Tag Archives: best excursions from Luanda

I’ve Got Some Oceanfront Property…

It’s been so long since my last blog that catching up is going to be a challenge. The best approach, I reckon, is to just pick up where I left off. My memories are getting a bit hazy, but thank goodness for pictures and my trusty Google Calendar. Without these two things, I would never remember where I’ve been and when!

In July, we headed out on the company boat of our friends, Mr. & Mrs. G. We knew fishing was going to be unproductive, so we planned to cruise along Mussulo Beach, nibble on some lunch, and take in the sights along the shore.

There are some very nice houses along Mussulo. According to the boat captain, most are owned by prominent generals and other government officials. Many of them look like small hotels, complete with dozens of tables and loungers set up on the shore. Most appeared empty except for occasional workers making repairs and wandering ladies selling various wares..

Luanda Angola Mussulo
One of many residences along Mussulo Beach

This lone potential customer is getting the hard sell from some ladies selling fabrics and dresses.

Luanda Angola Mussulo
Come on, buddy. Buy something. These ladies are having a slow day!

These young ladies were selling bread and eggs along the beach.

Selling eggs in Luanda Angola
I can hardly carry my eggs in a bag without dropping them, but this young lady has no trouble carrying them on her head.


Luanda Angola
Taking a break from tidying up the beach. The sand makes a nice spot for a siesta.

From our previous trips out, we have learned that proper boating etiquette has not yet made it to Luanda. More than once on this trip, we were almost run over by a fellow boater determined to have the right of way. Yikes!

Boating in Luanda
Get outta my way! My beer is getting warm on the beach!

If they weren’t zooming towards us, they were zooming around us. This is up close and personal, folks.

Boating in Luanda
Boating etiquette? Never heard of it.

After cruising around for awhile, we spied a shanty town precariously perched on the side of a cliff. From a distance, the colorful window coverings captured the imagination.

Luanda shanty town
Oceanfront property of all kinds can be seen in Luanda.

As we approached, however, the reality was a bit less charming. I wondered why the windows on these buildings were so tiny, when they could have a very nice view of the water. But of course, I was looking at things from a first-world perspective.

You see, there was no glass in these windows.

The small size was to protect against rain and a persistent sea breeze – and for structural integrity, I imagine.

Shanty town Luanda Angola
Lack of land makes for some very odd building sites.

Navigating through this maze of buildings would be hard for us from the flatlands, but these residents seemed to make their way without a problem. Technically, these houses were oceanfront property, but one hard rain was liable to wash them right into the water!

As I’ve said before, there is always something interesting to look at while out and about. Case in point, the words on the boat below translate to “Mana does not want problems with your husband.” There is definitely a story there!

Humor Luanda Angola
Who is Mana and what has he (or she) done to the local husbands?
Luanda Harbor
Thumbs up is a universal greeting – we hope!
Luanda Angola
New and old in close proximity.

Looking for the beauty in a place like this can be a challenge at times, but as long as you view Luanda through the eyes of a photographer, it rarely disappoints.

Sea Birds Luanda

© 2015 Cheryl – All Rights Reserved

Luanda’s own Skeleton Coast…

The wonders of this country never cease to amaze me. This past weekend, we went out boating with our friends Mr. & Mrs. G and saw another fascinating sight just north of Luanda called Shipwreck Beach.  The term “Skeleton Coast” is a familiar one to many of us, but for me, I did not know exactly what it meant until I moved to Africa. On our recent trip to Namibia, we skirted the southern end of this famous stretch of coastline, but were not far enough north to see any of the hundreds of shipwrecks scattered along the shore. The wrecks in Namibia were caused by submerged rocks and the legendary fog that routinely blankets the Namibian coast. In Luanda’s smaller-scale version, the wrecks were caused by man, rather than by Mother Nature.

Shipwreck Beach is an area of impressive cliffs, golden sand, and dozens of huge, rusty, abandoned ships. There are several theories as to how they came to be marooned here. Some say they rusted away from their moorings in Luanda Bay and drifted to the beach. Others say they were deliberately sunk by the departing Portuguese troops as they were forced out of the city – a sort of “up yours” after a bad break-up.

Shipwreck Beach can be reached by car, but the beach area is not entirely safe, so it is best seen by boat. Since I had never seen it before, Mr. & Mrs. G offered to take us there after we tried our luck at whale-watching and fishing first. After an hour or so of cruising and a lovely lunch, we had encountered neither fish nor whales, but we did come upon a large pod of dolphins.

Honestly, in a contest between fishing and dolphin-watching, Flipper is the clear winner every time. What could be more fun that watching those friendly, intelligent mammals frolic in the wake of the boat?





And when one particularly frisky guy decides to jump up and splash us – not once but twice – all cares of the day just vanish away.

Dolphin jumping in Luanda
Cannon-ball! This is the shot right before the big splash!

After playing with the dolphins for awhile, we headed towards the coast, and a huge cliff complete with a red and white lighthouse came into view.



When the seas are high, the waves crashing along this cliff are quite impressive, according to Mr. & Mrs. G. I was just as happy to have calm seas, however, as big waves can also mean feeling a little green-around-the gills.

As we sailed along this impressive cliff, the rock color changed from buff to a chalky white, and it bore a remarkable resemblance to the White Cliffs of Dover.

Cliff coast of luanda
Not the White Cliffs of Dover, but close!

Soon, a few shipwrecks appeared in the distance.

Shipwreck beach Luanda
Shipwrecks in the distance…

The ghostly, abandoned ships looked like the perfect backdrop for the next post-apocolyptic blockbuster. One can only imagine Mad Max racing along the beach as hordes of bad guys pile out of these rusting hulks to join the chase.

Shipwreck beach Luanda

Shipwreck beach Luanda

Shipwreck beach Luanda

Shipwreck beach Luanda

Shipwreck beach luanda

What tales these ships could tell, about the men who sailed them and how they came to be forever stranded on the beach. For now, they serve as a reminder of the wastefulness of war and the scars men leave on our beautiful planet.

Once we were past Shipwreck Beach, we entered Luanda Harbor, with plenty of huge ships of its own. Luanda Harbor is one of the few places in the world where a small boat like ours can get up close and personal with huge container ships, and no one seems to notice or care.

Container ship luanda harbor
An enormous container ship. Look closely and you will see a another boat near the middle. The smaller boat was about the size of ours.
Luanda harbor
Just so there is no confusion, there is NO SMOKING on this boat! We had to laugh – that sign must have letters at least five feet high…

Near the marina, there is a sailing school that operates on the weekends. It is always great fun to see the local youth learning to sail, and a nice way to conclude our day out.

Luanda Bay sailing
Sailing school in Luanda Bay

From rusty shipwrecks to tankers to tiny sailboats, there is always something to see in these waters!

Sailboat luanda
Sail away, sail away, sail away…

© 2015 Cheryl – All Rights Reserved

One Night in Cabo…

This past weekend, we spent one night in Cabo.  No, not Cabo San Lucas, but rather Cabo Ledo – which is about as close to Cabo San Lucas as we are going to find in Angola. Cabo Ledo boasts a lovely crescent-shaped stretch of beach, and is one of the best excursions from Luanda.  It can take two to three hours to get there, depending on very unpredictable traffic.  You never know what diversions will be encountered on the way, and whether or not your driver will know where he is going.  More on that later…

Saturday morning about nine o’clock, our personal driver picked us up.  I will call him Mr. Mellow, as he drives about as fast as an eighty-year-old woman, and never seems the least bit ruffled by anything.  Just outside of town, we encountered the usual bottle-neck of street sellers, and I had a chance to snap a few photos with my phone – very cautiously, of course.  In Luanda, displaying a phone is discouraged due to the risk of someone smashing your window to steal it, especially when stuck in heavy traffic.  Risk aside, there is always so much going on along the road, that I really wanted to capture all of this chaos and commerce!  It is truly unbelievable what people are selling: hangers, home-made yogurt, brooms, portuguese/english dictionaries, and a few porno videos thrown in for good measure.

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Would-be merchants lay down a blanket to peddle their wares along the road.
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Angolan women are amazingly graceful and strong. I’ve seen them run across three lanes of traffic with babies on their backs, huge baskets on their heads, and dragging a child with each hand. Yikes!
2014-10-25 10.00.05
Running the gauntlet of street sellers. Peanuts, anyone?
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Getting ready to hoist a heavy bucket of sugar cane back onto her head, with a small round of rolled fabric as the only cushion.
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A local gossip session. The lady on the right is clearly not impressed…
A baby sleeps peacefully, while mom and big sister conduct some business.
A baby sleeps peacefully, while mom and big sister conduct some business.

Mr. Mellow drove his usual easy-going pace and we reached the resort in about three hours. Hubby was a little anxious to get there, but I was happy looking out the window along the way.  Just part of the fun for me.

Our resort, called Carpe Diem (love the name!) is made up of about fifteen small cabins, an open-air restaurant and a row of palapas on the beautiful beach.

2014-10-26 08.06.44
The cabins are very basic, but there is hot water and A/C.  What else do you need?
Lovely beach with a mostly Portuguese crowd. There are one or two other resorts a little further down the beach.
A very nice pool, but everyone there opted for the beautiful beach instead.
A very nice pool, but everyone there opted for the beautiful beach instead.

We enjoyed walking along the beach and just relaxing for the day.  Colorful wooden fishing boats dotted the sea in front of us. From one side of the resort, we watched a few groups haul these large boats onto shore with their catch for the day.

No speed boats or oil derricks to be seen here, just local fishermen hoping for a good catch.
No speed boats or oil derricks to be seen here, just local fishermen hoping for a good catch.
These old wooden boats must be heavy as lead.  Just look at how many men it took to get this boat onto the beach!
These old wooden boats must be heavy as lead. Just look at how many men it took to get this boat onto the beach!

Evening brought a beautiful sunset followed by a delicious dinner, with very attentive service by the manager of the resort, name Mr. Dias.

Lovely cool evening and not a bug in sight!
One of about fifty sunset shots we took…
Delicious meal of local lobster and fish.

All during dinner, there were music videos playing on a large screen.  We noshed to Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Celine Dion, and others – all American and British artists.  The Portuguese crowd seemed to know all of the songs, and sang along with gusto.  This always amazes me!  We have heard American Top 40 tunes in virtually every country we have visited, even in places where very few people speak English!

After dinner, a few Spanish and Portuguese dance tunes worked their way into the mix.  This made for free entertainment, as some very energetic couples soon got up to dance.  Later (after more alcohol was consumed) a few of them wound up in the pool – involuntarily and with clothes on, of course.  For hours, we just drank in this surreal scene.  Such a strange life we are leading – sitting at a beach restaurant in West Africa, watching a Portuguese crowd gyrate to American music! The world is indeed a very small place.

It was a great night and way too much delicious Portuguese wine was consumed, thanks to an excellent recommendation by Mr. Dias.  The next morning, we were awoken by a flock of Weaver Birds, building their nests in the trees by our cabin. It was a clear, cool morning so we enjoyed our last few peaceful hours by the beach, before it was time to head back into the  maelstrom of Luanda.

African Masked Weavers. The males weave the hanging nests and then try to entice a female to move in.
So colorful!
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Our breakfast companions. Several peacocks wander around the grounds and restaurant.

Unfortunately, Mr. Mellow does not work on Sundays, so we had to arrange a car through Tango Delta for the ride back to Luanda. About ten forty-five, the driver called to say he had arrived (in very limited English).  After searching for him for several minutes, Hubby gave him a call.  Uh-oh. Apparently, wherever the driver had “arrived” was nowhere near us.  Unable to decipher what the driver was saying, Hubby handed the phone to the parking lot attendant, who took a full ten minutes to direct the driver to our resort.  An hour and a half and several phone calls later, the driver finally showed up.  I didn’t mind the wait so much, but the two hour, white-knuckle drive back was another story!

At first, the driver was very distracted, weaving all over the road and looking at me in the rear view mirror.  Keep your eyes on the road, buddy! Maybe I have gotten used to Mr. Mellow, but it also seemed like we were driving entirely too fast.  I’m not sure how I will readjust to Texas highway speeds on my next visit home!  At seventy miles per hour, I had a death grip on the door and could not look out of the front window.  Of course, the fact that we criss-crossed the center line repeatedly did not help me to relax!  After about an hour, the driver began to shake his head and rub his eyes in an effort to stay awake.  Aargh!  Where is Mr. Mellow when you need him!  I will never complain about his granny driving again.  Okay, I know never to say never, but this time I really mean it!

Once our hearts stopped pounding from the drive back, we realized what a nice twenty four hours it had been.  We will definitely return, but next time we will offer to pay Mr. Mellow extra to drive us both ways.  After getting Tango Delta’d like we did, it is worth whatever he asks.  And who knows, maybe a Celine Dion CD would sweeten the deal for him…

© 2014 Cheryl – All Rights Reserved