Angolan Land Mines. The aftermath of war.
Angola has been at war almost continually since it received independence from Portugal in 1975. During the long and devastating periods of conflict, mines have been used extensively by several parties in all of Angolas 18 provinces. A great majority of the Angolan districts are therefore inaccessible due to mines or damaged roads and bridges. Landmines have been laid indiscriminately and unmarked in many areas particularly around provincial capitals on paths, around military positions and technical installations. Frequent population movement and shifting of front lines has made the situation worse as records and local knowledge of the mine distribution has been lost in many areas.
Don't drink the tap water
Definitely never ever drink the tap water here. There are occasional cholera outbreaks in the city. Typhoid, dysentery and other water borne diseases are rife here. It's safe to drink the bottled water that they serve here. They are mainly imported from Portugal or Brazil. Otherwise drink softdrinks or juices.
be careful when you leave the country - don´t take any local money outside the country - just leave little foreign currency in your pocket - there is a rip of at the customs, the policeman will ask you to leave" some money for him to feed his family" if you do not ..you will be in big trouble
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Not pedestrian friendly at all. It is difficult to walk around Luanda once you leave the Marginal. Footpaths are blocked by cars, potholes, litter, vendors. You end up walking on the road that is choked with traffic. Watch out for those open manholes!
Candongueiro - Don't think of getting in one
These blue vans are the notorious Candongueiros. They are the biggest hazard in Luanda. They are ill maintained, their drivers are maniacs, and the passengers are thieves. They dart in and out of traffic with no regard for any others, including other cars, pedestrians, women, children, and babies. They must have a point system, which awards them for impaling someone on their raggedy front ends. I often took great pleasure in outrunning the Candongueiros and beating them to the slight opening in traffic. There oughta be a law against them.
Malaria is very common in Luanda. The sewerage system is very poor, so stagnant water is form when it rains, making it attractive for mosquito breeding. Always spray with mosquito repellant day or night. Even the airport of Luanda has lots of mosquitoes!
be aware of the taxis - even if you travel only for 1 minute they will charge you 50 USD. The best and the safest way to drive in Luanda is with your own private driver - if you don´t have one ,stay in your hotel !!!!
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Wander at Will
After wandering alone around the lower city of Luanda and logging countless kilometers, I conclude that this place is not dangerous. Not as dangerous for the casual pedestrian as most of the large cities in the United States. Sure, one should not display their wealth in a city of so much poverty, but one can walk at will in the well travelled areas and carry their groceries home without extreme caution. I would recommend to know where you are going, walk with a purpose, and probably don't sport your camera or jewelry. I met a 24 year old "Very White" and averaged-sized American woman from San Francisco who lived in Angola, including Luanda, for about three years and she walked everywhere and had no problems. Don't hide in your hotel. Walking trips around the downtown area are fine. It is actually the best way to get a look at the old buildings and the churches.
Mind the short bus when getting off the plane….
Now, riding the short bus back home in Indiana means something altogether different than here in Angola… As the cabin door of my plane opened to greet the warm air of Luanda, the Air Namibia ostrich medallions were settling nicely in that vast expanse I call my belly…I was feeling pretty good, like the fat cat I am…
However, this mild, dizzy-like state produced a false sense of security that all was well…As I walked down the stairs from the plane, I was greeted at the bottom with a choice of two buses: one long, one short. Being the stupid American, I assumed that the short bus must be there to take those of us in Business Class to the terminal and immigration, after all, the other blokes from Business Class were getting on it…
Well, you know what happens when you “ASSume.” So, I simply followed the rest of the people “onto” and “off of” the short bus into what I thought was immigration… The next thing I know I am standing on the street curb in front of the airport and the other fat cats from Business Class are climbing into a chauffeur driven car...
Suddenly, my placid state of tranquility quickly turned to confusion… “where the F_ _ _ was customs, where was immigration, I gotta get my f’n passport stamped…bloody hell, I just entered the f’n country illegally…” Then it dawns on me, that short bus was for diplomats and they don’t go through immigration like the other fat cats in Business Class…
It was a lot of fun trying to re-enter the airport to go through immigration properly without being able to "fala the Portuguese"…lucky for me some diplomats were going back through the way I came and I was able to play my Chameleon game once again…
Driving is an headache !!!
Driving in Luanda is an headache, despite being a major personal challenge as well :(
The goods news is, I feel driving in Luanda nowadays is not as bad as it used to be four years ago, in 2006, when I visited Luanda for the very first time.
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