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Visiting Kissama National Park is an excellent way to spend a spare day in Luanda. Just 80 kms from the city, one can go from "urban hell" to "real African bush bliss" in about 2 hours max. Whilst Kissama does not exactly have the "Serengeti/Ngorongoro/Etosha style" herds of wild animals on tap, it does have it's fair share of game and holds a magical quality which many other game parks may lack. This is due to the inherent and wild beauty of the vistas down to the river, its abundant and enormous Baobab (Imbondeiro) trees, which mix gloriously with the equally prevalent cactus like succulent Euphorbia. At times the amazing flora and landscapes make you think you have taken a wrong turning somewhere and ended up in Jurassic Park !
It is easy to fit in a Kwanza River (Rio Kwanza) trip the same day. The Kwanza is a spectacular river which gives it's name to the Angolan currency. It flows some 960kms from the centre of Angola into the sea close to the suspension bridge leading into Kissama park (at "Barra de Kwanza"). It is a haven for birds (and birders!), expect to see Palmnut vultures, Goliath Herons, Fish Eagles, Ospreys, all kinds of Kingfishers and monkeys on a river trip and if you are really lucky a croc or monitor lizard. Kissama is It is a huge park at some 12,000km2, and the Rio Kwanza forms the northern and much of the western borders of Kissama park with the Rio Longa forming the southern border. The Rio Longa is the southernmost river in which manatess are found in West Africa.
It is not always easy to see the game in Kissama, but is great fun finding it. Many people complain at the lack of easily spotted game, but in fact with patience and using the right guides or safari company you can get to see most things. In fact there is now abundant game in the 12,000ha Special Conservation Area created at the time of the Noahs Ark project in early 2000's when scores of animals were translocated into Kissama from South Africa and Botswana to aid the re-stocking efforts after the dreadful impact the 30 year old war in Angola had on the animal population.
It is possible to see up to 60 or more elephant at one time, the original number of just 10 Eland arriving with the reloaction programme has now swollen to over 200 Eland as they enjoy the lush grazing that Kissama offers. Expect also to see Ostrich, Blue Wildebeeste, Zebra, Giraffe, Kudu, Bushbuck, Grey Duiker and Dik Dik.