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4x4 Expedition to Iona National Park

Listed under Safari in South Africa.

Photo of 4x4 Expedition to Iona National Park
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My husband and I Travelled to Angola on a 4x4 Expedition in May 2009. We visited the Iona National Park, Ruacana Foz do Cunene, Lake Arco, Lubango and much more.

The guide was definitely someone I would recommend to travellers looking for a well informed and exciting trip. We stayed in both lodge and camping accommodations – we stayed at the Ruacana Eha Lodge in Ruacana, in Angola we stayed at various bush camps – which was really something else (a true experience). We also spent two nights at the Flamingo lodge. All the places we stayed at were clean and very comfortable including the camping accommodations. The camping was the most exciting experience though, because we were really camping in the wild!

The food was great – most of our meals were prepared by the guides, a typical breakfast consisted of fruits, cereal, muffins, tea/coffee, sometimes bacon and eggs etc. Lunch and dinner was normally whatever the guide cooked – sandwiches or a pasta salad for lunch, and then nice filling food in the evening like stew… yum!

We were told when we enquired about the Angola trip, that we shouldn’t expect an extensive game viewing experience in Angola and that the game sightings would be ‘special’, rather than an “every day” experience. We have done a lot of safaris already in East Africa and Botswana and Angola was very different. The game we did see was mostly in small herds – Zebra, springbok, Kudu, but the highlight was the herd of Ostrich about 50 or so strong (something we have never seen in such huge numbers), and the black-backed jackal that stayed by our camp for an hour in the dunes on the beach.

The day (of course) started with a scrumptious breakfast followed by a bit of travelling and site seeing – we would most days go into the history of Angola, for example we visited the baobab forest, met lots of amazing Himba people who lived wild in the areas we were travelling, (with no visible source of water or food). The day would end with a relaxing dinner and a sunset.

Part of the tour included driving across the beach for an entire day at the very base of the massive sand dunes. This was quite hair-raising, because the waves from the ocean kept threatening to wash us away. This was a big highlight of the trip though – very exciting, & we had a guided escort from the area which provided an extra level of safety. We also walked into Flamingo canyon which was so beautiful, & saw a pack of jackals there, as well as fossils in the rocks. My husband brought a fishing rod with him & caught some Kob off the beach in about 5 minutes! We also spent a few nights on top of the Tundevalle escarpment, & went with our guide to do some hiking in the area, & sit under the waterfall. These were not the same as organised activities that we experienced in East Africa (like a balloon safari e.g.), but it was great because we were exploring a country & making use of the natural facilities. I loved that the most – that you can’t “book” things to do here. It’s not developed at all – and that was why we chose Angola.

In theory, it would have been great to have spent a night with the Himbas, but actually having spoken to our guide, he explained the importance of minimising 1st world influence/interaction with the tribal people. Knowing the reason we completely understand, but all the same – would have been a cool experience.

The bush camping and the drive on the beach up against the sand dunes was the highlight of my trip for me, oh – and seeing real Himba people, where the children are a bit wary of you because you look different to them. It shows this is not a busy tourist route.

Visiting Angola is an experience that I will never forget and I recommend it to anyone (highly adventurous) that is looking for a tour that is filled with a different cultural learning experience and also for those that’s looking for a fun filled experience. I rate this trip an 8 out of 10 – it was an excellent trip filled with a lot to do and see – the Angolan locals were very welcoming and friendly – the guide, food and accommodations were great. We have no complaints about the arrangements handled by Jenman Safaris, the service was excellent.

Written by  Nicole .

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