Africa

November 2008- Kalandula Falls and Piedras Negras (Angola)

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This weekend Chris and I went camping with our friends Lorrie and Margaret, and Margaret’s daughter Lina.  We left Sunday morning and drove east from Luanda, in search of the Kalendula Falls and the rocks called Piedras Negras.  These are two natural attractions of Angola that a lot of people who live here have heard of, but not many people have actually been to.  Although they are only 6-8 hours away from the capital city now, this was not always the case.  In the past, when there was just a dirt road, it could take over 12 hours to travel to the next closest major city, Malange.  Also, during 30 years of Angola’s civil war, people did not travel within the country from province to province.  In addition, Chris and I had tried this trip last year over Thanksgiving break, only to wind up getting as far as N’Dalentando, where I was thrown in  jail. 

So we were pretty excited to try the trip again.  This is my last week in Angola so this would be our last chance to try to see the infamous waterfalls.  We had a good time driving out towards Melange, enjoying the scenery and the countryside.  Angola is actually a very beautiful country once you get out of the capital city.  Very green and pretty.  We finally found the little town where you turn off the main highway to head towards Kalandula, and turned on a dirt road for the last 45 kilometers.  At last we reached the falls, and they were amazing.  It is reputed that the Kalandula Falls are the 2nd tallest in Africa, at 105 meters.  Apparently there used to be a hotel at the falls, which we could see across the falls from where we were (you can see it in the picture of Chris, above).  It gave the area a whole kind of weird “Lost” feeling, being at this place and finding an old structure that none of us knew had been built there.  One of the visitors at the falls said there used to be a bridge leading to the hotel.  Maybe there is a road on the other side, but we couldn’t see one.  I wonder if anyone will ever rebuild there.

We had brought camping supplies, so we found a good area to camp in- next to a farmer’s cassava field (always good to be near farmland in a country filled with mines)- and we spent the night close to the falls.  The next morning, we found a trail that led down to the river at the bottom of the falls.  It took about 30 minutes to hike to the bottom, but it was totally worth it to see the view of the waterfalls from below.  We sat on some boulders that reached halfway across the river and we felt like we were in the middle of the water.

After a while we packed up, found the main highway again, and then found the little dirt road that leads to Piedras Negras, a grouping of old volcanic (?) rocks that are supposed to be really, really old.  I could only find a little information on them, so I don’t know how old they are.  The road leading to the rocks is being paved right now, so I imagine in a few more months the area will start seeing some tourists.  It is really worth going.  The rocks stand out against the skyline in an area that is otherwise very flat.  In one area, there are two small parts of the rocks that are blocked off so you can’t walk there.  We went over to investigate, and discovered that there are footprints in the rocks there.  A woman who was with a group of people explained that they are pre-historic footprints.  I would love to find out how old they are.

After the footprints, we packed it up and headed back home.  It was a long drive home, but again, with the beautiful countryside, it made for a really great trip.  I am very happy that we went.

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