The ‘beautiful precipice' road to Serra da Leba
Serra da Leba is the name of a mountain range located on the boundary between Huíla and Namibe provinces of Angola. It’s one of the famous hairpinned roads in the world.
Situated some 20 miles west of the city of Lubango, the road is totally paved. It’s called Estrada Nacional 280 (EN280). Legend has it that the Serra da Leba pass is named after a Portuguese woman who designed and built the road, who died after she viewed it on the very day the project was finished. Being one of the country's postcard images for decades, the road is a marvel of engineering given the era of its construction. In spite of its beauty, the road offers little guard-rail protection and has been the venue of many road fatalities; thus bearing the long assigned name 'the beautiful precipice'. The road deserves one or more stops not just for taking photos but to contemplate the landscape. At the top, turn left immediately after the security barrier/toll station and head for the communication masts. At the end of the track is a viewpoint where you can see the steepest part of the road descend and disappear into the lush vegetation below.
Serra da Leba is a national landmark in Angola. The most challenging part of the drive is 29.7km (18.45 miles) long, running from Renato Grade to Leba. This breathtaking mountain road built in the 1970s, spirals down from the 'plano alto' (high plateau) elevation of 1.845 meters to almost sea level in just over 10 kilometres; literally traversing 3 or 4 different climate zones during any ascent or descent. The drive is very steep, hitting a 34% of maximum gradient through some of the ramps. Driving in dark or rainy days is nightmare to the most trained drivers.
Pic: Wilhan Gomes