7-17 September 2020 – ‘The Tribes of Southern Angola’

Himba beauty


7th – 17th September 2020


Angola, Southern Africa



Our photo tours focus on taking you to places, which have a unique appeal to photographers. We seek the beauty of landscape and seascape, the heritage of cultural diversity and the bustle of street and marketplaces. Effectively, photography through geography.

Our tours will seek the best moments, light and opportunities to compose shots, which reflect upon those inimitable moments. We feel it is of value to immerse ourselves in local culture through, not only people and landscapes, but also, where feasible, through culinary experience and accommodation, which is culturally sympathetic.

Interaction and understanding and, where feasible, spending time with people, makes moments and images more meaningful.

We pride ourselves on a ‘hands on’ approach, which enables clients to avail of sessions in which there are photo critiques and a chance to reflect on images captured whilst on tour. It is recommended that all participants bring laptops or tablets so that we can benefit from interaction and discussion, and ways of editing our images to get a result reflecting your own unique style.
‘It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see’.
Henry David Thoreau

Join us on a unique photographic journey through the south of Angola, a less visited part of southern Africa that is only now beginning to open up to tourism. This tour covers the remote south of the country, a land that the modern world has barely touched, of vast unspoiled wildernesses and tribal groups following time honoured traditions.

Starting in the capital Luanda we have time to explore a little before flying south to the city of Lubango, our springboard for venturing into the interior. Lubango offers an intoxicating mix of old Portuguese architecture and the joyful chaos of contemporary Africa, and after time here we leave the modern world behind, heading first to the tribal region surrounding the remote town of Oncocua. This area is home to the hunter gatherer Mutua, the colourful Mucuwana and of course the Himba, one of the most iconic tribes of southern Africa, and here less modernised than their counterparts in Namibia. From here we return north to meet the Muila people, whose hairstyles have to be seen to be believed, camping near one of their villages.

Heading west we explore the beautiful landscapes and simple prehistoric rock art of Tchitundo Hulo, visit remote oases and travel into the lands of the Mucubal people. Few have heard of this fascinating ethnic group, and meeting them is a snapshot of the ancient ways – some of their most interesting traditions include teeth sharpening and incredibly elaborate headdresses. Accompanied by guides we travel sensitively through remote communities and settlements in an effort to understand the customs and ancient practices of the region’s most traditional peoples, staunchly holding on to their way of life and for whom the outside world is only starting to impinge.

Carefully designed and researched, this trip is one of a kind and offers intrepid photographers the chance to see a world which may not exist for much longer, and travel on paths that few have ever imagined, let alone trodden. Join us on the ultimate Angolan photo adventure.

Tour Details

Alternative Visions with Light Motives ‘The Tribes of Southern Angola’ 10 days 7-17 September 2020


Day 1 Monday 7 September – Luanda

Arrive in Luanda and transfer to the hotel. Overnight tourist class hotel. Thomson Art House.

Luanda is a city under construction – after the long lasting civil war (1975-2005) the city seems to be permanently expanding, fueled by the oil boom which has also made Luanda one of the most expensive cities on the planet. The centre is divided into three distinct sections – Baixa de Luanda (lower Luanda) from the port to the fortress, Cidade Alta, the upper part of the city, home to the presidential palace, and Ilha do Cabo, a peninsula surrounding the bay with beaches, nightclubs and restaurants. Behind and above the historic centre, central barrios include Maianga and Alvalade (residential) and Miramar (embassies), as well as Kinaxixe and Maculusso, which are characterised by Portuguese apartment blocks. Further outside the centre, the neighborhoods become more informal, dotted with 1970s Cuban apartment blocks and new developments.

Upon arrival in Luanda, it is impossible to miss the towering obelisk-like structure shooting above the rest of the city, a mausoleum dedicated to Augustinho Neto, the first President of Angola. Other sites worth visiting include the Fortaleza de Sao Miguel, a 16th century building built during the earliest period of colonial rule and a self contained city for the military garrison, as well as a holding point for slaves – the highlight here are

the ornate hand painted wall tiles. The National Museum of Anthropology is home to an impressive array of traditional masks and other artefacts, while the 15th century Igreja Nossa Senhora do Populo is the first Anglican church in Angola, built in 1482.

Day 2 Tuesday 8 September - Lubango

Explore the key sights of Luanda, with a few old colonial buildings, bustling markets and the Forteleza de Sao Miguel. Later transfer to the airport and fly to Lubango, the main city in southern Angola. Set in a lush valley guarded by a statue of Christ, Lubango is rich in colonial heritage mixed with the vibrancy of local culture. Overnight Vanjul Lodge. (BLD) 


Day 3 Wednesday 9 September – Oncocua

A full day’s drive south to Oncocua, a former Portuguese settlement in the middle of a cultural ‘island’, inhabited by three different ethnic groups – the Himba, the Mucawana and the Mutua. On the way we pass villages belonging to the Mugambue people, and visit a community of some of the last surviving Kung (bushmen) people in Angola. Overnight camping. (BLD)

Day 4 Thursday 10 September – Oncocua

We spend today visiting the different tribal groups that live in this area, taking time to learn about their culture and customs. This is one of the most traditional areas of Angola and visitors are rare, but the local people are friendly and welcoming. Camp tonight in one of the nearby villages. (BLD)

The Mucawana people - seem impervious to change, still living and dressing in fairly

traditional ways (there are some outside influences), with the hairstyles of the women made with a mix of cow dung, fat, and herbs for fragrance. When not working Mucawana people like to celebrate, an intoxicating medley of singing, dancing and clapping. The women at such festivities have multicoloured braids, bead corsets around their waists and curiously Teutonic-looking iron crosses dangling down their backs.

The Mutua people - live in small settlements in the bush and their livelihoods depend on honey and fruit gathering. They do not possess land or animals and they are considered as a lower caste by the neighboring tribes. At a first glance they look similar to the Himbas, but if one looks closely one will see how they are shorter and their dresses are shaggy, more impoverished looking and hairstyles less sophisticated compared to those of the Himba and Mucawana.


The Himba - may be one of Africa’s most photographed tribes. As in many ethnic groups these days, the women maintain their style of traditional dress to a far greater extent than the men, dressing in skirts made from animal skin and fashioning their hair into unique styles with the aid of butter fat and ochre, with different styles denoting their age and marital status. The same substance is used on their bodies, giving them an orange brown sheen

that is considered a sign of beauty within Himba society.

Day 5 Friday 11 September – Otchinjau – Chibia

Drive to the town of Otchinjau to meet the Mudimba people – the women are known for their afro-style hair. We then continue to Chibia for the night. Overnight simple hotel. (BLD)

Day 6 Saturday 12 September Chibia to Namibe

Explore the old colonial centre of Chibia. Chibia is a centre for the Muila people, known for their body decorations, and we visit the Mukuma tribal market, one of the best places for meeting this intriguing ethnic group. This afternoon we descend from the plateau via the Serra de Leba Pass, and continue to the coastal town of

Namibe. Overnight Infotour Hotel or similar. (BLD)

The Muila are a semi-nomadic ethnic group living on the Huila Plateau. Women coat their

hair with a red paste called oncula, which is made of crushed red stone. They also put a mix of oil, crushed tree bark, dried cow dung and herbs on their hair. On top of this they decorate their hair with beads, cowrie shells and even dried food. Having their forehead shaved is considered as a sign of beauty. The plates, which look like dreadlocks, are called nontombi and have a precise meaning. Women or girls usually have four or six nontombi, but when they only have three it means that someone died in their family. Muila women are also famous for their mud necklaces, which are important as each period of their life corresponds to a specific type of necklace. When they are young, girls wear heavy red necklaces, made with beads covered with a mix of soil and latex. Later girls start to wear a set of yellow necklaces called vikeka, made of wicker covered with earth. They keep it until their wedding, which can last 4 years. Once married they start to wear a set of stacked up bead necklaces called vilanda.

Day 7 Sunday 13 September – Tchitundu Hulo

Explore the town with its fading colonial architecture, then drive towards Virei, stopping en route to see the prehistoric weltwishcia plants. Virei is a centre for the Mucubal people, who we should be able to meet when here. After lunch visit Tchitundo Hulo to discover a vast collection of simple prehistoric rock art, with paintings of animals, plants and men – possibly up to 20,000 years old, but no-one really knows. Overnight camping. (BLD)

The Mucabal (also called Mucubai, Mucabale, Mugubale) people are a subgroup of the Herero ethnic group, with a lifestyle based on cattle and agriculture, and some very specific customs and traditions. Girls have their upper teeth sharpened and lower ones removed. In order to convince young girls to have their lower teeth removed, Mucubal elders make them believe that their teeth leave their mouth during the night, to go in a

hole dug to relieve themselves and return to their mouth covered with excrement. Their nomadic lifestyle is based on cycles, between nomadism and staying in villages. The Mucubal believe in a god called Huku, and also worship their ancestors' spirits called Oyo. Divination is very important in their culture, and they use talismans and amulets for numerous purposes such as to protect their herds or prevent adultery. Funerals can last several days or weeks, and graves are decorated with cattle horns. The number of cows sacrificed is in relation with the importance of the deceased. Cattle are only killed on

special occasions, as Mucubal usually don’t eat meat but rather corn (when they

manage to grow some), eggs, milk and chicken. They don’t eat any fish because according to the legend, one of their chieftains was brought to the sea by the Portuguese and never came back. Mucubal women are famous for the way they dress, the most notable example of which is an original and unique headdress called the Ompota. It is made of a wicker framework, traditionally filled with a bunch of tied cow tails, decorated with buttons, shells, zippers and beads. But tradition is disappearing as some women use modern items to fill their ompota headdress. Women whether they are married or not can wear jewellery. Ornaments like iron anklets and armlets are worn by girls as well as adult women. Mucubal women are also famous for the string they have around their breast, called oyonduthi, which is used as a bra.

Day 8 Monday 14 September – Curoca

This morning we visit the Mucuis people, considered the original inhabitants of this region, and who follow a hunter gatherer lifestyle. Continue to Curoca with its striking rock structures, and drive to a settlement of the Cuepe, a caste of traditional healers. Overnight camping. (BLD)

Day 9 Tuesday 15 September – Garganta

Retracing our steps to Namibe, we rejoin the tarred road and drive to the village of Garganta. Here we meet the Nguendelengo people, who live by hunting, gathering and rearing livestock, and number just three or four hundred individuals. We camp next to the village. (BLD)

Day 10 Wednesday 16 September – Hoque – Lubango – Luanda

Drive to Hoque where we meet our last traditional tribe of Angola, the Handa. The older women of this ethnic group wear enormous beaded necklaces and complex hairstyles – we visit a local market here to meet them. From here continue to Lubango and visit the Tunda Vala escarpment, before transferring back to the airport to fly back to Luanda. Overnight tourist class hotel. (BL) Thomson Art House

Day 11 Thursday 17 September – Luanda

Visit Santiago Beach to see the numerous shipwrecks in the bay, as well as the small but interesting anthropological museum in Luanda itself (open Tuesdays to Fridays, usually). Finally transfer to the airport for your onward flight. (BL)

 Services included

  • Meals – breakfast, lunch and dinner for the time of the tour with the exception of those mentioned. Meals may occasionally be local depending on location but for the most part the food is unsophisticated western fayre. Meals will also include water and soft drinks

  • Entrance fees/permits for villages.

  • Transfer to and from the airports to the hotel.

  • Photo tour leaders and local guides.

  • Accommodation as listed above but this may change but we will endeavour to maintain similiar standards.

  • Please be aware that as we operate in many countries where tourism is in its infancy, hotel standards may not be the same as you’re used to elsewhere.

  • Travel by Toyota land cruisers (4x4) or similar.

Tour Cost

The cost of the tour is US$6850. To reserve a place there is a deposit of US$1000

The single supplement is US$350. Based on 4-6 people travelling.

Payment is possible by Bank Transfer and also by PayPal, in this case an additional 5% will be added to cover the transaction fees (PayPal).

The final balance is due three months prior to departure.

Services not included/additional costs
  • International flights
  • Alcohol
  • Paying for photographs in some situations. I recommend approximately $150 per person for ‘photo fees’. Some photographers take thousands of photos!!! The local guides will handle payments.
  • You will also need some extra money for tips for drivers, cooks, guides etc. Approximately US$15/20 per driver/guide/cook per day. This shared between all participants.

I will send out medical forms, gear lists, additional information on the tribes, travel liability forms at a later stage.

If you have any questions please contact me by email or telephone trevcole1@me.com +353872825851