Angola, Africa - Stein Travel

Angola




    • 16+ years

    • 12-15 years

    • 2-11 years

    • 0-23 months


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Welcome to Angola

Situated in Central Africa, west of Zambia and north of Namibia, Angola is slowly realising its potential as a tourist hotspot after decades of bloody civil war, which followed independence from Portugal in 1975.

A stunning coastline strung with beautiful sandy beaches, a mountainous interior that gives way to deep gorges and tumbling waterfalls, and a number of national parks and wildlife reserves throughout, Angola offers hundreds of opportunities for eco-tourism to its visitors. Natural resources aside, the country also boasts a rich traditional culture, culinary specialities and people known for their hospitality and affability.

The picture is not entirely rosy, however, and the lack of infrastructure, the difficulties and dangers of overland transport, poor health services and crime are challenges travellers need to consider, particularly outside of the capital Luanda. But signs of economic recovery are evident, and the fact that Angola is rich in natural resources such as diamonds and gas, as well as being Africa's second largest oil exporter after Nigeria, brings hope of development for the not too distant future.


Business

Oil is the main industry in Angola, but diamond mining is also important; the country is the world's fourth largest provider of uncut diamonds. It is essential to develop personal, face-to-face relationships with local business contacts. Knowledge of Portuguese, the official language, is an advantage as there are limited translation services and outside the oil industry few people speak English fluently; French and Spanish are also useful. Angolan business dress is usually casual; ties are not necessary for men. Office hours are Monday to Thursday 7.30am to 6.30pm with a two-hour break from 12.30pm, and closed on Friday afternoons; some offices will also be open on Saturday mornings from 8.30am.

Climate

Being a large country, Angola's climate varies according to region. The north has a wet, hot, tropical climate, becoming dryer as it extends south until desert conditions prevail in the southern strip between the central plateau and the border with Namibia. Luanda's climate is moderately tropical. The dry, cooler season is from June to late September, while the rainy, hot summer season extends from October to May. Average temperatures are hot and humid.

Communications

The international dialling code for Angola is +244. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0027 for South Africa). City codes are in use. Domestic and international telecommunications services are unreliable with connections frequently lost. This also applies to the mobile network, although there is GSM 900 coverage around Luanda and other main centres provided by Unitel. There are more mobile telephones than fixed lines in Angola. There are some Internet service providers in operation and Internet access is available at most major hotels.

Customs

Do not take photographs of government buildings, or use binoculars near them as this could lead to arrest. Homosexual practices are frowned upon. Drunk passengers arriving at the airport may be refused entry and deported.

Duty Free

Travellers to Angola over 18 years do not have to pay duty on 400 cigarettes or 500g cigars or other tobacco products; 250ml eau de toilette, 50ml perfume or aftershave; 2 litres wine or 1 litre spirits and gifts or souvenirs to the value of US$500. Prohibited and restricted items include firearms, ammunition or explosive materials; dangerous medicines, foodstuffs or drugs; pornographic material; plants originating from infected areas; gaming machines; pure alcohol; animals without corresponding certificates and stamps of value.

Electricity
Electrical current in Angola is 220 volts, 50Hz. Round pin attachment plugs are in use.
Health

Yellow fever vaccinations are required for entry to Angola if coming from infected countries. Malaria, hepatitis A and B, rabies and polio are all prevalent in the country, which has poor medical facilities excluding those in Luanda. Travellers should practise food and hygiene measures. Drinking water should be treated or bought in sealed bottles (avoid ice cubes in drinks) and care should be taken with hygiene and food, particularly street food. It is wise to take Malaria prophylaxis when travelling through Angola. In Luanda there are one or two good private clinics, but these are extremely expensive and require on-the-spot payment. Comprehensive medical insurance is therefore necessary, with provision for medical repatriation by air. The water supply is unsafe to drink, visitors should avoid eating unpeeled fruit and vegetables and the Milk in Angola is unpasteurised and should be boiled; alternatively use tinned milk reconstituted with purified water.

Language
The official language of Angola is Portuguese. About 60 other African languages are spoken including Umbundu and Ovambo. Some French and Spanish is also spoken.
Money

The unit of currency in Angola is the Kwanza (AON), which is divided into 100 centimos. Visitors should bring enough cash for their needs. Money can be exchanged at authorised bureaux de change, of which there are several in Luanda. US dollars are the most acceptable currency, but only the newer series US dollar bills (with large faces) can be used. Credit cards have only very limited acceptance in some establishments, and cash withdrawals are not possible, so it is unwise to rely on them. The few ATMs in Luanda do not accept foreign cards, and travellers cheques are not welcome. Kwanza may not be taken out of Angola, and when departing from the airport, travellers can be subject to searches and possible confiscation of any Angolan currency.

Passport Visa

Applications for visas must be made in advance in the travellers' home country. A valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is also essential for entry to Angola (the alternative is to face the risky mandatory immunisation at the airport).

Safety

Most foreign governments warn against non-essential travel to Angola due to threats to personal safety and civil unrest. However visitors careful with personal security and travelling in a group should encounter few problems. Travel after dark is not recommended. Risks for travellers is crime, particularly in the capital, Luanda, where muggings, car-jackings and armed hold-ups are commonplace. Many civilians are armed. Those for whom travel outside of Luanda is essential should travel only with sponsors who have made arrangements for safety and security support. Particularly dangerous are the north and south Luanda Provinces, where the police and armed forces have been active expelling illegal immigrants and unlicensed diamond prospectors. Cabinda Province is also dangerous; kidnappings and attacks on foreigners have occurred. Travellers should be cautious due to the widespread poverty, disease and shattered infrastructure and the vast amount of unexploded ordnance still present throughout the country. Due to recent violent attacks, the border between Angola and the DRC, as well as Angola and the Republic of Congo have been closed until further notice. There have been reports of scams by airport officials in Luanda who try to extort money from visitors without a yellow fever vaccination card.

Time
Local time in Angola is GMT +1.
Tipping

If a service charge is not included in the bill a tip of 10% is acceptable, though tipping is not officially encouraged in Angola.


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