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The province of Cunene was founded on the 10 July 1970, and is located in the south of the country. The climate is dry and has a semi-arid tropical climate and the annual average temperature is 23˚c. The most abundant wildlife animals in the Cunene region are mabeco (wild dog), spotted hyena, elephant, zebra, hippo, potamochero (bush pig), gunga, palanca vermetha (red antelope), Caama (antelope family), impala, ostrich and bambi. Cunene province also has the distinction of having the largest baobab tree in Africa, in the region of Peupeu.
The Capital of Cunene is Ondjiva and has a population of 20 000 inhabitants. The native people of Cunene belong to the AmbÓ group – they descend from the Koysan people and are divided into a number of different tribes. Most of the people live in a rural environment. They mainly farm wheat, maize, sugarcane, grapes and tobacco. Their mineral resources are gold, iron, copper and mica.
The province has 3 important rivers, the Cunene, Cuvelai, and Calonga. The Cunene is a large perennial river that forms the boundary between south-western Angola and Namibia. It is bordered by lush vegetation, which forms striking contrasts with the surrounding desert.
Once at the mouth of the Cunene River, one may expect the finest shore fishing available anywhere in the world. The warm-water in the river mouth attracts large concentrations of fish. The best catches are made on bait or artificial lures, and large cobs (18kg+) are well-represented in the Cunene River. Fish weighing over 30 kg are almost daily occurrence in the Cunene River.
The waterfalls of the Cunene River offer a great opportunity to experience the natural beauty of the region. Situated at the border of Namibia, the falls of Ruacana drop about 100m and are well-worth the visit. They can also be seen at the Ruacana dam in the Kalueke region and in the black mountain (Epupa) region of Kuroka.
There are a number of national parks and wildlife reserves in the Cunene province. The Mupa National Park is a significant natural resource situated in the north, with an area of 660,000 hectares. It was given the status of national park in December 1964, and a hunting reserve in April 1938. The Parcial do Luiana Reserve is located close to the border of Zambia. It was established as a reserve in 1966, with an area of 8,400 km2 of diversified flora and fauna. One of the highlights is a great concentration of elephants. The Parcial de Mavinga Reserve was established in 1966. It has an area of 5,950 km2 and it provides a home to many wildlife species, including rhinoceros, lion, elephant, black palanca and kaku, among others. Renowned for hunting, there are also a number of rehabilitation projects in these areas, including wildlife and de-mining. One project in particular has focused on the encouragement of elephant migration back into the area.
Other places of interest in Cunene include: Manlova Mountain, Maculungongo Falls, the river Kutato Falls, the Mucusso, Luengue, Lomba, Luiana and Mavinga hunting grounds, the river Kuebe swimming pool, the Kambumbe dam, and the Kuroca Caves.
What to See:
Fortes Rocadas Fort: Located in Xangongo, on the right bank of the River Cunene. During its colonial past it served as a military base from which the areas south of Xangongo were attacked and occupied.
Mufillo Monument: South of Xangongo, symbolising the major combats and victories of King Mandume, who was aided by King Tchetekela of Cuamato against the Portuguese in the 19th Century.
Vau-do-Pembe Monument: In Memory of the Portuguese who fell during the corssing of the River Cunene because of the nationalist resistance.
Ombala Grande: A historic site where the kings are buried. It was the political centre of the Kwanyama kingdom and eleven kings lived here, except for King Mandume who was not circumcised at the time.
Africa’s larges babab tree – at Xangongo in the Peupeu region.
King Mandume Memorial Complex: located in the municipality of Namacunde, 42 kms from Ondjiva. The site is surrounded by sticks that symbolise the heroism of the Kwanyama people.
Mupa National Park: Located in the north of the province it has an area of 666000 hectares.
Ruacana Dam: Here you can see the River Cunene waterfalls in the Kalueke region, almost on the frontier with Namibia, with a drop of about 100 metres.
Monte Negro Falls (Epupa): In the Kuroca region, almost on the frontier with Namibia.