The last Portugese colony in Africa to get independence, Angola is Africa’s seventh largest and the world’s 23 largest country. After its independence, it suffered for years as civil war hit the entire country and lasted for 27 years and millions died.
It’s a coastal country with the Atlantic Ocean in its west, Namibia to its south, Zambia to the east, and the Democratic Republic of Congo to the north.
Before reading about Angola, all I knew about it was the civil war that had wiped out a million people! Turns out there is so much to see in Angola. There are some fantastic surreal places you can visit here, and once you finish reading the facts, do definitely look at the stunning waterfalls, and the “view point of the moon”. The latter, you won’t have seen anything like it! I wish more media focussed on the beauty of these countries rather than just on violence, but despite the difficulties in its visa process, the high costs for tourists, I would love to visit Angola just to see its natural beauty.
Interesting Facts about Angola:
1) At 105 metres high and 400 metres wide, the Kalandula waterfalls is a spectacular waterfall in Angola. It is Africa’s second largest waterfall, after Victoria falls. It’s a five hours drive from Luanda, in Malanje province.
2) Luanda is one of the world’s most expensive city for expats. The capital city is also sometimes referred to as the Paris of Africa. Of course the expenses have got nothing to do with the nickname.
3) Their main dance is the Semba. The word comes from the word ‘massemba’ which means ‘touching of the bellies’. And so, the dance follows the same rules! The Semba is also known as the music of the sea.
It’s frequently confused with the Brazilian Samba and many believe that the Samba originated from the Semba once the Portugese took Angolan labourers to Brazil. Either way, its a very fun dance and I’d love to learn it!
It has also given rise to the dance form – Kizomba which is now widely popular in Europe and USA.
4) Angola has one of the youngest populations in the world. Almost 70 percent of the people are below age 24. This can be attributed to the long civil war in which over 1 million people died.
5) It has a shortage of men! Because of the war, many men died. It is also common practice for a man to have several wives because of this lopsided ratio.
Have you seen our amazing Annapurna Trek yet?
6) Despite the long years of violence, Angola is one of the wealthiest countries of Africa. Due to bountiful oil and gas resources and precious diamonds, its now the sixth richest country in Africa.
7) A lot of popular Angolan dishes are stew based. The common ingredients are rice, beans, chicken, pork, fish, sweet potato, tomatoes and okra and various sauces. Try the Moamba de galinha (chicken cooked in a red palm oil sauce called moamba de dendem) if you are in Angola 🙂
8) There is one tree that is special to Angolan, it’s called “imbondeiro”. Popular belief says that God planted this tree, also known as “Boabob” upside down. The unusual looking imbondeiro tree can be found growing all over the country and on local artwork.
9) Its illegal to click pictures of any government buildings or even look at them through binoculars. It’s also illegal to take their currency, Kwanza, out of the country
10 ) The Giant Sable Antelopes that was supposedly extinct, it was recently discovered can now be found only in Angola. The males’ horns can grow upto 165 cms (almost 5 and a half feet!!) and female horns grow upto 142 cms (more than 4 and a half feet). These curves horns help protect themselves against predators.
Recommendations if you are visiting Angola:
1) Kalandula waterfalls – Total no brainer. This majestic waterfalls is probably the most beautiful thing you will see in Angola. It’s massive, you can go to the bottom (2 hour trek), the view from the top is spectacular. You also get a vantage view point from a cafe nearby. The Ruacana falls near the Namibian border are also absolutely stunning!
2) Viewpoint of the Moon – There is so much that has been written about the moon. Why should Neil Armstrong be the only one to see it! Who said you need to sit in a rocket and leave the earth in order to experience the moon? Instead, take a short trip to Belas, just a few kilometres south of Luanda. You’ll reach a place where the blue of the ocean blends with the yellowish ochre rock cliffs. At this point, you know you’ve arrived at the Miradouro da Lua (“Viewpoint of the Moon”). Its name is derived from the rocky formations that centuries of erosion have shaped into something resembling a lunar landscape. And it will make you feel as if you are on the moon. Absolutely unmissable!
3) Tundavala – Near the town of Lubango, is this natural geological formation. There are two steep cliffs separated by a small gap, and a green valley below. The views are spectacular.
You can also visit Kissama National Park to see giraffes, elephants, a huge variety of birds. The beaches to the south are beautiful and deserted. Luanda is a vibrant city, and has also been called the “Paris of Africa”, so overall loads of things you can do in your Angola trip!
Do Indians need a visa for Angola?