- Explore Angola's remote southern deserts, home to numerous tribes
- Meet isolated communities, whose customs and lives remain largely unchanged
- Admire Portuguese colonial architecture, as well as dramatic desert scenery
- Travel in the company of anthropologist Joan Riera
We are currently in the process of arranging this trip, but it is likely to depart in June/July 2020. If you are interested in joining, please get in touch to register your interest.
Set out on this overland journey to explore a remote region of one of Africa’s least visited countries. Deep within Angola’s southern deserts, meet tribal communities whose traditions remain remarkably intact, discover crumbling Portuguese colonial relics and explore the dramatic desert landscapes. Begin in Luanda, Angola’s oil-rich capital, before flying south to the city of Lubango. This nondescript city – remarkable for the dramatic Serra da Leba escarpment that overlooks it – is ideally located for exploring the remote tribal lands to the south.
This sparsely populated area is home to a mixture of Khoisan nomadic hunter-gatherers, Bantu nomadic shepherds and Bantu sedentary agriculturalists. Within these main groups, a number of different tribes exist. And although Christian missionaries have brought European religion to region, little else has changed in thousands of years for many people, with inherited traditions playing a large part in everyday life.
Explore the Desert
Start by visiting the colourful Mumuila people – with their mud-decorated hairstyles – close to the market town of Chibia. Then take the dramatic Serra da Leba mountain road out of Lubango and towards the ocean, passing over the escarpment. Encounter the dominant, cattle-rearing Mucubal people and the isolated, mountain-dwelling Nguendelengo.
Continue down Angola’s Atlantic coast, past the ornate colonial tombs and unearthly looking welwitschia plants of Namibe, and into Mucubal territory. Here, admire the rock engravings and cave paintings of Tchitundo Hulo. Meet the nomadic Mucuis people, who number less than 500 and rely heavily on their Mucuroca neighbours to trade. The Mucuroca are renowned for the beautiful hairstyles that young men gain during their initiation rites.
Visit the dramatic Red Rocks, before exploring the sleepy port town of Tomboua and then the oasis of Arco – home to the descendants of escape Umbundu slaves. Afterwards, leave the coast and head to the old Portugues settlement of Garganta, at the heart of Nguendelengo territory. Meet the local chief and locals, visiting their fascinating homes, then explore the colonial desert enclave of Bibala, nearby.
Eventually return to Lubango, visiting the spectacular Tundavala Gap, with its astonishing views. Also meet the colourful Handa people, with their intricate hairstyles and heavy pearl necklaces, before flying back to Luanda. Spend a final day exploring the beautiful Santiago Beach, north of Luanda and one of Africa’s largest ship cemeteries.
The trip will be led by Joan Riera, a Catalan anthropologist with an interest in West and Central African tribes. Joan has visited Angola numerous times before and has met many of the tribes visited on the trip, forging a connection with them. Passionate about his work, he is committed to learning about isolated and unusual cultures in a way that is fair and nonexploitative.
Accompanied by One of Our Team
As with our other Pioneering Group Tours, this trip will be accompanied by one of the Steppes’ team. This not only means that a friendly face will be there at all times – willing to help out and deal with any issues that might arise – but it also gives us the chance to explore a destination that is just as new for us as it is for you.
This trip will be joined by Bridget Cohen, one of Steppes’ Africa Travel Experts. Although she has stuck a toe across the Angolan border with Namibia, this will be her first official visit to the country.
For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.