After a couple of days of beach bumming, we were getting restless and decided to go on a desert day trip organised by the Lodge. Although it did involve a lot of driving, for the most part on bumpy tracks, it was very interesting. It’s an area that is very geologically rich with many different types of rock formations. At times, you wonder where you are. The presence of canyons everywhere reminds you that once water was abundant but now all there is sand, rocks and blue, blue sky!
After a very, VERY bumpy ride (23 km to be precise) down the mouth of the dry Rio de los Flamingos, you arrive at Flamingo Lodge!
Situated on the beach, against low cliffs, the view of these little bungalows was just amazing and frightening at the same time. Nine little bungalows in the middle of nowhere with nothing, absolutely nothing around, just sand, sea and more sand! No mobile network, no internet and no electricity, apart from a generator than runs during certain hours, it was pretty hard on the girls at first. On the other hand we had kilometres and kilometres of beautiful pristine beach just for us! It was really magic!
For those wondering how you can survive without internet and all these electronic gadgets, well let me tell you that it is possible. You walk, you swim, you fish, you read, you crochet, you play games, you build sand castles, you rest and more importantly you DISCONNECT!
The drive from Lobito to Namibe is magic. Within six hours, you go from sea to mountain to sea, but this time in the middle of nowhere surrounded by rocks and dunes.
On the way, a quick stop in Benguela:
Lubango, capital of the Province of Huila, is situated at 1700m above sea level and is surrounded by mountains. The rain and the fresh climate make it an agriculturally rich Province where everything grows. Driving through Lubango you wonder where you are because you could easily be in South Africa or even Switzerland!
To makes things even more awkward, we stopped at Le Chalet an authentic little Swiss chalet built in the hills around the city centre where you can indulge in homemade yoghurt and light snacks made with their homemade cheese. And for those feeling homesick and who thought that they’d have to wait to go back to Europe to eat a fondue or a raclette, no worries, Le Chalet sells really nice raclette cheese, as well as the raclette and fondue set!
How cool is that?
After a nice “cheesy” lunch it was time to hit the road and finally see what I had been dreaming of all this time: La Serra da Leba.
Long before setting foot in Angola as I was googling information about my new country, my attention was caught by this magical windy road in the middle of vast, lush greenery. It looked spectacular in pictures but in reality it was pretty mind blowing. What makes it even more spectacular is that this road is a clear separation between the green, fertile high plateaux of Lubango and the dry landscapes of the Namibe plains.
You need to see it to believe it, but in less than two hours you go from cold, rainy, green climate to dry, hot desert!
School breaks usually mean that most expats leave Angola either to go back home or visit neighbouring countries like South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique or Sao Tome. We actually, had organised to go skiing in France but unfortunately our plan fell through. So, we decided to go on a little tour down South and visit what Angola has to offer!
Let’s face it, Angola is probably not your first choice when it comes to holidays, and you’ll probably never make it here unless you’re visiting someone or you’re on a business trip. Still, I thought it would be nice to show you what it looks like!
We decided to go to Namibe, around 780 kilometres from Luanda and spend a few days at the Flamingo Lodge, a quiet and very scenic lodge, situated on the beach near the mouth of the dry Rio dos Flamingos. Perfect escapade to disconnect from the hectic and noisy city life. The best way to visit a country is still by car so off we went South.
DAY 1: Luanda – Lobito 500kms
After a bit more than 6 hours we arrived in Lobito, which means little wolf in Portuguese. We had booked rooms in this historical hotel, called Hotel Terminus unfortunately it’s undergoing renovation so we had to stay in the new, more modern accommodations. It was really nice to see another aspect of Angola, one with no noise, no traffic, no stress. We could stroll around the neighbourhood, take photographs and watch the sunset while sipping a local beer!
A FEW FACTS about Lobito
- The city was founded by the Portuguese in 1843 on a sandpit.
- The hotel dates back to 1906. At first it was just a restaurant that was catering for the Benguela Railways Company, linking Angola to the actual Democratic Republic of Congo (then a Belgian colony).
- The hotel was inaugurated in 1932 and remained very much linked to the Railways Company which was the main transportation system between Congo, Angola and Northern Rhodesia (actual Zambia).
Here are a some Art Deco buildings found in Lobito.
After a little tanning session by the pool followed by a nice meal of freshly caught and grilled lobster, we were off to bed, ready for the next chapter of our Angolan Getaway!!!
Hello, bonjour, bom dia!
My name is Suad. I love to travel and it just so happens that I am also a “desperate” expat wife! I’m currently living in Luanda, Angola with my husband and two daughters.
When people find out you’re moving to Angola, assuming they know where it is, they have very predictable reactions. Either they pat you on the shoulder and tell you “aargh! don’t worry, you’ll be back home before you know it” or they shout in horror “what on earth are you going there for?” Well, like all other expatriation, we came here for professional reasons.
We’ve been lucky to move around and live in different countries and continents: Chad, Niger, Cameroon, Madagascar, South Africa, Benin, Dubai, The Netherlands, France. Sometimes you move with excitement, other times you’re more reluctant. Angola was one of those moves. However, if there’s one thing I’ve learnt it’s to always make the best and the most of any situation.
There is always something positive: meet new people, learn a new language, discover new cultures, new recipes, seek hidden treasures, study, try out a new hobby, etc… And that’s exactly what I want to share throught this blog: give you a glimpse of real life experiences in different regions of the world, starting with ANGOLA! No time to get bored, no time to feel homesick.
“Life is what you make it” Eleanor Roosevelt
Bem vindo :)!!!