Against the backdrop of push-pull and social network theories on migration and criminological theory on human smuggling, this article tries to answer the questions of why and how Angolan asylum-seekers migrated to the Netherlands since the end of the 1990s. The study shows that the migrants can be described as opportunity seeking migrants, rather than survival migrants. Most migrants made no use of typical human smugglers during their travel. They rather used assistance from their social network and made use of the services of middlemen, called esquemas, on an ad-hoc basis. In this article it is argued that "archetypal" large smuggling organisations in Angola have not evolved because of the existence of these highly informal networks. Support is found that both push-pull and social network theories can contribute to explaining irregular, asylum migration. © 2008 The Author. Journal Compilation © 2008 IOM.