Lubango: The spectacular African Destination

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In the bottom left-hand corner of Africa, just before the landscape gives way to the arid terrain of Namibia, sits a green and temperate region that could be one of the most beautiful on the continent – and yet few people beyond this part of the world know about it.

Lubango, in southwestern Angola’s Huila province, is the country’s second biggest city by population, is rich in history and culture and is located on a steep-sided plateau that gives rise to spectacular landscapes.

Located at 5,774 feet (1,760 meters) above sea level, it’s one of the coolest cities in Angola – temperatures range between 8-31 Celsius (46-89 Fahrenheit) allowing for the cultivation of crops that are difficult to grow in the rest of the country.

Formerly known as Sá da Bandeira, Lubango was a major settlement site from 1885 for the colonial Portuguese, who arrived from Madeira islands from Portugal and saw the climate’s potential.

Today, the region is rich in agriculture and livestock – an abundance that can be seen in the variety of food on offer – including local cheeses and old Portuguese chorizo sausage recipes.

Lubango is considered one of Angola’s most important cities thanks to its status as a travel hub with great connections to other provinces by road and railway, plus an international airport with flights to Luanda, other parts of the country and Namibia’s capital, Windhoek.

Visitors will find a wealth of history and colonial art deco architecture. It’s also an unrivaled place to mingle with a great variety of ethnic groups, including members of the local Mumuíla people and many other nomadic communities who call into the city to trade or pass through en route to elsewhere.

Unlike many places in Africa, this is a region where multiethnic groups cohabit peacefully and are visible within the city.

Most of them are nomadic people, loyal and proud of traditional roots and ways of living, differentiated by distinct colorful clothes, unique and symbolic jewelry and hairstyles.

“The parade of diverse ethnic groups in Lubango is a rich experience,” says Florinda Ramos, a businesswoman who is a regular visitor to the region. “This is a magical place.”

Rosemaire Luis, an environmental engineer from the Angolan capital Luanda who recently spent time in Lubango for work, is also impressed. “Lubango is an excellent place for discovery tourism,” she says. “It is safe and diverse in terms of landscape and places of interest, both built and natural.

“I really enjoyed the popular markets inside and outside the city, the mountains and remote locations where the geology is lush and fascinating.”

One of the top wonders of Angola, Tundavala is a breathtaking gorge, just over 10 miles northwest of Lubango, over the border into the neighboring province of Namibe.

Here, the cool reaches of the higher-altitude Huila plateau tumble over a steep-walled cliff, into the hotter plains below.

Tundavala is considered by locals as a place where the souls of their ancestors take refuge, and it’s easy to see why.

The panoramic views from this volcanic fissure are mindblowing. Visitors are also rewarded with the beautiful flora, including orchids, growing amid the rocky cracks.

Here, you’re above the clouds. The air is clear, and you might be lucky and see eagles and rock monkeys.

Locals visit to escape the city, especially at weekends, for picnics or just to have a beer, relax with friends and enjoy the sunset.

It’s also a popular spot for wedding photos.

A visit to Tundavala may be an opportunity to encounter local Mumuíla people, who also regularly come and contemplate this scenic place.

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