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  1. #1
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    Default Two route questions for start and end

    Winter is on the doorsteps with plenty of time indoors to start planning a new trip!
    I’m looking at two tracks from Ruacana to Iona village. There seems to be a southernly track, known as Monte Negro track. On latest T4A it is still shown as “not recommended”. Elsewhere I read a comment that it takes roughly 7.5h from Monte Negro to Espinhiera. Can anybody comment about recent conditions of this track and if it is worthwhile given its closeness to the Cunene River for a small part of it and thru a valley between mountains as it seems. Has it been washed away or become too overgrown with thorn, etc?

    The more common Ovipaka track thru Onconcua has lots of dry riverbed crossings with deep gullies. I guess they are both rough in their own way. But from a landscape and scenery point of view I would like to choose the one which offers more reward. Both options seem to require two or three days of hard and slow driving with at least one o/n en route.

    The second route question concerns the return leg. I’m looking at a beeline from Lubango to Calueque/Omahenene border, which would be the easy option, with main tar road to Xangongo and from there the southern track along the dam to Calueque border.

    I wonder if the longer option from Lubango to Cahama on tar and from here on a track to Otchijau and onwards south to Chitado and Ruacana would be more interesting. We have a spare day in our itinerary and if we will not need it before then we could use it at the end and take this return. We love Baobabs and there seem to be quite a few along that second route.
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    Default Re: Two route questions for start and end

    I do not see any single track from Ruacana to Monte Negro on mapy.cz. If it is not here I doubt it exists. Mapy.cz has always been much better than T4A with every track in bush so far. I cannot comment the roads within Iona NP as we were driving at its edge. We did Xangongo-Oncocua which was fast and easy. The road N from Ongongo towards Gambos-Chiange was much slower I guess 20-30 km/h, but nothing technically difficult.

    At the other side of Iona NP a "bicycle shortcut" from Colinas de Tombua to Virei (with detour to Tchitundo Hulo) was surprisingly good firm sand, just one deep sand dry watercrossing before Tchitundo.

    The worst road I have ever experienced in my life was Cainde to Hungeria. 30 km stretch took us about 6 hours, it looks like single motocross track, no traces of other vehicles, even bikes. There has to be some detour, probably Virei- Caraculo should be much better. Literally we jumped from one stone to another, we had to walk a good part of it and sometimes make the road. Never again I do not want to risk breaking our vehicles.

    Menongue to Katwitwi was about 8 hours, piece of cake.
    Last edited by schwott; 2024/05/24 at 05:53 PM.

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  4. #3
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    Default Re: Two route questions for start and end

    Hi Petr, thanks for your valuable route descriptions. Regarding the southern access to Iona, the track exists and overlaps along the Cunene river with the Epupa track. About 12 km before reaching the end of the track to Epupa you'll see a fork and a track leading N. This southern montenegro track was mentioned by someone on ioverlander just a few weeks ago in a comment about a good overnight stop along it for those who leave Espenhierra in the morning and can't reach Monte Negro Village in a day.

    If I remember correctly you don't use T4A and this might be just the one time that they have something that isn't on the Czech map.
    T4A was very disappointing this year in Makgadikgadi so I hear you and agree in regard to certain shortcomings in some of their products.

    Montenegro track (red) joins the Ovipaka track (lgreen) about 15 km or so S of Onconcua at the Wharo dry riverbed. See screenshot attached.
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    Default Re: Two route questions for start and end

    Hi Eliane, I can see many more tracks around Oncocua on Mapy.cz than on T4A, there is also NW road from Monte Negro towards Iona (red) but not the SE road towards Wharo riverbed. Of course it does not mean it does not exist. But in any case I would not risk transversing Iona NP from W to E or vice versa with rental vehicles. If I want to see Iona, I would probably stick to western part only, ie. from Tombua to Foz de Cunene. But I found the area around Tombua, Pediva, Virei and Oncocua (outside Iona NP) also very appealing. I will always go around.

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    Default Re: Two route questions for start and end

    We are coming from far to visit Iona NP. Not Angola, just Iona and the northern Namibe protected area. So, I'm not looking for the easiest route around the park, but am keen to explore it as much as possible. I found the track from Monte Negro to Onconcua on mapy.cz satellite map.

    Without putting ourselves or the vehicle at risk we like a bit of rough driving. But it should also be worth it. Henceforth my question regarding the landscape in general and the views. It would be great to hear from someone who actually knows both of the tracks and is able to compare. I will try to get some up to date information from Pedro Monterroso, Park Manager. Lots going on with the second group of giraffes released and the new headquarters inauguration in Pediva just days ago.
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    Default Re: Two route questions for start and end

    I have been pondering the same for your first question about the Monte Negro route. Paul Godard, who I think is also a forum member, drove that route and didn't remark that it was so terrible, blog here: https://www.paulgodard.com/blog/79/A...xpedition+2022 I'm not sure this is that helpful in picking one over the other, but it does confirm the track is drivable at least.
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    Default Re: Two route questions for start and end

    Quote Originally Posted by CalDriver View Post
    I have been pondering the same for your first question about the Monte Negro route. Paul Godard, who I think is also a forum member, drove that route and didn't remark that it was so terrible, blog here: https://www.paulgodard.com/blog/79/A...xpedition+2022 I'm not sure this is that helpful in picking one over the other, but it does confirm the track is drivable at least.
    He was cool as a cucumber in his report, but his "20 km per day" remark lights a red light in my head. So this road is a "No Go" for me, on par with Robbie's Pass and other similar roads. Unfortunatelly we will not be able to gain from your experience, we will be in the area in this October.

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    Default Re: Two route questions for start and end

    Paul and friends entered at Santa Clara and chose tracks along the river until reaching Epupa. They went all the way to the end of track near the falls. We don't intend to do the part W of Monte Negro village precisely because it is reported to be the worst track of all. We've seen Epupa more than once on the Namibian side and don't want to do it here with such a difficult track.
    The 20km/day refers to one way of the in-out track to Epupa from MN.

    They took the red track, here an extract of his gpx file available for download on his blog. Thank you CalDriver!
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    Last edited by La Leona; 2024/05/25 at 03:58 PM.
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    Default Re: Two route questions for start and end

    Try and find that track on Guru Maps.
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    Default Re: Two route questions for start and end

    Paul Godard's trip and road report contain very useful information. They entered Iona along the Montenegro track and logged it as "rocky but ok" as day 7 with 132km. Question as to if this track is doable has been confirmed.

    My second question was partially answered too, as they chose to leave Angola at Calueque / Omahenene border. Logged as day 27.

    Any other feedback from travellers to Iona will be appreciated very much. I think there are at least two developed campsites in the park now. Near Curoca river and near Vanessa shipwreck. Anyone stayed there?
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    Default Re: Two route questions for start and end

    Quote Originally Posted by La Leona View Post
    Paul Godard's trip and road report contain very useful information. They entered Iona along the Montenegro track and logged it as "rocky but ok" as day 7 with 132km. Question as to if this track is doable has been confirmed.

    My second question was partially answered too, as they chose to leave Angola at Calueque / Omahenene border. Logged as day 27.

    Any other feedback from travellers to Iona will be appreciated very much. I think there are at least two developed campsites in the park now. Near Curoca river and near Vanessa shipwreck. Anyone stayed there?

    Here are our GPS tracks from 2018. It was hardcore overlanding, but so very rewarding.

    https://www.google.com/mymaps/viewer...oSXQj&hl=en_GB

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    Default Re: Two route questions for start and end

    Quote Originally Posted by Wazungu Wawili View Post
    Here are our GPS tracks from 2018. It was hardcore overlanding, but so very rewarding.

    https://www.google.com/mymaps/viewer...oSXQj&hl=en_GB
    Nice trip. This is my planned trip for October 24. https://mapy.cz/s/fohanabaho . Just a rough idea. I am just sure I definitely want Cuatir GR, Piambo Pools, see Lago dos Arcos with water (first time after 13 years), camp at Colinas do Tombua again, drive Serra Leba Pass and Humpata Plateau, visit Oncocua market. I am also sure I do not want to drive Virei-Hungeria and visit Tchitundo Hulo paintings again. I am not sure if I have the balls (and time) to transverse Iona NP from west to east.
    Last edited by schwott; 2024/05/30 at 12:45 PM.

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    Default Re: Two route questions for start and end

    Quote Originally Posted by schwott View Post
    Nice trip. This is my planned trip for October 24. https://mapy.cz/s/fohanabaho . Just a rough idea. I am just sure I definitely want Cuatir GR, Piambo Pools, see Lago dos Arcos with water (first time after 13 years), camp at Colinas do Tombua again, drive Serra Leba Pass and Humpata Plateau, visit Oncocua market. I am also sure I do not want to drive Virei-Hungeria and visit Tchitundo Hulo paintings again. I am not sure if I have the balls (and time) to transverse Iona NP from west to east.
    Lago dos Arcos was full with water when we went there in 2018.

    Here is our trip report from 2018. https://www.4x4community.co.za/forum...o-26-June-2018

    Safari njema.
    Last edited by Wazungu Wawili; 2024/06/01 at 12:35 AM.

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  19. #14
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    Default Re: Two route questions for start and end

    Thanks for your replies.
    What I call the Ovipaka track seems to be the preferred access to Iona when entering at Ruacana. I see that WW drove it, the late Stan did, and last year RodS and friends did as well. The Monte Negro track is being used as well; Paul Godard took it a second time this past summer. So, we'll be probably taking it.
    Contrary to most people’s itineraries, ours will cover only a very small part of the country as our main interest lies with Iona and the Southwest in general. I have plotted many tracks which only show on T4 A when zooming in a great deal. I can see them on satellite images, and it all looks promising; sand rocks riverbeds and a whole lot of nothingness…
    I’m a bit frustrated to get zero answers from African Parks. Do they not want to get visitors yet? I wrote emails to the manager and a person named Helen, supposedly both in charge of matters concerning Iona.
    I’m also not getting any answers from AIB Brokers in Luanda regarding Third Party Insurance. To my knowledge at none of the smaller border posts one can buy this type of insurance. Large companies such as Allianz and Rental Cars which offer different insurance products exclude vehicles with built-in sleeping berths. To make things worse, Bushlore can only provide vehicle details a day or two prior to pick up.
    I have two questions for Schwott: what is special about the Oncocua market for you to re-visit and why do you choose the long NE track from Otjinjau to the main road to get to Lubango and not the one that leads directly East and hits tar at Cahama?
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    Default Re: Two route questions for start and end

    Quote Originally Posted by La Leona View Post
    .
    I have two questions for Schwott: what is special about the Oncocua market for you to re-visit and why do you choose the long NE track from Otjinjau to the main road to get to Lubango and not the one that leads directly East and hits tar at Cahama?
    Hi Eliane, I can even answer 3 questions.
    1) 3rd party insurance is not obligatory in Angola, it cannot be purchased at any border. We found out that any Banco BIC can issue it. We did ours in Xangongo, it took us the whole morning, I even went for lunch during the process. They had to let every single step to approve in Luanda...Guess the number of our Policy....Yes, number 001. There is also Banco BIC in Ondjiva but it was already closed when we passed by. If you want to explore only Iona NP I would risk to go without it.
    2) There are many different local tribes in Oncocua market. I will return with laminated pictures as gifts. It takes some effort to fully enjoy it. I purchased some beans for the tribal ladies, made some shopping for us etc. No human zoo feeling if you can leave your cameras in the cars. We never pay for pictures.
    3) We took Cahama-Oncocua- Gambos-Chiange route in 2023 and it was a soft offroad through scenic country with many tribal villages. I want to avoid Lubango and thoroughly explore Humpata Plateau. Depending upon our spare time at the end of Angola trip we will either take tar to Santa Clara (fastest route) or any of the dirt road options (slow but scenic) to Ruacana or Calueque. I want to enter Etosha through the King Nehale Gate next.

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  22. #16
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    Default Re: Two route questions for start and end

    Quote Originally Posted by schwott View Post
    We found out that any Banco BIC can issue it. We did ours in Xangongo, it took us the whole morning, I even went for lunch during the process.
    Half a day is a loss of time if everything goes well, and it is very little time if one is guilty of producing an accident.
    We will need to drive about 400km on main roads. The risk is lower with cautious defensive driving and with avoiding roads after dark, but still present. We find that our willingness to take risks is proportionally decreasing the older we get.
    We too take gifts to be able exchange for little souvenirs. Beads and padlocks are always a winner. And anything with Messi and the argentine flag on it
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    Default Re: Two route questions for start and end

    Quote Originally Posted by La Leona View Post
    Half a day is a loss of time if everything goes well, and it is very little time if one is guilty of producing an accident.
    We will need to drive about 400km on main roads.
    We too take gifts to be able exchange for little souvenirs. Beads and padlocks are always a winner. And anything with Messi and the argentine flag on it
    If you insist to have 3rd party insurance I would consider Santa Clara border and Banco BIC there. Use a runner, he can submit your car details there in advance. If you insist on Ruacana border you can either detour to Xangongo or make it in Namibe later on. I will do mine in Menongue. I doubt you will able to make it online in advance if you know plate number, VIN and engine number just 2 days before the trip. I am always doing 3rd party online for Zambia and Mozambique, but I usually have one week or more.

    What kind of padlocks do you bring? It seems like a good idea.
    Last edited by schwott; 2024/06/02 at 04:52 PM.

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    Default Re: Two route questions for start and end

    Quote Originally Posted by schwott View Post

    What kind of padlocks do you bring? It seems like a good idea.
    Regular iron or brass padlocks.
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    Default Re: Two route questions for start and end

    Quote Originally Posted by La Leona View Post
    Regular iron or brass padlocks.
    I cannot imagine why anyone would take padlocks to give to traditional tribespeople…

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    Default Re: Two route questions for start and end

    Quote Originally Posted by Wazungu Wawili View Post
    I cannot imagine why anyone would take padlocks to give to traditional tribespeopleÂ…
    The reason for this is a recommendation given to me many years back by a person who lived several years among traditional himbas in northern Namibia. We were so instructed prior to several visits we did together. It is fair to question handouts, I am among the ones who usually frown upon such behaviour. However there still exist situations in which bartering and exchanging goods is a welcome way of making conversation without knowing each others languages.
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