It is sometimes called the Future Monaco of Africa or the Future Dubai of Africa. The Angolans call it Africa’s Manhattan. These names reflect the fair degree of optimism that people have in the Angolan future as the petrodollars are quickly transforming the skyscrapers, the beaches, the real estate and pretty much everything that you can think of. While the security could still be an issue, the Angolan government takes security matters quite seriously. A few years ago, thousands of West Africans (mostly Nigerians) and Lebanese in Luanda were deported for engaging in petty crime. With so much to see in this booming economy, many might be interested in the Angolan Travel 101. So what you should you take note if you are planning to travel to Luanda?
This is the hard part. You must have an invitation from someone inside Angola. This could be a friend, your organization or company. Fortress Angola has the most stringent border policy in Africa and people don’t just walk into the country like in East African countries, West African countries or even South Africa. There are cases of people who have waited for months and have still been denied VISAs. If you are a tourist, the luckiest you can get is a 5 day or 15 day transit VISA that allows to get into the country stay briefly. The Angolan government is enforcing this policy as it fears there will be an influx of immigrants from other countries who might take jobs away from the locals. The best place to get an Angolan Visa is at a nearest Angolan embassy or consulate in your country.
Airlines to Angola
The Angolan capital Luanda is served by numerous airlines including Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, TAAG Angola Airlines, South African Airways, British Airways, Emirates, Brussels Airlines, Lufthansa, TAP Portugal and Iberia. The Angolan Airline Sonair owned by the giant Angolan oil company Sonangol provides express services between Houston and Luanda mainly for oil executives while also serving various domestic routes.
Yellow Fever Certificate
This is mandatory. Without a yellow fever certificate, you will face a lot of difficulty getting past the immigration officials.
Getting Around Luanda
You can get around Luanda in public service vehicles (Candongueiros). There is a fleet of new buses that you can use to get around the city. You may also get around the city in personal cars or through car rental services (Next post on Angola will cover car rental services in the city). While the Angolan roads have undergone renovation in recent years, the traffic in Luanda can be painful. Parking can also be a problem in Luanda. This is a city that was planned for half a million people and now has some 5 million people or 25% of the Angolan population.
Accommodation in Luanda
Accommodation is another of Luanda’s pitfalls. Remember that this is the second most expensive city in the world after Tokyo. A decent hotel will likely set you back some $400 to $600 per night. It is important to make reservation in advance as the hotels are mostly fully booked by various visitors and executives.
Dining in Luanda
Another of Luanda’s main disadvantages is the cost of food. Angola imports almost everything. With such a consumer based economy, prices of common consumer items have skyrocketed. For example, a 500ml soda costs between $8 and $10. In Kenya, the same costs between $0.40 and $2 depending on the establishment. To illustrate further the costs of food in Luanda and Angola in general, a regular lunch will cost you $30; in Kenya the same costs $7 on average. A great diner in Angola will set you back $70, something that costs $25 in Kenya on average. To get by on a daily basis, you will need an average of $150 for meals.
You need to learn some basic Portuguese if you are visiting Angola. The Portuguese influence in the country is quite extensive. Remember that Portugal had a presence in this country for almost 500 years. In restaurants, you will probably need a translator to make orders. The same applies to everything else. With some basic Portuguese, you can easily get by in Angola.
There are lots of attractions in Luanda and Angola. Next posts will cover top attractions in Angola.
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