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Nota

The Beaches of Benguela: Angola´s best “Must Visit” seaside locations.

The beaches around Benguela have always been places where people go to relax and get away from it all. I am one of them because I love all that the region has to offer.  Benguela sits 700 kilometres south of Luanda, the Angolan capital. It was founded by the Portuguese in 1617 and is a former slave port. Having been spared the worst of a bloody civil war that reduced other inland towns to piles of smouldering rubble, Benguela is very picturesque. It has a charming mixture of low-rise apartment blocks on streets made beautiful by Benguela’s famous crimson acacia trees.

In Benguela, Angola’s cultural capital, African traditions are strong. The sense of history is palpable, but the real highlight of this diminutive regional capital is not its paint-peeled colonial architecture. It is the people. Benguelans are open and gregarious, with an infectious spirit.

Then there are the beaches: Praia Morena (Brunette Beach), Praia da Caota, Praia da Caotinha, Praia da Baía Azul (Blue Bay Beach) and Lobito. Each has its own flavour, and all are worth visiting.

Praia Morena (Brunette Beach) runs a length of more than 1000 kilometres and is a favourite of romantic couples. It begins its expanse in the lower part of the city, close to the government buildings and hotels.

Praia da Caota is a much smaller beach, extending only 400 meters. Lying only 10 kilometres from the city centre. Its terrain combines sand and rocky terrain. With waters that are very clear and calm, it is recommended spot for those interested in underwater fishing.

With a similar name Praia da Caotinha lies 26 kilometres from the city centre. With an even smaller expanse, a mere 150 meters, its seclusion makes it somewhat more private.

Praia da Baía Azul is a very picturesque location. This beach, adjacent to the Bay, gets its name (Blue Bay) from its blue waters . It runs for 3 kilometres and is considered the “mother” of beaches in the area of Baia Farta.

If you require a beach with extreme ease of access consider Lobito. Located right in the city, the beaches of Lobito are close to the residential areas. These include Restinga, Cabaia and Compão.

Wondering about where to stay? Consider visiting the Hotel Praia Morena. This 3 star Hotel has a very welcoming atmosphere. It offers its clients a variety of services including a gym, beauty salon, spa, two swimming pools (including the one for children). Rooms are very comfortable, with nice views of various parts of the city. It is located near the entrance to the city allowing easy access to the beaches and other locations of interest.

Can’t decide which beach to visit? Or do you want to “see the City” as well as spend time on the beach? Consider taking a Safari and combine both these interests! An 8 day Safari will allow you to visit the beaches at Luanda, Benguela and Lobito. During the Safari you can experience the following activities:

  • Tour the cities of Luanda, Lobito and Benguela;
  • Visit various adjacent beaches;
  • Travel along the nearby rivers;
  • Visit the the Cachoeiras (Waterfalls);
  • Experience the local lifestyles;
  • View the local wildlife;
  • Enjoy the finest seafood;
  • Go snorkelling and / or fishing.

As for me, when I can get away from work I like to take a barefoot walk along the beach while the sun sets. The setting sun is something I could watch every day. It is never quite the same.

Nota

Madeira Island: Experience Nature Vacations of breathtaking beauty.

Are you planning your next escape from the hustle and bustle of modern life? If you enjoy outdoor sites of natural beauty consider visiting Madeira Island on your next vacation. It has much to offer a visitor hoping to “get away from it all”.

Madeira Island is 500 km from the African coast and 998 km from the European Continent, just a 1 hour 30 minutes flight from Lisbon. Because of its privileged geographical position and mountainous relief, Madeira Island has a temperate climate, with very mild average temperatures (in both summer and winter), and a moderate level of humidity.

There are many sites of great natural beauty to visit on the Island but two of these are mandatory visits for the nature lover: the Grutas (Caves) of São Vicente and Pico Ruivo (Red Peak).

In São Vicente you can visit both the Caves and the Volcanism Centre. The Volcanism Centre seeks to spread technical and scientific information so that your visit to the Caves will be more rewarding. The Volcanism Centre fuses culture and knowledge with leisure and entertainment. 90 visitors at a time watch audiovisual shows that recreate the geological evolution of the Caves, the eruption of a volcano and a simulation of the birth of the Archipelago. This Centre complements your visit to the Caves, using them as an example of the geological formation of Madeira Island.

The Caves of São Vicente were formed by a volcanic eruption 890 thousand years ago at Paúl da Serra. As the lava descended to the sea, the outer portion was exposed to lower temperatures and solidified rapidly. The inner portion of the lava continued to flow. The many interior gases created a series of lava tubes that form the caves of São Vicente. The same Caves which you will walk through on your visit. This set of eight “volcanic tunnels” extends for more than 1000 meters, with maximum heights varying between 5 and 6 meters. It is the largest known cave system on Madeira Island.

Pico Ruivo (Red Peak)

This Walk is probably the best known high level route on Madeira Island and consequently one of the most popular. The walk to the top offers stunning views of landscape, as well as views of a variety of flora and fauna. This explains its popularity. The whole route is of moderate difficulty, well marked and in good condition. Route finding is not a problem.

Levada Walks

Put on a pair of comfortable shoes and go for a walk along the famous water canals known as “Levadas”, used for irrigation in olden times, The most popular such treks are the Rabaçal levada walk, towards the 25 Fountains; the Queimadas levada walk, until Caldeirão Verde; the walk between the Areeiro Peak and the Ruivo Peak; and the walk from Ribeiro Frio to Portela. A special footpath has also been thought out for persons with limited mobility. This path, between the Pedras Peak and Queimadas, is equally stunning, despite its ease.

Remember of course that for your own safety you should heed the following:

  • Before starting out make sure you have updated route instructions
  • Let someone else know where you’re going and when you expect to return
  • Be sure to confirm the time it will take so that you can finish before nightfall
  • Take some extra food and water with you
  • Wear suitable clothes and shoes
  • If possible take a mobile phone with you
  • Don’t take risks
  • Memorize the following contacts:

Emergency number: 112 and

Civil Protection: 291 700 112

Join me next week for further suggestions about what to visit on Madeira Island. See you soon!