The 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.
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 helpful guide
If you're considering a road trip through Namibia, then your in for a holiday of a lifetime. I always find it incredibly useful to plan our trips with the help of a guide book.
Take a look at this informative Bradt guide, it will give you great tips and advice.
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 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 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.
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 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.
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.
We said good bye and was waved off into the distance, it was a fantastic experience and so glad we did it.
Inspired to visit the Himba people?
It was one of our many highlights of this trip, and we hoipe you're inspired to meet them if you travel to the region.
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