Travel description of a trip in the Cuanza Sul Province of Angola
Cuanza Sul is a province of Angola and it might very well be the most beautiful part of the country.
It has an area of 55,660 km² and a population of approximately 600,000 (difficult to know, may be the census will tell?) Sumbe is the capital of the province. Municipalities in this province include Porto Amboim,Seles, Conda, Amboim, Quilenda, Libolo, Mussende, Quibala, Waku-Kungo, Cassongue and Ebo. Cuanza Sul lies on the south bank of the Cuanza River.
We took this trip the first weekend of May 2014, there had been quite some rain the last weeks and road conditions bear some marks of that.
Planning with Google map is not always useful, as the road condition and traffic might be different in real Angola from what Google think it is...
Here is the logistic for our trip
Total round trip - 1011km
Travel time total - 24 h 30 min.
Time in movement - 18 h 33 min.
Average speed 54 km/h.
We left Luanda and headed for Dondo. The traffic out of Luanda is normally slow around Viana and the road between Luanda and Dondo was in a pretty bad shape due to the rain, but we arrived in Dondo in time for lunch. Dondo is a town in the Cuanza Norte Province, and here you will find the brewery of Eka, one of the local beers in Angola. It is also a perfect stop for lunch.
We arrived in Calulo early afternoon; the town was a pleasant surprise. Clean and well kept, with several options for hotels and restaurants. We stayed at the Aanisa Hotel Ritz, rooms were fairly big, clean and we got a beautiful view of the church and the mountains.
The government has a pretty good webpage with information http://www.kalulo.com/
Entrance to the fortress in the distance
The fortress in Calulo was built by the Portuguese colonial authorities in the late nineteenth century, who felt they needed some defence against the strong local resistance to the occupation.
This resistance started in 1895 , under the command of “Soba Libolo” and the construction of the Fort was started in 1897 by Lieutenant Pais Brandão .
In July 1917 there was a major uprising against the colonial forces, and the fortress then served as refuge to the occupying forces.
Interior of the fort is nothing spectacular, just an overgrown field, and there are two generator parks that makes some noise. Today the fort gives a great view over the neighborhood around the town, the church and the massive stone blocks in the mountains surrounding the town of Calulo.The outer walls are beautifully lit up when it is dark and gives a nice view of the walls.
The Portuguese church in Calulo is home to a statue of Virgin Mary and it holds a great importance to the Angolan Catholics.
In May 1998 began the Pilgrimage to the shrine of “ Nossa Senhora de Fátima de Calulo”. This is an event that moves thousands of pilgrims from all over the Kwanza-Sul and beyond and is one of the main religious celebrations of Angola .
Back at the hotel we discovered that the hotel bar had an interesting bottle – an Angolan wine, made in the Kwanza-Sul province.
Of course we had to try it! So the evening started with a cold white wine, and the important decision of which of the three restaurants we would pick. We went to Valoeste, the food was good, and service was with a smile!
The logistic - Day one from Luanda to Calulo
Distance 270 km.
Total travel time 8 h 20 min – including a nice lunch break.
Time moving 4h 57 min.
Average speed 55 km/h
Day 2 Calulo - Conda
The next day we had two things we wanted to see, the coffee plantation and the winery. After a good breakfast we headed out of town, a bit back where we came from to visit the coffee plantation Fazenda Cabuta. On the way we had a nice chat with the people of another coffee and banana plantation, we were told that this farm belongs to the President himself, all though he had never visited, but that was the reason for the small airstrip close by.
Again we found people to be friendly and informative – and willing to be captured as well! Here is a group of young people on the traditional Kewesaki!
When you take off from the main road you enter a rather heavy 4x4 road, and you are looking forward to a bumpy ride for 20 km at a very low speed – it became very clear that we would not be able to do both the coffee and the winery, and the decision to turn was unanimously and easy – we did not know that Angola produces wine, but it was obvious that we had to see it.
So we returned and went back to the center of Calulo, passed the hospital and drove towards the winery. The landscape is beautiful; there are several small villages all with the MPLA or Angolan flag.
Compared to Luanda there is very little rubbish, the roads were good and we kept going to Luati, where we saw this sign!
We had no appointment, no contacts but hoped to at least be able to see it from a distance.
At the gate, the guard let us in when we explained we wanted to visit the winery. There were several roads of wine stocks – all clearly marked and after passing them all we ended up at a house. The manager was a man with the most welcoming attitude ever seen in Angola, he took us to the showroom - Yes, this unknown winery has a showroom! He opened a bottle for us, explained about the winery and even brought out a very special and good grappa for us to taste!
The winery does not yet have a license to sell wine, but there no regulation against giving – so he generously gave us one bottle of red and white to take with us home.
He also let us use his reception room for our picnic-lunch – with the remark: Stay as long as you wish, and would you like some wine with your food?
After lunch we had to start moving again – this time towards Quibala. This is high altitude, with mountains around 2000 meters, very fertile and with fairly good roads. Quibala (also written Kibala) is a municipality in Cuanza Sul that comprises an area of 5,875 km. It is bordered by the city of Calulo in the north, by the town of Waku-Kungo in the east, by the municipality of Ebo in the south, and in the west by the municipality of Gabela and by Porto Amboim.
In Quibala we refueled, stocked up on some essential at the gas station and again – met smiling welcoming people that wanted to chat and have their photo taken, like this young mother.
After a short stop we turned east towards Gabela.
Gabela, once the center of coffee production used to have railway to Porto Amboim to transport coffee, bananas and other agricultural products. Today the city is in a terrible state, the main road through the city has been destroyed by rain, so all transportation west is lead through residential areas. This is a rather steep, muddy road and there were signs of sliding and flooding everywhere. You will need a 4x4. Please be aware that the road is in an extremely bad state, not only because of the rains, but also because of reconstruction work that has been going on for more than a year! This detour took us almost an hour, going through some rather sad neighborhoods; before we ended up back in Gabela center some hundred meters further down the destroyed main road!
The town itself bears clear remains of its prime time, with several old buildings which must have been wonderful, now they were abandoned and in a wretched state.
The detour was long - Time to head for the Kumbira forest and our stop for the night.
Luckily after turning towards Conda, we get rid of all the traffic and are on our own, the road is very good and we pass the sign of the hot springs "Tocota", unfortunately we did not have time to visit, it is not wise to drive during night and it was getting dark. It is said to be nice, bring you bathingsuit and towels if you plan to visit.
We managed to reach the Rio Uiri, and right before the bridge we find a little sign on the right side of the road, signalizing a small track leading to Pousada do Engelo, Fazenda Chinandala, which is our end point of the day. (firstname.lastname@example.org ) The road is again a basic 4x4 road for about 10 minutes, it leads you deep in the Kumbira Forest. The lodging is very basic, no aircon but power and running water. Bring you own essentials.
You have another option for lodging as well, immediately after the Rio Uiri Bridge on your left side is the Fazenda Rio Iris Guest House (no webpage but you will find them on facebook ). This Fazenda has 16 room, aircon, wifi, grows their own vegetables and fruit etc. Very clean and well organized.
Logistic day 2 - Calulo to Conda
Distance traveled 290 km
Total travel-time 11 h 47 min
Time in movement 6h 35 min.
Average speed 48 km/hour
The old church in Seles.
Seles was quiet on a Saturday, just some kids playing around the church which was locked.
The road down from Seles to the flatlands east of Sumbe is beautiful and scenic, ranking just behind Serra do Leba outside Lubango! Take your time and enjoy it!
We reach our stop point in Sumbe for lunch time. During our lunch we could hear the loud testing (as an early warning of what was to come overnight!) of the disco-/music equipment from the open air disco right opposite the Hotel Ritz where we stayed. The next morning during breakfast, the music ended at 07:30; leaving this todays logistic.
Logistic Day 3 - Conda to Sumbe
Distance traveled 117 km
Travel time 2h 45 min.
Average speed 48 km/hour
Day 4 - Sumbe - Luanda.
We have learned that in Sumbe, disco/music festivals/concerts with very loud music has to be expected in the weekends. Depending on your age or mood – this could be a dream or a nightmare….. Be aware that the hotel Ritz is not at all soundproof (you are not able to tell the difference with the windows open or closed) so bring you earplugs if you don’t plan to join the party! Heading out of Sumbe, after a no-sleep night - we enjoyed the good road condition between Sumbe and Luanda. You might want to stop at Carpe Diem on Cabo Ledo for lunch and some hours on the beach, otherwise it is just to head home!
Logistic Day 4 - Sumbe -Luanda
Distance traveled 330 km.
Travel time 4h 20 min.
Average speed 77 km/hour
Cuanza Sul is a beutiful province in Angola. You find the total logistic and link to a google map for the trip below the first image on this page
This trip is highly recommended. We found people along the way to be very helpful and welcoming, but as always when traveling in Angola; bring water, some food, you first aid kit and of course your camera!
For more photos from Angola, click home at the top of this page, then the Travel gallery, and click on Angola.