Angola

Trip Start Mar 11, 2009
1
25
55
Trip End Jan 05, 2010


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Flag of Angola  ,
Saturday, July 25, 2009

Due to some weird reason with the embassy on visas all we could get back in Abuja, Nigeria was a 5-day transit visa.  This is not really a suitable length of time for an overland truck to pass through this country, but there is nothing we could do.

16th - Crossed the DRC border at Lufu and changed our money to Kwanza.  Drove the 57km from the border to the large town of M'Banza Congo, we were held up a bit on the Angolan side of the border.  Here in town the cooks finished their shopping and Ron and I managed to buy some sleeve-less shirts with the Angolan flag on.  Ron later swapped one of his hats for an MPLA one; Red top half, Black bottom half and a yellow star in the center.  Bushcamped on road down to coast.

Dist cov. =  157 km


17th - We're aiming to get as close to Luanda as we can today, where once we hit the coast the road is supposed to get a lot better.  The road to N'Zeto is another one of those bone-breaking, teeth-chattering corrugation road piece of shit!  It was once tarmac but it has slowly become compacted sand over the last 5 or 6 years.  It was on one of these corrugation sections that tradegy struck - the truck hit an unseen rut and the bottom part of the radiator swung back into the fan bending and braking it...brillant.  To add to our woes the fan put a new hole in our radiator and split the seam on the base.  We did manage to limp into N'Zeto on the coast by lunchtime though.  On the roadside before N'Zeto we came across an old Russian-style helicopter that had crashed during the war.  A local policeman had decided to use this site as a toilet and Chris managed to step into it...this was a bad omen before the radiator and fan incident.

Once in town the cab was lifted up to remove the radiator when Rory's laptop in the back of the cab fell forward and cracked the windscreen dead center, the resulting cracks spread out in a spiders cobweb or palm tree effect.

Spent all afternoon waiting for the radiator to be fixed so the truck could be moved to a compound outside of town that the local road building guys let us borrow.  Three 4WDs carried most of us plus tents and cooking equipment as the truck still couldn't move by 7pm.  The truck did manage to get to our impromised campsite around 11pm, the new fan was working fine but the radiator was still broken.

Dist cov. =   143 km


18th - Waiting for our radiator to be fixed and hopefully in a town 90km down the road to Luanda we can extend our visas, of which this is the 3rd day of our original 5-day transit visa and we've only managed to travel 300km into Angola.  It looks like although Angola didn't seem to want to let us in, it now won't let us leave.

Lene and Tamlyn have left the truck to travel to Luanda and leave the country.  Both will be meeting us in Cape Town for the start of Leg 2.


19th - We were hoping for a radiator to be brought up from Luanda, but apparently no truck for that company was coming this way.  Fortunately the road builders workshop is open today so it can be taken there.

Around 2pm the fixed radiator is returned and we leave N'Zeto finally at 4pm, after buying some drinks for the guys who helped us out.  Bush camped 20km down the road.

Dist cov. =  19 km


20th - Last day of our original transit visa so we are heading to the town of Caxito, 53km north of Luanda, to get some extension visas.  The immigration building is well hidden and can be found by turning into a side street beside the MPLA building.  Saw a tank sitting between 2 buildings down the road with washing hanging from the gun barrel.

Good news is that we can get a new visa, bad news is that we have to wait around this town till tomorrow morning.  Bush camped outside of town beside the road to Uige.

Dist cov. = 186 km


21st - We got our new 5 day visas by midday and only had to pay 2,020 Kwanza (approx. 20 Euro), which isn't too bad since I was expecting to have to pay another US$100 for a visa.

Then drove to the capital along the harbour road and along the ilha de Luanda (peninsula completing the harbour).  The promenade along the harbour, known as the Marginal, has a striking domed pink facade of the Banco Nacional de Angola.  The building is designed by architect Vasco Regaleira and inaugurated in 1956.

We are camping in what appears to be the local rubbish dump by the beach on the harbour side of ilha de Luanda, past the Hotel Panorama - no idea really on the Lonely Planet map.  We are here for the night, but not sure how long for definite tomorrow.

Dist cov. = 72 km


22nd - Leaving the capital the truck drove up to where we could get a good photo of the thin needle-like structure of the Mausoleum of Agostinho Neto, Angola's first president.  Driving down the coast road we visited the Miradouro de Lua, a veritable moonscape of rust and silver-coloured rock formations that cascade into the Atlantic Ocean, 30km south of Luanda.

The coastal road has in previous travel blogs been described as a rubbish road, according to Ron, but luckily for us the road is tarmac and we could travel at a good speed.  Passed through the town of Porto Amboin and stopped in Sumbe where we did a food shop in the local Nossosuper (Supermarket chain like that of Marjanes of Morocco).

Bushcamped near Lobito and it proved to be a somewhat cold day and night.

Dist cov. = 456 km


23rd - Drove through Lobito and stopped briefly in Benguela, for the food shop in the supermarket of course.  While leaving Benguela we saw some old railway trains/equipment by the side of the road opposite the tracks.

Then we headed down the Lubango road, which is mostly being made ready for the tarmac...joy for us.  Most of the time it was on and off dusty roads.  Our engine overheated so it's another bushcamp beside the road.

Dist cov. = 375 km


24th - Reached the village/town of Cacula where the tarmac would start within an hour or so of leaving.  Then driving into Lubango, a city that has remained relatively unscathed by the 40-year old conflict, we could make out on the mountain overlooking the city...the white Christo Rei Statue.  We parked in the center of town and the majority of us organised into a mini-bus to go to see the Christo Rei, a huge statue of Jesus (similar to Rio's Corcavado) and some great views of the city below.  Once we returned to the town center I walked past a few quirky cafes and ended up in Mania Bar, which has an internet cafe upstairs and billard tables out the back.

We left Lubango on the main road to the border and went past Portuguese style buildings and a row of multi-coloured appartment block.  Bushcamped by the road.

Dist cov. =  239 km


25th - We have been told that from roughly where the tarmac ended yesterday there would be 90 km of bad roads before the tarmac starts again.  Well that didn't turn out right, quite a lot more dirt road till we rejoined the tarmac.  We saw an unusual sight at our lunch stop, a traveling circus/amusment park on the back of trucks trundling past from South Africa.  Also in this village it seems that they grow white plastic bags by the roadside.

There was some cheering when we hit the tarmac and saw that the border was only 142 km away.  Stopped by a tank facing the road and took some photos of us climbing on it and also of a monument further down for the border police dated 1987.  We eventually bushcamped past Namacunda as we would end up being too late for the border, which is only 15km or so away.  Stared at the night's sky looking at the Milky Way above us.

Dist cov. =  277 km


Angola is a country worth seeing if you get a proper tourist visa. If I come back to Angola I would spend at least a full day in Luanda, revisit Lubango and other towns & cities further inland.
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