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Africa Cup of Nations: Venue guide

Four brand-new stadiums spread across Angola's west coast will give fans the chance to explore more than just on-field excitement at the Africa Cup of Nations. The BBC's Louise Redvers gives an insider's guide to the venues.

LUANDA

A view of Luanda's Central Business District
Luanda's seafront is preparing for a huge makeover

A congested but vibrant city, the skyline of Angola's capital city is a striking mix of colonial Portuguese architecture, modern glass skyscrapers and crumbling 1960s tower blocks.

Some five million people - 70% of the city's population - live in the vast shanty towns which stretch for miles in every direction.

Situated on the Atlantic, its own bay has an attractive promenade which is soon to undergo a $127m makeover.

The sandy strip known as the Ilha (island) is popular for its beach bars and high-end restaurants.

Luanda's stadium is about 17km from the city-centre in a neighbourhood known as Camama.

With capacity for 50,000 spectators, the opening ceremony and final will be held here.

BENGUELA
Angolan passengers walk 19 May 2007 to get the train from Angola?s second city Benguela for a two-hour journey to Lobito, 30 kms north of Benguela
A 27-year civil war ruined Angola's transport infrastructure

Once a major slave-trading port linking Africa to Brazil, in the 20th Century Benguela became the terminus for the Benguela railway.

In its heyday the railway stretched 1,370km from the nearby port town Lobito to Luau on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.

A five-hour drive south from the capital Luanda, Benguela is a popular weekend getaway and boasts stunning beaches, tree-lined streets and good restaurants.

The stadium, which has a stunning sea view from the west end, is situated alongside the Benguela-Lobito expressway in a former banana plantation and is about a 15-minute drive from central Benguela.

It is the second largest ground with a capacity of 35,000 and will host a semi-final.

LUBANGO
Serra da Leba road
The Serra da Leba cuts through Lubango's vast hills

At 1,761m above sea level and further inland than the other venues, Lubango has a cooler climate and there is a relaxed feel about the town.

It is famous for its Cristo Rei statue - a copy of the giant white statues of Jesus Christ in Brazil and Portugal.

Nearby too is the stunning Tundavala gorge, a dramatic volcanic fissure where you can climb to 2,600km for stellar views of waterfalls and the dramatic Serra da Leba pass - a narrow road zig-zagging through the hills.

Once a popular tourist destination, Lubango has the Nossa Senhora do Monte tourist complex, named after the hillside church of the same name, which includes a landscaped park, a boating lake, tennis and basketball courts, a casino and accommodation lodges.

The stadium will have seating for 20,000 people and is about 5km from the city centre with a new road being built.

CABINDA

The oil-rich exclave - home to a large base of the energy firm, Chevron - was chosen to host an Africa Cup of Nations stadium in a bid to boost local investment and infrastructure.

Map

Cabinda is physically separated from the rest of the country by a strip of the DR Congo and has a northern border with the Republic of Congo.

For some years the nationalist movement Flec (Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda) has been trying to claim independence from the Angolan government.

A peace deal was signed in 2006 but a low-level insurgency continues and there are allegations of rights abuses against Flec members held in prison there.

The Angolan Armed Forces maintains a large presence in Cabinda and this will be stepped up to ensure security during the tournament.

The stadium will hold 20,000 people and is 15km north of Cabinda city.

The province is reached only by air from within Angola and the games there are unlikely to attract large visiting crowds.


This guide was originally published in BBC Focus on Africa Magazine. To read more articles and to subscribe, click here.



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