Culturally and geographically isolated, Angola is, for many, simply blank space on the map. Most commonly connected with oil wealth and blood diamonds, it remains a stranger to tourism. But after decades of conflict, peace now reigns. Angola’s interior – enormous and rich with spectacular landscapes – is waiting to be explored.
On the shores of the Atlantic Ocean in south-western Africa, Angola is a large, developing country that borders Zambia, Namibia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Congo. Largely closed off for the last few years, it’s an almost mythical destination and one of the continent’s most diverse. Here, the landscapes range from beautiful beaches on the coast and pristine tracts of miombo woodland and open floodplains in the southeast, to highland plateaus, jungles and vast lakes and rivers.
A safari to Angola is not about seeing the Big Five. It’s a conservation journey through raw Africa where nothing is premeditated or orchestrated. The country is one of Africa’s most remote and little-known wilderness areas and the future of some of the most iconic wildlife areas, the Okavango Delta and the Lower Zambezi in particular, depends on the Angolan Highlands and what is done to protect them as the country rapidly industrializes, post-civil war.
Visit Angola and you will be one of the very first people to explore vast swathes of genuine wilderness countryside, populated only by small numbers of indigenous people who have been cut off from the world for almost half a century. Many of them have never been visited by anyone outside of Angola, besides a few hardy scientists and explorers these past few years.
2021 will see the launch of new flying safaris to Angola. The first trips of their kind, each will be tailor-made to suit all interests, budgets and styles and visit a selection of destinations and countries.
This itinerary is a 6-night Angola-only expedition. Your first few days in the country will be in the Source Lakes region of the Angola Highlands. A place that’s close to our hearts, the lakes supply the rivers that go on to form the Okavango Delta, Kwando and Zambezi regions.
Whilst here, you’ll spend time exploring the watery landscape in the company of the National Geographic explorers and scientists who have spent many years in the area. Then, there’s a flight down the winding Cuanvale and Cubango rivers to the Cubango Game Reserve for a further two nights, before the trip ends with a quick stop in fascinating Cuito Cuanavale and battlefields region.
This itinerary starts at US$15,000/per person* twin share and is fully customizable based on the number of people and travel dates.
Why You’ll Love It:
- Visitors to Angola will be one of the very first “outsiders” to ever visit and every day will be a voyage of new discoveryand intriguing exploration.
- In the Source Lakes, meet the Boyes Brothers, Steve and Chris, and their Okavango Wilderness Project team of scientist and BaYei trackers who have pioneered the quest to find and research the source waters of the Okavango Delta in these highland areas.
- Spend time in the Cubango Game Reserve, a beautiful, 500,000-acre conservation area set up by Angolan national, Stefan van Wyk, and an extraordinary place to explore on walking safaris and drives.
- Visit the battlefields region and learn about the incredible history. The battleflields are raw and the many tanks, helicopters and troop carriers that were destroyed in that war lie on the ground where the fell.
DAY 1: ARRIVE IN ANGOLA
Arrive Maun and fly by Bell Longranger 407 helicopter to Cuito Cuanavale in Angola (to clear customs) and then onto the Source Lakes region of the central Angolan ‘highlands’.
When it comes to accommodation, Angola is a very different kettle of fish to her neighbouring countries of Namibia and Botswana. As yet, there are no in five-star camps or lodges in Angola and whilst we wouldn’t rule it out in the future, the accommodation is currently of the simple and rustic variety. Expect to stay in expedition-styled mobile camps that are modest and simple. As always, beds will be comfortable, the bucket showers will be hot and food will be hearty and homemade and shared around the campfire.
DAYS 2, 3 & 4: SOURCE LAKES REGION, ANGOLA HIGHLANDS
The next few days will be spent in and around the source lakes, meeting the National Geographic explorers and scientists in residence, snorkeling, walking and exploring!
A safari to Angola is not one on which to tick off the Big Five or hordes of animals. Instead, it’s about visiting incredible, untouched wilderness areas; being one of the first few people to explore previously undiscovered regions (and species!); and spending time in the company of fascinating guides, explorers and naturalists.
In the Source Lakes, expect a mesmerising variety of fish, flora and fauna. The National Geographic scientists who are based in the area are constantly uncovering new species and it’s an honour to experience these new discoveries. In the Cubango Reserve, you’ll follow trails of sitatungas, roan and whatever else comes your way, whilst the battlefields are of course, about the history of the country and the bloody wars and battles that have taken place over the years.
DAYS 5 & 6: CUBANGO GAME RESERVE, ANGOLA
On day five, you’ll fly down the Cuanavale and Cubango rivers to the Cubango Reserve for a further two nights. The reserve is an enormous 500,000 acres and you’ll discover the terrain and its inhabitants on foot, by vehicle and by boat.
DAY 7: CUITO CUANAVALE & DEPARTURE
Today, hop back in the heli for a short trip to the Angolan battlefields and Cuito Cuanavale, before flying back to Maun in the late afternoon.
- Flights from Maun, Botswana
- Activities (most!),entrance and park fees & road transfers
- Accommodation as specified on a sharing basis
- All meals and local drinks
- Applicable tourism levies, taxes, and all relevant VAT
Can this trip be customized?
Yes, absolutely. This expedition to Angola is customised to suit each group’s requirements, time frame and budgets. The group size can be anywhere between two and 10 people. This expedition visits Angola only and there are options to fly by helicopter or plane, and add or remove days.
They also offer a full, 12-night expedition that includes time in both Botswana and Namibia as well as Angola and charts the path of the Okavango River form the source to the sands. It may also be possible to add in two or three nights in central Angola to search for the Giant sable, an animal unique to Angola that has been their emblem since 1909.
When to Go & What to Pack:
Like the majority of sub-Saharan Africa, Angola experiences a winter dry season from July to October, and a hot, wet summer from November to March/April. Angola expeditions run strictly from July to early October, when the climate is temperate, the skies blue and the sun shining!
As a guide to what to pack, I recommend similar to what you would take on a trip to Botswana or Namibia: plenty of loose, cotton clothes in neutral colours, a sweater or jacket, a broad-brimmed hat, sunglasses, sun block, insect repellent and lip balm.
For footwear, bring sturdy, closed walking shoes and socks (but no need to bring heavy hiking boots). Binoculars and a camera are a must and you may also like to bring swimming kit for the Source Lakes region, and an underwater camera (for example the Olympus TG6).
Policies & Access:
Disabled access: Sadly, this trip is not equipped for disabled access.
Wifi: There is no Wifi available on this trip.
Excluded: Visas; departure taxes; gratuities for guides; international flights to the starting point (Maun); fully comprehensive travel insurance; additional helicopter excursions.
How to book? Contact Africa Experts Experiential Travel Journeys Pvt. Ltd. based out of New Delhi, India. They are Boutique Luxury Travel Designers specialists in tailor made Journeys to Africa and destinations Worldwide. They are also tribe members of We Are Africa, which organises an annual gathering of Africa’s best luxury travel brands.
– Amit Kalsi, Private Travel Designer