Red-crested turaco © Anne White, Flickr
Kumbira Forest is the most important site in Angola for birdwatching and a great place for exploring. The forest lies about 10km south of the town of Conda. Follow the gravel road west out of Conda town (ask for directions to the village of Kumbira Primeiro), and after crossing the small river (n 11° 05’ 35.1’’ S, 14° 19’ 4.9’’ E), follow the road to the left. Pass the village of Cassungo and at n 11° 06’ 19.8’’ S, 14° 18’ 31.5’’ E, turn left. During the rainy season (December to April) this track beyond Cassungo is often impassable, and for the rest of the year a vehicle with high clearance is necessary. The track ends up at Kumbira Primerio village (n 11° 08’ 10.4’’ S, 14° 17’ 44.5’’ E), which normally takes an hour to reach from Conda. The best forest lies on the slopes of Serra Njelo, and can be accessed via a track leading into the old coffee forests about 1km beyond Kumbira Primeiro (n 11° 08’ 27.2’’ S, 14° 17’ 21.6’’ E). Currently there are no facilities at Kumbira, so the only option is to camp. Good campsites are on the football pitch (n 11° 08’ 21.4’’ S, 14° 17’ 28.5’’ E), or inside the forest (n 11° 09’ 16.4’’ S, 14° 17’ 45.6’’ E). The key birds at Kumbira are Pulitzer’s Longbill, Monteiro’s Bush-shrike, Gabela Bush-shrike and Gabela Akalat. Other sought-after forest birds include Red-crested Turaco, Gabon Coucal, Gorgeous Bush-shrike, Yellow-throated Nicator, Angola Batis, Pale-olive Greenbul, Hartert’s Camaroptera, Yellowbellied Wattle-eye, Dusky tit, Southern Hyliota, Forest Scrub Robin and Petit’s Cuckooshrike. Swifts breeding on the cliffs above the forest are large and dark like African Black Swift but call like Little Swift and are almost certainly an undescribed species.
A forest conservation project is being started at Kumbira, with research into the effects of subsistence farming and environmental education being undertaken. There are long-term plans to establish a conservation area here with tourist facilities, but this is likely to take at least five years to implement. See the website www.birdsangola.org for more details.