HomeTop StoriesThe incredible 'sacred' waterfall in Angola that you've probably never heard of

The incredible ‘sacred’ waterfall in Angola that you’ve probably never heard of

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“No one can say that God does not exist when we see the miracles that God has done here.” That was Sebastião Gaspar Agostinho’s reaction when he visited Kalandula Falls for the first time.

Agostinho, accompanied by a group of women from his church, took an hour-long bus trip just to see the waterfall, one of the largest waterfalls in Africa, and it was worth the ride.

“I saw the Kalandula Falls on television,” he says. “I have seen pictures of the Kalandula Falls, but now when I see it with my own eyes, the impact is different.”

The waterfalls, located almost 400 kilometers (240 miles) east of the Angolan capital Luanda, in Malanje province, are traditionally believed to be sacred. Visitors who bask in their immense power can understand why.

The experience begins at the parking lot near the falls. Even here, out of sight of the attraction, visitors can feel the energy generated by the enormous amounts of water crashing onto the rocks below.

You reach it by walking across a flat field of large stones that leads to the top edge of the falls. From here it is possible to get a good idea of ​​the size and power of the Kalandula Falls: the roaring waters have a width of 400 meters, with a drop of 100 meters.

Spiritual history

Kalangula Falls was once seen as a spiritual place, where rituals were performed to appease gods.  – Nick Migwi/CNN

Kalangula Falls was once seen as a spiritual place, where rituals were performed to appease deities. – Nick Migwi/CNN

The spectacle is shrouded in a cool mist that locals say is part of spiritual history.

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“What the elders say is that Kalandula Falls was a sacred place in the past,” said Nelson Andre, director of tourism and culture in Kalandula. “It is a location where rituals were performed to appease the gods and ask for well-being, health and prosperity for society at large.”

Kalandula (sometimes written as Calandula) is only a fraction of the width of Victoria Falls, Africa’s largest waterfall at over 1,700 meters wide, but almost as high with a powerful and relentless flow of water.

“It is not possible for a human to do what is happening in these Kalandula Falls,” says Nelson Andre. “Rain or shine, the water never dries up, there is always water. It is the place where God took his hands and painted the Kalandula Falls.”

To get the full experience of the falls, visitors must descend a steep and rocky path that takes them to the bottom. It takes about 30 minutes to complete the walk along part of the Lucala River that feeds Kalandula.

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Those who complete the trek are gifted with a picturesque sight that will amaze their social media followers. They are almost surrounded by the horseshoe-shaped waterfall, which creates a thunderous backdrop of rushing water.

On most days there’s also a rainbow so vibrant you’ll want to make sure there isn’t a pot of gold nearby.

Hidden treasure

The falls are one of the largest in Africa, although less than a third as large as Victoria Falls.  – Nick Migwi/CNNThe falls are one of the largest in Africa, although less than a third as large as Victoria Falls.  – Nick Migwi/CNN

The falls are one of the largest in Africa, although less than a third as large as Victoria Falls. – Nick Migwi/CNN

“Everyone who comes here, like me, experiences the same feeling, because what this landscape shows us is amazing,” says Pedro Francisco, a local guide who takes people to the bottom of the falls every day.

“You can come here with your problems and when you come here it all blows up. You forget all the problems you have.”

The Kalandula Waterfalls are truly a hidden treasure in Angola. This is partly because they are not heavily promoted as a tourist destination and also because of their location.

There is only one main road connecting the area to Luanda and many parts of it are riddled with potholes or damage – so it’s a long, bumpy drive to get there.

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Although there are currently no restaurants or shops near the falls, making it the area’s only visitor attraction, local authorities want to change that.

“We need infrastructure here that will attract tourists and make them feel like they have what they need in Kalandula Falls,” says Nelson Andre. “We believe that tourists are attracted not only by the divine wonder, but also by the things that exist around it. Good services will help tourism grow at the municipal level.”

Friendly welcome

The waterfalls are located about 400 kilometers from the Angolan capital Luanda.  – Nick Migwi/CNNThe waterfalls are located about 400 kilometers from the Angolan capital Luanda.  – Nick Migwi/CNN

The waterfalls are located about 400 kilometers from the Angolan capital Luanda. – Nick Migwi/CNN

There is one hotel: a very modest bed & breakfast, but in an almost perfect location. It’s called Pousada Quedas de Kalandula and is located on its own on a lush green plateau near the rippling water.

Guests staying there can see the falls from their balcony and enjoy breakfast on the patio, which also offers unobstructed views. It also makes for great photo opportunities.

“It was first built in the 1950s, during the colonial era,” says Benvinda Ribeiro, who manages the hotel.

She said the hotel was revived after it closed during the civil war that gripped Angola from 1975, after Portuguese colonial rule ended, until 2002. It reopened in 2017 after a three-year renovation.

Ribeiro says 70% of her guests are foreigners. She hopes more people from across the country come for this experience.

“Those who come to see these wonders will be well received,” she says. “We want everyone to come, not only foreigners but also Angolans. They will always be well received in the same way, always with the same kindness.”

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