Angola is in an economical crisis at the moment. The inflation rate is high and expats are no longer allowed to bring the local currency out of the country. Therefore there is a huge black market for currency where people would pay four times the official rate for dollars and euros. We used that to our advantage and got lots of local currency for the euros we had brought. Just like when we exchanged at the black market in Nigeria we were stuck with lots of cash that we could not use or exchange outside the country. So we stopped in Lubango to spend the rest.
Our food kitty was easily spent on spaghetti, tomato paste and other food that we use a lot. Most people also stocked up on and filled the truck with snacks and alcohol which was sure to be finished by the time we reach Cape Town.
Lubango was also a place known for having the World’s third biggest Jesus statue, only surpassed by Lisbon and Rio. It also had a huge Hollywood like sign next to it. After we had played around with the two and taken plenty of pictures, we set off towards Namibia.
The landscape through Angola must have been the most beautiful on our trip, with curvy roads winding up the mountains.
Having driven for almost two weeks straight, mainly bushcamping without showers or much rest, it was time to put on the breaks as we reached Angola. At the border, the bridge between DRC and Angola was being repaired so there was also nothing else to do than to relax and spend the night between the two countries. The immigration officer showed us where we could camp and was helpful changing money and going beer shopping for us- a lit more friendly than the border officers of the previous countries you could say!
Well into Angola we set up camp at a beach north of Luanda where we could do some laundry and cook meals on a bonfire. It was also quite an amazing place to see sunsets and charge our human batteries as we had the beach all to ourselves.
Driving into the Angolan capital was a totally different experience though. Everywhere we looked there were tall sky scrapers, something we almost hadn’t seen the last six months traveling through West Africa, just like bus stops, city parks, pavement, Western junk street food etc. When walking along the city Corniché I felt more that I was in Singapore or Doha than somewhere in Africa. The city was just so much more organized than what we had gotten used to and quite comfortable to stroll around in for a day. We also went up to the city fortress which today served as a war museum. It was also an excellent viewpoint where we could see the city’s most famous landmarks; the Star Wars looking tower that was erected in memory of men lost in the war for liberation and the more older looking national Bank and Parliament building. Unfortunately official buildings was not allowed to be photographed and so was the poorer areas of the town as well. One police officer came up to Maria and demanded to look through and delete some of the pictures she had on her phone. Another approached Travis and told him to take off his ear studs as those were only for women. Some places it seemed like they were just as strict with littering as well, as some of the streets were just spotless. All in all it was quite an experience unlike any other we have had on our West Africa Trip.
When driving down most of Angola’s 1600km coastline we stopped at beaches far from towns, people and trash
In a group of fifteen people there will always be different opinions. My opinion was that it would be better to stay shorter at the beaches to be able to see more of cultural and natural sights, but already after a few days in Lobito I appreciated the majority of the group voting for staying a full week.
Lobito was probably the most comfortable place we had stayed on our whole Trans Africa trip as everything was so available in the huge supermarkets and the beaches were so clean and quiet. Lobito is an expat city as it has Angola’s deepest port where lots of European companies are operating and where there are rich people there are also fancy restaurants. We camped on the beach next to one of them called the Zulu Restaurant where they set up an outdoor screen every evening to show the European Football Cup. Watching the games on the beach with a cold “Cuca” beer, fast WiFi and some beautiful sunsets in the background was not wrong after the weeks of roughing it in the Congolese bush.
One of the days most of the group also went out fishing with hired boats and got lots of fish. The restaurant then offered to prepare the fish for us with some good sides and white wine. One of the days I also bought live chicken from the market that we slaughtered on the beach and cooked for lunch. With lots of blood to play around with, I showered myself and pretended I was a real viking before running dry heavingly into the ocean to clean the stinking blood off my face. Some kilometers north of the city we also drove through some pretty awesome landscape called the moon Valley. Had it been in any other country then there would have been lots of other tourists, but here there were none. We had it all to ourselves and watched it for an hours time before driving onwards.
The Moon Valley 60kms outside of Luanda
I just discovered a genius way of displaying all posts on a Google Map using Map My Posts. The widget works with WordPress and can be downloaded from this page. It is really easy to install and simple for people to use. It simply groups your posts by country and add them to a clickable map like the one below:
I am also using a similar Wordpress widget called Map Route, which will be able to show you where I am going next: