Kicking up the dust ,Himba-style, Damaraland, Namibia

Himba People, Namibia

In Africa, Far, Namibia, Our Journeys, Road Trips, Trip-Types by Janis0 Comments

Semi-Nomadic OvaHimba

You would struggle to visit the Himba people under your own steam, as this indigenous tribe live in very remote parts of Namibia. They are now one of the few remaining groups of semi-nomadic tribal people in Africa. Their population in Northern Namibia and Angola is around 50,000 people.

We ventured off to see them on an organised trip with Grootberg Lodge in Damaraland. We suddenly realised that this was going to be a personal affair, as other than our guide we were the only two on the trip.

The truck journey

Prepared with a packed lunch and refreshments we set off in the safari truck. The journey there was going to take around 2 hours from the lodge, as I said the Himba people live in remote areas. The length of time didn’t bother us as the scenery was wonderful.

Along the route we passed an old guy walking the gravel road, it was around 9:00 am and the heat was starting to pick up. Our guide stopped and gave the guy a lift, we dropped him off at the next village some 16 km away. We estimated it would have taken him until 3:00 pm to travel there under his own steam, so he was very grateful.

We then travelled along a dry off- road track until we reached a spring, and then followed a carpet of green, lined by palm trees. This was quite amazing as this area is so arid and dry. Along the route we saw some wonderful wildlife.

The stream that runs to the Himba village, Damaraland, Namibia
A small group of turtles existing in the stream that runs to the Himba village, Damaraland, Namibia

At the village

Before we set off to the village we knew little about the Himba people, we knew they wore traditional clothes, used ochre to decorate themselves, but that was it.

A hut of the Semi-Nomadic OvaHimba, Damaraland, Namibia

So when we arrived at the village, it was like walking into a documentary, children ran up to the truck and were so welcoming to us. The tribal women were going about their day to day chores around their huts, decorated in their lovely ochre colours and looking after their families.

A maternal group of Himba women, Damaraland, Namibia

The families

The Himba people were more than happy for us to take photos, our guide/interpreter chatted to the ladies and children and we were then invited into one of the huts and shown how they dress their skin with ochre, and other aspects of OvaHimba life.

The crèche of the Himba tribe, Damaraland, Namibia

The paste that is applied to their body and hair is a mixture of butterfat and ochre pigment, which is what provides the wonderfully rich colour.

The paste is smoothed into the skin to shield it from the intense heat and arid climate, it also forms a protection against insects.

The ladies explained also that they additionally perfumed the paste before it is smoothed into to their bodies.

The wonderful hair of the Himba women, Damaraland, Namibia

The Himba ladies highlighted to us that their hair and jewellery plays a significant role in their culture, as it indicates the social status within their community.

Gifts for sale from the Himba people, Damaraland, Namibia

It was extremely fascinating witnessing the pride that these people have in their rich culture.

After the demonstrations the Himba ladies and children laid out their local handicrafts on fabrics in a semi-circle, for us to wander around and purchase some of their wares.

The market place of the Himba, Damaraland, Namibia

The men appeared

Up until this point we hadn’t seen any of the Himba men, most of them were off tending to their livestock and their crops in the scorching heat.

The OvaHimba including men, women and children in their traditional dress, then gave us a wonderful display of local dancing, and song.

Again, amazing to watch up close. All age levels were involved even some ladies danced with babies on their backs.

A tribal dance of the Himba people, Damaraland, Namibia
Welcome dance performed by the Himba, Damaraland, Namibia
Kicking up the dust ,Himba-style, Damaraland, Namibia
Everybody dances in the Himba tribe, Damaraland, Namibia
Coming along for the ride, The Himba tribe, Damaraland, Namibia

You were then given the option to make a donation, but it certainly wasn’t compulsory.

As we headed back to our truck our guide handed the Himba tribe a couple of large bags of grain as a donation and also the children were after any plastic bottles we had for carrying water.

Taking a drink, the Himba tribe, Damaraland, Namibia

We said good bye and was waved off into the distance, it was a fantastic experience and so glad we did it.

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Himba People, Namibia was last modified: June 8th, 2017 by Janis