24th of February – 1st of March 2020:
Accompanied by David and Mags, we cycled along the main road southwards out of the large city. After a while, the two bikers left us and returned on more challenging trails.
Despite Adrian’s stomachache, we made good progress. In a small restaurant, we suddenly saw another touring cyclist and stopped to say hello. The 70-year old Henk was taking a nap and was rather surprised when he saw two white cyclists as soon as he woke up. The sporty Dutchmen started in Morocco and had South Africa as his destination as well.
We talked for a while and continued our talks in another restaurant. Time was flying and we had to continue, since all of us wanted to reach the resort “Carpe Diem”. There were still 50km between us and this place and we had to hurry to arrive there before dark. After we crossed the mighty Kwanza River, we cycled ahead and finally reached the resort after a few hills. After dark, Henk reached the destination as well. The humorous and generous owner showed us where to pitch our tent and offered us a soup and a shower.
Paulo invited us to the incredible breakfast buffet and we refueled our energy levels. There was everything three hungry cyclists would wish for. In the afternoon, we relaxed at the stunning beach and Paulo showed us the surf beach including a bar around three kilometers further. At the same location on a hill, he started to build a few eco-houses with amazing views over the beach. The smart engineer knows exactly what tourists want and fulfills his own dreams by constructing accommodations using local materials.
The Carnival and therefore the long weekend were finished and due to that the resort emptied overnight. Adrian’s stomach problems kept him awake half of the night and therefore the energy reserves were even lower the next morning than when we arrived. Despite all that, we tried to cycle, even if it was not too far. Fabian took the lead and thanks to the flat terrain and only side wind, we managed better than expected.
After around one and a half hours, we met Henk again, who just started to repair his flat tire. The landscape definitely got drier and we saw more and more cactuses and thorny bushes that decorated the landscape.
Bas, a Dutch touring cyclist gave us the telephone number of a farmer on the way and we could spend the night there. Henk reached the farm shortly before sunset and we shared our food items.
We left the mosquito-rich, swampy valley and reached the next large town after Luanda around lunch time. We ate a large portion of rice and local fish and let the strong sun charge our solar panel.
The landscape got hillier again and far away we saw already the approaching, high mountains, which will be our challenge in a few days. On the side of the road, we bought some delicious pineapples, bananas and carrots, to refuel our energy storage. Henk did not want to cycle as far as we did and therefore our paths separated again.
Since we left Luanda, we noticed that the agricultural fields were managed more professionally and systematically. The reason for that is large landowners employ people, which take care of the plantations. Mostly we saw corn or potato fields.
Repeatedly, we had to climb steep hills. Afterwards, the road led us back into the next valley and each time we had a beautiful view on the ocean and the steeply descending cliffs. Angola is furthermore famous for its many and stunning sand beaches.
Soon, we left the coast, cycled a bit inland and therefore approached the mountain range. Amazing rock formations caught our eyes and we enjoyed the welcome change. In the tiny villages we were always welcomed with big smiles and a “bom dia”.
After a rather cold night, we continued our journey in the hills. We cycled up and down from one and our already tired legs signalized that they needed a break. The air got noticeable drier and at the same time, the landscape changed. The scenery remembered us of the South of Spain or Morocco.
Despite strong wind, we reached Lobito and therefore the coast. Afterwards, there was a 40km long, flat stretch until we reached the large city of Benguela. There, we met Mario, a friend of David and Mags, whom we met in Luanda. Mario invited us for a late lunch and we could stay in his guesthouse. In the evening, we witnessed the sunset from a stunning view point. Afterwards, Mario and his girlfriend cooked a delicious dinner for us and we celebrated that we already cycled 30’000km and that Adrian’s stomach problems were finally gone.
The energetic South African went spearfishing at the nearby beach in the early morning with Fabian. Afterwards, Adrian had to go to the dentist, since he had discomfort while eating and this increased lately. The local dentist did not speak one word of English and with the help of a translator, the communication worked more or less. The doctor saw the hole immediately and repaired it instantly. The assistant carried her baby on her back, which was amusing and typical in this part of Africa. After the anesthesia declined, Adrian still had pain while eating and was worried due to that discovery.
In the afternoon, Henk reached Benguela as well and joined us thanks to Mario’s generosity. He got a room in the extension of the guest house. In the evening, Mario invited us all to a delicious, local diner and showed us one of the fish processing facilities of his company.
Mario lives in a huge villa and nearby there are locals living in self-constructed metal shacks. Those contrasts are very present in Angola and one can see them every day. Besides the state-of-the-art shopping malls from South Africa, one can see expensive cars, fancy restaurants and pretentious governmental buildings. Unfortunately, only a few can enjoy this luxury.
At least the difference between “white” and “black” is less extreme on a human level. The Portuguese mixed more with the local population during the colonialization and therefore there are many white Angolans. We never saw this in the Francophone or Anglophone countries in Africa and white people were always received like people from another class.