The Himba's of the Kaokoveld
Trip Start Mar 31, 2010
50Trip End Ongoing
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
That night we sat round the camp fire drinking wine till the early hours planning a possible off road adventure up the riverbed for the next day.
Rather than taking off early for our river bed adventure, we enlisted Theunis – the guide at the campsite - to take us out to the traditional Himba village where his grandmother has lived her whole life. As a cultural note, the word Himba comes from the Otjihimba language and means 'Beggar'. After a long tribal war between the Hero and the Nama and other neighbouring tribes from Angola, the Hero in the region were stripped of all their clothing and possessions by retreating warriors, hense, the Hero’s had to beg and became the Himba culture
A Himba elder showed us the process of lighting a fire inside in the huts to smoke and perfume their skin with aromatic wood chippings. Before this though, they cover their skin head to toe with a mix of ocre and animal fat which protects them from the sun and mosquito's and is also their equivalent of a daily shower... The Himba woman's jewelery tells you a lot about the status of the wearer, a thick leather necklace indicates they are childless and a beaded stripe on bracelets for each child and a certain type of necklace is worn if their father is still alive. Just a world apart from what we are used to but we were welcomed with open arms and lapped up the opportunity to spend time with these people
We departed the village thinking that either we would cross the 100km stretch of river bed in 14hours as the Lani's and Bryan GPS said or in 4hours according to Theunis. After a few hours driving, we set up for the night at a wide sandy bend in the riverbed, far enough away from any lions lurking in the undergrowth. We collected a pile of driftwood and set up the mother of all campfires to keep us away from the crazy monkeys that were shouting at a distance and any other predator that we could possibly imagine.
Within an hour on the road the next morning we encountered a group of elephants at a narrow muddy bend in the river. In a dilemma about how long we would be stuck for and whether there was another route around the riverbed, the elephants kindly gave way and allowed us to pass. The track got tougher but Limpopo ploughed through it with flying colors. As we were leading the way we had few times were the car got stuck going up a hill. Jeroen tried to drive left and right while Anna would start pushing and in both occasion, yes we made it! It was a challenging adventure as there was no clear track, some parts where covered in rocks, dead trees that the river had carried through however with some careful maneuvers and excellent navigation the riverbed got us through the final stretch
A couple of hours later through some beautiful villages we finally descended on Opuwo excited about finally getting into town after a long adventure through the river bed. We stared the evening with some drinks at the bar at the upmarket lodge that owned the campsite where we were staying and finished with the taste of a home-made Spanish tortilla for all of us!
The next morning we finally got to restock on veggies and petrol in the most peculiar city every. Opuwo is a city that truly blends tradition and globalization therefore as you drive through the streets you'll see bare breasted Himba women in their traditional outfits talking on the phone although the best comes once you get into the supermarket and you spot Himba women doing their daily shopping. After buying all the essentials we went for a walk in the city and discovered a traditional market which finally gave us the feeling of being in an African city and not a German one for a change.
We had to leave Lani and Bryan at Opuwo’s petrol station since we were heading to the northern gate of Etosha National Park while their entry would be from the south