The city and beaches of Benguela had been highly recommended places to visit within Angola. Supposedly full of beautiful historical monuments and long sandy beaches. However, we found it didn’t live up to our expectations. The city center had a few interesting colonial buildings, but the rest of the downtown area was “under construction” as all sidewalks were torn up and roads were being worked on. The beaches were all built up with houses, squatters or sardine factories and, as are most Angolan urban beaches, they were full of trash.
We had a very long day driving from Huambo, over 8 hours, and rolled into Benguela well after dark. We didn´t have any specific plans for camping and found it difficult to find a good beach/campsite in the dark, so we ended up in an inn for the evening. We stayed at Pension Rose, a very nicely remodeled inn which cost $120 a night. In the morning we toured the town and went off to find a beach good enough for camping. We ended up at Coatinha beach, about 20km south of Benguela. It was once a small fishing village and is now becoming a spot for rich Benguelans to build beach houses. The area was really beautiful but again, covered in trash. We had to clean up the trash before we could set up our tents. In fact, we even paid some local boys a few dollars each to clean up the area around our camp. We had a good time laying out, swimming, and hanging out around a campfire.