Luanda, Lobito and Angolan hospitality (April-May 2014)


We spent about a week with Andrew, Christina and their lovely girl Savannah in Luanda before moving on. During that time we got a bit of an insight into living in this city away from the gated communities of expats including frequent power cuts and leaking water tanks. Luandas water front and its peninsula are modern and well developed with some beautiful colonial buildings but moving away from the sea shanty towns similar to Brazilian favelas are a more common sight. The contrast between rich and poor is a stark one with half of the 6 million inhabitants living in poverty. The traffic can be horrific, the roads are either very bad or very good and restaurant prices are high. That said there are plenty of well stocked supermarkets that are more affordable than one might believe. Overlanders have another perk in the local yacht club allowing them to stay for free with a beautiful view over Luandas skyline. During our stay we enjoyed the amazing hospitality of and evenings with our hosts, visited the beautifully restored Fortress of Sao Miguel overlooking the city, got some minor repairs done and even found a Vietnamese electrician to solder the charging socket of our laptop – an issue that accompanied us since Cameroon.

After stocking up we left in eastern direction to visit the Kalandula Falls, some of the largest of its kind in Africa. Contrary to the Victoria Falls they are very little developed and apart from some locals taking a bath we had them for ourselves. The falls are a magnificent sight especially close to the rainy season and we left quite impressed in search of a little waterfall further away that Andrew told us about. We drove on a small track through the dark until finally arriving and immediately being attacked by hundreds of insects before falling asleep to the sound of the water.

After a refreshing shower under the falls I dismantled the front end of the car to get to the radiator. During our little offroad adventure in Angolas north with its heavily overgrown tracks we collected thousands of little seeds that brought the airflow to a complete halt. A simple seed net would have prevented the painstaking task of picking those out one by one with a hair needle. During the day we made a halt at one of our beloved street food shacks. These are found throughout West and Central Africa and provide a cheap set meal usually developing around a local staple or rice with a spicy sauce and some meat or fish when closer to the sea. This time we enjoyed a filling goat stew before heading on to the Pedras Negras or Black Rocks of Pundo Andongo. These rock formations stick out of the surrounding landscapes and are especially beautiful at sunset and sunrise. We had the pleasure to enjoy both as we bush camped on a small clearing in between them. In the morning some mystical fog was hanging over the rocks as we were sitting on top of them letting the sun come up on the horizon.

We left the brand new tarmac roads and followed a small overgrown and washed out track into the mountains. The goal was a fazenda where we bought 3kg of locally grown and roasted coffee. The petrol stations that followed once back on the larger roads all ran out of fuel and we basically rolled down a hill on the last fumes when finding one that had supplies. In search of a bush camp around sunset we followed a small track that deteriorated into a walking path when suddenly one of the rear tires lost all its air. We had hit a hidden piece of metal which stuck out from the side of the bush and sliced up the tire. In the light of our head torches I fixed it as good as I could with the tire repair kit and its vulcanizing stripes. Usually this should not work on the sidewalls but we continued driving on that tire for thousands of kilometers in Angola and Namibia. We set up camp just next to the path as it was too dark to continue.

The following morning we got woken up at 5:30 by passing women who greeted us but clearly couldn’t explain themselves what this vehicle and its passenger were doing here. Before the whole village would show up we packed our things and drove up into some hills again. Thick fog covered the landscapes and we could barely see 5 meters in front of us. When the fog cleared we were treated to a beautiful mountainous drive with large rock monoliths dotting the landscape until the village of Seles. Arriving back at the cost in the afternoon attempts were made to access the beach but we only ended up getting lost in the fields of the local farmers. So instead we called up Mario, the president of Angolas Land Cruiser Club who had heard about us being in the country and wanted to meet with us. We headed for the coastal town of Lobito which is an unusual sight laying at a hilly coast which is devoid of any natural vegetation and only consist of yellow lime stone and sand. It features a thin peninsula not unlike the one in Luanda where a lot of colonial architecture is still intact. On the tip of this peninsula we found the Zulu restaurant which allows the rare overlanders who come through to camp for free right at its beach. Here we met Gianni and Fabienne who are traveling through Africa clockwise. We would have surely met on the east coast as they were only a week or so ahead of us but they must have gotten the last ferry to depart from Turkey to Egypt. We spent a nice evening with the two of them and Mario who invited us for dinner.

We were invited to stay at Marios house and the following days he took us on sightseeing tours in and around his home town. We ate at some amazing sea food restaurants, visited the ruins of Portuguese forts, went to the spectacular desert coast line at Caotinha, got a car service and new battery in his workshop and extended our Angolan visa in neighboring Benguela, where Jasmine was not allowed to enter due to a strict dress code. After returning from there I started to feel very feverish and had to stay behind while Jasmine went out for dinner with Mario. The following day it worsened with many more symptoms and 40°C fever so I took one of the malaria quick tests we had left from Sierra Leone. The result was negative so I just tried to sleep it out before heading back to Benguela to pick up our passports the next morning. Late we dropped by a small laboratory who were only able to do blood tests for malaria or typhoid. I got a positive result on the former and went to the next pharmacy run by a very friendly Lebanese. The acquired medication already showed some results on the following day and I felt a bit less weak. In general my malaria infection seemed to have a bit less severe effects than the one Jasmine got in Sierra Leone.

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