The African nation of Angola is not yet on the radar of most tourists. That’s not surprising since the country just started improving its tourism infrastructure after a civil war that ended in 2002. Though still not as popular as nearby South Africa, Angola boasts stunning attractions, thanks to its thriving eco-regions.
Tropical Angola is excited to welcome tourists to its Atlantic coast, hills, mountains, and expansive plateau. Its rich culture and stunning heritage await travelers eager to learn new things and explore a less-traveled destination. If the goal is to experience inspiring moments, Angola is the place to be.
Tourists should start their Angolan adventure by exploring the capital Luanda where they can get the vibe of the locals and experience their hospitality. In Baixa de Luanda, sightseers can check out old colonial houses, the promenade of Marginal, and Ilha de Luanda. After a stroll by the bay, they can head to the Fortress of Sao Miguel, which hosts a military museum. Other points of interest are the Iron Palace, Agostinho Neto Mausoleum, the cathedral, the market, and the Monument to the Unknown Soldier. Luanda aims to wow.
9 Cameia National Park
Once a game reserve, Cameia National Park faced many challenges even after its designation as a protected area, mainly because of the civil war that brought poaching. After the conflict, the park slowly recovered and can now be appreciated by curious tourists. At least four rivers pass through it, plus two lakes, one of which is the largest in the country. Its Miombo woodland and wetlands are home to wildebeests, antelopes, and water birds. It’s not yet fully recovered, but Cameia National Park aims to impress.
8 Kalandula Falls
The Kalandula Falls of Angola can equal the beauty of the world-famous Victoria Falls on the border of its neighbor Zambia and Zimbabwe. This majestic waterfall is 105 meters tall and 400 meters wide which will make any visitor dumbfounded. The roar of its waters is loud, but since the cascades are surrounded by lushness, the place turns into a place where relaxation is always within grasp. What makes this destination better than Victoria Falls is the lack of crowd, so tourists can have the perfect Instagram shot and the best spot to take it all in.
7 Cangandala National Park
Cangandala National Park is Angola’s smallest, but it has a myriad of surprises. It’s most famous as the home of the rare giant sable antelopes, though it’s not known how many of them are left in the park. It has lush woodlands of various forest species, while the riverine has grasslands and swamps. Birdwatchers will enjoy roaming around the park as they might spot such winged wonders as hornbills, barbets, crombecs, babblers, shrikes, starlings, and tits, among others. Cangandala National Park is small but incredible.
The town of Mbanza-Kongo is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of the ruins of the once-thriving Kingdom of Kongo. The most famous site in the former royal capital is the 15th-century Cathedral of the Holy Saviour of Congo. In the Royal Museum, meanwhile, tourists can have a learning journey as they check out more artifacts related to the monarchy. The royal grounds are also home to the Yala Nkuwu, a sacred tree that’s believed by residents then and now to have the power to judge. Maybe tourists are interested in being judged by a majestic tree.
5 Iona National Park
Bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, two rivers, and a plateau, the Iona National Park is an inviting place for outdoorsmen. It is the largest national park in Angola, where dunes, cliffs, plains, and mountains work together to create an impressive landscape. As with other reserves, the area was devastated by the war but is slowly recovering. Conservation efforts are ongoing to protect its resident zebras, ostriches, impalas, cheetahs, antelopes, and birds. Another must-see in the park is the Welwitschia mirabilis, an old plant species. The park is healing, and tourists can take part in it.
4 Sassa Caves
Spelunkers and first-time cavers will have a fun time exploring Sassa Caves. Located in the province of Kwanza Sul, this destination is proof that Mother Nature is a great artist. The triangular entryway into this world of the underground will tempt tourists to explore its untouched beauty. Considered to be one of the “Seven Wonders of Angola,” travelers should not miss this little-known destination that’s home to lush vegetation and geological wonders. Sassa Caves are humble attractions yet easily satisfy anyone.
3 Mupa National Park
Those visiting Angola to birdwatch should head to Mupa National Park, an avifauna paradise, thanks to two rivers that pass through it. Some of the feathered friends that tourists will record in this charming reserve include tits, warblers, hornbills, cranes, starlings, and sparrows. The park was intended to protect giraffes, but its conservation failed. However, wildlife watchers can still spot hyenas, wild dogs, leopards, lions, and bats. Though threatened by the mineral industry and nomads, Mupa National Park continues to be a stunner on this side of the country.
The tropical climate of Angola makes for a perfect beach day. There are three destinations that sun-worshippers should not miss frolicking in. First is the peninsula of Ilha do Mussulo, where restaurants dot the shore. Not to be missed, too, is Shipwreck Beach. As the name suggests, its shore is home to some shipwrecks – like artworks along the white-sand beach. Lastly, Cabo Ledo is popular among surfers, thanks to its challenging waves. Hanging ten and hanging out on Angola’s beaches are filled with sun-kissed memories.
1 Quicama National Park
Quicama National Park, also known as Kissama National Park, is one of the most popular in Angola because it’s well-managed and near the capital. Exploring the area means being in the presence of buffaloes, antelopes, giraffes, wildebeests, zebras, elephants, and ostriches. It’s also popular among birdwatchers, thanks to the lush river, grasslands, woodlands, and thickets. Those who can’t get enough of the wildlife can even stay overnight in chalets by the river. Kissama National Park is a place where chef’s kisses are everywhere, day in and day out.