Luanda

Luanda, which sits along the Atlantic coastline, is the capital city of the country. It’s also the largest city in Angola, with many areas now undergoing a massive makeover.

The slums and old bullet-marked buildings are being replaced by high-rises, and offices of foreign businesses are making their space in the country. Railroads and roads are also renovated, which can help improve the gridlocked streets of the city.

Little by little, the seaside city is shedding off its war-wrought look to reveal a new and more engaging appearance.

As it is, Luanda holds lots of gems to capture the interest of its visitors. In fact, several structures in Luanda are of historical significance. Chief among these is the Fortaleza de São Miguel, a Portuguese fortress established in 1576 and used to be the center of administration. Inside this fortress, which was once a self-contained town and a holding station for slaves toBrazil, are statues of European figures and ceramic tiles that present the history of the country.

Fortaleza de São Pedro da Barra is another witness to the slave trade that transpired in the bygone centuries. The fortress was built to protect the Portuguese occupation, but it also accommodated slaves to be sent to America.

Other places of significance include the Igreja Nossa Senhora do Pópulo, the Augostinho Neto Mausoleum, and the National Museum of Anthropology. Also gracing the scenery are restaurants, bars, and colonial buildings.

Benguela

A striking contrast to Luandais BenguelaProvince, a relaxed, bucolic region in the western part of Angola. And like most parts of the country, Benguela is heading toward redevelopment, and it’s doing so at a steady pace. In fact, just in 2009, Benguela residents saw the opening of the Ombaka National Stadium, which hosted some events of the 2010 African Cup of Nations.

Improvements in transportation – a new highway in Benguela City, the renovation of the airport, and the reconstruction of the Benguela Railway – also show the rebuilding efforts in the city.

But amidst all the works, Benguela retains its natural treasures. Its beaches, which include Baia Azul, Baia Farta, and Praia Morena, remain as stunning as ever and are the province’s source of charm. And as a whole, Benguela provides guests with a memorable and peaceful visit.

Kissama National Park

Kissama National Park, which covers an area of 9,960 square kilometers (6,189 square miles), was heavily devastated after the 27-year civil war, as evidenced by the nearly wiped-out animal population. Massive poaching also contributed to the dwindled number of wildlife.

But since after the war, conservation measures were put in place to reestablish this national park. In a wildlife project called Operation Noah’s Ark, elephants, elands, and other animals were moved from overpopulated parks in South Africa and Botswana to Kissama.

The wildlife population has somehow improved since the integration of the animals, making the park a little more vibrant than it used to be during the war. And to allow guests to conveniently enjoy the scenery, bungalows near the Kwanza River have been made available.

Although there’s still a lot more work to do, Kissama, which is situated off Luanda, is heading in the right direction and offers guests an Angolan wild experience.

 Kwanza River

As the source of hydroelectricity in Angola, the Kwanza River plays a significant role in the country. It runs along centralAngolaand empties into theAtlantic Ocean. It’s is also the northern border of Kissama National Park.

The Kwanza River, after which the local currency is named, is vibrant with life. In fact, 50 species of fish were recently found there. The river also continues to be a bountiful spot for fishing activities.

Waterfowl, along with a rich collection of flora, can also be spotted in the Kwanza River.

Iona National Park

With a size of 15,150 square kilometers (5,849 square miles),IonaNational Parkis the largest of its kind inAngola. Declared a national park in 1937, it suffered tremendously during the civil war like other national parks in the country.

But it’s now being restored by replacing the animals that were affected by poaching and by the war-caused devastation. At present, impala, zebra, klipspringer, a diverse population of birds, and the “Big Five” – springbok, cheetah, kudu, oryx, and ostrich – can be sighted in the park.

Iona National Park is home not only to a diverse wildlife; different indigenous groups also take residence in the park. These groups have their culture intact and remain untouched by the modern world.

Located in the province of Namibe, Iona National Park is even more interesting with its topography characterized by sand dunes, rock formations, grass plains, savannah, woodland, and shrub land. It’s bordered by bodies of water – the Curoca River to the northeast, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, and the Cunene River to the south.

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