The Portuguese-speaking west-African country of Angola is a relatively new tourist spot, and many parts of the country are still suffering heavily from the fallout of a lengthily civil war that ended in 2002. 'Expensive and uninspiring' is a common retort on the country (budget at least double most parts of Africa, and expect to pay through the nose for an even passable hotel).
Capital Luanda’s infrastructure is still crumbling through overpopulation and 40 years of neglect, with hot water a high-priced luxury and the first modern buildings only opening over the past couple of years. Luanda does boast plenty of palm-shaded beaches, though, as well as colorful, character-filled townships and an exotic vibe that – for all the capital’s notable problems - has enough local personality and against-all-odds instinct to remain strangely alluring.
Travel outside Luanda can be risky, but can also be a wild adventure. The inland city of Lubango largely escaped the war, and offers a more natural ambiance, with volcanic hills surrounding the tiny city and choppy waterfalls to explore around the outskirts. Miradouro de Lua offers an alien landscape flowing dramatically down to the Atlantic, while bumping your way through the countryside on the rickety Benguela- Lobito Railway is a quintessential Angolan experience.
It’s Angola’s wildlife parks, however, that usually draw in the intrepid traveler. With few international visitors and very little development, parks like the Parque Nacional da Kissama are great open plains full of wildlife, unused to the site of safari jeeps. You’ll enter your lodge through a rib-bone elephant arch, and be greeted by locals whose contact with the outside world is so limited, their hospitality could never be anything but authentically local. Other wild options include fishing for line-breakers along the wilds of the Foz du Cunene, on the border with Namibia, or joining spear fisherman on the boat out of Luanda to dive for your dinner.
The war-ravaged wilds of Angola are certainly not for the faint hearted, but have plenty to offer the adventure traveler, who’ll find a wilderness unaltered by international tourism, and the chance to experience Africa as the locals do. If you've no intention of being adventurous, though, you're probably better off heading to another part of Africa; you'll save vast amounts of cash, and probably have a better experience, too.