At a Glance
Dates: September 2nd - September 17th, 2022
Extension: We do not currently offer any extensions to this itinerary.
Prices: £6,595 pp sharing (£400 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!
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.
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.
On arrival into Luanda Airport, you will be met by your Pictus Safaris representative and escorted to your domestic flight to Lubango. This departs at 17.00, so we recommend arriving into Luanda no later than 14.00. On arrival into Lubango Airport, after an eighty minute flight, we will begin the four-hour drive to the Flamingo Lodge. If we arrive in sufficient time, we will arrange an evening excursion to locate marine life along this coastline, with a particular focus on Atlantic Humpback Dolphins and Heaviside Dolphins. We will spend our first night in Angola in comfortable accommodation at the lodge.
Today we will strike out along the coastline in search of any and all marine life. In this area, Atlantic Humpback Dolphins are known to feed in very shallow water and there is the chance of excellent sightings of these shy creatures. In these waters, there is always the chance of Orca and Minke Whale also.
Today we will embark on a full-day drive to Iona National Park. In 2020, this inhospitable area was co-opted into the African Parks Network, and now offers the best chance of encountering wild cheetah in Angola. En route to Iona, we are likely to encounter some of the numerous ethnic groups resident to the area. Unlike the disappointing and touristy areas elsewhere on the continent, such as Omo in Ethiopia, these people have little interaction with foreigners and we will be sure to limit any interactions and to keep them entirely positive. En route, we will visit the Arco Oasis, famed for its two sandstone arches, and we will be sure to stop to view the near-endemic welwitschia plants found here. Our overnight accommodation will be a basic campsite within the national park.
Days Four to Five
Iona National Park is ours to be explored over the next two days. Full-day game drives will allow us ample opportunity to marvel at the rugged landscape. We will be meticulous in investigating all areas of shade, as these offer us the best chance of flushing an elusive Cheetah. We should expect to encounter other desert wildlife including Gemsbok, Springbok and Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra. Leopard and Brown Hyena are present but rarely seen.
A full day’s drive today will take us back to Lubango, where we will spend the night in very comfortable hotel accommodation. En route we will visit the Tunduvala Gorge, a deep gorge gouged into the desert rock.
Following another lengthy drive, we will arrive in Bicuar National Park by nightfall, setting up our camp at the park headquarters. The drive in may reveal flashes of the wildlife populations found in this park, including Roan Antelope, Common Duiker and Eland. Tonight we should be sure to listen out for the sawing of leopard or, if lucky, the “hoo” calls of the African Wild Dog
Days Eight to Nine
We now have two full days to explore the Bicuar National Park. Recent studies have shown that the elusive population of Bush Elephant and African Wild Dog live deep within the south of the park, both only leaving the confines of the park for food and water when droughts take hold. Full-day game drives are again recommended to maximise the chance of encountering the wildlife here, which can be difficult to locate. Park staff do see African Wild Dogs regularly, however, and with a slice of luck we may be the very first specialist mammal-watching group to locate these charismatic predators in Angola.
A full-day drive today to Benguela, a charming coastal city.
Quiçama National Park
Continuing our drive north, we will soon take in the beautiful town of Lobito and its impressive architecture., before moving on to Cachoeiras Falls, stunning waterfalls that are the highlight of a visit to Angola for many. We will the continue on to Angola's most frequently visited national park, Quiçama. A beautiful area, we will likely arrive here very late, Despite being reduced to a shadow of its former self by years of unrest, some better protection and ambitious translocations have greatly improved the reserve in recent years. We will settle in to our comfortable accommodation and look forward to a morning game drive tomorrow.
Kwanza River Lodge
Our morning game drive this morning will focus on turning up as many mammals as possible in the national park. Giraffe, kudu, bush elephant and more are likely, and very lucky visitors may encounter the endemic Pluto monkey, as well as bushbuck, eland and southern talapoin monkey. After a full morning game drive, we will head to the lovely Kwanza River Lodge for overnight accommodation.
We will aim to reach the boundary of Cangandala National Park by nightfall, setting up camp here to allow us to explore the national park the next day.
Setting out at first light, we will have exclusive access to the boma area this morning. This enclosed area is used by researchers to study the endemic and vanishingly rare Giant Sable. This majestic antelope is truly stunning, with its dark chocolate coat and massive horns making it one of the most beautiful ungulates in the world. After lunch, we will transfer to Luanda via the impressive Calandula Falls, which rival Victoria Falls in height.
This morning we will transfer to Angola's capital and largest city, Luanda. We will have a full day to explore this city's many sights, and we highly recommend a sunset walk along the 'Marginal', Luanda's promenade to end the day.
All great things must come to an end, and this morning you will be escorted to the airport for your flight home.
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 September 2022, aiming to take advantage of the dry season when wildlife populations congregate around water sources. This tour will run from September 2nd - September 17th, 2022.
The cost of this tour is £6,595 pp sharing, with a £400 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 September is mild and dry, with maximum temperatures of around 28 degrees Celsius. At night, temperatures will drop to around 13 degrees Celsius.
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.
To secure a booking on this fantastic holiday, please fill out the details below.