Here is some transport information regarding Getting about in Luanda and the Airport. Please bear in mind our comments about safety when it comes to transport. And let us know if other transport options open up.
The majority of expats do not drive in Luanda – but instead use the services of a driver (whether in a shared bus to get to work / school, or in a car allocated to you). This not only allows for a more comfortable journey in the heat / traffic jams – but also means that you don’t have to worry about parking, which can be notoriously difficult. Check with your sponsor company to make sure you understand what is applicable to your own situation and be realistic about the restrictions that this may impose on you.
The main roads in Luanda are in a reasonable condition – but traffic can be horrendous and congestion is a major frustration. Peak hours are from 6am-10 and after 3.30 in the afternoon – and as a result it’s normal for those living in Talatona to spend 90 minutes in the traffic heading home from the city in the evenings (and leaving at 5am to avoid the traffic in the mornings). Traffic jams are good viewing opportunities for local sights, however – and many of our tales and memories will be of something spied up a side street while sat in yet another jam… Also be aware that there is no public transport system and driving skills can be shockingly bad. Most of the roads are built around a one way system – there are no traffic lights and few roundabouts, so whilst the system introduces a level of organisation it can be frustration when you have to go literally around the houses to get to somewhere that should have only taken you two seconds!
The main roads north and south of the City have been improved dramatically – and you should be prepared to see documentation checks at various points. You are often required to provide car documentation (which your driver will have) and sometimes your own documentation (carry certified copies of your passport and visa with you at all times – it is not recommended to take originals).
For many expats, travel outside of the city borders is restricted by company policy – with some companies asking you to travel in convoy with other families or to take an extra driver with you. All of the companies are different – so double check with your own sponsor group before making your plans.
Outside of the main roles, road quality is often lower with a lot of roads being dusty and full of pot holes – you’ll find most cars are 4×4 as a result.
Some companies do allow people to drive – so make sure you bring your driving documentation with you if this is the case for you. The testing requirements seems to differ every time we ask someone – so its probably best if you take the advice of your own company in this area. Speed limit in the city (out to the Benfica market) is 60 kph and company cars are often fitted with monitors to this effect.
Taxis (as we know them!):
There are formal taxi services available at the airport – but we are unaware of any expats who use them to travel around the city, so cannot provide any recommendations in this area. Hotels and accommodation however, may be able to provide recommendations.
Blue and white minibuses:
These are known as ‘taxis’ to local Angolans, so don’t get confused if you are asking for a taxi. Known as ‘candonguieros’ – they should be avoided for safety reasons.
See travel section for details of local boats used to get to Mussulo. In addition a ferry service has recently been launched to take passengers from Mussulo to the city port – details can be obtained from the boat office at Capasoka.
Arriving into Luanda:
Luanda is a busy airport and Angola is a place that enjoys paper based bureaucracy. So landing into Luanda normally means a long wait at immigration for most people. If you have children, there is a chance that you will be allowed to the front of the queue. Make the most of this! Angolans are very supportive of families, so when they tell you to move to the front of the queue – go!
Make sure you have the following documentation with you – yellow fever certificate, passports with valid visas and contact name or number of company sponsor (in case of difficulty). If you are travelling with children, without your spouse, you must carry a dependent letter – which is a certified letter (in portuguese) that says you have permission to travel with the children and a certified copy of your spouses passport and visa. See this link for the latest information on this.
When you leave Luanda at the airport, you will have to produce the same documentation as entry – yellow fever certificates, valid visa, dependent letter and copy of spouse documentation. In addition you will be required to visit the ‘money man’ or ‘money lady’ – who has an office the other side of immigration. This official is required to check that you are not departing the country with excess currency as discussed in the money section.
Facilities are limited at the airport, but due to the risk of traffic congestion it’s normal to find that you have a number of hours to kill. There are some shops – and a small cafe for refreshments.
Mosquitoes at the airport:
The airport is probably one of the worst places in Luanda for mosquitoes. So… remember to pack some small mosquito repellant wipes in your luggage so that when on the plane landing into Luanda, you can give yourself some protection. Likewise for departing… You will also find that WHO regulations have to be met on the plane departing Luanda and the cabin will be sprayed once the aircraft doors are closed.