These blackened rocks are a geological mystery and form the backdrop to many legends © Wikimedia Commons
Delve into myths and legends at the mysterious Pungo Andongo rock formations.
The Black Rocks are more or less midway between N’dalatando and Malanje. At the village of Cacuso, turn south and follow the road for about 45km. A few kilometres after Cacuso the road rises over the brow of a hill and the rocks of Pungo Andongo appear majestically in the far distance. Later, as you enter a small settlement, you will see signs for a visitors’ centre pointing to the left. Follow the signs and park in a natural cul-de-sac between the rocks. The visitors’ centre has long since disappeared but old concrete steps lead to the top of one of the rocks where there is an astonishing view of the countryside for miles around. The colossal blocks of stone that make up Pungo Andongo cover a rectangular area of about 12km x 6km and many of them rise 200m above the surrounding flat savanna.
Further to the east is a second group of rocks called Pedras Guingas. Many of the rocks have been described as looking like animals but at least one looks like an enormous circumcised phallus. Geologically, the rocks are a mystery: they are hard sedimentary conglomerates but are out of character with the surrounding topography. The growth of mosses and algae causes them to change colour during the seasons. Pungo Andongo is a place of myth and legend and served as capital of the Kingdom of Ndongo. The footprints of Rei (King) Ngola Kiluanji and Rainha (Queen) Ginga are said to be embedded in the rocks. Legend has it that while the queen was taking a bath in a brook at the foot of the rocks she was seen by soldiers. As she fled she left behind her footprints. Small impressions that, with a bit of imagination, could be footprints are protected by an ugly concrete shelter and can be found a short drive away though you will need to ask a local to show you the exact spot.