Angola - Not expensive anymore?

Its not expensive anymore
The flight went from Portugal to Angola. Right before boarding the plane in Portugal, all passengers were checked manually again if they all have a valid visa for Angola. Even today after Angola opened its visa policy, it's still not yet well known that it has become a whole level easier for visitors to get a visa. 

So first I was wondering how complicated it is to immigrate on an e-Visa, then, of course, I was excited about seeing the scenery of Angola, and last but not least, if the prices of everything (i.e. food) are really as expensive as everybody on the internet is claiming.

What surprised me most before departure was the way to apply for the visa, as I didn't think it would be that easy. With the new e-Visa, it was all done online.

15 years after the end of the civil war Angola's image is about to change a lot. Much is being done to really boost tourism, for example by making it easier to get a visa. At the moment the goal is to attract as many tourists as possible.

Difficulty with applying for the Angola e-Visa?

The best thing is definitely that we tourists don't need a letter of invitation anymore and we don't have to turn personal idleness into an embassy.

The website to apply for the visa works quite well, but the most difficult part was uploading the photos. Copy of passport and passport photos must have exactly the required resolution, color and file size. Once that was done and everything was submitted, it took 48 hours until I received an email with the pre-authorization document.

This was the document I had to show at the airport. In Luanda, this will be exchanged for an Angola sticker for USD120.

Day 1 - Arriving in Luanda

While boarding the plane in Portugal, the airline employees offered to all passengers to fly in business class for a small additional cost. Because it was a night flight with a duration of 7 hours, it was worth paying that extra and being transported to Angola in a lying position.

Exchanging the Pre-authorization letter in a real Visa sticker

This morning at 7am I arrived in Luanda. It was helpful to be one of the first out of the plane because the queue at the immigration desk looked like a long waiting time. 

However, because I missed the office for the people arriving with E-Visa, I was already in the normal queue. Arriving in front of the queue and the counter, I was kindly told to report to the separate e-Visa office.

It was necessary to pay USD 120 in cash to exchange the Pre-Authorization letter for a Visa Sticker.

The hotel shuttle forgets me...

The hotel taxi has forgotten me, but somehow I expected this. In many African countries the chance that the shuttle will wait reliably outside and on-time, or, waiting at all, is very small. Welcome to Africa?!

In the middle of Angola is a district called Maculusso
Residence DB was the place I stayedStreets are clean in LuandaIn Luanda are old houses still exisitng from colonial times

Not even two hours in Angola and artistic paintings and other things can be spotted everywhere, even without searching for them. Angolan art is nice.

There is art in Luanda in every corner
In the hotel of Residence DBThis particular painting is in LuandaMany pictures are visible in the streets of Luanda

Roaming around in Luanda, but first a visit to the Embassy of Gabon

I had trouble with the Gabon visa, the country I visit after Angola. Of course, my plan was to make the most of the time to see as much of Luanda as possible in the time available. I have planned two whole days in Luanda, so today and tomorrow.

But now something more important came in between. I didn't have the visa for Gabon yet and I need it in a few days.

The e-Visa for Gabon did not work, so I had the last chance to get it by going to the embassy here in Luanda.

On the way to the embassy, it was good to already see Luanda by walking through the city toward "Miramar".

In the street of Miramar on the way to the Gabon embassy
On the way to the embassy Rue Houarai de BoumedieneDirty balcony on colonial buildingsThe downtown of Luanda

Luanda is nicer than I expected!

Being assured of getting the Gabon Visa tomorrow, I happily walked the roads through Luanda.

It's very clean and feels all safe to walk here. Along the way several people came towards me when seeing me, wanting to know in a friendly manner:

You are a tourist? Really? We didnt have many tourists in the last 15 years. Welcome! 

Luanda is built on some mountainous terrain. The streets are very clean, almost clinically clean for African road conditions on average.

Along the streets, there are many possibilities to see the city from above towards the sea.

Nehru street leads to the bay
On the journey through LuandaThey sit and chat in traditional clothesThis park has colored piles

Monument at the "Largo do Ambiente"

There are no Hop-on-Hop-off buses in Luanda.

The streets in Luanda seem much more compact on google maps, but it good to have some slight idea where approximately the point of interest were lying.

Monument do Largo do Environment in the middle of Luanda
The Luanda bay is right beside the IlhaBeer is a favorite drink of AngolansJournalists have still a hard life in Angola

Walk towards the "National Bank"

This evening I figured out that I missed some interesting spots when walking through the city, but that I was sometimes only a corner away from them.

Before coming here I tried to pin the nicest places of Luanda in google maps, but when google maps even don't have the location to set a pin, it's difficult to find the place at the end.

The walk through the city towards the National Bank.

In downtown Luanda the traffic is rough
Another good hotel, to relax in Angola in this case LuandaRua do 1º Congresso do MPLAAngolans love artists

Yellow House called "Iron Palace"

I had no idea what exactly I'm going to expect before wandering here, but I thought this will be a church or similar.

Once it was supposed to become a museum but now it's a place where they have art exhibitions and play live music.

Didn't spend much time around here as it was closed.

Yellow building in colonial style is used for a lot of music
Graffity in Luanda are on the riseNot far from here is the University of MethodicsLargo Infante Dom Henrique is the street with the boulevard

Around the "National Bank"

Taking photos in Angola is not such a big issue and the police are very relaxed regarding this. The bank is right beside the boulevard at Luanda Bay.

Was ready for a coffee at this point but around here are not many coffee shops.

2020 will be a huge year for Angola
Gives a big plus for the national bank of AngolaLargo Saydi Mines next to the Luanda BayThe machete represents the brutality of war

Along the boulevard

The boulevard is a huge stretch of about almost 3 km.

There are not many shops around. It's nice to walk here. I guess on weekends many people go running here.

Luandas public space as the social and economic epicentre
This pile is supposed a christmas treeAt the bay is a lot of water and moneyAngolan Church on the Ilha do LuandaAt the bay boulevardSharks get spotted here. Did he catch one?They are on the rise and take over the country

Around the X-monument "Soldado Desconhecido"

It's visible from far away when coming from the national bank direction and along the boulevard.

The white piles are supposed to be spears. It's one of the monuments which is visible on google maps but doesn't have a name on it - the "monument of the unknown soldier".

I guess its a very new monument and asked someone around and they told me:

Yes, it's very new. Only built around two years ago, but I don't really know what it is about but I as I heard its build to honor people who have died in wartime without their bodies being identified.

They also told me that people are a bit angry. Because of the monument, they removed many of the very very old Angolan trees and it upset many people.

Its the soldiers monument for the dead people around the Soldado Desconhecido
Trees along the X-towerThe spears killed many soldiersThis is officially the real X-Tower

Outside the National Museum "Fortress São Miguel"

I had to walk up the small hill to get up here to the museum, but there is no entrance fee to be paid.

Its cheap to visit and has good view
This pile is cool and is standing down the hillThats me standing in front of Miguel MonumentFlag at the Fortress Sao Miguel

Inside the Museum "Fortress Sao Miguel"

Not many visitors are up here and I was about one of 4 that I counted during the stay of 45 minutes. The area was big and the lookout over the whole bay of Luanda was fantastic.
The guards are asking for an entrance fee, which seems to change from time to time during the hour and depending on the number of people.

Don't remember what I paid, it was a small amount like 500 Kwanza but when I left the museum, another visitor arrived. He asked if he can pay his entrance fee of 2000 Kwanza in USD.

Inside the Museum "Fortress Sao Miguel"
History of Angola at the wallAngola was defended by planesThis jeep was used to transport soldiersSoldiers on the mosaik to protect their settlement of Luanda.The fortress was built around 1576 toSao Miguel was a ruler of Angola

View from the Hill "Mausoleum of Agostinho Neto"

The tower over there was the mausoleum of an important person in Angola. Not far from the tower however are the slums of Luanda.

It would have been interesting to know the amount of money that was put into this huge monolith.

The view from the hill is spectacular as all is visible, including the port and the many ships which are loading up the oil for export.

The tower was very expensive
The view is all over Luanda.It is renovated and now open for tourists at a very low price

Best time to be at the "Fortaleza de Sao Miguel"

The magnificent view is self-explanatory. The best time to be here is around after 3pm.

Open for tourists and their cameras. Everyone can take photo.Big fat national bank in the Bay of LuandaThe sun is perfect to do the laundryThese palms are delivered from Benguela

Friendly Police! They help to get a taxi...

Taxis were quite difficult to find or to see, as there are very few official taxis or moto-taxis, or at least not easy to identify as such. In one situation I asked two policemen what the best way to find a taxi was.

You want a taxi? Oooooook, I'm the police, let me help you.

Two seconds later the policeman blew a deafening whistle in the direction of the road and ordered one of the motorcyclists to come here.

One moto-taxi driver came along without questioning but bowed his head. A few Portuguese words that sounded like "no time, must continue" were exchanged, but in the claws of the policeman, there was no escape for the driver.

I was then asked where I want to go and then almost forced to take place on the back seat of the motorcycle. The policeman didn't ask for any "Tip" and told the driver how much he can charge me maximum for a ride to my destination in Maculosso.

What hospitality by the police - very nice!

Angola is not expensive anymore!

There is a well-known image of Angola to be the most expensive country (or Luanda as a city) in the whole world. I cannot confirm this.

Surely it was like that until a few years ago, but since the economy and government changed in the last few years, the exchange rate for Kwanza/Euro fell drastically.

That means since now a few years the prices for tourists are lowered by a huge stake and that results in NOT EXPENSIVE prices for visitors anymore. So my fear was without reason of being ruined when visiting Angola and buying a bottle of water or a pizza.

Good pizaa for low price in Angola is nothing special anymore

Day 2 - One day at "Ilha de Luanda"

After breakfast, I went straight back to the Gabonese Embassy to pick up the passport. This time I wore long trousers to avoid problems with the guard of the embassy.

He greeted me with a smile when he saw me wearing long pants (as yesterday he didn't let me enter the premises because I was wearing short trousers). 

The ambassador had already done everything and when entering the office she lifted the passport towards me.

I wish you a pleasant visit in Gabon and hope you will have many good memories of my country!

Going to the end of Ilha do Cabo, to the "Lighthouse"

Having back my passport now with a Gabon Visa, I happily took a mototaxi all the way to the end of the road, to the Lobito Lighthouse on Ilha do Cabo, the peninsula that stretches around Luanda Bay.

The journey took 20 minutes and was longer than I thought.

From far away it looks way smaller but this peninsula stretch is 8km long.

Ilha do Cabo, to the "Lighthouse"
Angola lifeguards are protecting peopleIlha do Luanda has expensive real estateAngola Luandina is delivered freshly to Ilha

The art-house "Thomson House"

It was a big surprise when walking the street and seeing this.

I thought it was just another of these random art houses which want to sell lots of souvenirs, but this one isn't one of them. They didn't even charge for seeing the 4 story building, all covered with masks and paintings from Angola.

The owner explained:

African art has not interested anyone for a long time. But in the past decades, it has changed. Foreigners were not interested in the positive things we produce. And this is complicated, complex, but now slowly we are showing our art.

This mask is at the Thomson House and is for sale
In the thomson house for free to wearExpression of the oppressed AngolansThe art chair for painters in the Thomson HouseThis piece of Angola wood is in the Thomson HouseAngola Wood ArtAngola dreadlocks painted at the wall in blue

Just observing the scenery of Luanda

Many restaurants are along the road through the whole peninsula. Many of them have rooftop terraces.

One of the best things to do in Luanda, or as in many cities in Africa, is just to do nothing but walk the streets or watch the scenery and how people work or also do nothing.

Its from the Thomson House
Nice location make picutresIn Angola at the IlhaLookout to the Luanda city from the Ilha

The 8km beach road through "Ilha do Cabo"

The Ilha, as it is called by the people of Luanda, is connected to the city by a narrow passage and lies at the foot of the São Miguel fortress.

This is the place where many people relax from the stress of the capital, especially on weekends.

Daily life is tough in Angola
Is on the rise in LuandaThe beach is at the Av. Murtala MohammedCowboy hats are not available in AngolaLooks like florida but its LuandaWalk at the Av. Murtala MohammedAngolan are removing all the waste

The nice beach area on this side of the Luanda

On this side of the peninsula is the beach for swimming and the people having their free time. On the other side is the port of Luanda. On this beachside, the water is clean and the air is fresh.

On the other side towards Luanda bay, the air was thick and congested and thousands of ship containers were visible.

But both sides were interesting to see in their own context.

High paid job to have in Angola
No games here at the beachIts the biggest road in Ilha do LuandaWoman sits in the beach in LuandaThe nicest beach in Luanda

A normal day and its street live along the "Av. Murtala Mohammed"

Many restaurants here as it seems to be the place for a majority of Luandan's and the expats to spend the weekend.
Some souvenir shops seem to be on the right track here.

In a few years, they will progressively face many more visitors. I just hope don't become too greedy once the many visitors are going to stream in.

Ilha do Luanda has them all
Big bar at the beach at Av. Murtala MohammedClimbing at the beach of LuandaPackage box with artTribes still use them today but this is only on pictureAv. Murtala Mohammed has many people walking alongFrom Ilha to Luanda

Day 3 - Visiting Catumbela and Lobito

Last night I continued from Luanda to Catumbela, which is an hour flight south.The airport here is very small but nice and quick. Catumbela is also lying almost directly at the beach.

My plan for today was to have a day trip with a rental car to Benguela and Baia Farta to see the beautiful beaches and coasts of Angola.

I had my accommodation in 40-minutes-away-Lobito, respectively in the peninsula Restinga. This is the most beautiful area to live or stay in Lobito because it had surprisingly many restaurants and is very clean.

The hotel reception had already tried everything yesterday to organize a rental car, but since there is a huge event or concert in the area during these days, it seemed that there was no such car available.

The streets in peninsula Restinga.

The streets in peninsula Restinga
Angola is very cleanMonument in RestingaPredio do Sol Bar and BatukDriving around LobitoAngola has a lot of fishingThe nicest church in Lobito

Driving around the city of "Lobito"

The hotel staff even took the time to drive me around Lobito, from one car rental company to another car rental company to find a car for me.

We drove all over Lobito, but none of the 5 rental car companies had available cars.

In Lobito are many traditional clothed people
Downtown of Lobito TownHigh influence of europe in LobitoJust around the corner of Lobito is this monumentIn Lobito is a population of 400000Walking in winter. The winters are extremely dry and warm

Lobito up on the hill "Uptown"

On the hill seem to live the average resident of Lobito.

Most of the houses have low standards up here and standards even decrease the further away from the main street it leads.

At specific points along the main road, it's possible to see all the way to Restinga.

Located on the Atlantic Coast
Down the town towards Lobito townWalks towards LobitoFrom Lobito Hill to TownLiving is difficult in the streetsThe yellow building is the biggest churchLobito started the process of reconstruction in year 2000

Until the end of Restinga and the "Zulu"

In the afternoon I went back to Restinga. Originally I wanted to drive with a rental car today towards Benguela and Baia Farta. But today there was no rental car available anymore and so I went around Restinga on the bicycle.

At the end of the road in Restinga, there were about three restaurants right at the beach and one of them was called Zulu.

Had the best fish in town
This particular waste bin was seen in LobitoThey will come back to AngolaGood rice and fish from grill. Nice place for relaxation and to eat fresh seafood

With the bike along the peninsula "Restinga"

I gave it up to search for a rental car for today - there are no more available.

Since it was almost noon after the search for rental cars, I decided today to see the nearby area around Restinga, comfortably by bicycle.

Igreja Restinga is the small church on the peninsula
Many restaurants in the center of RestingaSinging and dancing in RestingaAngola is good in Beach volleyballIn the bay of LobitoAngola also wants to exploit Gas in the future

Day 4 - Day trip to Benguela and Baia-Farta

I'm glad there was no rental car availability yesterday and so based on that, I didn't have the ability to rush myself through the road yesterday for only half-day towards Benguela and back. It would have been very stressful.

Luckily, under magical circumstances, I got the opportunity today to have a road trip and see the coast of Benguela. A perfectly relaxed ride all the way from Lobito down to Baia-Farta, by departing early in the morning and having a great day on the road.

It's hard to believe that less than 20 years ago there was a war in Angola. But in the last two decades, the country has recovered.

Angola is definitely another country on the continent with a huge potential for tourism.

In Catumbela, there is the bridge "4 de Abril Bridge"

The former president built it. It was on the way from Catumbela towards Benguela.

On the way from Lobito to Benguela
Big parts in Benguela belong to the Dos SantosNice colonial buildingsVillage along the River in Catumbela

History right beside the bridge, up on the hill!

On the way down to Benguela were countless beautiful landscapes along the coast and colonial buildings from the time when the Portuguese still had power here.

Right beside the bridge shown above, there is this little fortress up on the hill which overlooks the Catumbela River, Catumbela itself and the land towards the coast.

Protection from the Angola Civil War
Dos Santos Hotel on the top, overlooking the slumsLeading to the Bufalo Partial ReserveFrom the bridge in Catumbela

Visiting Benguelas "Coastlines"

Angola has 1650 km of coast with a rocky plateau and landscapes with great nature and culture. The tourist potential is huge but is hardly used so far.

This is not surprising, as the almost 30 years of war has eliminated just about everything, from flora to fauna. Animals have been eliminated or escaped and all this is only slowly recovering. It is very important that Angolan investors are also interested in other industries and not only in oil.

Angola has only attracted only few tourists over the last few decades
Touristic country on the riseAngola is on the rise with its 1700km coastlineMany fishing villages offer opportunity for fishing sports

Drive through the relaxed city in"Benguela"

The huge white building in the middle of Benguela.

The "Bolas Palace" and it is the provincial headquarter of MPLA (the leading political party in Angola). There are lots of security in civil clothes and they didn't really like taking me too many pictures of it.

Driving through Benguela was nice, it's right beside the ocean with only 200 meters from it.

In Benguala is a MPLA basis
In front of the MPLA buildingKFC didnt stop at the border to AngolaThousands of tourists expected in the next few months

The famous church in Benguela "Se Catedral de Nossa Senhora de Fatima"

A huge church in Benguela comes in a triangular form factor. This exemplar was built only a few years ago in 1963 and properly survived the war.

Se Catedral de Nossa Senhora de Fatima in Benguela
Angola is starting to attract tourismMany animals were reintroduced into the country following the Civil WarThe priest show the interior of the Benguela church

Drive along the street past the Benguelas typical "colonial houses"

Benguela was very picturesque with all its colonial buildings and the clean street.

When the Portuguese arrived, the bay of Benguela seemed to be perfect for them as it is right at the ocean and so they started to build this city.

Portuguese influence is noticeable everywhere in Angola
Portugal Portugal Portugal scream the HousesAll have different look and fences. The colonial inheritance is omnipresentIn the middle of Benguela a big parkColonial houses in the middle of AngolaThe radio station of Benguela is a relictNo limitation for advertisements in Angola

Many 'hidden' beaches along the coast around "Praia da Caota"

South of Benguela there are many beaches and one of them is the Caotinha, which was only possible to access by private 4wd car.

In this area is no public bus or taxi.

The most beautiful beaches are all in Benguela
Angolas coasts are covered with Oil industryLets hope they dont sink and destroy the environmentCoast at Benguela are perfect opportunity for new scuba diving experienceThe opportunity for scuba diving are neverendingWonderful beaches in Angola and Benguela500000 USD for the house on the hill in Angola

Between Benguela and Baia-Farta, are "Praia Caota" and "Baia Azul"

Down the coast are Baia Azul and Caota with many beautiful bays of many kilometers in size.

A lot of houses have been built in recent years and it will continue like that in the future. The war is over and the country is recovering from it and all the corruption. The time for tourists to come to visit has arrived.

Not too many restaurants are along the way and the ones which are there and open, don't necessarily have menu cards. But all of them have fresh fish.
Directly at the beach and no tourists in 2020
Beaches for surfing and scuba diving everywhereAll locals swimming in the ocean far away from civilizationThey will be used as bait

Before the desert towards Namibe, there was "Baia Farta"

Further down the road was an unpopular and underdeveloped fishing village.

But even when underdeveloped and unpopular from a visitor's point of view, it's wonderful to see the authentic people living here and doing their daily living. with the fishing industry.

The small church at the coast of Baia Farta
They need to be populated againNo tourists and everything is authentic in AngolaThey still contain mines at some areas

The Baia Farta coast with all the fishing Boats.

A very small and relaxed town.

Probably this area will look completely different in 5 or 10 years, as the influx of tourists and foreign investors will change this place in a business district.

I think in a few years this place will still be a fishing village but under the influence of all the Chinese companies, not necessarily to the favor of the locals here.

Hammerhead and White sharks are also in Angola
Locals are selling stuff to locals and all is authenticTourism will hopefully not destroy the cultureFishing is the biggest business here

Back to Lobito on in the afternoon

The ride back to Lobito was very nice, even the road was almost the same as the way down here. But as the light on the desert and the mountain changes, it looked like a completely different area as in the morning.

2020 is the year of rise of tourism
Fantastic views as in AustraliaThe country is full of flora and fauna. Animals will come back to AngolaBaia Farta and Caota are the nicest coasts

Angola is nice to visit

It doesn't happen often that I leave a country with a somehow unsatisfied feeling, and now a bigger curiosity even before arriving in a country.

But here it feels like I only scratched the bare surface of this vast area. There are so many unique and different landscapes all along the coast of which I've seen only a small part.

Not even mentioning how diverse the scenery is when moving inside of the country, to the forests and mountains (Angola has mountains that look very unique).

Angola is on the shortlist of countries I definitely will go visit again someday.

Tonight I went back from Catumbela to  Luanda by plane. Tomorrow at noon I will fly to Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of Congo.

Day 5 - Departure to the Republic Of Congo

Today at noon was the flight to Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo.

The international airport in Luanda is still in the middle of the city in 2020, which makes the journey to the airport very easy and uncomplicated. However, the new airport in Luanda is currently under construction, and that one will be a few dozen kilometers out of town.

New Luanda Airport under construction

The old current airport has clearly become outdated due to the increased amount of people that want to travel. The airport is overcrowded and therefore very confusing and everything is slow. The three hours before departure were quite tedious with waiting.

Luckily I didn't forget to bring a big pizza before arriving at the airport to fill my stomach during lunchtime. The next possibility to eat will probably be sometime around evening in Brazzaville.

Outside Angola, there is no Kwanza-Currency exchangeable 

Basically, it is not allowed to take the Angolan warming Kwanza out of the country, but since I forgot to change it into Euro, I still had it with me. Probably I won't be able to get rid of these (equivalent) 40 Euro, because no country or person outside of Angola wants to have anything to do with Kwanza's these days. But surely also this will change in the next few years when Angola continues to open its borders.

Now I'm sitting in the TAAG plane and for 30 minutes the same music is played here without interruption.

Hopefully, the departure will take place soon.

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