The south-west African country of Angola is waking up to its tourism potential, offering opportunities for visitors and investors alike.
One of the most unspoilt regions is the Namibe desert, which stretches 2,000 kilometres across three countries.
The desert runs all the way from the Iona National Park in Angola, through Namibia, to South Africa’s Kalahari Desert – more than 80,000 square kilometres. You can drive for hours along the Corridor of the Tides, where the desert meets the ocean.
Namibe means ‘’vast place’’ in the local language and it lives up to its name – a tourism wonderland with a spectacular coastline.
Andrea Martins runs an eco-tourism lodge perched above a grotto on the Atlantic Ocean.
Praia do Soba, meaning ‘Beach of the Chief’, offers magnificent views of sandstone cliffs carved by nature.
Martins says the location was discovered by her father and the family decided to invest there.
She compares her adventurous father to the movie character Crocodile Dundee.
“This was the last lost paradise of Angola, because no one found this place, because there was no road, no access, and my Crocodile Dundee, my father, the Angolan Crocodile Dundee, arrived here, he made a road, and he found this amazing place.”
The individual huts are beautifully decorated, and there are plans to build more. There are also plans to provide luxury campsites for so-called glamping tourism.
Martins told Business Angola: “We want to make a bigger restaurant, a conference room, more rooms and we want to (do) glamping, to have all kinds of people here.”
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Martin Bremer, a South African businessman, already runs a glamping company, giving tourists a chance to travel deep into the heart of Namibe province.
Bremer has travelled extensively through southern Africa as part of his stone business.
“We visited all sorts of ‘off the beaten track’ (places), all the uncharted sites. And it was just a natural thing to do to bring people into this area.”
Bremer says compared to other countries in southern Africa, Angola is ripe for investment in tourism.
“It’s open, it’s becoming much easier to form partnerships. They’ve changed many of the laws to make it easier for people to invest. There are great companies in Angola.”
It’s hoped a 500 million-euro expansion of the southern port of Namibe will have flow-on effects for tourism and leisure.
Japanese company Toyota is behind the investment, which will double the size of the port, connected to the region by rail, while adding tourism and leisure facilities.
Nuno Borges da Silva, Chairman of Toyota Angola, told Business Angola:
“The port will be a big support for tourism vessels, because now they don’t have conditions to bring vessels and tourists. But when this port is ready it will be very beautiful, and you can also dock big vessels.”
He said foreigners can invest in Angola without any local partners.
“Let’s say it’s more open to the people to come and invest without any difficulty, any problem,” he said.