Angola travel guide
Situated in Central Africa, west of Zambia and north of Namibia, Angola is slowly realising its potential as a tourist hotspot, after decades of bloody civil war following independence from Portugal in 1975.
A stunning coastline strung with beautiful sandy beaches, a mountainous interior that gives way to deep gorges and tumbling waterfalls, and a number of national parks and wildlife reserves throughout, Angola offers a wide array of opportunities for eco-tourism to its visitors. Natural beauty aside, the country also boasts a rich traditional culture, culinary specialities and a people that are known for their hospitality and friendliness.
The picture is not entirely rosy, however, and the lack of infrastructure, the difficulties and dangers of overland transport, poor health services and crime are challenges travellers need to consider, particularly outside of the capital Luanda. But signs of economic recovery are evident, and the fact that Angola is rich in natural resources such as diamonds and gas, as well as being Africa's second largest oil exporter after Nigeria, brings hope of development for the not too distant future.
The unit of currency is the Kwanza (AOA). Visitors should bring enough cash for their needs. Money can be exchanged at bureaux de change. Newly issued US dollars are the most acceptable currency. Credit cards are only accepted in larger hotels, and cash withdrawals are not possible. Few ATMs in Luanda accept foreign cards. Kwanza may not be taken out of Angola.
Language : The official language of Angola is Portuguese. About 60 other African languages are spoken including Umbundu and Ovambo. Some French and Spanish is also spoken.
Electricity : Electrical current in Angola is 220 volts, 50Hz. Round pin attachment plugs are in use.
Entry Requirements :
US citizens require a passport and a visa to enter Angola.
UK citizens require a passport and a visa to enter Angola.
Canadians require a passport and a visa to enter Angola.
Australians require a passport and a visa to enter Angola.
South African nationals require a passport and a visa to enter Angola.
Irish citizens require a passport and a visa to enter Angola.
New Zealand nationals require a passport and a visa to enter Angola.
Passport/Visa Note :
A valid passport and a visa are required for travel to Angola. Applications for visas must be made in advance in the travellers' home country. A valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is also essential for entry to Angola (the alternative is to face the risky mandatory immunisation at the airport). We recommend that passports be valid for six months from date of arrival, but officially Angola makes no such stipulation.
Travel Health :
Yellow fever vaccinations are required for entry to Angola if coming from infected countries. Malaria, hepatitis A and B, rabies and polio are all prevalent in the country, which has poor medical facilities excluding those in Luanda. Travellers should practise food and hygiene measures. Drinking water should be treated or bought in sealed bottles (avoid ice cubes in drinks) and care should be taken with hygiene and food, particularly street food. It is wise to take Malaria prophylaxis when travelling through Angola. In Luanda there are one or two good private clinics, but these are extremely expensive and require on-the-spot payment. Comprehensive medical insurance is therefore necessary, with provision for medical repatriation by air. The water supply is unsafe to drink, visitors should drink bottle water. Visitors should also avoid eating unpeeled, unwashed fruit and vegetables. The milk in Angola is unpasteurised and should be boiled; alternatively use tinned milk reconstituted with purified water.
If a service charge is not included in the bill, a tip of 10% is acceptable, though tipping is not officially encouraged in Angola.
Safety Information :
Most foreign governments warn against non-essential travel to Angola due to civil unrest and threats to personal safety of travellers. However, visitors careful with personal security and travelling in a group should encounter few problems. Travel after dark is not recommended. The greatest risk for travellers is crime, particularly in the capital, Luanda, where muggings, car-jackings and armed hold-ups are commonplace. Many civilians are armed. Those for whom travel outside of Luanda is essential should travel only with sponsors who have made arrangements for safety and security support. Particularly dangerous are the north and south Luanda Provinces, where the police and armed forces have been actively expelling illegal immigrants and unlicensed diamond prospectors. Cabinda Province is also dangerous; kidnappings and attacks on foreigners have occurred. Travellers should be cautious due to the widespread poverty, disease and shattered infrastructure and the vast amount of unexploded ordnance still present throughout the country. Due to recent violent attacks, the border between Angola and the DRC, as well as Angola and the Republic of Congo have been closed until further notice. There have been reports of scams by airport officials in Luanda who try to extort money from visitors without a yellow fever vaccination card.
Local Customs :
Do not take photographs of government buildings, or use binoculars near them, as this could lead to arrest. Homosexual practices are frowned upon. Drunk passengers arriving at the airport may be refused entry and deported.
Oil is the main industry in Angola, but diamond mining is also important; the country is the world's fourth largest provider of uncut diamonds. It is essential to develop personal, face-to-face relationships with local business contacts. Knowledge of Portuguese, the official language, is an advantage as there are limited translation services and outside the oil industry few people speak English fluently; French and Spanish are also useful. Angolan business dress is usually casual; ties are not neces
sary for men. Office hours are Monday to Thursday 7.30am to 6.30pm with a two-hour break from 12.30pm, and closed on Friday afternoons; some offices will also be open on Saturday mornings from 8.30am.
The international dialling code for Angola is +244. There are many more mobile telephones than fixed lines and the mobile coverage around Luanda and other main centres is much more reliable than fixed lines. Internet access is available at most major hotels.
Duty Free :
Travellers to Angola over 18 years do not have to pay duty on 400 cigarettes or 500g cigars or other tobacco products; 250ml eau de toilette, 50ml perfume or aftershave; 2 litres wine or 1 litre spirits and gifts or souvenirs to the value of US$ 500. Prohibited and restricted items include firearms, ammunition or explosive materials; dangerous medicines, foodstuffs or drugs; pornographic material; plants originating from infected areas; gaming machines; pure alcohol; animals without corresponding certificates and stamps of value.
Quatro de Fevereiro International Airport
Location: The airport is two miles (4km) from Luanda.
Time: GMT +1.
Contacts: Tel: +244 (0)2 352387
Getting to the city: Although there are buses from the airport to the city, it is better to use one of several taxi operators at the airport. It should be noted that taxi payment is by cash only (kwanzas or US dollars). Visitors are advised to make advance arrangements to be met by their sponsor, hotel representative or business colleagues.
Car rental: Avis, Europcar, Hertz, Sixt and Win Car Rental all have facilities at the airport.
Airport Taxis: There are several taxi companies operating around the airport and taxi payment is by cash only (drivers will also accept US Dollars).
Facilities: Airport facilities include a restaurant, bar, post office, currency exchange, and 24-hour medical facilities offering a cholera and yellow fever vaccination service.
Parking: There are three parking areas in front of the terminal with capacity for approximately 850 vehicles. There is no parking reservation service.
Departure tax: None.
Being a large country, Angola's climate varies according to region. The north has a wet, hot, tropical climate, becoming dryer as it extends south, until desert conditions prevail in the southern strip between the central plateau and the border with Namibia. Luanda's climate is moderately tropical. The dry, cooler season is from June to late September, while the rainy, hot summer season extends from October to May. Average temperatures are hot and humid.
National Tourist Agency, Luanda: +244 222 372 750.
United States Embassy, Luanda: +244 222 641 000.
British Embassy, Luanda: +244 222 334 583.
Consulate of Canada, Harare, Zimbabwe (also responsible for Angola): +263 4 252 1815.
South African Embassy, Luanda: +244 222 339 126.
Irish Embassy, Maputo, Mozambique (also responsible for Angola): +002 5821 491 440.
Angolan Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 785
Foreign Embassies in Angola
Angolan Embassy, London, United Kingdom (also responsible for Ireland): +44 (0)20 7299 9850.
Angolan Embassy, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 234 1152.
Angolan Ambassy, Canberra, Australia: +61 656 341 9360.
Angolan Embassy, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 (0)12 342 0049.
110 (Police); 118 (Ambulance).
Angola Emergency Numbers
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