ANGOLA: The “Phoenix” of Africa

KISSAMA NATIONAL PARK/ Photo: Walk About Alex

Tucked away in the south-western corner of Africa, lies the beautiful country of Angola.

At first glance, it seems this nation has nothing to offer, especially with its turbulent political past, but upon further exploration, one finds a rich and vibrant land that is the manifestation of the finest of “fantasies.

In recent years Angola has become a favourite holiday destination in Africa, and it is no surprise that the culture of the country has a noticeable Portuguese element (Language and religion) – a polished mix of native Bantu and Portuguese.- a balanced fusion that is a prime factor for the nation’s allure.

Anyone looking for an adventure in Angola would not leave disappointed. With a wide array of monuments and natural wonders, one is assured of fun, intrigue and inspiration when in the country. Any person visiting the country for the first, second or hundredth time should make an effort to visit some of these locations and/or undertake these activities:

KALANDULA FALLS: AN AWESOME SIGHT

KALANDULA FALLS/ Photo: José Carlos Lopes/YouTube
KALANDULA FALLS/ Photo: José Carlos Lopes/YouTube

This breath-taking spectacle is located in the north of the country. The waterfall is spread along 400m and falls 100m, from forested clifftops. The sight of the falls is magnificent and is particularly overwhelming at the end of the rainy season, when the Lucala River that “feeds” it is in full flood.

SANTIAGO AND PALMEIRINHAS: GO ON A WATERY INDULGENCE

For many years Angola has not only boasted of a vibrant and rich culture, but also of marvelous and picturesque beaches. Approximately 45 km south of Luanda (the country’s capital), lies Palmeirinhas beach. With snow-white sand and crystal-blue waters, it is comparable to the beaches of the Maldives and Bahamas. It is no wonder that it is a favourite spot for locals and travellers alike.

SANTIAGO AND PALMEIRINHAS/ Photo: Angola Image Bank
SANTIAGO AND PALMEIRINHAS/ Photo: Angola Image Bank

For fish lovers, Santiago beach is another option. It is in the opposite direction of Palmeirinhas, and boasts of some of the rarest and colorful fish on this planet.

KISSAMA NATIONAL PARK: FOR THE SAFARI LOVERS

Angola, like its neighbours (Congo, South Africa and Namibia), offers an amazing Safari experience to adventure seekers in the form of the beauty called the Kissama National Park (the only operational national park in the country). It is a driving distance from the capital and is home to an increasing array of wild animals, including the elephants and the rare palanca antelopes

KISSAMA NATIONAL PARK/ Photo: Walk About Alex
KISSAMA NATIONAL PARK/ Photo: Walk About Alex

THE MUSUEM OF SLAVERY: A PEEK INTO THE PAST

It is no secret that Africa was the main source of slaves before the universal abolishment of the slave trade. Every African country at one point or another had indigenes sold and shipped away to Europe and the Americas. Angola had a role in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, something that can be explored and understood at the Museum of Slavery, 25km along Luanda’s coast. There is a 17th-century chapel, where slaves were baptised, nearby.

 

LUANDA: MICROCOSM OF THE NATION

A trip to Angola would be incomplete without an adventure in Luanda! Since the restoration of peace in the nation, the capital has gradually developed into a beautiful city with numerous monuments. Luanda deserves a thorough exploration (more than just a quick stop on arrival from the airport). The city atmosphere is vibrant and youthful. Angolan culture is rich here, with the sound of music, the dress of the people, the culture and most importantly the food!

The serene Atlantic Ocean location draws one in- add the presence of historic churches and architectural treasures, that seem to line every street corner and you get a breathing brick layered mosaic that holds one spellbound. One of such monuments is the Mausoleum of Agostinho Neto, Angola’s first president. One thing is certain, whatever your feelings may be towards the monument, it certainly can’t be ignored.

 

FOOD: EXOTIC WHETTING OF THE APPETITE

Food is life, love, passion, all wrapped up into one!!

A visit to Angola would be incomplete, and almost criminal without a taste of the nation’s culinary repertoire. Because of Angola’s history with Portugal, the country’s cuisine is largely Portuguese inspired, with many food imported from Portugal.

Majority of the local dishes incorporate flour, beans, rice, chicken, okra, sauces, fish, vegetables and pork. There is an array of dishes to choose from a situation which may be troubling to those trying to watch their waistline.

Common dishes include:

ARROZ (RICE) DISHES: This includes, “Arroz de marisco”- white rice with seafood, typically prawns or lobster.
CALDEIRADA DE CABRITO: Goat meat stew served with rice. This is a traditional Independence Day (November 11) dish in the country.
CALULU: Dried fish with vegetables, such as okra, sweet potatoes, and Gimboa leaves (similar to spinach); often served with rice, and palm oil and beans.
MUKUA: An ice cream made from the dried fruit of the baobab tree.
PE-DE-MOLEQUE: A peanut and caramel candy.

There is no denying that Angola has a lot to offer. Despite its turbulent past it has risen out of the ashes (like phoenix) and is taking its place as an African tourist destination.

Whatever your reason may be for visiting Angola, one thing is certain, you won’t leave disappointed!



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