This weekend, Nissrine and I joined a group teachers from the school on a safari into Quiçama National Park. The park is about an hour south of the Angolan capital, Luanda. It’s a massive game reserve. Within the center of the park is a group of what seemed like decent, air conditioned bungalows along with a restaurant and bar. All of this overlooks the meandering Kwanza River.
We started out in a large open-seat truck out into the bush in search of local animals. We weren’t sure what to expect or what animals would be around, though we had hopes of elephants and lions.
There was some confusion trying to enter the park. The guardian insisted we had to pay an entrance fee, though the agency through which we booked insisted it was included. Initially, we thought we might just need to make an informal payment, but as I reflect on it, I do think it was just a misunderstanding.
A little ways in, after entering through the gate, we began to spot giraffe and various antelope. Our excitement grew. The road into the park was almost as long and the highway journey to the park itself. Deeper and deeper into the bush we went.
Driving through the countryside, sometimes off marked roads, we saw many different types of animals and birds. There were wildebeest, elands, various antelope, and many giraffe. We hoped to see elephants, but the driver and scout could not locate the herd. Lions, apparently, when they are found in the park, are relocated to another park further inland.
After about two hours of driving, we returned to the restaurant for lunch. The food was pretty good. Each of us, except the vegetarians, were given an entire grilled fish along with rice, vegetables, and potatoes. Of course, the ubiquitous Angolan Cuca beer was also delicious.
After lunch, we drove down to the banks of the Kwanza River for a brief boat tour. Again, we hoped to see the elephants, but no luck. However, we did spot a fish eagle perched in a tree above and a crocodile sleeping on the shore. Afterward, we went to a lookout above the river and sat in quiet contemplation of the beauty below.
All in all, it was a nice trip. Hopefully, next time, the elephants won’t be so shy.
Also published on Medium.