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

Himba People, Namibia

In Africa, En-Route, Namibia, Our Journeys, Trip-Types, World Travel by Janis4 Comments

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.

The stream that runs to the Himba village, Damaraland, Namibia

This was quite amazing as this area is so arid and dry. Along the route we saw some wonderful wildlife.

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

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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.

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 helpful guide

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Take a look at this informative Bradt guide, it will give you great tips and advice.

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 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.

2019 Update

We believe the Himba people have moved on, and this is no longer an activity offered by the Grootberg Lodge. However they so have a number of other activites that get you close to the land.

If you are interested in meeting the Himba people the Namibia Tourist site has a list of other locations you can meet them. For more details check out this link.

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.

Have You

Wanted to meet a culture so different from your own? But also so similar; they laugh, smile and joke just like us - Although we needed our interpreter to share the jokes 😀

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.

Why not check out the latest deals on Booking.Com?

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  1. Wow, this made amazing reading & images Gary, really fascinating. Love that little child’s face on its mothers back, so happy and free & full of life. Incredible ! X

    1. Paula, story is all Janis’s, but the pictures are all mine. The whole Nambia trip was fantastic, and there’s more tales to come.

  2. We are headed to visit Namibia next May. We have a travel agent but want to make sure we are able to visit these beautiful people. I am trying to do my research and would love any suggestions you may offer.

    1. Author

      Hi Lori,

      I’m so envious Namibia is a beautiful country.

      Our visit to Namibia was a few years ago now; although I remember it so well, we have so many incredible memories.

      We visited the Himba People while staying at a lodge in Grootberg, located to the west of Etosha National Park. I believe the Himba have moved on from that region and no longer offer that tour.

      I believe the Himba People can be visited further north in Namibia near Opuwo; once again, it would be an organised visit.

      There is some information on the Visit Namibia website, although it may be better to ask your travel agent for advice. Or alternatively, stay at a lodge that organises visits to the Himba.

      I noticed that Opuwo Country Lodge (mentioned on the Visit Namibia site) does excursions to the Himba People, so perhaps if you are heading up that way, stay at the lodge for a couple of nights and pre-arrange a tour.

      Let us know how you get on. Are you travelling independently or with a group? We went on a three-week self-drive safari; however, we didn’t camp above the truck; we stayed in lodges.

      Also, which places are you visiting? Do you have it all planned out yet?

      Have a fantastic time, drop me a line if you would like any other advice


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