Time zone: GMT+1
Plugs: Round-pin attachment
Dialling code: +244
Currency: Kwanza – $1=135AOA
Language: Portuguese, Bantu, other African languages
Angola also has a turbulent past, although it is rebuilding, in part thanks to a stability of leadership since the end of the war and subsequent elections in 2012 that reiterated the Angolan people’s commitment to peace.
However, the biggest influence in its rebuilding efforts has been the rise of international prices for oil, the backbone of its economy, helping Angola become one of the fastest growing economies on the continent.
Yet, because oil makes up over 80% of the country’s exports, volatile global pricing can create instability. The 2008-2009 global financial crisis and the more recent drop in oil price both caused Angola’s economy to suffer, forcing the country to take a more robust approach to diversifying its interests in industries such as fisheries, mining and agriculture.
AIRLINES & AIRPORTS
The main airport in Angola, Luanda’s Quatro de Fevreiro International Airport, was upgraded in 2010 with bigger, more modern arrival and departure areas, along with increased check-in desks and additional luggage conveyors. Customs and immigration received equipment upgrades as well.
Despite these improvements, overall amenities are somewhat limited, and this airport is expected to be replaced in the next two years by the new Angola International Airport currently under construction.
Flag carrier TAAG Angola Airlines connects Luanda, Ondjiva, Cabinda, Lubango, Luena, Menongue, Namibe, Saurimo, Huambo, Kuito, Catumbela and Malange through an extensive domestic flight schedule.
There are also plenty of big airlines flying into Luanda, including SAA, Ethiopian, Kenya Airways, Air France, BA, Emirates, KLM and Lufthansa.
Getting through customs and immigration at Quatro de Fevreiro International is fairly straightforward, provided all your documents are in order, including a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate. It is fairly centrally located and with traffic permitting shouldn’t take longer than 20 to 30 minutes to get to a hotel either in the CBD or the Luanda Sul/Talatona area.
The domestic terminal is a five-minute ride away but, in peak times, it could take 45 minutes. The international departures hall has two business lounges and a limited amount of duty free shops. One lounge is reserved for business class passengers and frequent flyer gold members only. The other is open to the public at a cost of $25 per person.
Luanda is the nation’s capital city and the economic centre of activity, along with its reputation as one of the world’s most expensive cities.
Demand exceeds supply, and as a general rule of thumb, the costs for a single room with bath start at $300 for 3-star accommodation and increase to about $500 per night at a 5-star hotel. These prices will change according to season and demand.
There’s not much room for negotiation, as most hotels run at very high occupancy rates. Prices are particularly high in Luanda, but are more affordable in the other provinces. There are currently no major international hotel chains in Luanda, but there are a number of non-branded hotels.
Interestingly, 2015 saw Accor announce that it had signed a deal for 50 new hotels in Angola through an exclusive partnership with Angolan oil insurance and investment company AA Activos Lda. The hotels will open in the next two years and will range from economy to midscale and luxury, encompassing Accor’s Ibis Styles, Mercure and Sofitel brands.
Currently in the 5-star segment, there is the popular Epic Sana Hotel, located in the CBD, with excellent facilities; and the HCTA Talatona Convention Hotel, approximately 15 kilometres from the airport and CBD.
The 4-star segment offers the Hotel Baia on the seafront of Praia do Bispo; the refurbished Hotel Tropico in the CBD; Skyna Hotel with spacious rooms; Hotel Presidente on the Marginal of Luanda, opposite the port entrance; Hotel Alvalade approximately 15 minutes from the airport; the Hotel Diamante close to the port of Luanda; and the Executive Hotel, which is recommended for passengers who need to stay overnight to travel the next day.
For those looking for 3-star accommodation, there is the Tropicana Aparthotel in the CBD, ideal for long stays as rooms resemble studio apartments; the Hotel Continental, close to the Cidade Alta (government institutions); the Ilha Mar Hotel on the Ilha of Luanda; the Hotel Piramide and the Golden Park Hotel in the CBD; the Royal Plaza Hotel in Talatona, and the Florenca Hotel, also in Talatona, across the road from Belas shopping centre.
Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. The costs of visas vary from country to country as well, but the average cost for a normal visa is about $100. All countries require visas to enter Angola, except Namibian passport holders.
You also need an international vaccination certificate for entry, indicating yellow fever inoculation within the last 10 years. Just double-check with your Angolan consulate.
You are advised to carry your identity documents with you at all times, in case you encounter a random police checkpoint.
Boela du Plooy
Accor – Director: Development Southern Africa, Angola, Ghana & Nigeria
I think the airport is one of the most efficient and convenient airports in Africa, whilst also being one of the smallest. There are no big delays, in terms of immigration and visa processing, and the airport has centralized air-conditioning, unlike a lot of other African airports. I think there are two private lounges and one with public access, which I’ve used. The food is fairly basic and not of great quality, but I found the wi-fi worked and it was adequate. The airport has very few shops, but there’s a travel agency and some locally-branded fast food outlets. In terms of hotels, Accor sees a need in the economy and midscale segments, particularly outside Luanda. In terms of Luanda itself, there has been a focus on the luxury segment, although we are also seeing an interest in the serviced apartments space, and there are also very few quality economy hotels. I’ve stayed in the Aparthotel Tropicana, which was ideal for a longer stay, conveniently located and I could host my meetings there. I’ve also stayed at Hotel Baia, which was newly-renovated when I stayed, and I was quite impressed, as was I with the Epic Sana, which is a 5-star product. Generally, I found the hotels in Luanda of good quality with decent wi-fi. Otherwise, my advice is to leave enough time for your visa application, do some research on taxi costs, and generally be prepared for an expensive trip, as Angola is costly. A 4-star star hotel will cost you around $380-$420 a night and a serviced apartment approximately $300 a night.
Air France – airfrance.com
Air Namibia – airnamibia.com.na
Arik – arikair.com
BA – britishairways.com
Brussels – brusselsairlines.com
Emirates – emirates.com
Ethiopian – ethiopianairlines.com
Iberia – iberia.com
Kenya – kenya–airways.com
KLM – klm.com
LAM – lam.co.mz
Lufthansa – lufthansa.com
Royal Air – royalairmaroc.com
SAA – flysaa.com
TAAG – taag.com
TAP – flytap.com
Avis – avis.com
Budget – budget.com
Europcar – europcar.com
Hertz – hertz.co.uk
Epic Sana – sanahotels.com
Executive – executivehotelsamba.com
Golden Park – hotelgoldenpark.co.ao
Hotel Alvalade – tdhotels.com
Hotel Baia – tdhotels.com
Hotel Continental – hotelcontinentalluanda.com
Hotel Diamante (no website)
Hotel Florenca (no website)
Hotel Ilha Mar (no website)
Hotel Piramide (no website)
Hotel Presidente – hotelpresidenteluanda.com
Hotel Tropico – tdhotels.com
Luna Hotel Zombo – lunahoteis.com
Royal Plaza – royalplazatalatona.com
Skyna Hotel – skynahotels.com
Talatona – hoteltalatone.com
Tropicana – aparthoteltropicanaluanda.com
Amex – amextravel.co.za
CWT – carlsonwagonlit.com
FCm Travel – fcm.travel
HRG – hrgworldwide.com
Wings – wings.travel