Situated in Central Africa, west of Zambia and northof Namibia, Angola is slowly realising its potential after decadesof bloody civil war following independence from Portugal in 1975. Astunning coastline strung with beautiful sandy beaches, amountainous interior that gives way to deep gorges and tumblingwaterfalls, and a number of national parks and wildlife reservesthroughout, Angola offers an array of opportunities for eco-tourismto visitors. Natural beauty aside, the country also boasts a richtraditional culture, culinary specialities and a people that areknown for their hospitality and friendliness.
The picture is not entirely rosy, however, and thelack of infrastructure, the difficulties and dangers of overlandtransport, and poor health services are challenges travellers needto consider, particularly outside of the capital Luanda. But signsof economic recovery are evident, and the fact that Angola is richin natural resources such as diamonds and gas, as well as being oneof Africa's largest oil exporters, brings hope for development inthe not too distant future.
Luanda has a mildly tropical climate with little variation intemperature throughout the year. Summer (October to May) averages77°F (25°C), and is Angola's rainy season; the heavy rains can makeroads impassable and conditions decidedly uncomfortable. Somepopular tourist attractions close for the rainy season. Winter(June to September) is slightly cooler and much drier, withtemperature averages between 65°F (18°C) and 72°F (22°C), and isconsidered tourist season.
Being a large country, Angola's climate varies according toregion. The north has a wet, hot, tropical climate, becoming dryeras it extends south, until desert conditions prevail in thesouthern strip between the central plateau and the border withNamibia. Luanda's climate is moderately tropical. The dry, coolerseason is from June to late September, while the rainy, hot summerseason extends from October to May. Average temperatures are hotand humid.
The unit of currency is the Kwanza (AOA). Visitors should bringenough cash for their needs. Money can be exchanged at bureaux dechange. Newly issued US dollars are the most acceptable currency.Credit cards are only accepted in larger hotels, and cashwithdrawals are not possible. Few ATMs in Luanda accept foreigncards. Residents and non-residents can take up to 50 000 Kwanzasout of Angola.
The official language of Angola is Portuguese. Multipleother African languages are spoken including Umbundu and Chokwe.Some French and Spanish is also spoken.
Electrical current in Angola is 220 volts, 50Hz. Roundtwo-pin plugs are in use.
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 to enter Angola. Theyare exempt from obtaining a visa for a stay of up to 30 days.
Irish citizens require a passport and a visa to enterAngola.
US citizens require a passport and a visa to enter Angola.
New Zealand nationals require a passport and a visa to enterAngola.
A valid passport and visa are required for travel to Angola.Applications for visas must be made in advance in the travellers'home country. Passengers with a confirmation of an approved visabefore departure can obtain a visa upon arrival. A valid yellowfever vaccination certificate is also essential for entry to Angola(the alternative is to face the risky mandatory immunisation at theairport). Passports must be valid for six months from date ofarrival, and have at least three adjacent blank pages for Angolanvisa stamps.
Yellow fever vaccinations are required for entry to Angola ifcoming from infected countries. Malaria, hepatitis A and B, rabies,and polio are all prevalent in the country, which has poor medicalfacilities excluding those in Luanda.
Travellers should practise food and hygiene measures. Drinkingwater should be treated or bought in sealed bottles (avoid icecubes in drinks) and care should be taken with hygiene and food,particularly street food. It is wise to take Malaria prophylaxiswhen travelling through Angola.
In Luanda there are one or two good private clinics, but theseare extremely expensive and require on-the-spot payment.Comprehensive medical insurance is therefore necessary, withprovision for medical repatriation by air. The water supply isunsafe to drink, visitors should drink bottle water. Visitorsshould also avoid eating unpeeled, unwashed fruit and vegetablesand be wary of milk and milk products, as these items are oftenunpasteurised.
If a service charge is not included in the bill, a tip of 10percent is acceptable, though tipping is not officially encouragedin Angola.
Most foreign governments warn against non-essential travel toparts of Angola due to civil unrest and threats to personal safetyof travellers. However, visitors careful with personal security andtravelling in a group should encounter few problems. Travel afterdark is not recommended. The greatest risk for travellers is crime,particularly in the capital, Luanda, where muggings, car-jackingsand armed hold-ups have been reported. Many civilians are armed.Those for whom travel outside of Luanda is essential should travelonly with sponsors who have made arrangements for safety andsecurity support. Particularly dangerous are the north and southLuanda Provinces, where the police and armed forces have beenactively expelling illegal immigrants and unlicensed diamondprospectors. Cabinda Province is also dangerous; kidnappings andattacks on foreigners have occurred. Travellers should be cautiousdue to the widespread poverty, disease and shattered infrastructureand the vast amount of unexploded ordnance still present throughoutthe country. There have been reports of scams by airport officialsin Luanda who try to extort money from visitors without a yellowfever vaccination card.
Do not take photographs of government buildings, or usebinoculars near them, as this could lead to arrest. Homosexualpractices are frowned upon.
Oil is the main industry in Angola, but diamond mining is alsoimportant. It is essential to develop personal, face-to-facerelationships with local business contacts. Knowledge ofPortuguese, the official language, is an advantage as there arelimited translation services and outside the oil industry fewpeople speak English fluently; French and Spanish are also useful.Angolan business dress is usually casual; ties are not necessaryfor men. Office hours are Monday to Friday 7.30am to 6.30pm with abreak from 12.30pm; many businesses close on Fridays while someoffices will also be open on Saturday mornings from 8.30am.
The international dialling code for Angola is +244. There aremany more mobile telephones than fixed lines and the mobilecoverage around Luanda and other main centres is much more reliablethan fixed lines. Internet access is available at most majorhotels.
Travellers to Angola over 18 years do not have to pay duty on400 cigarettes or 500g cigars or other tobacco products; 250ml eaude toilette, 50ml perfume or aftershave; 2 litres wine or 1 litrespirits and gifts or souvenirs to the value of about US$ 860.Prohibited and restricted items include firearms, ammunition orexplosive materials; dangerous medicines, foodstuffs or drugs;pornographic material; plants originating from infected areas;gaming machines; pure alcohol; animals without correspondingcertificates and stamps of value.
National Tourist Agency, Luanda: +244 222 372 750.
Angolan Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 7851156.
Angolan Embassy, London, United Kingdom (also responsible forIreland): +44 20 7299 9850.
Angolan Embassy, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 12 342 0049.
Angolan Embassy, Singapore (also responsible for Australia): +656341 9360.
United States Embassy, Luanda: +244 94 644 0977.
British Embassy, Luanda: +244 222 334 583.
Honorary Consulate of Canada, Luanda: +244 222 448 371.
South African Embassy, Luanda: + 244 222 460 818.
Honorary Consulate of Australia, Luanda: +244 923 214 101.
Irish Embassy, Maputo, Mozambique (also responsible for Angola):+258 21 491 440.
Public transport in Luanda is limited and the best means ofgetting around the city is by private car. Car hire is availablefrom the airport; it's possible to also hire a car with a driver,which is a safer option than trying to navigate the city's chaoticstreets alone. Minibus taxis (Candongueiros), recognised by theirpale blue and white colouring, are the most popular means oftransport for the local population; they generally offer a safe andfast means of transport around Luanda. Buses and trains are alsoavailable, but are not the most reliable transport in the city andare not recommended.