Angola is shedding the shackles of civil war and emerging as a safari destination for those who want to add a stop off the beaten track. Situated on the west coast of Africa and sharing borders with Namibia, Zambia, the Republic of Congo, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, it offers an authentic experience. There have been ongoing efforts by the national government with the help of foreign entities, to repopulate the natural landscape with unique wildlife that was once endemic to the area. Aided by other wonders like several emerging national parks, including Iona and Mupa, the Kalandula Falls (the second largest on the continent), and countless untouched beaches along the 1,650-kilometre coastline, visitors have started returning to these shores.
Fragmented bits and pieces of Angola’s Portuguese colonial history, together with the local population’s love for dance and music, make for an alluring and fascinating cultural experience. However, it is wise to heed caution as a foreigner when it comes to safety—meaning visitors shouldn’t travel after dark and should be aware of road conditions, especially in rural areas. Almost all visitors to Angola enter through the international airport in the capital of Luanda. To explore the rest of the country, options include renting a vehicle (preferably with a driver) and for the brave traveller, there are intercity buses
As one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, Angola’s plant and animal kingdom alone is a compelling reason to venture to this under-discovered land. For those who dare go it alone, the options are endless, while tailor-made tours offer a more structured journey. Beyond the wildlife landscape and accompanied game viewing in the national parks, desert and tropical beaches in spots like Musulo Island, Restinga Peninsula, and Arco Lagoon make for a laidback approach. The thundering water of the Kalandula and Ruacana Falls respectively is even more spectacular.
For those longing for the glory days of rail travel, an ocean-to-ocean (Indian to Atlantic) journey, including a stint on the famed Benguela line and ending in Lobito, is an exciting option. Travellers can sit back and enjoy the fantastic scenery flash by. There are also cultural excursions to experience traditional Angolan life, including visits to the Himba, Mumuila, and Mucubais tribes. The hustle and bustle of the capital Luanda complete the medley of activities visitors can partake in.
Safari-goers to Africa need to make sure about visa requirements for the specific destination in their country of origin. Passports need to be valid for at least six months from the planned date of departure and there should also be enough blank pages for the necessary visas and stamps to be applied.
The World Health Organisation recommends the following vaccinations for Angola: hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, cholera, yellow fever, rabies, meningitis, polio, measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis), chickenpox, shingles, pneumonia and influenza.
It is advisable to make getting travel insurance as part of the planning of any safari. That ensures travellers are covered for unforeseen circumstances leading to the cancellation of the trip, as well as medical cover and repatriation should anything happen while on safari. If adventurous activities, such as hiking, mountain climbing, gorilla trekking, hot air ballooning or white water rafting, are part of the safari, comprehensive travel insurance is a must.
An International Driving Permit allows foreigners to drive in Angola and must at all times be carried with the visitor’s national drivers license. Driving is on the right side of the road. The speed limit for vehicles in cities and towns is 60 km/h and on open roads it is100 km/h.