Angola, officially the Republic of Angola, is a country located on the west coast of Southern Africa. It is the second largest Portuguese-speaking country in both total area and population (behind Brazil), and it is the seventh-largest country in Africa, bordered by Namibia to the south, the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Zambia to the east, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Angola has an exclave province, the province of Cabinda that borders the Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The capital and largest city is Luanda.
Political / Administrative division: 18 provinces
Bengo, Benguela, Bié, Cabinda, Cunene, Huambo, Huila, Kuando Kubango, Kwanza Norte, Kwanza Sul, Luanda, Lunda Norte, Lunda Sul, Malanje, Moxico, Namibe, Uíje, Zaire
Independence: 11 November 1975 (from Portugal)
National holiday: Independence Day, 11 November
Angola’s climate features two seasons, rainfall from November to April and drought, known as Cacimbo, from May to October, drier, as the name implies, and with lower temperatures.
The southern coast around Namibe is cooler, for instance, an average of 17°C in July. Organised tours focus on the south, where the best time to go is June, July, August and September; our 10-day trip departs annually in July. This is the coolest and driest season, with temperature of around 23°C in Luanda in July. November to May is Angola’s hot, rainy season, with April seeing the heaviest downpours and often storms. The water that falls now in the Angolan Highlands eventually flows into Botswana to form the Okavango Delta.
Broadly speaking, Angola has two distinct seasons – rainy and dry. As it’s so huge, there are variations, with the southern coast around Namibe cooler, for instance, averaging 17°C in July. Organised tours focus on the south, where the best time to go is June, July, August and September; our 10 day trip departs annually in July. This is the coolest and driest season, with highs of around 23°C in Luanda in July.
November to May is Angola’s hot, rainy season, with April seeing the heaviest downpours and often violent storms. The water that falls now in the Angolan Highlands eventually flows into Botswana to form the Okavango Delta.
4. MEET THE PEOPLE
Angola has around 90 ethnic groups, with many living in the southwest and still engaging with ancient practices, with women typically maintaining their traditional dress code more than men. The Mucubal women wear a wicker framed ompota headdress and girls have their upper teeth sharpened and lower teeth removed. Interestingly, teeth sharpening is a cultural aftermath from the 1570s when Portuguese slavers began shipping huge numbers of Angolans to Brazil. Slaves were valued for the quality of their teeth, so tribes resorted to despoiling them.
The women of the Muila tribe coat their hair with a red paste called oncula and wear massive collars, created using beads and ostrich eggs, covered with a mix of mud, cow dung and herbs; the vilanda set of necklaces worn once married can not be taken off. Himba women, meanwhile, coat their braids and skin in butter fat and ochre, creating a reddish sheen.
5. SAFETY AND SECURITY
Our experienced staff is working tirelessly to ensure your safety. However, there is a high level of crime in Luanda. Muggings, particularly to steal mobile phones and other valuables, and armed robberies can occur in any area at any time of the day or night. Areas popular with foreigners are particular targets. We strongly advise to take precautions with your valuables and belongings. You should be particularly careful when withdrawing money from banks and ATMs both during daytime and at night. Do not exchange money from “Kinguila – the seller of money – who normally offers the best quotation. This practice is forbidden by the authorities and may expose you to serious risks.
Avoid walking around Luanda, especially after dark. Avoid wearing jewellery or watches in public places. Do not change large sums of money in busy public areas. Avoid walking between bars and restaurants on the Ilha do Cabo and avoid crowded places like markets. Deposit any valuables or cash in hotel safes where practical. Keep copies of important documents, including passports, in a separate place from the documents themselves. Keep valuables out of sight and do not use mobiles or laptops while in slow moving traffic. We advise to carry a certified copy of your passport (data page and visa) and/or identity documents at all times for identification purposes. You should not travel within Angola without the assistance of qualified personnel to ensure your own safety.
The official currency of Angola is the Kwanza (AOA). The current exchange rate is available on the website of the National Bank of Angola http://www.bna.ao/. The use of bank cards, mainly debit cards (commonly referred to as “Multicaixa”) is widespread. Major credit cards can be used in the big cities, especially in hotels and restaurants. Cash withdrawal by credit cards is also possible in Angola.
Bank systems or credit card systems can fail due to technical errors and should not be relied on. Always ensure you have sufficient cash for emergencies. It is best to plan a daily budget and try to keep enough cash available for several days at all times. Cash such as USD or Euros can be exchanged for Kwanza at various exchange offices everywhere in Angola. Be sure to carry only new and undamaged banknotes, as used banknotes are often not exchanged or can have a different exchange course.
Updated USD/KWZ rate: https://www.xe.com/pt/currencyconverter/convert/?Amount=1&From=USD&To=AOA
7. ENTRY REQUIRMENTS AND VISAS
Before you travel, you should carefully check the entry and exit regulations for foreigners at an official office (Embassy of Angola). To enter Angola, you need a visa or a residence permit, which must be requested before you travel.
DON’T WORRY ZOLELA TEAM WILL TAKE CARE OF YOUR VISA PROCESS
For entry into Angola, proof of a yellow fever vaccination has to be provided. Furthermore, vaccinations against tetanus, diphtheria, polio and hepatitis A and B are recommended. For longer stays and trips over land, vaccination against rabies is also advisable. Please inform yourself in advance at an official vaccination office or let us advise you. An extensive first-aid kit is indispensable, since both hospitals and pharmacies are often poorly equipped. Many necessary medicines are often out of stock. There is also the danger that drugs may be ineffective counterfeits. In rural areas, there is usually no medical care. Therefore, we recommend you to take out health insurance, including return transport to your home country in case of illness, before you travel. Foreigners are advised to be treated in an emergency room in the private clinics within large cities. Be aware that these treatments have to be paid in advance, often in cash, cards are often not accepted. Special care should be taken when having sexual contact, especially with prostitutes, as the HIV rate is very high. Angola is a malaria area. The most common type of malaria in Angola is the most severe form of malaria tropica. Both malaria prophylaxis and long clothes and mosquito sprays are advisable. Infectious diseases are diverse and widespread in Angola. Be sure to get detailed advice from a travel specialist before you leave.
Be wary of food from markets and street stalls. Pay attention to hygiene in restaurants. You should only drink bottled or boiled and treated water. The use of ice cubes in drinks is not recommended also if you are in western style locations. If symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea occur after eating food or drink, it is advisable to consult a doctor immediately.
Angola has a fascinating and intoxicating culture, due to its colorful mix of cultures, and love of dance and music. The life-affirming and open atmosphere, coupled with the locals’ love of parties and the relaxed lifestyle makes the Angolan culture interesting to experience. In recent years, job and training opportunities in Angola have developed rapidly, leading to a very small upper class and a growing middle class. The young Angolans strive for a Western life that is exemplified by the social media and telenovelas. Angola is still strongly affected by poverty, especially in rural areas. In contrast to the neighboring African countries, Angola is a relatively safe travel destination, due to the openness and hospitality of the population. During the Portuguese rule, the country was Christianized. As a result, the value system of the Angolans is very similar to the Western world and visitors from Christian countries have few cultural barriers to be aware of.
We dance the semba, the kuduro, the kizomba…..Luanda’s Marginale takes on its festive air every year for the carnival, which is nearly 150 years old, with official parades, disguised city residents, songs and dances. For three days, the city lives to the colours and rhythm of the carnival. It’s a celebration in the bay of Luanda! Carnival, with its long preparations and rehearsals, is taken very seriously in Angola. In addition to Luanda, Lobito, Cabinda and Lubango are among the other great carnivals in the country.Music is the flag of Angolan culture! Music, sung mainly in kimbundu, umbundu, kicongo and Portuguese, occupies the largest place in the national cultural domain. It is the main form of expression. Music is the entertainment and transmission tool of Angolan popular culture. For a long time, it has been the voice of contestation and the safeguarding of a devalued, abused and dominated identity. A desire to live, a pleasure of celebration against violence and injustice.Semba, kuduro and especially kizomba, an irresistible traditional tempo with arrangements inspired by the skillfully mixed sounds of techno music, nowadays make people dance! Kizomba means “celebration” in kimbundu.
Angola is next to Brazil and Madagascar, one of three countries with the highest biodiversity worldwide. Nowhere else on the African mainland is such a wealth of animals and plants to be admired. This alone makes Angola a fascinating destination. Unfortunately, the flora and fauna were severely affected during the civil war, and further decimated by natives due to ignorance and greed in the following years. Despite extensive efforts in recent years, the highly decimated species need time to recover. Organized open-air walks in the form of safari parks as in Tanzania or South Africa are not available. Here, the untouched landscapes and rare species await discovery. Many parts of the country have not been visited for decades by anyone, and no one can truly say what is still hidden in the deep jungles of the country. Today’s well-known sights, are probably just a taste of Angolas still deeply hidden beauty.
Angola has a couple of important museums in Luanda and in some provinces of the country. In Luanda, are located some of Angolan museums offering awesome human and nature information and a summary of the country’s long and fascinating history, from the slavery Era to independence.
Dundo Museum . Angola’s Dundo Museum is one of the most important museums in Africa with a large ethnographic collection. The museum was founded in 1945 and it is located in the city of Dundo, a small town in the Angolan north ea stern Luanda Norte province.
Angola Natural History Museum The Natural History Museum in Luanda has a collection of 1000’s of Angolan biodiversity, i.e. wildlife, flora as well as an exhibit on the country’s coastline and the fish species found in region.
Museum of Armed Forces . The Museum of Armed Forces in Angola is a historic building overlooking the city from a high plateau offering a great view of Luanda Bay and the island (Ilha de Luanda) beyond the Port, which houses the records of Angola’s fight for independence.
Angolan Women’s Memorial. Angolan Heroes Women’s Memorial is among the best known attractions in city of Luanda and a very appealing place where families, couples and individuals go to have a portrait or professional photo taken.
Museum of Anthropology – Luanda The Angolan National Museum of Anthropology in Luanda features an impressive array of traditional masks along with art, sculptures, tools, weaponry, jewelry, clothing, and musical instruments.
Angola Slavery Museum . The National Museum of Slavery in Luanda, Angola, keeps the memories of the torture endured by thousands of slaves before they were shipped to North America and South America countries by European slave traders to work in coffee, sugar cane, cotton and indigo plantations without any remuneration.
Luanda Independence Square. Luanda Independence Square is the most known boulevard in Angola’s capital, and it is the place where Agostinho Neto, the first Angolan president made the proclamation of the National Independence from Portugal in November 11th 1975.
Kifangondo Memorial. Kifangondo Memorial is a tourism attraction in Luanda built in honor of the Angolan and Cuban fighters who prevailed against the mercenary backed forces who attempted to reach the Angolan capital and postpone the national independence on November 11, 1975, by late President Agostinho Neto.
12. TAKING PHOTOS
Photographing government buildings and military facilities is prohibited. It is also forbidden to photograph people in public spaces without their consent. Be restrained with your photography. In the event of repercussions, this may lead to seizure of the camera or the mobile phone. Arrests cannot be ruled out.