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Cuatir and Luengue-Luiana NP, Angola

Angola Adventure

£10,450 pp sharing

At a Glance

Dates: August 13th - August 27th, 2024

Extension: We do not currently offer any extensions to this itinerary.

Prices: £10,450 pp sharing (with no single supplement), excl. international flights

In a sentence: Angola is one of the very few frontiers left in the world today - be amongst the first ecotourists to visit this enigmatic country!

Overview

Angola historically contained one of the most impressive and extensive wilderness areas in all of Africa. Bordering the rich desert landscapes of Namibia to the south, the vast floodplains of Zambia to the east and the famous Okavango Delta to the south-east, Angola has all the makings of a sensational wildlife destination. Sadly, a brutal civil war devastated much of the country’s wildlife from 1975 to 2002, and the country is only now beginning to open up to wildlife-focussed tourism.

For wildlife enthusiasts, there is much to be excited about when it comes to Angola. The country’s extensive coastline is home to populations of rare cetaceans including the reclusive Atlantic Humpback Dolphin and Heaviside’s Dolphin. The far southern reaches of this coastline have even been recorded to play host to “surfing” hippos, a phenomenon once thought to only occur in Gabon. Inland from Luanda, you will find endemics including the spectacular Giant Sable, the Pluto Blue Monkey, and the minute Angolan Dwarf Galago. The south-west of Angola is where a number of burgeoning national parks can be found. Bicuar National Park, and the near contiguous Mupa National Park, have attracted attention recently as unexpected strongholds for savanna wildlife in Angola. Whilst the wildlife populations here are a far cry from some reserves elsewhere in southern Africa, Bicuar in particular is known to be home to African Wild Dog, Leopard, Spotted Hyaena, Serval, Caracal, Aardwolf, Elephant, Eland, Roan and more. Iona National Park is more arid than Bicuar, with sparser populations of wildlife, but it is sure to go from strength to strength under the management of African Parks. It is in Iona where Cheetah may be encountered, as well as the near-endemic Black-Faced Impala.

Luengue-Luiana and Cuatir, in the south-eastern corner of Angola are, perhaps, the most exciting destinations in all of Angola when it comes to wildlife. Amongst the headwaters of the Okavango still roam wild dog, cheetah, lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and a rich array of smaller mammals and unusual birdlife. Any sighting here, though, can be enjoyed in the knowledge that this special area is on the road to recovery after years of neglect, and it is this conservation story that makes a visit so poignant and memorable.

For the patient and committed wildlife-watcher, Angola can deliver incredible sightings. A visit should be reserved for those with a real passion for adventure – getting to a destination in Angola can be as exciting and challenging as the destination itself. Much of Angola is still to be properly explored by those on safari and, with this in mind, there is no telling what exactly a visitor to Angola might encounter.

Itinerary

Day One

Luanda

On arrival into Luanda Airport, you will be met by your Pictus Safaris representative and escorted to your local hotel. The remainder of your day is at leisure, with a pre-tour briefing before dinner at the hotel this evening.

Day Two

Lubango

This morning we transfer back to Luanda airport, meeting our TAAG flight for the ninety-minute flight south to the city of Lubango. On arrival in Lubango, we will transfer to our local hotel, with the remainder of the day at leisure. We recommend taking advantage of a few last creature comforts before the expedition ahead.

Day Three

Menongue

Our overlanding begins early today, as we meet our 4x4 convoy in Lubango just after breakfast. Much of today will be spent on the road on what is a scenic six-and-a-half hour drive to the town of Menongue, cutting east across the southern reaches of Angola on the EN280. We will arrive at Villa Menongue by late afternoon, where we overnight.

Day Four

Cuatir

We have a final day on the road today, heading almost directly due south over increasingly poor roads for around six hours. Before arriving at our first game-viewing destination, Cuatir, we will arrive at the Cubango River, the river that forms much of the border between Angola and Namibia, and then feeds the world-famous Okavango Delta. We cross the river by barge, arriving at Cuatir Camp in time for a late lunch.

The Cuatir Conservation Project is a sterling example of modern conservation done right. Stefan van Wyk, who has extensive experience in protecting and conserving wilderness areas in Angola, is responsible for the excellent work being done here to help the area recover from years of neglect and mismanagement. The camp is rustic and remote, but perfectly comfortable, consisting of small chalets with private bathrooms, and is well-appointed when considering in just how wild an area we find ourselves.

After a chance to settle in after a long couple of days of travelling, this afternoon will be spent on game drive, exploring the stunning Cuatir floodplains. This area may not be able to rival established safari destinations for density of game, but the wildlife that has survived here is certainly impressive. Roan and sable dot the plains, and kudu and giraffe have recently been translocated from Namibia. Impala, waterbuck, warthog, reedbuck and more are easily seen, and we may be lucky enough to spot some predators as darkness draws in - past visitors have spied wild cat, serval and even true rarities such as caracal, cheetah, leopard and wild dog.

Following the evening drive, dinner will be served under the majestic rosewood trees at camp. Once darkness is firmly established, a night drive will allow us a chance to seek out rare nocturnal species, including caracal, leopard and even aardvark, before returning to camp for some rest.

Day Five

Cuatir

The full day will be spent in Cuatir today, exploring the reserve on morning, afternoon and night drives. There will be time to learn more about the fabulous work going on here, including recent translocations, anti-poaching activities and community outreach. Game drives will focus on any key species the group may wish to see, but generally we will traverse the floodplains and surrounding open woodland in search of any and all species that call this wonderful corner of Angola home.

Day Six

Calai

After a final morning drive in Cuatir, we depart and continue south today, on the beginning of our mobile safari. We will snake along the western edge of the vast Luengue-Luiana NP, now part of African Parks' portfolio, all the way to the town of Calai on the border with Namibia. There will be opportunity for birding en route, and the volume of mammal life will generally increase as we approach the Namibian border - however, it is unlikely that we will pass through any game-rich areas today. Our comfortable private mobile safari camp will be set up for us on arrival, and we will overnight under the stars tonight.

Day Seven

Licua

Our travels continue this morning, taking us east past Dirico and Muccuso, flush on the border with Namibia. After taking lunch en route, we head north, beginning our journey into the very heart of Luengue-Luiana. We will overnight near the town of Licua, where again our camp will be prepared for us.

Day Eight

Luengue-Luiana NP

Early this morning, we depart camp and head east for approximately two hours to reach Bambangando, one of the richest game areas in Luengue-Luiana. After an early lunch at our new campsite, we will head out for a full afternoon drive, to explore this wonderful area. On the banks of the Luiana river, this area supports much of the wildlife that persists in the far south-east of Angola, and game species traversing this region (including nearby Zambia and Namibia) include lion, leopard, wild dog, cheetah, elephant, buffalo, giraffe and much more. Sightings of large mammals are not as prolific as in some other reserves, but the sightings here are arguably much more rewarding, with the authenticity of this wilderness being unparalleled. The birding here is also excellent, and marshier sections of the river may reveal the presence of unusual mammals including sitatunga and spotted-necked otter.

After a freshly-prepared dinner back at camp, a night drive will allow us to focus on the small population of cats that may be seen here, with lion, leopard, serval, cheetah and caracal all occurring at low densities.

Day Nine

Luengue-Luiana NP

Our full day today is dedicated to exploring Bambangando on game drives, in the morning, afternoon and evening. The road network here is extremely limited, and road conditions are poor, so we may also opt to spend our morning or afternoon exploring on foot, allowing us a different perspective on this wilderness. This approach also increases our chances of spotting some of the more skittish species that occur here, including roan, sable, tsessebe and, perhaps, leopard. Meals will be served at our beautiful fly-camp throughout our stay here.

Day Ten

Luengue-Luiana NP

We depart Bambangando early this morning, taking the five-hour journey over poor roads to Bico. Bico is nestled in the very furthest south-eastern corner of Angola, immediately adjacent to both Namibia and Zambia. Lunch will be served at our new camp, on the banks of the Cuando River near Boa Fe, which is another particularly game-rich area.

Our time here allows for some of the most productive game-viewing of the tour, and our afternoon drive or walk will focus on elephant, buffalo, hippo and a multitude of antelope species that rely on the waters of the Cuando. With luck, nomadic predators including cheetah and wild dog may cross our path as we traverse the area, before we return to camp for dinner. A night drive will again focus on cats, with leopard and lion possible.

Day Eleven

Luengue-Luiana NP

Our full day today is spent exploring Bico on morning, afternoon and evening game activities. We will focus on any species that are of particular interest to the group that may have eluded us to this point. We will identify any species that have been using the area recently on the basis of tracks, and this may also influence our approach - for instance, wild dog or cheetah tracks may be something we choose to follow up on as a group.

Day Twelve

Mucusso

After a final morning drive in Bico, we head directly to Mucusso, where we overnight in our mobile camp.

Day Thirteen

Caila

We continue to retrace our steps today past Dirico, arriving at Calai by nightfall.

Day Fourteen

Menongue

Our final long drive of the trip takes us north to Menongue, where we spend our final night in south-eastern Angola at Villa Menongue.

Day Fifteen

Luanda

Today, we catch a flight with TAAG from Menongue to Luanda, where this tour ends. Additional nights in Luanda and airport transfers can be arranged for you on request.

 

Please be aware that whilst we make every effort to follow the above itinerary as closely as possible, circumstances may occasionally arise that mean the tour deviates from the itinerary.

Dates and Prices

This tour will run in August  2023, aiming to take advantage of the dry season when wildlife populations congregate around water sources. This tour will run from August 13th - August 27th, 2024.

The cost of this tour is £10,450 pp sharing, with no single supplement.

Flights and Visas

Pictus Safaris do not offer flight booking services. However, we do recommend the use of travel comparison websites such as skyscanner.net or momondo.com to identify the best fares, and then booking with the airline directly where possible. This will reduce the likelihood of complications and fees should any issues with your booking arise. If you wish to spend an additional night in Luanda at the end of your tour, we can arrange this for you at an extra cost.

British nationals do require a visa to enter Angola. Clients of other nationalities are advised to check well before travel whether they require an entry visa. Details of the process of obtaining a tourist visa for Angola are complex and will be provided to you upon booking. The cost of an Angola entry visa for UK citizens is £86 - this can be obtained from your nearest Angolan embassy, which for UK citizens will be in London. You can also apply for "pre-approval", which allows you to collect your visa upon arrival into Angola for a fee of $120. To acquire a tourist visa for Angola you will require a valid passport, with at least two blank consecutive pages, as well as copies of all photo pages and pages with evidence of visas and past travel. You will also require two recent passport photos with a white background, an application form completed in black ink with a passport photo attached, an International Certification of Vaccination, a copy of your itinerary and a Letter of Invitation (provided by Pictus Safaris). You will also be required to evidence that you have sufficient funds for the duration of your stay both when applying for your visa, and at the border post when entering Angola - this equates to $200 for each day of the duration of your stay - and as such we recommend a current account balance of at least $3000 when entering Angola.

Weather and What to Bring

The weather in Angola in August is hot and dry, with maximum temperatures of around 31 degrees Celsius. At night, temperatures will drop to around 12 degrees Celsius, although it will feel cooler than this at night.

A full packing list will be circulated at least two months prior to departure. Pictus Safaris will be able to provide one extra set of binoculars and two spotlights per group, and clients are welcome to bring additional camera, videography and scope equipment should they wish to. Please note that the use of drones is not permitted in many protected areas. We strongly recommend bringing comfortable, loose-fitting and neutral-coloured clothing on safari - please do not bring camouflage clothing. We recommend against dark coloured clothing (e.g. black or dark blue) as this attracts biting flies. Worn-in hiking boots with ankle support are a must, as are sunglasses, sun protection and a hat.

Do also remember to budget for any expenses not included in the cost of the trip, including for gratuities and additional activities. We recommend bringing US Dollars.

Safety and Security

We understand that for some potential visitors, the security situation in Angola is a concern. Pictus Safaris take the safety of clients extremely seriously and we are in constant communication with our ground operators to monitor the security situation in all of our destinations.

The security situation in Angola has greatly improved in recent years, and the overwhelming majority of visits are trouble-free.

All Pictus Safaris clients must have travel insurance to travel with us.

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