Benfica is the local art and craft market just outside Luanda city. Wood and ivory handicrafts, handmade jewellery, fabrics, baskets, oil paintings – you can find it all over there! It reminded me a lot about the flea markets in Goa. Handicrafts, browsing, comparing and bargaining. All the fun things about shopping! This also means that you have to manoeuvre yourself among a crowd of sellers trying to get your attention. “Por favor madam! Come here… I have the best statues here” “I give you good price!”. But that is a key characteristic of any flea market! :)
If you know Portuguese, it’s much easier to converse with the sellers; but even if you don’t, its not that big a problem. I felt buyers and sellers have a universal language of numbers :). The prices in Benfica are much cheaper than in regular handicraft shops in the city. Great place to buy some souvenirs for self and for gifting. The first price quoted is usually very high and going to half the price is pretty okay especially in wooden handicrafts. I bought a statue for 2K when the initial price quoted was 5K; my friend bought another for 3K when the initial quoted price was 8K but then she bought 3 of them so was able to bargain more! I couldn’t bargain at all in the baskets. The lady said 2000 kwanzas and when I proposed 1000, she simply went back to her weaving without even bothering to entertain in any bargaining! :) But the fact that I saw her weaving it there, made me buy it without any discount :). Fabrics are all decently priced… you might be able to bargain a little if you are buying many items. We didn’t check on prices of paintings. They also sell ivory statues, but I didn’t even go to any ivory seller as it would mean encouraging poaching.
Benfica is open from Tuesday to Sunday. We went on a weekday afternoon so it wasn’t very crowded but I have heard that on weekend there are more vendors, so more choice but so would be the crowd of shoppers.
Going to Benfica was an experience. Till my benfica trip I had only been to the malls and standard shops here. Benfica was fun; it was interactive. You are not looking at a label for the price but you are actually engaging in conversation with the locals and if you like that (and a good bargain), plan a trip there.
Everything was so colourful and vibrant! I missed not having my camera there and could just take a few shots with my phone but I’m just waiting to find company to go there again and this time I’m going there just to click! :)
Directions: As you go from Luanda city to Luanda sul, Benfica is on the right after the first pier to Mussola. The market is covered so no need to worry about the sun, but it does get pretty hot so late mornings or early evening would be an ideal time.