An Intimate Journey into Angolan Culture
A 12-day Experience visiting the most fascinating tribes of Angola, with expert guide and anthropologist
Group SizeMin 7 / Max 10
Angola is a new country after the civil war (1975-2005) that ravaged the country. Open to tourism since 2008 Angola offers some of Africa’s most spectacular tribal groups, stunning natural landscapes, and a rich colonial heritage dating from the Portuguese era. Angola is still virgin, unique and in this tour we combine ethnography and nature so that the traveler understands this different Africa.
- Architecture and social contrasts of Luanda
- Lubango and Namibe colonial heritage
- tribes of the desert
- dry forests of Serra de Leba
- Iona National Park
About the Operator
We are an enthusiastic team of anthropologists, naturalists and specialists in responsible tourism, offering tours in West and Central Africa since 2005. We all share a passion for this unexplored part of the African continent and believe that well-managed tourism is the key for protecting and maintaining the delicate natural ecosystems, cultural diversity and traditions while offering a better future for the inhabitants of these areas.
We organise individual and small group tours to the most interesting parts of Central Africa. We aim to combine nature and ethnographic aspects and bring our clients in close contact with hidden mountain, jungle or desert tribes and explore the unbeaten path.
Despite that focus, quality lodging, food and transport are fundamental elements for the development of our tours. Plus, we strongly believe that the person guiding the group is key for a successful travelling experience. Our common motto: “a good guide means a good trip”. You will be introduced to your guide before you travel.
Our tours are orientated towards responsible tourism, adventure and as eco friendly as possible. We use mostly local services in order to make sure the communities receive the benefit from tourism. At the same time we help to protect the environment and work with the locals to maintain their ways of living, which are largely endangered by several external factors. We also collaborate with different NGO’s on projects for water distribution, small income generating projects for widow groups, sponsoring of orphans, school projects, etc.
Being a responsible tour operator is at the heart of what we are all about. Minimising the impact upon the diverse cultures, communities and environment we interact with, plus a serious commitment to socially conscious, grassroots style travel, has driven us on our tourism project from the very first day we started in 2005.
That is the reason why we work with local communities in order to develop responsible tourism opportunities that help local economies to advance and prosper. At the end of the day, and mainly due to their own input and work, the local population is able to improve education and sanitary systems and increase quality of life.
Tourism can help to recover, and maintain, local traditions and cultural expressions, such as crafts, dances and songs. Avoiding unnecessary rural emigration is a key aspect of our project. Our aim is to offer possibilities to younger generations so they stay in their villages and work as guides or drivers, sell arts and crafts or agricultural products and even set up a food stall or offer lodging possibilities. It’s a way of reinforcing identity and preserve cultural heritage while working towards a better future.
We is committed to operate according to our code of conduct below and at the same time we aim to travel in spirit of humility, interact with, and learn from, local people, observe and enjoy different ways of life. Reflecting on these new experiences and sharing thoughts and views with fellow travellers and the guide will lead to enrichment of our own lives.
We are involved in different community and environmental projects. All these are small scale projects. It is not our aim to change the world but we do believe we can help make a difference and assist to build up something positive for the future of many.
Our Code of Conduct for staff and for travellers:
Minimize impact on environment; do not litter, use biodegradable soaps and detergents and pick up litter left by others. Remove packaging from items before leaving home or take them back home again. Conserve water. Do not distribute non-degradable, breakable gifts or items in non-degradable packaging. Do not buy, or consume, plant products harvested illegally from nature. Accept that campfires are inappropriate in areas where wood is scarce or during the dry season.
Minimize impact on wildlife; do not disturb wildlife, instead; observe and move along cautiously and quietly. Do not collect any souvenirs from nature and do not use recordings or loud noises to attract wildlife or birds. Observe (and respect) locally established rules and regulations for correct conduct and do not buy, or consume, animal products from unmanaged wild populations.
Minimize impact on local inhabitants; interact with local inhabitants in the different areas visited. Act directly to accomplish conservation and community development. Make donations to schools, local museums and community groups (the organization or our guides can help you here). Attend village dances and cultural pageants. Discuss conservation with locals and inform family, friends and colleagues back home about the sustainable use of the natural environments visited. Respect local cultures and provide a balanced view of Western material culture. Take photographs within the guidelines suggested by your guide. Purchase souvenirs made by the villagers whose town you visit or at a craft centre. Do not excessively bargain. Dress neatly and conservatively. Listen, learn and teach; do not preach or criticize different cultural practices.
Avoid non-responsible practices; avoid accommodations, organizations, vendors, operators, villages, or individuals who consciously violate environmental, wildlife and ethical regulations or principles or support any kind of corruption.
Development Workshop - DW - Angola (Water and Sanitation Programme)
The option to add a donation to this NGO to your invoice will be offered by Gaia Conscious Travel
DW is the leading actor in the water and sanitation sector in Angola, with ongoing programmes in Luanda, Huambo, Bie and Cabinda. DW has been involved in both programme implementation research and policy development in the sector since 1987. DW has been commissioned to do major studies for the World bank in the sector in 1995, 1998 and 2008 and is currently
collaborating the National Water and Sanitation Directorate as part of the "Water for All" programme.
DW has been working in partnership with government, water authorities and local consumers to successfully enhance the quality and quantity of water and make it more affordable for communities in both peri-urban and rural areas. Over 1000 water systems have been implemented with local communities and currently DW is working to support the Government in building capacity in community water management across the country.
Safe Drinking Water in Angola
A lack of safe water and toilets has an enormous impact on Angolan lives. Life expectancy is just 50, one of the lowest in the world.
For nearly three decades Angola was engulfed by civil war. With the war now over and the country progressing, many Angolans still lack essential services, affecting health, education and livelihoods.
There is little information available on how many people lack safe water and sanitation in Angola but the scale of the problem is clear. The WHO/UNICEF (2013) estimate the figure to be at least 9.4 million – nearly half the population.
Without these basics, Angola's people will be unable to take their first, essential step out of poverty.
Day 1: LUANDA
Arrival in Luanda. A guide will meet you at the airport and transfer you to a hotel near the city center and near the airport. Overnight Quatro Petalas Hotel or Grande Hotel Universo.
Day 2: LUANDA – LUBANGO (flight)
Breakfast and chat with the guide about the day’s activities. Change some money (better US Dollars) and city tour. Visit colonial area around Nossa Senhora dos Remedios Cathedral (built in 1628) and Banco Nacional. In this area is where the visitor will get a realistic idea of 21st Century Angola. Crippling old Portuguese shops, some restored 18th Century colonial buildings, 1970s socialist style blocs, and opulent tainted glass skyscrapers. Visit Anthropology Museum (if open) and drive along Luanda Bay to have a general view of Luanda. Lunch at Espaço Bahia restaurant or similar. After lunch drive to the airport for an internal flight (1h30) to Lubango, Angola’s southern capital. Transfer to the hotel.
Overnight Vanjul Lodge. BB
Day 3: LUBANGO – HUILA – JAU – CHIBIA (4h)
Breakfast. We are in the Huila Plateau, Angola’s coolest region and where the Portuguese settlers fought the southern Boer to control the territory. Drive to Huila town and visit the colonial center (first Portuguese permanent inland settlement in the South). From there we continue to Jau Catholic Mission through beautiful rural landscapes. Short excursion to Hungueria Falls and stop at some Mumuila tribal villages before reaching Chibia town. The Mumuila are the original inhabitants of Huila Plateau and combine agriculture with livestock rearing. In remote communities women continue to decorate their hair with mud and wear heavy beaded necklaces 24h a day. Lunch in Chibia and afternoon visit to the big market where we can meet some tribal people.
Overnight Dias e Filhos Hotel. BB
Day 4: CHIBIA – LUBANGO – VIVALA - GARGANTA – CANGOLO (3h)
Breakfast. Drive to Lubango city a colonial enclave founded by Madeira Islanders in 1882.
The city was not affected in excess by the Civil War and most of the colonial buildings are still standing. Walk around the city center and exchange some money near the Art Decó cathedral. Short visit (if open) to the Ethnographic Museum where the bronze statues of former Portuguese governors can be seen in the garden. Lunch at Reliquia restaurant in Millenium mall (best place in town). After lunch drive from the cool Plateau to the dry plains of Namibe. Stop in Vivala railway town and continue to Garganta, an abandoned Portuguese hamlet inhabited by the Nguendelengo tribe. This people are almost extinct and live from hunting, gathering, and goat rearing. After visiting one of their small villages we drive to Cangolo village where we will spend the night with the Mucubal tribe. These are welcoming people strongly attached to the old ways.
Overnight in tents. HB (dinner)
Day 5: CANGOLO – NAMIBE (1h)
Breakfast. Drive through the desert towards the Atlantic Coast. Reach Namibe city, a beautiful colonial enclave with decaying spirit. Transfer to the hotel. Lunch and walk around the colonial town, the port with its prehistoric caves (used as a dumping space), and the popular sandy beaches. Relaxing urban day before heading into Iona National Park.
Overnight Diversi Lodge. BB
Day 6: NAMIBE – VIREI – TCHITUNDO HULO – CAPOLOPOPO (3h)
Breakfast. Drive through beautiful desert landscape towards Virei Town. On the way we stop to admire the rare alien-looking welwitschia plant. Arrive in Virei and meet local authorities and police for registration. Few foreign travelers reach this remote mining town. Lunch near the local market and continuation to Tchitundo Hulo rock painting area. Most of the rock engraving have disappeared due to climatic erosion but one can get a general idea of the symbolic world of Angola’s first Human societies. Their descendants are the Mucuis and we will spend the night with them near the rocks.
Overnight in tents. FB
Day 7: CAPOLOPOPO – PEDIVA – IONA NATIONAL PARK – MOIMBA (6h)
Breakfast. Long drive through Iona National Park. This is Angola’s largest protected area but almost all the fauna disappeared during the Civil War and today many projects to bring the fauna back are on process. We will cross the Curoca River, the only one with permanent water in this desert area, around Pediva (where a German fortress can be admired on the top of a hill) and we will reach Moimba area in the evening. Installation of the tents and dinner around the fire and under the stars.
Overnight in tents. BB
Day 8: MOIMBA – ONCOCUA (2h)
Breakfast. The next urban center is the small town of Oncocua where Angola’s most traditional tribes gather to market and to show their beautiful hairstyles. Himba (same tribe we find in Namibia), Muhakaona, and Vatua gather in the town center and in the evening they return back to their bush camps. Meet the Vatua people, a small ethnic group belonging to the San group (Bushmen) but that has adopted a similar outfit to that of the Himba who are the rich cattle pastors in this part of Southern Angola and Northern Namibia. Lunch (sandwiches) and cold drinks in the town center and afternoon trip to a Muhakaona village. The Muhakaona women are renowned artisans and healers. Spend the night with the tribe, with dances around the fire.
Overnight in tents. HB (dinner)
Day 9: ONCOCUA – MUDIMBA – CAHAMA – LUBANGO (6h)
Breakfast with our tribal hosts. Drive to Mudimba tribal territory. The Mudimba differ from other tribes due to their peculiar Afro hairstyle and because they like to decorate the façades of their huts. After visiting a Mudimba village we continue to Cahama for lunch. Walk around the central market where Mudimba and Mugambue tribal women come to sell their chicken and horticultural products. Drive through tarred road up to Lubango for the night.
Overnight Vanjul Lodge. BB
Day 10: LUBANGO – LUANDA – SANTIAGO BEACH – LUANDA
Breakfast. Morning transfer to the airport. Internal flight to Luanda. Drive to Santiago Beach, famous for the ship cemetery. Lunch in Portuguese restaurant on the way to the beach (this will depend on time schedule). Pictures of the ship wrecks along the rugged coast and return to Luanda.
Overnight Quatro Petalas Hotel or Grande Hotel Universo.
Day 11: LUANDA
Breakfast. Last visits and shopping at the artisan center of Lubango. Transfer to the airport. Flight back home. BB
Day 12: ARRIVAL HOME
- Accommodation and meals as described in Itinerary
- International flights
You will be picked up at the Luanda airport by your guide in your 4x4 vehicle.
Accommodation will be during most days camping and there will not be options to upgrade to accommodation. Please note that Angola is a country which is in its infancy when it comes to tourism. The route we follow is remote, and there will be few or no facilities that have not been brought along with us.
The order of visits and excursions can be modified according to local conditions (i.e. state of roads, market days…).
There are long distances between cities and towns, and often roads or tracks are in bad conditions.
Accommodation and Meals
Meals are included as described on the itinerary tab with the following codes: B&B=Bed and Breakfast, HB= Half Board, FB=Full Board.
Single Supplement (general information):
All of our group tours are planned and operated on a twin-share basis, meaning that the standard cost is based either on individual travellers sharing accommodation with another group member of the same sex, or people who book together sharing accommodation.
When a Single Supplement is available it is included in the Prices tab. Depending on the Experience chosen, all accommodations may not have the capacity to offer single accommodation.
The Single Room supplement also applies to the third person in a party of three that will be accommodated in a single room. It also applies to the tents.
Mmm.. visas...Visas for Angola require a lot of work, unfortunately. You will need a copy of your return ticket before you can apply as well as an itinerary that we will provide you with. Additionally the Angolan government requests proof of availability of funds (bank statement) of a minimum of $200 per day that you plan to stay in the country. You must apply for a visa at an Angolan Embassy or Consulate. It will be valid for 30 days and must be used in the 60 days following its issuance. Cost was US$141 in 2015 according to the US Embassy page: http://www.angola.org/
The government of Angola requires all arriving and departing travelers to show proof of yellow fever vaccination.
Since there is currently a shortage of yellow fever vaccine worldwide, travelers may need to contact a yellow fever vaccine provider well in advance of travel.
Since 11th July 2016, valid IHR international certificates of vaccination have become automatically valid for life of the traveller indicated following an amendment to the IHR (International Health Regulations). Nothing needs to be modified in the certificate; indeed under the IHR, any changes, deletions, erasures or additions may cause a certificate to be rendered invalid.
It is a condition of booking with Gaia Conscious Travel that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on travel, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit, which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for domestic travel
Preparing your trip
Luggage, clothing and equipment:
We recommend you travel a main piece of luggage of about 15kg 1 small hand piece and 1 backpack/day bag. All bags must be soft.
For camping we will provide the tents and mattresses, please bring your sleeping bag and a small pillow if needed. A head torch is essential as well as sunscreen, anti-mosquitoe lotion
You are going to be hot and cold so we would suggest a variety of light clothing: shorts, light long pants, t-shirts, flip flops, hat, rain jacket, as well as study shoes (essential for hiking). Long sleeved shirts and a sweatshirt or fleece are needed for evenings. It gets quite hot by midday, but evenings are always pleasant.
There are two seasons: a dry, cool season from June to late September, and a rainy, hot season from October to April or May. The average temperature is 20° C (68° F ); temperatures are warmer along the coast and cooler on the central plateau. The Benguela Current makes the coastal regions arid or semiarid.
Generally, when raining, it can make travel more difficult since dirt roads can become more challenging to navigate. However, rainy season is no real reason to postpone travel as it generally rains for while, leaving the rest of the day clear and sunny. It is essential to remember that weather patterns worldwide are no longer predictable and this information is a guideline only.
Kwanza (AOA) is the official currency of Angola, and notes are available in denominations of AOA2000, 100, 500, 200, 100, 50, 10, and 5. Importing or exporting any amount of kwanza is illegal and attempting to will result in penalties, confiscation, and possibly even imprisonment. Credit cards have limited acceptance and American Express, Visa, and Diners Club may only be used in large hotels and high-end restaurants. There are many ATMs in town, although they rarely accept foreign cards. Bringing cash or travelers’ checks is a good idea as currency exchange should only be done at an official office.
In all instances tipping should be treated as a personal matter; and a gratuity only given if you feel the service warrants it. If you do wish to tip, it is important to recognize service people such as airport transfer drivers, restaurant and lodge personnel, and your local safari guides. If providing a tip for a group of people, please be sure to provide this in full view of others. If you are ever unsure, the Lodge/Hotel management or your Overland Guide will be able to direct you.
Destination Info - Angola
Angola is a Southern African nation whose varied terrain encompasses tropical Atlantic beaches, a labyrinthine system of rivers and Sub-Saharan desert that extends across the border into Namibia. The country's colonial history is reflected in its Portuguese-influenced cuisine and its landmarks including Fortaleza de São Miguel, built by the Portuguese in 1576 to defend the capital, Luanda.
This country has only opened to tourism recently and it rapidly developing, thanks to its attractive pristine beaches and diverse and well preserved cultures. To be able to visit Angola now, before it is reached by mainstream tourism is a great opportunity, both for the visitor and for the country!
The word "Angola" derives from the title used by the rulers of the Ndongo state. The titlengolawas first mentioned in Portuguese writings in the sixteenth century. A Portuguese colony founded on the coast in 1575 also came to be known as Angola. At the end of the nineteenth century, the name was given to a much larger territory that was envisaged to come under Portuguese influence. These plans materialized slowly; not until the beginning of the twentieth century did Portuguese colonialism reach the borders of present-day Angola. In 1975, this area became an independent country under the name República Popular de Angola (People's Republic of Angola). Later the "Popular" was dropped.
The people of Angola are stoics. They have a deep understanding of patience, and avoid blaming the difficulties the country faces on the fact that there was war. In fact, Angolans behave as if there was no war, although it is deeply rooted in every Angolan.
When asked, many Angolans would describe themselves as ‘Angolan’, however, it is also common for Angolans to still identify themselves with the tribe of their ancestors. There are some 100 distinct ethnic groups in Angola all with their own language and customs; the largest being the Ovimbundu.
Portuguese is still spoken by the majority, with the younger generation almost speaking it exclusively. Indigenous languages are still widely spoken with many Angolans actively using two different languages.
Music is the heart and soul of every Angolan, and can be heard everywhere with anything used as an excuse to party. Angola has a wide range of music, mainly Kuduro, Kizomba, Semba, and Tarrachinha, the latter being more sensual than all the others. All in all, it is safe to say that Angolans are fun loving people with a thirst for more of what life has to give.
There are no extra accommodation options for this Experience. Please contact us for accommodation options before and after your trip
There are no optional activities features for this Experience. Please contact us if you would like us to enquire further
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