10 Tips to Stay Safe in Angola

A visit to Angola is an opportunity to witness some of its wonderful attractions such as Baia Azul beaches, Kwanza river and Kalandula waterfalls.

But let’s face it. Angola’s internal conflict has left its citizens with much malaise and its economy in tatters.

Still, Angola doesn’t close its doors to both local and foreign adventure seekers. For the sake of safety, it’s important to pack enough local knowledge to make the most of this place, without risking life and limbs.

1. Avoid places notorious for land mines
Civil war Angola may have ended more than a decade ago, but its evidence still pretty much exists in the country. In fact, one out of eight Angolans live in landmine-affected community and the government is still in the process of getting rid of this menace of war. Never step beyond the red demarcation line.

2. Be aware of deadly diseases
Due to lack of infrastructure and adequate medical personnel, Angola, unfortunately tackles a number of diseases that are otherwise under control in many other countries. Malaria, yellow fever and diarrhea are common ailments visitors face risk of, and therefore need preparation. It is advisable to see a health care provider four to six weeks before travel for proper vaccines. Note that HIV rate is also high so take measures to avoid infection.

3. Be careful in taking photos.
The usual practice of photography in other places cannot be applied in many places in Angola. For example, military and installations and personnel are off limits. Violation results in heavy fines, prison terms or both.

Photo credit: angolarising.blogspot.com

4. Keep a working cellular phone
Ideally bring a satellite phone with global reach such as Iridium for better coverage, especially in times of emergency and urgent assistance. And if you talk using your phone, stay away from public eyes, as much as possible.

5. Avoid illegal taxi services
Although taxis are generally the best ways to travel around the capital Luanda and bigger cities, there are illegal units that operate. Renting cars is another option although it is also risky for carjacking, not to mention the poor road conditions which make travel unpleasant. Macon Taxi (+244-222-470-520), Emprese de Taxis de Luanda (+244-222-351-333), Marine (+244-222-397-049), and Auto Taxi do Palanca (+244-222-442-012) are all reliable operators that serve Luanda.

6. Learn a Few Portuguese Phrases
Local population do not generally speak English language (the commonly preferred international language) so failure to communicate properly (for non-Portuguese speakers) could spell misunderstanding and danger. Bring a little phrase book or print this Portuguese phrase guide you can practice while on your way to Angola.

7. Apply for comprehensive travel and medical insurance
As with any other travel plans, getting yourself secured with travel and health insurance is a wise holiday decision.

8. Never show off expensive jewelry
Doing so attracts criminals and trying to recover them once stolen may be difficult, if not impossible. Also when paying inside the market, never show off wads of paper bills.

9. Lock doors and close windows when inside the car
Crimes do happen even if you are inside a car or taxi. To prevent it from happening, close and lock doors and windows.

10. Travelers should not wander alone
Travelers should be especially cautious when moving between nightspots on the Ilha do Cabo and when perusing marketplaces. Other high risk areas for crime in Luanda include Serpentine, Sembezanda and the Roche Pinto slum area located south of the city. Avoid dark alleys and stay indoors at night if possible.

Some expat forums mention of increased level of safety in Angola. But we’ll prefer to err on the side of caution and advise travelers these safety measures, to be safe than sorry. Common sense and increased awareness helps thwart imminent danger and enjoy the experience Angola has to offer.