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2022: Angola: Hidden Tribes of the South

Key Information

Date: Friday, May 6, 2022
Duration: 12 days. Extension 6 days
Cost: 2022 (provisional): £7430, $9290, €8290 Lubango/Lubango. Far South Extension: £3352, $4190, €3740. Single Accommodation Supplement: £300, $380, €330. Extension: £120, $160, €140. The single supplement includes a single occupancy tent for the camping nights. If you are travelling alone, the single supplement will not apply if you are willing to share a room and there is a room-mate of the same sex available. This tour is priced in US Dollars. Amounts shown in other currencies are indicative.
Places: 6

This booking will be made through a third party website and will open a new tab when you press Book Now


Photographic Highlights

  • Join the most comprehensive Angola ethnographic photography tour
  • A true adventure in the wildest regions of southern Angola, exploring the rugged coastline of Angola, the spectacular Serra da Chela mountains and the desert landscapes of Virei, Oncocua and the Cunene region
  • Local guides who are knowledgeable about the natural and human history of southern Angola
  • Excursions in tribal villages at sunrise and sunset to enjoy the best light of day for photography
  • Visit lively, colourful markets that are always a meeting place for the semi-nomadic tribal people as they move across this remote region
  • Explore the mysterious rock petroglyphs at the vast site of Tchitundo Hulu
  • A chance to meet some of Africa’s rarest tribal people, including the Nguendelengo and Nyaneke (Handa) people, both of which are considered to be ‘anthropologically extinct’
  • Visit two of Angola’s isolated fishing villages to meet the local fisherfolk and learn their ways of catching and drying fish
  • On our Angola photography tour extension, visit the extraordinary landscapes of Arco, Curoca and the Tombwa region on Angola’s coast
  • Explore the deserted town of Baia dos Tigres with its ruined buildings that are slowly being swallowed up by a sea of sand
  • An adventurous drive at low tide along Angola’s coast, photographing the dune regions of the coast and a colony of Cape Fur Seals


Our Angola tribal photography tour offers an in-depth exploration of the rugged south west corner of the country. A region that is home to a wide variety of tribal people and also some of its most spectacular landscapes.

For decades this beautiful country was effectively shut off from the outside world due to a long standing civil war. After the war ended in 2002, access to the country was still very restricted, but nowadays tourism is encouraged and the recent arrival of an E-visa system has made it easier for travellers from all corners of the globe to visit. Nonetheless, Angola photography tours to the remote tribal areas are still in their exciting, pioneering days.

In comparison to developed Namibia over the border, Angola remains another world. The towns and cities are filled with buildings that are remnants of the country’s Portuguese past. Crumbling facades and street plazas characterise urban Angola. Examples of avant garde architecture lie everywhere from space-ship looking cinemas to gigantic public monuments that were erected to honour former colonial leaders and the ‘conquerors’ of this vast and beautiful country.

Outside of the urban centres, Angola is wild, unruly and magnificent. Characterised by jagged mountain ranges, rocky deserts, eroded landscapes and remarkable coastal scenery, the breath-taking beauty of south-west Angola feels untouched and unexplored.


Living in this vast wilderness are some of the most beautiful and gentle tribal people in southern Africa including the Mumwila, Muhimba, Vatwa, Mundimba, Mucubal, Muhacuona, Nguendelengo and Nyaneke (Handa). Since the “opening” of Angola, some of these tribal people have changed at an alarming rate forcing many of them to move to more remote areas to keep their cultures, and in some cases, their livelihoods alive. Many of them reside in the vast Yona National Park in southern Angola or in similarly wild locations like Virei and Cunene.

Unlike the somewhat curated experiences you might have with tribal people just over the border in northern Namibia, in Angola many of the semi-nomadic tribal people of the south west live in fairly wild areas and visiting them requires a sense of adventure, excellent guides and the ability to camp independently. Where they live has no lodges and in many areas there are only small tracks leading to their tiny communities that are dotted around this magnificent region.

The Wild Images Angola photography tour is the most comprehensive cultural photography tours offered in the country. As we explore the south west we will visit both settled communities near small towns and camps of tribal people moving across the countryside. We will trace the paths of nomads, camp alongside them in their villages, join their children in their morning livestock herding and share visits to wells with them. As is customary on our Wild Images tours to tribal areas, we will also take gifts of food as a thank you for the families we will stay with during our trip. We will explore ancient and unexplained rock petroglyphs that date back 4000 years and we will drive the spectacular Serra de Leba pass from Lubango down to the coastal town of Namibe.

On the extension to our Angola photography tour, we will explore the wild beauty of Angola’s coastline and enjoy stunning landscape photography opportunities in the eroded formations of Arco and Curoca at sunrise and sunset.

We will also enjoy visits to two tiny fishing communities north of Tombwa where the local fishermen take tiny wooden boats out to fish each day. Returning home, they unload their catch and sell some of it fresh, while the remainder is dried on large racks in the sun or salted through local tiny factories. These villages provide a wonderful glimpse in to the lives of fishing folk in Angola and the way in which they survive in their incredibly harsh environments.

The highlight of our Angola photography tour extension will be an overnight expedition to the isolated ‘island’ of Baia dos Tigres, a deserted town lying on a broken peninsula that is gradually being swallowed up by a sea of sand.

Our special Angola photography tour is for photographers who are able to respond spontaneously to situations when they arise, whether it be capturing a street scene in a lively market or a subtle change in light across a wondrous landscape. Unlike other parts of Africa, Angola is not a place that is easily posed or orchestrated. If you are passionate about capturing a truly beautiful corner of the continent we look forward to travelling with you.



The anthropological treasure chest of southern Angola is home to around eleven different tribal groups. During our Angola photography tour we hope to introduce you to at least eight of them. Some of these tribes are semi-nomadic, following the paths of the wind and rain across the seasons. Others are more settled, choosing to stay in small towns and villages that we will travel through on our tour.


The whimsical and elaborately decorated Mumwila people can sometimes be seen wandering around the city streets of Lubango, however to truly immerse yourself in their culture, you need to travel to the small town of Chibia.

While Mumwila men have largely abandoned their traditional dress, their women are still passionate about retaining it. Much like many descendants of the Herero complex of peoples, Mumwila women undergo significant changes to their appearance as they grow from girls to women.

Young Mumwila girls will often braid their hair in dreadlock style strands and they colour them using a mixture or deep red ochre mixed with animal fats. They usually will also wear a simple strand of colourful beads as a necklace.

Necklaces are an important part of Mumwila women culture, each symbolising a different phase of life.

As they grow towards womanhood, they will start to remove the ochre from their hair and will wear a simple series of three braids across that is unadorned with ochre. They also begin to wear a Vikeka, or necklace made from wicker covered with clay.

The cause for growing in to a woman in Mumwila culture is one of great celebration. It is marked by a ceremony called a “Ficou” which involves drinking their locally fermented alcohol, music and dancing through the night.

After they are initiated and then married, young Mumwila women wear spectacular golden braids called Nontombe, again a dreadlock style of braid that is covered with animal fats and bright yellow ochre.

The most remarkable change in dress comes when Mumwila women begin to wear their large Vilandas, or many stranded necklaces, after they marry. These are also never removed and Mwila women must sleep with their heads rested on a special wooden rest in order to not ruin their Nontombe or Vilanda decorations.

We will meet warm and smiling Mumwila people in both their villages and at lively, bustling local markets. If invited we may also walk with them through their fields of corn and millet or perhaps enjoy a visit to a well with them during our tour.



The ethereal beauty of the Mucubal tribe is almost difficult to describe in words. Their stunning culture is being kept alive by both men and women across their nomadic range in southern Angola.

On our Angola tribal photography tour we will visit ornate Mucubal villages that feature beautifully sculpted clay huts, rings of thorny bush livestock enclosures and a central courtyard.

Both men and women in Mucubal culture engage in teeth filing for beauty. This involves filing the inside edge of the two front teeth and is very visible when they smile and laugh!

They both choose vibrant and beautifully patterned cloth to wear either as a sarong style dress or a covering for the hairstyles in women.

Driving around the tracks of southern Angola it is quite possible to encounter nomadic Mucubal people as they move across the region from village to village or from well to villages as they search for water and grazing lands for their livestock.

Mucubal men walk bare chested, with sandals fashioned out of worn car tyres and a sarong made from beautiful Mucubal cloth. They may also carry spears for hunting or machetes for cutting tracks and wood as they walk.

Perhaps the most beautiful aspect of Mucubal dress, however, appears in their women. Mucubal women are best known for their beautiful large ‘hats’ called Ompota. These are fashioned from wicker which is kept rigid by being filled with dried cow’s tails. Once created Mucubal women cover their Ompotas with brightly coloured fabric scarves.

Mucubal women also wear a fascinating ‘bra’ called an Oyonduthi, effectively a piece of string tied around their breasts, to keep them from moving about as they walk.

Mucubal women and girls are instantly recognisable for their beauty and their large brass anklets which they wear for decoration.

When Mucubal children are learning to walk they are dressed in a decorated, carved bone harness which helps to keep them upright. Once they can walk on their own, the harness is removed and saved for the next child.

As a culture, Mucubal people have a strong belief in protective ancestral and supernatural forces. Their graves are covered in numerous cows horns if they have owned many during their lives. Amulets are worn around their necks including pretty box like pendants fashioned out of leather called Ngombe, which signifies that they are livestock owners.




Himba people have often been described as the most beautiful tribal people in Africa. Wandering freely across northern Namibia and southern Angola they are sometimes known as the Red Ochre people of the desert. In Angola they are simply known as Muhimba.

In Angola, the Muhimba tribe is distinctly more traditional than their Himba brothers and sisters over the border in Namibia. In stark contrast to the curated experiences you might have with Himba people in Namibia, encounters with the Muhimba in Angola are more by reliable chance.

Modernisation has affected the Himba and Muhimba people in varying ways depending on where they live. While their tribal tradition is still strong in northern Namibia, if you look closely at the decoration of Himba women, small modern aspects have crept into their jewellery and dress. It is sometimes possible to find shiny keys, loveheart shaped pendants or other novelties that have been collected to wear. Himba men in Namibia are quickly abandoning their traditional young men’s hairstyles of Ondatu – a large plait worn down the centre of their heads. The culture of wearing an Ondumba by married Himba men is getting harder and harder to find.

Over the border in Angola, however, their traditional Muhimba tribal culture is alive and well. Ondatus and Ondumba are freely worn by men. Muhimba women not only wear a crown of Erembe, made from goat skin like they do in Namibia, they sometimes make their Erembes from a chainmail style metal backed by leather in Angola. Young Muhimba girls have longer Ozondatu (front hair plaits) than their sisters in Namibia.

Dictated more heavily by tradition than the laws of modern society, the Muhimbas of Angola are perhaps the purest representatives of their tribal culture in the world.



In the dryer region of Cunene in southern Angola, we will meet the stunningly beautiful Muhacuona tribe. Although Muhacuona men have mostly abandoned their traditional dress, their women keep it very much alive. The most noticeable aspect of Muhacuona women is their headdress called a Kapopo, which is fashioned out of colourful beads, leather and twirled paper batons. It sits on top of her crown of hair, which is styled using charcoal, animal dung and fats.

During times of celebration Muhacuona tribal women don an incredibly beautiful corset of beaded strands and almost Christian looking crosses dangling down their backs.

Muhacuona women maintain their appearance through treating their skin regularly with animal fats, allowing them to retain an ethereal beauty, even in old age.



A prominent Muhakuona headman tells the story of how the Vatwa people came about at the start of the twentieth century. In 1904 a skirmish broke out between a group of Portuguese colonialists and some Muhakuona men. Several Portuguese were killed in the event. Taking revenge, several Muhakuona decided to join with the Muhimba, changing their dress to look like Muhimbas in order to confuse the Portuguese and escape persecution. This little known fact is one of the theories behind the start of the Vatwa tribe, a tribal culture that is very closely related to the Muhimba in terms of dress and language.

These days it is quite difficult to distinguish individual Vatwas (known as Mutue) from Muhimbas. Probably the easiest way to think of them is a Muhimba with simpler dress. A Mutue girl might braid her hair in the same way as Muhimba girls but leave one or two strands of hair free of ochre. She might also give up on wearing the heavy Muhimba necklaces called Ohumba in favour of wearing more simple strings of beads. Distinguishing between the two tribes can sometimes be a tricky exercise. We will have excellent local guides who will not only help us to determine the difference but who will be able to explain the sometimes quirky meanings behind the names of the Mutue we may meet.



One of the lesser occurring tribal groups in southern Angola, the Mundimba tribe are noticeable for the way their women wear their hair. Fashioned in to a singular beehive style and decorated with colourful beads, pretty Mundimba women may also cover their hair with beautifully coloured scarves.

If we are fortunate on our tour we may meet Mundimba girls wearing an Ena, or wig made from multiple strands of colourful beads, indicating they have reached puberty and are ready to marry.



Classified as anthropologically extinct, yet related to the larger ethnic group of Mucubal people, the beautiful Nguendelengo tribe live in the foothills of the spectacular Serra de Chela mountain range that separates Lubango from the coastal town of Namibe. Numbering only 300 to 400 individuals, the culture of the Nguendelengo people is being kept alive mostly by their women, who braid their hair in three stranded beehive formations which they often cover with scarves. Nguendelengo women carry their babies in beautiful papooses fashioned out of goatskin. In celebrations they are known for their athletically wild dancing.

Visiting a group of Nguendelengo tribal people is truly a privileged glimpse in to a world which is fast disappearing. Their refusal to intermarry, even with their culturally similar Mucubal relatives, means that we may not long live in a world where these people exist.


Nyaneka (Handa)

Another extremely endangered tribe of people, the Nyaneka Handa tribe have traditions that are only being kept alive by one small group of jolly, good humoured elderly women in a small, remote town. Finding them involves asking around a local market and suddenly they will emerge.

Despite their advancing years, this small group of elderly women refuse to surrender to our modern world. They still dress up with their beautiful, elaborate strands of white beads which they wear in multi-layered necklaces and spectacular headdresses that fall down their backs. These days their beads are made from glass but it is thought that original Handa decoration was fashioned from mother of pearl.

Meeting them is a joyous occasion as they laugh and giggle while you photograph them. They are gracious hostesses who are the last remaining carriers of an obscure yet beautiful culture of Angola.


Tchitundo Hulu

One of the most difficult facts to comprehend about this region of Angola is how little it has been studied from an anthropological and historical perspective. In comparison to other regions of Africa, this remote part of Angola offers very little in terms of a documented past.

The most striking evidence of this is the spectacular galleries of rock petroglyphs at Tchitundo Hulu. It is home to rock art galleries that are thought to date back 4000 years. The art is from the original inhabitants of southern Africa, the San. Yet academics who have visited this site have been unable, to date, to decipher exactly what they mean and why there are so many of them.

There are two main galleries of art here. One is a small gallery at Opeleva which is easily accessed by a short walk on flat ground. For the more adventurous we offer a walk up the granite hillside to the incredible Upper House galleries of Mulume and Pedra das Zebras. This walk is optional but should you decide to join us, the views over the surrounding countryside and its pretty Mucubal villages are definitely worth the effort!

In 2017 the Angolan government submitted the rock art sites at Tchitundu Hulo for UNESCO World Heritage status but this is yet to be confirmed.



The beauty of Angola’s tribal people is perhaps only rivalled by the country’s stunning scenery. The coastal fringe of south west Angola is separated by a natural barrier of rugged mountains called the Serra de Chela. Driving over these breathtaking mountains via the snakelike Serra da Leba pass transports you into another world. The wild coast of Angola is characterised by shifting sand dunes, eroded landscapes, ghost towns and charismatic fishing villages.


Visiting the landscapes of Curoca is a bit like exploring Mars. Layers of eroded red and yellow earth are held together by a topping of brittle clay. After centuries of wind erosion, wild Dali-esque formations have emerged. Rock pillars, caves, archways, dunes and grottoes all feature heavily here. We will explore Curoca by vehicle and on foot searching for incredible formations to photograph from different angles.



A short drive on a dirt road in what looks like a desert, actually plunges you in to the beautiful oasis called Arco. After we park our vehicles under large shady trees, we will enjoy a short walk over sandy terrain to visit the spectacular rock arch of Arco. It is possible to view this place from several different angles including one incredible spot where we can look through the rock arch to a lagoon that often has wading flamingos and other birds in it.



The port town of Tombwa is Angola’s southernmost large town. It sits at the edge of a stretch of coast that resembles Namibia’s Skeleton Coast with its wild sand dunes, colonies of Cape Fur Seals and shipwrecks.

The ruined cathedral of Tombwa lies on top of high cliffs that skirt the Atlantic ocean. Since the end of the Portuguese colonial period, this simple cathedral has laid open to the forces of wind and ocean. It now provides a tremendous viewpoint over the surrounding area.

Lying a short distance north of Tombwa, we will visit two very remote fishing villages, Rochas and Cabo Negro. Walking down sandy alleys between tumbledown huts, we will learn how local Angolan fishermen dry and preserve their catch using salt. It is possible we will find small children repairing nets, fishermen hauling their small wooden boats ashore to offload their catch and women cleaning fish while they carry their babies in colourful papooses.


Baia Dos Tigres

Before Tombwa became Angola’s largest town in the south, that mantle belonged to the well established fishing port of Tigres or Great Fish Bay. It used to be a town lying on the northern end of a peninsula, separated from mainland Angola by a narrow isthmus. That all came to a sudden end in 1962 when uncharacteristically large seas drowned the isthmus, creating an island out of Tigres, effectively cutting off the community from the rest of Angola in one night.

The town now sits in complete ruins after its residents were forced to leave due to a lack of access to fresh water.

We will take a thrilling 4WD trip down the coast from Tombwa at low tide to the boats that take us out to Tigres. From there we will make a short crossing to the island and spend a night in supported camp exploring the ruins of this former town. Camping overnight will afford us the most stunning photography opportunities at dusk and dawn.

The following day we will return to Tombwa, also at low tide. Highlights of the drive include visiting a colony of Cape Fur Seals and the stark beauty of this windswept part of the country.




Angolan Visas: Obtaining an Angolan visa used to be quite involved. Happily this is no longer the case. Most nationalities can now apply online and receive a visa on arrival, with only straightforward documentation required. However, you should ensure you are not travelling in the four weeks prior to the tour as supporting paperwork may not be available until then.

Arriving in Angola:  Unlike some countries that are more developed in Africa, arriving in Angola may be a little daunting for travellers who are not that experienced with travel in a developing African country. If you are concerned about your arrival in to Angola for this tour, please speak with our office about planning to arrive on the same flight as our leader so you will have assistance when you land in Angola. If you are arriving via Luanda and require accommodation and local tours in Luanda, please contact our office to arrange these.

Accommodation & Road Transport: With the exception of the supported camps around Oncocua, Yona and Virei, accommodation is in comfortable hotels,  lodges and guest houses. Our fully supported camps include tents that are tall enough to stand in and beds with mattresses and bedding. Shared shower and toilet tents will be provided and erected by our camp crew. Our meals will be prepared by our camp cook. Road transport is by 4WD vehicles as roads in southern Angola can sometimes be quite rough.

Walking: The walking effort is easy throughout. The only fairly demanding walk on the trip, to see the Upper House gallery of petroglyphs at Tchitundo Hulo, is optional.

Climate: Generally warm or hot, dry and sunny.

Photographic Equipment: For most photography of the people of Angola, a travel lens of around 24-105mm on a full frame DSLR or mirrorless body will be essential. A wide angle lens of around 16mm or smaller will be perfect for working with the people inside small huts.

If you prefer to photograph people from a distance, then please consider bringing a larger zoom or telephoto lens. It is our experience that sometimes people can feel a bit intimidated by large cameras and lenses so you may wish to bring a smaller sized zoom lens like a 100-400mm which doesn’t appear as intimidating as a large fixed focal length telephoto lens. Such a lens can also be useful for any wildlife we encounter.

If you bring a good quality bridge camera instead of a DSLR or mirrorless it will be best if it has an optical zoom of 18-20x or more, combined with a reasonable wide-angle at the other end of the zoom range.

If you have a phone or tablet that can be used for photography, you may find these quite useful around people.

Similarly if you have a Polaroid camera like the Leica Sofort or an Instax Mini, these are wonderful to have on hand when you spend time with tribal people. If you decide to bring one of these, please bring lots of film with you as the photographs you produce will be quite popular!

Be sure to bring plenty of spare battery power. On a number of nights there will be no access to power.

For the landscapes extension, we suggest a travel lens, a wide-angle and a zoom or prime lens up to 400mm for photographing birds and other wildlife we may encounter during that part of the trip.

Drones are also a wonderful addition to your photography kit on both our main Angola tour and the tour extension, however, if you plan to bring your drone with you please contact our office.

If you would like to talk over suitable equipment, please contact our office. We will be happy to advise.


Angola Photography Tour Prices: Tour prices in Angola are very high by any standards, but there are reasons for this. In the first place accommodations in Angola are mostly very expensive, as is transport for tourism purposes. Angola is a country with only a thin ‘meniscus’ of development that sits on an otherwise very undeveloped part of the world. The very limited but often comfortable layer of infrastructure that tourism uses is also used by oil and gas development staff, miners and many other expatriates, with the result that prices are un usually high. Furthermore, and even more importantly, there are only a very limited number of local agents that specialize in tribal-tourism, so they can effectively dictate price levels. This combination makes for remarkably high prices.

Wild Images Inclusions: Our prices include surface transportation, accommodations, meals and entrance fees.

Our tour prices also include all tipping, including tips for local guides, drivers and local people who are willing to be photographed. The value of these inclusions on this Wild Images tour amounts to approximately $600.

Deposit: £840, $1050, €930. Extension: £360, $450, €400.

Key Information

Date: May 6, 2022
Duration: 12 days. Extension 6 days
Cost: 2022 (provisional): £7430, $9290, €8290 Lubango/Lubango. Far South Extension: £3352, $4190, €3740. Single Accommodation Supplement: £300, $380, €330. Extension: £120, $160, €140. The single supplement includes a single occupancy tent for the camping nights. If you are travelling alone, the single supplement will not apply if you are willing to share a room and there is a room-mate of the same sex available. This tour is priced in US Dollars. Amounts shown in other currencies are indicative.
Places: 6

This booking will be made through a third party website and will open a new tab when you press Book Now

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