Angola :: Angola
Category: Places :: Country
TOP ATTRACTION: Christo Rei (Jesus Christ Statue)
TOP ATTRACTION: Cabo Ledo
TOP ATTRACTION: Bridge Rio Catumbela
TOP ATTRACTION: Tundavala Viewpoint (Alt. 2252m)
TOP ATTRACTION: Serra da Leba Mountain Pass
TOP ATTRACTION: Pedras Negras (The Black Rocks)
TOP ATTRACTION: Miradouro da Lua
TOP ATTRACTION: Lake Arco
TOP ATTRACTION: Kumbira Forest Reserve
TOP ATTRACTION: Foz do Cunene
TOP ATTRACTION: The Death Acre (Doodsakker) 4WD Trail
TOP ATTRACTION: Cachoeira do Binga Waterfall
TOP ATTRACTION: Shipwreck Beach
TOP ATTRACTION: Iona National Park
TOP ATTRACTION: Ilha de Mussulo
TOP ATTRACTION: Flamingo River Canyon
TOP ATTRACTION: Calandula Waterfall
Thanks to a civil war which only ended in 2002, this country was pretty inaccessible to self-drive overlanders for many years. And it certainly didn’t help that up until 2017 it was near impossible to get a tourist visa to visit here. Add in the landmines still to be cleared and unfriendly officialdom, and you had more than enough reasons to stay away. But the few travellers who managed to visit this former Portuguese colony during the past decade or so, raved about it, particularly the country’s scenic diversity and fishing opportunities.
The locals are friendly and helpful but communication is difficult unless you speak some Portuguese. The Angolan economy is currently strong, with large infrastructure rebuilding projects underway. Although most of the country has been cleared of landmines, travellers should be attentive to signs indicating possible landmines, especially when travelling away from major routes.
Few people feel comfortable overlanding Angola on their own and T4A’s limited map coverage of the country confirms that this remains a seldom-visited destination. But while some will find the lack of tourism infrastructure a negative - for others - the isolation, wide open spaces and the rare opportunity to safely wild camp will prove irresistible. Angola has a lot to offer the adventurous overlander, it’s a challenge but your reward is a piece of pristine Africa, unspoilt by tourist traffic.
Ever since the country’s independence, rebels from the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC) have been active in Angola’s north, though at a low level. This movement seeks independence for Cabinda province and related conflicts flare up sporadically. In March 2020 a warning was issued against non-essential travel to North and South Lunda Provinces, where there has been police activity to expel illegal diamond miners. Fortunately, neither Cabinda nor Lunda are on the normal tourist routes.
BORDER POST RED TAPE:
When you’re travelling across African borders in a vehicle, certain documents will be required by all countries:
A valid passport, with at least six months remaining validity before expiry. (Double check that it’s stamped with the correct date of entry at immigration when entering the country).
A certified copy of the vehicle registration papers in the name of the driver. It is advisable to have extra copies.
A letter of authority from the registered owner if the driver is not the owner of the vehicle.
If the vehicle is still being financed, carry a letter of authority from the bank (must include dates of travel) together with the vehicle registration papers.
A yellow fever certificate. Some countries in Africa are endemic yellow fever countries. You will need a yellow fever certificate if you’ve come from such a country.
Also check which vaccinations are required for the countries you intend to visit and carry proof of these.
If you plan an extended trip through Southern Africa, it will be worth your while to get a Carnet de Passage. If you don’t have a Carnet you will need to obtain a Temporary Import Permit (TIP) on arrival at each border post. There usually is a fee payable. Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland only require a Carnet for vehicles entering from outside the Southern African Common Customs Area. However, upon entering South Africa, drivers of vehicles registered in neighbouring countries (Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique) can register their vehicles with customs and get a permit free of charge which allows them access for six months.
Although only Namibia, South Africa and Zambia require proof of vehicle insurance, it’s best to travel fully insured. Double check that your insurance will cover you in all the countries you intend visiting.
All vehicles must display their international licence plate country code (bold block letters in uppercase on a small white oval plate or sticker) near the number plate on the rear of the vehicle.
Some countries like Angola, require additional documentation: Three colour photos of your car (front, back, and side) printed on an A4 sheet.
It is advisable to keep the letter of invitation or hotel reservation with you, in case the immigration officer wants to see it.
Third-Party Insurance: Angola and Mozambique only accept their own local Third Party Insurance which must be obtained at the border.
Customs: Border post officials have the right to search or inspect your vehicle for illegal imports, contraband or imported items which exceed allowable limits. While this right is not often exercised, you should remember that they’re perfectly entitled to perform such searches; getting angry or indignant about it isn’t going to make things better.
Have a list of all your valuable electronic equipment (with serial numbers) available and declare them
Foreigners have to declare all valuables such as cameras, electronic and camping equipment (e.g. rooftop tent) when they enter South Africa.
Travelling with pets is challenging. Some countries require an import permit for your cat/dog and all countries require a veterinary health certificate, issued at your point of origin. How long this certificate is valid for varies from country to country, and some might require your pet to undergo a period of quarantine when entering. Such quarantine facilities are not available at border posts, usually only at airports, so it is best to check before travelling.
Restricted goods: Weapons and ammunition cannot be imported without authorization from the Ministry of Interior. Fireworks and explosives are restricted without written authorization from the Ministry of Interior. Importation of denatured pure alcohol must be approved by the Ministry of Health. Pharmaceuticals substances (other than for private use) cannot be imported without authorization from the Health Ministry.
Prohibited goods: Counterfeit money and goods. Pornographic material. Any form of narcotics, habit-forming drugs and related substances. Military firearms, ammunition, explosives and dangerous weapons. Endangered species of plant, live animals and their products are prohibited under CITES. Plants and plant materials. Meat of swine and by-products of swine origin from South Africa. Live poultry and hatching eggs originated from Asian and European countries. Live cloven-hoofed animals (bovine animals, sheep, goats, swine, buffaloes, antelopes, etc) and animal products thereof, originating from the State of Mato Grosso in Brazil and its neighbouring states. Distilled beverages containing essences or recognized harmful products as absinthe, or ether-derived products. Select items of cultural heritage.
Angolan kwanza. The US dollar is also widely accepted. Cash is king!
DRIVING IN ANGOLA:
They drive on the right-hand side of the road.
Roads are riddled with potholes and eroded, and driving is challenging especially during the rainy season (November – April).
Most of the country’s principal connecting routes have been tarred but many of the secondary roads require a rugged vehicle. A 4WD is seldom required on the busier roads in the west during the dry season but is required for the secondary roads during the wet season.
Avoid the southwest of Angola during the rainy season as you might get stuck in the black cotton soil. Luanda’s traffic is extremely congested and its traffic lights are often out of order. It’s best to park and explore the city on foot.
Other factors, like wandering livestock and badly-overloaded vehicles, mean that one should always expect the unexpected. A branch in the road means that a vehicle has broken down in the vicinity. Slow down and be careful.
Local drivers, especially the poorly-maintained blue and white taxis or buses, are notorious for reckless and aggressive driving. There are also many motorbikes on the roads. Buses and heavy vehicles cutting into oncoming traffic at high speed are a great danger, especially since road shoulders are very narrow.
The use of drones for recreational purposes has become increasingly popular in recent years. What an amazing way to record your trip and share it with others! However, you can’t just pack your drone and go filming as you wish.
If you want to use your footage commercially, you have to obtain a permit in advance. Some countries require permits for recreational drone use as well. These have to be acquired at least 30 days before you enter the country.
At the time of writing (January 2021) the following countries in southern Africa required permits for drones for recreational purposes: Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. As new laws may come into effect at any time, it is best to check with the aviation authority of the country/countries you plan to visit.
Fuel is cheap in Angola but there are a limited number of service stations and the queues are lengthy. All fuel stations are open from 08h00 to 16h00; a few, in major cities and on the highway, are open 24 hours.
Some Luanda locals empty fuel station tanks into yellow plastic containers over weekends and then sell these next to the road at black market prices. Carry a fuel funnel and filter with you to filter impurities and water out of diesel. In some cases paraffin is added to the fuel. If you suspect this, add 200ml of 2-stoke oil per tank of diesel to help prevent damage.
Electronic pay points (ATMs) are not always operational so you should always be prepared to pay for fuel with cash.
Angola had one of the highest levels of landmines and unexploded ordnance in the world. Travellers should still be extremely cautious when they go off the beaten track. Areas where mines remain are marked with red skull and crossbones signs or red stones.
POLICE & REGULATIONS:
The entrance to every town features a police checkpoint but these officials are usually very friendly and take an interest in tourists. You should not encounter problems if your paperwork is in order and you are patient and polite.
Make sure you have your vehicle documentation with you when driving.
All foreign-registered vehicles must display their international country code license plate (bold block letters in uppercase on a small white oval plate or sticker) near the number plate on the rear of the vehicle.
Reflective emergency jacket in the vehicle.
Two warning triangles in the vehicle.
Fire extinguisher in the vehicle.
Wearing safety belts is compulsory for all vehicle occupants whilst travelling.
Using handheld phones while driving is illegal.
Drivers must give right of way to traffic coming from their right.
The speed limit is 60 km/h in urban areas and 100 km/h on open roads.
Overtaking is prohibited: At speed bumps; Immediately before and at pedestrian crossings; Immediately before and at intersections and junctions; Immediately before and at railway crossings; At curves in the road; At all locations where visibility is limited; On bridges and in tunnels; When another vehicle is overtaking.
GMT+1 West Africa Time.
Citizens of the following 11 countries can visit Angola for up to 30 days (per visit) without a visa: Botswana, Cape Verde, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Singapore, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Since early 2018 Angola has been issuing 30 day tourist e-visas in a simplified procedure to visitors from 59 countries. Visitors must first apply for a pre-visa online with the Migration and Foreigners Service. After the pre-visa is granted, they can then obtain an e-visa on arrival at the following designated ports of entry. Apply at: www.onlinevisa.com/angola-visa/
Quatro de Fevereiro Airport (Luanda)
Massabi (Republic of the Congo border)
Luau (Democratic Republic of the Congo border)
Curoca (Namibia border)
59 countries eligible for the e-visa: European Union, Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Cuba, Eswatini, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Monaco, Morocco, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, São Tomé and Príncipe, South Korea, Switzerland, Timor-Leste, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Vatican City and Venezuela.
For safety reasons you should not leave your car parked with valuables visible, nor should you park your car in the street at night.
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