the lookout for Mercury who might not be number one any longer, but still reigns supreme as an imposing specimen. In August, catch the amazingly beautiful geoxyle suffruttex vegetation in full blown at Cangandala.

Iona National Park

A popular tourist spot, the Iona National Park is a must visit. At the tip of the world’s oldest desert, Namib, the Park is part of one of the largest trans-frontier conservation areas (TFCA) in the world. It abounds with incredible wildlife …zebra, oryx, springbok, cheetah, leopard, and the brown hyena. Discover the Welwitschia mirabilis plant, referred to as a ‘living fossil’ and named after an Austrian botanist and doctor Friedrich Welwitsch, who first saw the plant in Angola in 1859. So, overwhelmed by his discovery he wrote, “could do nothing but kneel down […] and gaze at it, half in fear lest a touch should prove it a figment of the imagination.”

Quiçama National Park (Kissama)

Quiçama National Park (Kissama) though established in 1957 while Angola was still under Portuguese rule, it wasn’t until 2001 that history was made at the Park. A group of Angolans and South Africans under the Kissama Foundation initiated what would become known as ‘Operation Noah’s Ark’ and transported a large collection of animals, especially elephants, from neighboring Botswana and South Africa. These animals adapted, making Noah’s Ark the largest animal transplant of its kind in history. Situated less than an hour from Angola’s capital city Luanda, the Park is easily accessible, and a nature lover’s dream come true. It is Angola’s best-run nature reserve stretching over 3 million acres and beautifully situated against the Atlantic Ocean, Cuanza, and Longa Rivers.

Mupa National Park

Mupa National Park is the go-to destination for Giraffe viewing. It was established in 1938 to protect the Giraffa camelopardalis angolensis, or Angolan Giraffe. The Park spreads between the Calanga river, Cafu zootechnical station, Cunene and Calanga rivers, and the Evale road. Its thick woodlands are also an exciting destination for bird watching with several bird species located there.

Namib Desert

At 7 million years old, the Namib Desert is indisputably the world’s oldest. Stretching 1,200 miles along the Atlantic Ocean on Angola’s southern coast into Namibia, Namib is a marvel that continues to draw tourists. In Namib discover flora and fauna, and centuries-old traditions plus a few scattered towns, rich mineral deposits, and fisheries of the bordering sea. Explore miles of dunes and buildings of colonial times, abandoned and covered by sand, with exciting tour guides offering an unforgettable mix of activities.

Malanje

A breathtaking experience awaits you at Malanje where the 331 feet Calandula Falls, one of Africa’s most impressive and highest waterfalls is found. A haven of tranquility far away from mass tourism, at Malanje you will experience the ‘real Africa.’ Discover Black Rocks, a mysterious collection of large rocks covering the terrain. Locals say what appears as footprints in the rocks belong to a former King. There is an ancient staircase where visitors climb for an amazing view of Angola’s beautiful landscape. This historic site was once where a resistance against the Portuguese took place.

TOP 9 BEST BEACHES IN ANGOLA

For romance, family vacation, watersports or simply soaking in some sun, our top 9 list of Angola’s best beaches provide an array of choices

Cabo Ledo’s 30 kilometers of white sandy beaches, transparent waters and immense cliffs has made it a beach lover paradise. With world-class waves, Cabo Ledo is a beachfront playground for surfing, windsurfing, water skiing, scooters, volleyball, frisbee, building sandcastles or simply walking along the coastline. To complement the magnificent leisure environment, there are an infinite number of incredible places such as resorts, bars and restaurants nearby.

Mupa National Park

Mupa National Park

Located at the port city of Lobito, in Benguela is Restinga Beach, undoubtedly one of the cleanest and most beautiful beaches in Angola. Connect with nature and enjoy the serenity with clear blue waters and its white sandy beach. With luxurious seaview hotels and restaurants, Restinga is synonymous with leisure, charm and satisfaction.

Mussulo Beach, a short drive south of Luanda, offers visitors 30 kilometers of Angola’s warmest, wave-less water – a gigantic lagoon-like paradise in the sea. The best way to the Island is by boat, with SUVs taking much longer. Mussulo has a few resorts, many private houses (some ridiculously luxurious) with semi-private beaches, but also secluded beaches with little to no people.

In the village of Benguela is Praia Morena, a stunning and clean beach with transparent pure warm water, soft white sand, and an incredibly relaxing Morena beach is an excellent place for swimming, sunbathing, playing volleyball, windsurfing, surfing or kayaking amidst large perennial palm trees and other green spaces. To complement the incredible atmosphere of this magnificent place, there are numerous hotels and restaurants nearby.

The small and beautiful Sangano Beach in the province of Bengo is an hour and a half drive time from Luanda. A very quiet place, with incredible landscapes and warm water, it provides a pleasant destination for families and friends. Entry into the water is gentle with the sea near the shore being There are nearby hotels, restaurants, cafes, rental centers for swimming equipment and equipment for the practice of water sports. Along the perimeter of Sangano, tall, evergreen trees grow, in the shade of which travelers rest, all adding to the beauty and tranquility of Sangano Beach.

Baía Azul is considered the “mother” of beaches in Benguela due to its imposing beauty that has made it one of the most important natural tourist destinations in the country. South of Benguela province, the three-kilometer long beach is set in a mountainous landscape with breathtaking intense blue waters for which it has gotten the name. Nearby are restaurants with affordable prices and mixed cuisine (local and international). With super clean water, white sand and the magnificent leisure environment, the blue bay is certainly one of the most beautiful beaches in Angola.

Caotinha Beach also located in Benguela is a popular beach within close proximity to the city. Caotinha beach is stunning for its combination of rocks and transparent waters that make it an excellent spot for diving and sport fishing Caotinha beach is a real charm, having been included in the list of candidates for the seven wonders of Angola.

Baía Farta is a fishing village that translates to bay of plenty. Off the beaten path, Baia Farta is where you go for absolute seclusion, away from the world. After walking a few minutes to access the beach, you quickly realize how beautiful the scenery is and the privilege of enjoying this piece of paradise. After 300 meters of walking under the sun in the sand, it feels heavenly to dive into the blue turquoise beach oasis. If ever near Benguela, this is a must!

Baia dos Elefantes (Bay of Elephants) is a fascinating ‘postcard’ beach in Benguela known for its enchanting mountains. Eighty kilometers away from the main city of Benguela, take advantage of a safari along the way or simply soak in the breathtaking scenic landscapes. By sea, it takes an average of 1 hour and 45 minutes and provides a great opportunity to learn more about the bay, as sailors tell stories, myths and legends.

Art & History

Angola’s history is told through museums which depict the country from its varying angles – currency, slavery, culture, and nature. Let’s go on a tour of Angola’s most popular museums.

Fortaleza de São Miguel was built by the Portuguese in 1576, and still cuts an impressive figure on the seafront of Angola’s capital Luanda. Beyond the whitewashed walls, cannons and historic displays, make time to visit the Museum of the Armed Forces to see the wide range of 1970s military vehicles and artillery. Learn Angola’s history about how it won its independence, the civil war of the 80s and 90s and more.

The Museo da Moeda (Currency Museum in Luanda) exhibits and educates on the evolutionary history of Angola’s currency from the NZimbo to the Kwanza. The historical trajectory of the various currencies and payment forms is an authentic Angolan journey through time, marking important and mandatory stops along the way. The rich and exciting history provided by each of the artefacts starting at Nzimbo, passing through Macuta – a small shell or whelk extracted from the beaches of Luanda Island, Libongo, salt, ivory, copper, until reaching the Kwanza, is one of those experiences that keeps you yearning to come back again and again.

The National Museum of Slavery in Luanda, Angola founded in 1977 by the National Institute of Cultural Patrimony is a journey into the country’s difficult history of slavery. The museum adjoins the Capela da Casa Grande, the 17th-century structure where slaves were baptized before being put on slave ships for transport to the Americas. The Hundreds of items displayed at the former property of Alvaro de Carvalho Matoso, one of the largest slave traders on the African coast, takes you back in time. Matoso was captain of the presidio of the Forte de Ambaca, Fortaleza da Muxima, and Forte de Massangano in Angola in the first half of the 18th Century. Matoso died in 1798 and his family and heirs continued in the slave-trade until 1836, when a decree by Maria II of Portugal prohibited the export of slaves from the Portuguese Empire.

While the museum itself is relatively modest, it serves as a reminder of the Angolan people who lived in the days of slavery and stands as a monument to those who suffered and were affected by slavery. The narrative in the museum focuses predominantly on Portugal, the main European slave trader in the Angola region. It provides a contextual history of the Atlantic Slave Trade and highlight of slavery in Africa before the involvement of Europeans.

The Museu Nacional de História Natural de Angola (National Museum of Natural History of Angola) in Luanda was established in 1938 and housed in the Fortress of São Miguel. In 1956 it moved to its current location, and today features three floors of collections about the country’s natural history and fauna. There are spacious lounges with stuffed specimens of mammals, fish, whales, insects, reptiles and birds. It reflects Angola’s biodiversity and promotes scientific knowledge in spaces designed as natural habitats of the species. The Museum’s estate hosts a vast and rich collection of mollusks, butterflies and shells, many of which were used as currency on the West African coast.

The Museu Nacional de Antropologia (National Museum of Anthropology) is a cultural and scientific institution, dedicated Angolan cultural heritage.  Fourteen rooms spread over two floors house over 6000 traditional pieces, from farm implements, hunting and fishing items, iron foundry, to pottery, jewelry, musical instruments, women’s rights memorabilia and photographs of the Khoisan people. While there, enjoy a demonstration of the use of the marimba musical instrument. The rustic furnace for melting iron, and room of the masks, featuring the symbols of the rituals of the Bantu people are part of the permanent collection with several temporary exhibitions during the year.  Collections range from those depicting how the Angolan people live in rural communities, to a significant number of pieces originating from other African countries.

Created under Decree of the then Revolutionary Council, the National Museum of Anthropology is the first such institution of the postcolonial period. The main purpose of the Museum is to help the people to conquer their cultural personality, revalue it and relay it to future generations.

The Huíla Regional Museum showcases southern Angola’s Huíla, Namibe, Cunene and Kuando Kubango people.

The first section features Portuguese Ethnography.  The second showcases African Anthropology in its most diverse domains from a primitive settlement to National Independence in 1975). The Huíla Regional Museum is open to the public and located in a building from the mid-twentieth century.

The Dundo Museum in Lunda-Norte was created 1936 and after Angola’s independence, the Museum was nationalized as a conservatory of Angola’s identity. Displaying 14 exhibition halls – 12 permanent, one temporary and one folklore – a collection of about 10,000 pieces and a library with over 30,000 books related to ethnography, archeology, philosophy, biology and natural history; Dundo is one of the great prides of the region and attracts many visitors annually. This space is organized in areas of ethnography, prehistory, archeology and palaeontology. The museum has undergone several works and reopened in 2012 after seven years of closed doors.

Don't miss these sights

Other key sights of interests include Tundavala, the Grand Canyon of Angola; Serra de Leba, a wonder in Africa; Baia do Tigres a 1486 island now abandoned, and Illa dos Cabos at foothills of foot of the Fortress of São Miguel.

Tundavala Gap, in Portuguese, Fenda da Tundavala, is a viewpoint in the rim of the great escarpment called Serra da Leba. It is located some 18 km from the city of Lubango, in Huíla province. The escarpment marks the western limit of Bié Plateau. The altitude at the rim exceeds 2200 meters, one of the deepest in Africa, while the plain below is approximately 1200 meter lower, which creates a rather impressive view, encompassing a distance of tens of kilometers.

Leba Pass is one of thousands wonders of Angola. The road is spectacular snake from the top of the hill and deserves one or more stops, not just for taking photos but to contemplate the landscape.” Serra da Leba located in Huila is, by all accounts, a wonder, a gift to the poetry of a marriage between nature and the thought of man who pulled from the gray matter, to build the road that, seen from the Miradouro da Leba, or by air, is a unique tourist treat. Serra da Leba is a work of art that connects the provinces of Huila and Namibe.

The Baia dos Tigres (Tigers Bay) is an isolated and uninhabited island in the south of Angola and the biggest Island south of the equator. The former fishers island has a long history. In 1486 it was discovered by the Portugese sailor Diogo Cão. Since the 1860s the first inhabitants moved there and established the fishing village named Tigres. In 1962 the land connection was interrupted by a storm leading to the interruption of the freshwater connection, which ushered in the demise of the settlement. After the carnation revolution, the last settlers left the island in 1974. Since then the island has been a ghost island and is steadily taken back by nature. This makes the Baia dos Tigres a fascinating place for visitors. Not easy to reach, it is a real gem for every adventurer.

When Paulo Dias de Novais, a Portuguese navigator, arrived here in 1575 with several hundred soldiers and settlers, the island was inhabited by the Axi-lwanda, a subgroup of the Ambundu people which was tributary to the Kongo Empire. The island was an important location to collect zimbo, the shells that constituted the currency of the Kongo king before the arrival of the Portuguese. The Portuguese settled here for a while, gaining control of the currency, before they decided to establish themselves on the mainland, opposite the island. They started to use the name of the African inhabitants as a name for the island and the town, spelling it first “Loanda” and then “Luanda”. 

The Ilha, as it is called colloquially by the population, is connected with the city through a narrow passage and is located at the foot of the Fortress of São Miguel. This is an area where residents can get away from the stresses of the capital, especially on weekends. A wide variety of hotels and clubs with bars and restaurants, as well as flea markets and marinas attract visitors. The first church built by the Portuguese in Angola, the church of Nossa Senhora do Cabo is located here. It was erected by some 40 settlers in 1575, before they moved to the mainland in 1576, founding the present capital of Luanda.

Dine Angola

With a plethora of dining options to choose, we have narrowed down to a few of our favorites, mostly in Luanda with a couple in Mussulo. Bon Appetit.

Cousteau (Yacht Club Luanda) is one of the newest and most beautiful restaurants in Luanda and is located inside the Yacht Club Luanda (also known as Marina Baía). The architecture is the work of the well-known architectural firm Costa Lopes Arquitectos. Through the glass side wall you can enjoy the superb view of the Bay of Luanda, the sea and the marina. Inside, velvet chairs, carpet and subtle lighting give the room a cozy air. It should also be noted that the restaurant’s cuisine was consulted by the celebrated Portuguese chef Miguel Laffan, winner of 1 Michelin star. 

Tel: +244 947 364 294

Club S privileged location by the sea, at the foot of the Mussulo pier, has created the perfect ambiance for dining in Luanda. The restaurant is all facing the sea, and the decor flows with the space and surroundings. It has a lot of style and personality, but in a relaxed and comfortable way. Polished concrete and dark gray predominate, which, being a neutral tone, balances the decor, especially as it involves rustic African and wooden details. At dusk there is a show. 

Tel: +244 926 151 856 | +244 917 477 356 | +244 936 059 093

Embarcad’golo at the Mussulo pier is elegant, organic, and refined decor, where the liberal use of art and crafts from different African cultures is made. Anyone who has visited the other tourist resorts of Grupo Cosal, namely Pululukwa Resort, Hotel Samba, Roça das Mangueiras and La Rochelle in Namibia, will immediately recognize the modern afro-chic style that is the hallmark of this company. It is worth visiting and staying not only for the main room of the restaurant but also for the terrace.

Tel: +244 930 547 273

Restaurante Café Del Mar ranks among the best restaurants in Angola. The restaurant was opened in 2000, next to the Coconuts restaurant. The waves of the sea demolished the building in 2014, giving the owners a chance to give the place a new character and reopen in 2016. Café del Mar is becoming a must-visit location in Luanda, thanks to its menu, décor, and welcoming staff.

The vibrant environment facing the sea during the day and the intimacy of the lighting at night, inspired by the “African Chic” concept, make Café del Mar a location of choice at any time of day. The restaurant serves superb cuisine, including a variety of appetizers and main courses with national and foreign influences.

Tel: +244 923 581 333

Restaurante la Vigia is a little difficult to find the first time, but worth visiting, as you will want to come back again and again. You choose the seafood you want to eat, and they will grill it over an open grill. The meal here will astonish you with its variety of flavors.  The restaurant is a little boisterous (as are many of Luanda’s cuisine places) and gets quite full, an indicator of how delicious it is. If you are in Luanda, this is a must-see. For a standard restaurant in Luanda, the restaurant offers relatively reasonable and average costs. Because they serve ginguba (toasted peanuts) as an appetizer, it is best to choose a Cuca beer. White potato, sweet potato, and boiled veggies are served alongside the fish.

Tel: +244 929 454 589

Pimm’s is one of Luanda’s best restaurants, particularly known for their service, ambiance and the stellar quality of the food. Pimm’s specializes in traditional Portuguese cuisine with local Angolan flair. The restaurant is famed for its fish and seafood dishes, as well as its extensive wine lists. The ambiance is sophisticated and combines hints of traditional decor with more modern features of interior design. The service is consistent and their staff knowledgeable on both entree and wine recommendations. This restaurant’s service and refined atmosphere make this one of Luanda’s finest venues.

Tel: +244 926 648 028

The Seven Restaurant is a special place where the highest quality cuisine is combined with the individuality of a unique setting. The ACCP Business Center, in the center of Luanda, in one of the most renowned areas in the Angolan city, offers the refinement of this famous position. Every day at the Seven restaurant, they strive to infuse soul into their dishes by offering a diverse menu that ranges from traditional Portuguese cuisine to African cuisines. There is plenty of room for a new gastronomic and wine identity between the freshness of the seafood and the refinement of the meats. As a result, the wine list of the Seven restaurant, idealized by exceptional oenophiles, expresses itself with exclusivity, expressing a modern and contemporary bet, which communicates and symbolizes the most cherished traditions while ensuring credibility at the same time. There are over 100 references, allowing for a superb wine tasting between the “new and old-world” There are many more reasons why Restaurante Seven is the ideal spot to spend time with friends, have a business lunch, or have an outstanding supper.

Tel: +244 947 388 700

Restaurante Vitrúvio prides itself on offering one of the most extensive wine lists in the area. It has more than 120 quality Italian, Portuguese, French and New World wines – as well as high-quality, distinctive champagnes. The restaurant is hailed as the best Italian in Luanda and holds the honor of being the first restaurant to reside in the Epic Sana Hotel. Offering an a la carte menu, the restaurant has knowledgeable waiters and sommeliers, a diverse Italian menu and uses only the highest quality ingredients for their recipes. The prices reflect this premium service. One taste of the incredibly smooth, silky pasta dishes and diners will understand why Vitrúvio’s is considered to offer the best Italian fare in town.

Tel: +244 222 642 703

Nikki’s House restaurant is located in the Maianga neighborhood in Luanda and features an international fusion menu. Be sure to book ahead as this venue requires reservations. The restaurant is nestled in a quaint house which has been transformed into a fine-dining experience. Each room is arranged in order to serve different patrons. The first area is a quiet hall with small couches and pillows, followed by the more intimate setting of the living room which features romantic lighting and coupled tables. The lively dining area is found on the large downstairs patio at the back of the house, complete with abundant seating. The decor is as much playful as it is meticulously designed. The perfect food coupled with the great atmosphere makes Nikki’s House one of the best restaurants in Luanda.

Chill Out Restaurant, though better known for its club vibe, has some of the best culinary offerings in Luanda. Chill Out is situated along the scenic coastline, providing a calming and natural setting to the restaurant’s already laid-back ambiance. If diners so choose, meals can even be prepared on the beach itself. White and purple lighting reflect off the white table linens and into the carefully arranged seating area. The menu offers Eurasian fusion with Angolan accents. Detail and focus not only go into the restaurant’s quality dishes, but also into the service. This makes Chill Out one of the best venues within Luanda’s high-end restaurant circuit.

Tel:  +244 924 282 810

At the more expensive end of the Luanda restaurant scene, Lookal Mar is renowned for its beautiful seafood dishes. The restaurant has its seafood supply flown in nearly twice weekly from Portugal. Some of it even arrives still alive. Diners who visit the restaurant are informed when a new shipment is anticipated to arrive. The spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean, the sounds of the waves crashing against the shore and the sights of ships docking at the Porto de Luanda also add to the grandeur of the dining experience. Lookal Mar’s offerings are fresh, tasty and unrivaled in Angola – a true African treat.

Tel: +244 936 000 016

Located inside the newly constructed shopping gallery known as the Atlantic Business Center, Luanda Chic is one of the top places in Talatona – Luanda’s downtown. Luanda Chic lives up to its name within moments of arrival. Stunning multi-colored lights adorn the veranda bar, smiling wait staff are ready to greet incoming diners and the modern decor combines to create an elegant dining atmosphere. Luanda Chic’s menu experiments with the concept of gourmet Angolan cuisine. It has reinvented the traditional flavors and dishes of the region, executing them with modern and unexpected twists.  Tel: +244 947 576 708

Oon.dah is one of Luanda’s most refined restaurants. The decor upon entering the space is striking and elegant, the design having been created by award-winning British firm Julian Taylor Design Associates. Oon.dah is in the Escom Skyscraper in Luanda and features the sophistication that is characteristic of its designers. As such, the decor caters to the city’s upscale and international clientele. Not only does Oon.dah have an exquisite atmosphere and visually stimulating decor, but the restaurant also presents some of the finest dining the city has to offer. 

Tel: +244 937 286 060 Luanda offers a wide choice of resorts and hotels to fit just about any price range. Whether looking for luxury in the city, at the beach or at one of the country’s national parks, there are tons to choose.

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