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10 Reasons You Should Visit Namibia

  
  

In June last year we announced that the lucky winner of our Landscape Escape competition was one Kevin Read from Canada. Kevin won a once in a lifetime trip around Namibia and decided to document what he and his wife Ruth discovered on their journey through the land of the brave.

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Ruth and Kevin- winners!

Kevin and Ruth enjoyed their stay so much that they compiled a list of reasons why they think you should take the plunge and explore this vast and beautiful country as soon as possible.

10 Reasons You Should Visit Namibia

We spent the months of November and December 2013 exploring the country of Namibia. Over the course of almost eight weeks, we drove approximately 10,000 kms (6,200 miles) all over the country. We experienced the many different cultures and saw so many natural wonders.

But one of the things that we didn't see was North American tourists.

People from Canada and the U.S. who come to Africa seem to be attracted to Kenya, Botswana, or South Africa all of which have more highly developed tourism infrastructure. As a result, they tend to have more "luxury" travel options. Namibia is a little more wild, and still has a lot of areas that may be considered early development when it comes to tourism.

Here's why we think North Americans should visit Namibia...

1. They speak English in Namibia

We find that a lot of North Americans are unsure about visiting a country where they will have a difficult time being understood. You won't have a problem in Namibia. Despite the fact that there are approximately eight other popular languages (Afrikaans, German, and many local languages) English is the official language. All road signs are in English, and although you may meet some rural people who only speak their local language, there will always be someone close by who can translate. 

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All road, traffic, and tourism signs are in English. 

2. Birds 

We've never been much into birds. Namibia may have changed that a little bit! There are around 700 species of birds in Namibia! It seemed like every day that we were in Namibia we would see some kind of different bird. And of course many are so colorful, and with long bright feathers. Oh, and owls! We have never seen so many different owls.  

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An owl in Namibia. 

3. You can go camping! 

The easiest and most popular way to tour Namibia is with your own vehicle. The local public transportation system isn't the easiest, but if you have your own vehicle you can go anywhere. It's also common, and a great idea, to do a self drive camping tour of Namibia, and there are a LOT of campgrounds in Namibia, In fact, we were surprised at the number of beautiful campgrounds.  

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Our camping vehicle from Namibia Car Rental

4. The desert is truly beautiful 

I've never been much of a desert person. I typically like trees and greenery, but Namibia gave us a whole different perspective on the desert and the different landscapes that the desert presents to you. While there certainly are some long boring sections of desert scenery, there is also very stunning scenery that makes you wonder how it can possibly occur naturally. 

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The dunes at Sossusvlei. 

5. Protection of the environment 

If you are an ethical traveler, you may be interested to know that Namibia was the first African country to incorporate protection of the environment into its constitution. The Government of Namibia has reinforced this by giving its rural communities the right to manage their wildlife through communal conservancies. These conservancies are clearly defined tracts of land, registered with government, where local communities manage their natural resources through a democratically elected committee and approved management plans.  

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Many private lodges in Namibia also have their own environmental conservancies. 

6. It is a safe and politically stable country

The country is very safe, and the people are friendly. There are only two million people in the whole country, and 40% of all reported crime occurs in the capital city of Windhoek. We never once felt unsafe.   

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Ruth, visiting with the locals. 

7. The wildlife 

We spent a total of seven days exploring Namibia's Etosha National Park. But even though Etosha is a world class wildlife park, we found that you don't really need to be in a National Park to experience wildlife. Yes, you'll see everything in Etosha...lions, elephants, rhinos. But you'll also see animals simply wandering near the side of the road outside of parks. The Caprivi region of Namibia gave us our best animal viewing outside of Etosha. Plan on at least four days to properly explore Etosha National Park.  

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Animals of Etosha National Park. 

8. The different cultures 

Namibia has people who you will not find anywhere else in the world. People who continue living with ancient traditions and lifestyles without the pressures and conveniences experienced in most of the world. One of the highlights of our trip was the couple of hours we spent with the Himba people in the northwestern region of the country.  

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Himba women. 

8. Hiking 

Probably not known by many, but Namibia has a lot of premier hiking trails. November and December aren't really the best time of year to hike in Namibia because it's summer and it's often too hot to go hiking. The best time of year to visit for that type of outdoor activity is from April through October. Fish River Canyon offers the most well known hiking opportunity, a five day excursion along the riverbed at the bottom of the canyon.   

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Kevin, at Fish River Canyon

9. Namibia is still relatively unknown 

One of the main reasons we wanted to go there! We like going to places that are a little more off the beaten path when it comes to tourism, and we're glad that we came to a place that is really only just starting out in the tourism world when you compare it to most other countries.  

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The ghost town of Kolmanskop. 

10. Namibia has the best beer in Africa! 

Of course the most important reason to visit any country is the quality of it's beer! Namibian beer is brewed to the highest German standards and Namibians are passionate about their beer!  

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Namibian beers are very good.

If you want to read more about some of Kevin and Ruth's other globe trotting adventures then head on over to their blog by clicking here.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest so that you can keep track of any news or competitions and you too could find yourself on the African adventure of a life time.

                                  

Flying over Namibia's Skeleton Coast

  
  

The Skeleton Coast is one of Namibia’s most remote locations. It is also one of the most beautiful and unique places in the world. This blog post will give you everything you need to know about going on a once in a lifetime flying safari to this isolated paradise.  

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Flying high above the dunes
(Image courtesy of Natural High Safaris)  

The Skeleton Coast can be difficult to get by land, as much of it is restricted and vehicles are simply not allowed in. But by plane, exploring this area is a cinch! There are several different ‘fly-in’ options for the traveler who wants to explore from the skies, with a variety of operators offering packages that range from scenic day flights to four-day flying tours.

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Get a unique view of the icnonic Sossusvlei from the skies.
(Image courtesy of Expert Africa)

Skeleton Coast Safaris

One such operator who organizes three-day safaris is the Schoeman family who run Skeleton Coast Safaris. It is a small family business that specialises in taking small groups of visitors (no more than eight) into Namibia’s desolate and beautiful Skeleton Coast.

The Schoeman’s run three camps which guests are ferried to and from in light aircraft. At each camp unique and beautiful flora, fauna, geology and shipwrecks can be found and explored making this experience definitely one for the bucket list. 


(Video courtesy of Expert Africa)    

Three nights, three camps

The three night tour usually follows the same schedule but nothing is set in stone when you get to places this remote. Each night you will be in a different location, and each of the camps you visit has its own distinct appeal.  

There is the Kuidas Camp, with its shipwrecks, amazing birdlife and astonishing stargazing opportunities in the evening. These attractions make the Kuidas Camp is the perfect way to kick-off your three day fly-in safari of the Skeleton Coast.  

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The camp is lush and yet the surrounds are stark.
(Image courtesy of Expert Africa)    

On your second night you will be stopping at the Leylandsdrift Camp which is situated near a natural spring. The camp borders the Skeleton Coast National Park and getting to this camp may juat be the highlight of your day as you will do several low sweeps of the surrounding area. Flying above this astonishing landscape will give you a once in a life time opportunity to take in one of Namibia’s most beautiful areas from a unique perspective.

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Isolated and beautiful, the desert dunes of Namibia's West coast.
(Image courtesy of Expert Africa)

Once you touch down at Leylandsdrift Camp you can go tracking desert adapted elephants (read more about these amazing creatures here) and visit the nearby Himba settlement where you can learn about one Namibia’s indigenous cultures.  

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A Himba woman.
(Image courtesy of Expert Africa)    

The Kunene River Camp is most often the last port of call for adventurers on the three day Skeleton Coast Safari. To get to this camp you will fly North from the Leylandsdrift Camp over seal colonies and more beautiful rolling desert. Once at the camp you will be treated to an open air 4x4 safari that will take you to the border between Namibia and Angola.  

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The Kunene River camp looks over the mighty river.
(Image courtesy of Expert Africa)

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Mountains and dunes meet on the plains near the camp.
(Image courtesy of Expert Africa)  

When you visit this camp, and during your journey to the campsite, keep an eye out for Namibia’s ‘fairy circles’. Seeing these geological wonders in the stirring mountainous region is truly unforgettable.  

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4x4 tours are all part of the unforgettable experience.
(Image courtesy of Expert Africa)  

Obviously a tour like this is an absolutely amazing experience which is incomparable to anything else you can do in any other country, but don’t just take our word for it: Read what people who have been on the tour think about it over here.  

Other operators

If a multiple day flying safari sounds a bit too hectic then why not hop on a scenic flight instead and get to witness Namibia unfold below you as you take a low-level flight over its dunes and landscapes. Here are just some of the companies in Namibia who offer scenic flights and flying safaris:

 

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One of the Skeleton Coast's many shipwrecks, seen from above.
(Image courtesy of the Namibian)  

One piece of advice

If you plan on visiting the Skeleton Coast remember that it is always wise to bring clothes that are good for both extremes of temperature that you will be exposed to in the region. During the day it can be extremely hot, while during the evening it can get bitterly cold- so make sure you bring shorts, t-shirts, long pants and sweaters.  

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Dunes and airplanes- a match made in Namibia.
(Image courtesy of the Namibian)

Go Big Namibia Day 5: Big Culture

  
  
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Emeritta Lillo is on the road with the #GoBigNamibia tour. Each day she'll be sharing their adventures, so stay tuned for some handy travel tips and inspiration. Follow the team on Twitter @NamibiaHorizons #GoBigNamibia and Facebook for a chance to win

This morning we said goodbye to Etosha and headed SouthWest towards the Khoadi/ Hoas Conservancy, one of the oldest conservancies in Namibia.

Around noon we arrived at Grootberg Lodgethe only lodge in Namibia owned 100% by the community. The lodge is perched on the rim of the breathtaking Etendeka Plateau, overlooking the Klip River Valley. I think this view is in contention for the most stunning view in all of Namibia.

After lunch we met our guide, Martin, who took us to visit the Himba - the last semi-nomadic tribe in Africa. It took us about 2 hours to reach the Himba village, which lies at the end of an oasis lined with green makalani palms. It was a stark contrast to the barren and rocky landscape that we have been driving through all day!

They greeted us warmly and we all met each other shaking hands and repeating one another’s names. Marianna, an 18 year old Himba woman, showed us how they rub ochre on their body and how they burn special herbs as a perfume. We were able to buy some traditional jewelry from them and before we left they treated us to a traditional dance. Ees, of course, joined in.

 

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Spectacular views from Grootberg Lodge

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Makalani palm trees line the way to the Himba village

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Marianne, our Himba acquaintance

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Himba women's hairstyles reflect their age and social status

(read more interesting facts about the Himba here

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The red ochre they smear on their skin is said to be one of the secrets to their beauty

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I got to experience it first hand

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There were plenty of Himba children playing in the village - and with our Go Biggers...

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Fascinated by the Himba? Read more about them here:

In search of the Himba in Namibia

Fast Facts: The Himba of Namibia

Desert Perfume - Beauty Secrets of the Himba

 

Follow Emeritta and her fellow adventurers on their #GoBigNamibia tour

   

Desert Perfume - Beauty Secrets of the Himba

  
  

For many visitors to Namibia, its vast desert landscape is the subject of striking photos, a backdrop for wildlife watching, a giant playground for off-roading, sandboarding and trekking. But for those who have lived here for centuries, the desert is their larder, their hardware store, their pharmacy… and even their cosmetics counter.

Strewn throughout the arid terrain are valuable plants which produce scented resins, moisturising oils and soothing balms. Himba women – widely regarded for their beauty and incredible hairstyles and body adornments – favour a myrrh resin from the commiphora plant, which they call omumbiri. The resin is gathered during the dry season, mixed with red ochre and animal fat, and stored in small containers made of cow horn. The women rub this paste into their bodies, giving them their characteristic red skin, and the rich, warm aroma of myrrh.

Himba woman covered in ochre

The Himba women stain their skin with the red paste, scented with myrrh, Photo by Mikael Castro

But now the secrets of the Himba perfume are being shared with the world. The Namibian Essential Oil Challenge competition was launched in order to encourage Namibians to create cosmetic products from omumbiri. Working with communities including the Himba, who know how to harvest the resin sustainably, the innovative participants produced an enormous range of products just from this one essential oil, including lip balm, soap, body scrubs, skin oils, body butters, incense and air fresheners.

In order to bring these delicious smelling products to a wider audience, a small factory has been opened in Opuwo, Kunene, to extract the myrrh oil. A visitor’s centre is also under construction, which will educate visitors about the harvesting and extraction process and offer a tour of the factory. There will also be a shop selling cosmetics, oils, incense and soaps produced by Namibian artisans.

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A Himba woman grinds ochre to make the traditional perfumed red paste, Photo by Mikael Castro

The project continues to monitor the harvesting process to ensure that it is being carried out sustainably and that the plants are not being over-exploited. At the same time, the income supports local communities who have little other means of income generation, and encourages them to manage their natural resources and environment so that harvesting can continue into the future.

More cosmetics to sample in Namibia

  • !Nara seed oil: The !Nara melon is harvested as a valuable food source by the Topnaar people living along the Kuiseb River. The seeds of the melon are pressed to extract the rich oils – which have been used for centuries by these desert-dwellers to protect their skin against the harsh, arid climate. !Nara oil is now available in various products such as soaps, creams and skin peels – so you too can benefit from the ancient moisturising secrets of the Topnaars!

  • Baobab oil: This characteristic African tree is more than just a pretty sight – the oil extracted from its seeds is rich in vitamins and extremely moisturising. It is also used to treat mild skin complaints, and some women in Africa may use it to treat their hair.

 

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!Nara seed oil products on sale in Swakopmund

Further information

  • The competition was organized with financial support from the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA-Namibia) and the Natural Resources Institute at the University of Greenwich.

  • The winning products – Sophia Snyman’s “Desert Secret” and Tamarind Nott’s  - ‘Rare Scent” will be handed out to delegates during the 2013 Adventure Travel World Summit, held in October in Namibia.

  • Shop for Namibian essential oil and resin products in Windhoek’s Craft Centre and Maerua Mall, and Swakopmund’s Kubatsirana Arts and Crafts Shop.

Fast Facts: The Himba of Namibia

  
  

Tall and slender, the proud yet friendly Himba are noted for their unusual sculptural beauty, enhanced by intricate hairstyles and decorations. Their skins rubbed with red ochre, they seem to be forgotten by the rest of the world, but this is only as a result of their extreme isolation and conservative way of life. Find out more about this ancient tribe.

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Photo by Mikael Castro

Fast facts

  • The Himba (singular: Omuhimba, plura: Ovahimba) are an ancient tribe in Namibia, closely related to the Herero (read more about the Herero here)

  • Language: Otjihimba, a dialect of the Herero language

  • Population: about 20,000 to 50,000 people

  • They are a semi-nomadic, pastoral people who breed cattle and goats.

  • Women tend to perform more labor-intensive work than men do, such as carrying water to the village, building homes and milking cows. Men handle the political tasks and legal trials.

  • Their homes are simple, cone-shaped structures of saplings, bound together with palm leaves, mud and dung

  • In the Himba culture a sign of wealth is not the beauty or quality of a tombstone, but rather the cattle you had owned during your lifetime, represented by the horns on your grave.

  • The Himba have been plagued by severe droughts, guerrilla warfare (during Namibian independence and the Angolan civil war) and the German forces that decimated other groups in Namibia. Despite Himba life nearly coming to a close in the 1980s, they have persevered and their people, culture and tradition remain

  • The women are famous for rubbing their bodies with otjize, a mixture of butter fat and ochre, believed to protect their skins against the harsh climate. The red mixture is said to symbolize earth's rich red color and the blood that symbolizes life.

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Photo by Mikael Castro

Religion and beliefs

  • The Himba worship their ancestors and the god Mukuru. Often, because Mukuru is busy in a distant realm, the ancestors act as Mukuru's representatives.

  • Their homes surround an okuruwo (ancestral fire) and their livestock, both closely tied to their belief in ancestor worship. The fire represents ancestral protection and the livestock allows for proper relations between human and ancestor.

  • Each family has its own ancestral fire, which is kept by the fire-keeper, who attends to the ancestral fire every seven to eight days in order to communicate with Mukuru and the ancestors on behalf of the family.

Hairstyles of the Himba

  • Hairstyles indicate age and social status.

  • A young girl typically has two plaits (ozondato) of braided hair, the form being determined by the oruzo membership (patrilineal descent group).

  • Just before puberty, the girls wear long plaitlets worn loose around the head – it can take on various forms and sometimes wigs are worn over it.

  • When the girls have completed their puberty ceremony, the so-called ekori festival takes place and she receives the ekori headdress made from tanned sheep’s or goatskin with three leaf-shaped points, often decorated with iron beads.

  • Girls belonging to some groups have their hair shaved off except for a small bush on top of the head. The shaved-off hair is then used to make plaits, which are woven into the remaining hair and hang down over the face.

  • When she has been married for about a year or has had a child, the ekori head-dress is replaced by the erembe headdress made from the skin of a goat’s head and fastened under the hair at the back of the head by two thongs. From then on the ekori is worn only during ceremonial occasions.

  • Himba males also wear different hairstyles, such as the single plait, the ondato, worn by young boys down the back of the head, two plaits, ozondato, worn by Himba men of marriageable age and the ombwiya headdress, a scarf made from fabric covering the hair and decorated with an ornamental band.

     

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Photo by Mikael Castro

Traditional Jewelry

  • The Himba still adorn themselves with traditional jewelry according to ancient customs.

  • Both men and women wear large numbers of necklaces, arm bracelets, sometimes almost like sleeves, made from ostrich eggshell beads, grass, cloth and copper and weighing as much as 40 kg, as well as bracelets around the legs. Iron oxide powder with its shiny effect is worn as a cosmetic like western glitter.

  • Adult women wear beaded anklets, aparently to protect their legs from venomous animal bites

  • The large white shell worn on the breast by Himba (as well as Owambo and Herero women) is called the ohumba.

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Photo by Mikael Castro

 

Some other useful links and information  

  • Read about the tradition and development of a Himba funeral here on Travel News Namibia

  • Tired of being filmed by the cameras of the world, and often being misrepresented, twenty OvaHimba people of Namibia decided to step behind and in front of the camera to make a film about themselves: The Himbas are Shooting!  Read more about it here. Watch the trailor on Facebook here.

  • If you want to visit the Himba find out where they are and how to organise a visit here

 

Text has been sourced from Namibia TourismWikipedia and Travel News Namibia  

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In search of the Himba in Namibia

  
  

The Himba are an ancient tribe, living in the north-west region of Namibia. The north-west is a remote corner of the country that few tourists visit, leaving it relatively unexplored and perfect for the adventurous traveller. However, this remoteness and the large distances involved make it quite tricky to get to. We've put together some information and some operators to can help you organise the ultimate cultural encounter with the Himba people...

Sussan Mourad from World Nomads had the privilege of meeting the Himba - watch the video for more on her story. Want to see more of Sussan's experience with the Himba tribe in Namibia? Check out her beautiful photo essay on Fotopedia. Note: Being invited into a Himba village and being dressed like a Himba woman is not a common occurance in Namibia and certainly is not a tourist attraction.

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Where to find the Himba  

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The Himba inhabit the Kunene Region (also known as Kaokoland) in the north-west of Namibia - a region that has a population density of only one person to every two square kilometers!

Namibia’s northwestern region extends from the Kunene River on the Angola border down to the Ugab River, the southern border of the Skeleton Coast Park. The park is a massive wilderness reserve known for its untouched and diverse landscape, much of which is inaccessible, saved for fly-in safaris. Damaraland and Kaokoveld demand a certain level of respect. Occupying a huge, harsh stretch of landscape to the northwest of the country, even the people and wildlife have adapted accordingly.  

Other attractions in this region include the desert-adapted elephants of Kaokoland, Epupa Falls, the rock engravings of Twyfelfontein, the Petrified Forest, Brandberg (Burnt Mountain) and much more. 

The entire region is vastly scenic, a huge, untamed, ruggedly beautiful country that offers a more adventurous challenge.

 

How to get there  

Himba, Namibia

The most cost-effective way to visit the Himba is to do a self-drive trip to Kaokoland – you could include the Epupa and Ruacana Falls on the Kunene River, and stay well clear of the main tourist routes. Although, you will need to be prepared to do a lot of driving!  

The other option is to take a chartered flight up north from Swakopmund - a scenic and very beautiful flight. These fly-In safaris are an option for travellers with a flexible budget and limited time in Namibia. Small private charter flights can be arranged to all points within the country, including many of the smaller lodges and guest farms.  

The companies below offer personalised fly-in safaris. Click on the links to visit their website and find out more about their trips to the Himba:

For more information on getting to and around Namibia, read here

 

Himba tours in Namibia  

Visiting the Himba is possible through a number of tours, but this should be undertaken with sensitivity and respect for their traditions and lifestyle. Below are a list of some tour operators and lodges that offer cultural encounters with the Himba.

Community Conservation Sites in Puros  

Namibia was the first country in the world to specifically address habitat conservation and the protection of natural resources in its constitution. This led to the Government of Namibia giving its communities the opportunity and rights to establish communal conservancies, manage their wildlife and other natural resources, and share the related benefits. Namibia’s Community Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM) Programme is a globally recognized model for achieving community benefit at scale while supporting rural development and environmental conservation at the same time.

Some 29 joint-venture lodges and campsites operate in partnership with more than 30 Communal Conservancies. They provide travelers with a range of options—from luxurious eco-lodges to more rustic tent camps. This in turn provides adjacent communities with more than 1000 jobs and a secure source of revenue. Here are some of the Community Conservation initiatives from the Puros region that afford travellers the chance to encounter the Himba community:

  • Kunene CS

  • Okahirongo Elephant Lodge

  • Skeleton Coast Camp

  • Puros Camp

  • Puros Campsite

  • Puros Bush Lodge

  • Puros Traditional Village

Find out more about these sites and their Himba tours here        

Serra Cafema

Serra Cafema is located on the banks of the Kunene River in the Hartmann Valley. Undoubtedly amongst the most remote camps in Southern Africa, Serra Cafema is only reachable by a three hour light aircraft trip from Windhoek. The land on which Serra Cafema is constructed is leased from the 300 000-hectare Marienfluss Conservancy which is comprised primarily of the Himba people. During your stay at this stunning property, you can visit a working Himba village, should the nomadic people be in the area.

MOWPAN  

A specialist in cultural exchanges and immersion into the wild with minimum environmental impact, MOWPAN supports the communal Conservancies system. MOWPAN offer an 11 day itinerary ‘Wildlife in Himba Country’ where you will not only meet local Himba communities, but also track black rhino on foot, visit the Marienfluss valley and Kunene river, safari along the Namib desert of the Skeleton Coast, look for desert elephants and lions along the Huab river and visit thousand year old San rock engravings.

For more information email MOWPAN on this address.

Opuwo Country Lodge  

Opuwo Country Hotel offer a 3 hour guided excursion to traditional Ovahimba villages to experience their culture and traditions. There is also the option of a sefl-drive excursion to Uukwaluudhi Reserve, an Epupa Falls Excursion to Chief Kapika's Village, or a fly-in charter. Their Himba guides escort guests on a tour and translate any comments or questions the Himbas and visitors might have for each other. The Opuwo Country Hotel is situated on a hilltop facing northwest with breath-taking views overlooking a valley with magnificent sunsets and 360° view of the surrounding area.  

Find out more information here

Epupa Camp  

With its waving palms, spectacular sunsets and perennially flowing waters, the Epupa area offers much to see, experience and do. Apart from visiting the Himba, there are several hiking trails that provide wonderful photographic opportunities of the spectacular views from the Epupa Falls and Kunene River. Birdlife in this riverine paradise is rich and varied with some endemic species to the Kunene River environs. Epupa Camp consists of nine luxury safari-style tents, all with en-suite bathrooms. Daily tariffs include accommodation, three excellent meals and a guided visit to a Himba village. Epupa Camp also offers rafting trips on the Kunene River.  

Find out more information here  

Okahirongo River Camp  

Okahirongo River Camp is an eco-friendly lodge built on a sweeping ridge and opening up to breathtaking views of the Kunene River, in the Marienfluss valley.  The central area, constructed above the rapids, comprises two lounges, a library and dining room, decked out in African elegance. The turquoise waters of the swimming pool spell out refreshment from the desert heat and the spacious sundeck invites sunbathing or simply delighting in the exotic grandeur of the natural surroundings. Cleverly built into the rocky terrain, the four luxurious double tents, one twin tent and one family suite are constructed with wood and canvas and each have a magnificent view of their own.   

Find out more information here  

Ondjamba Safaris Namibia

Ondjama offers tailormade safaris to remote parts of Kaokoland & Damaraland. Combine your visit to the Himba with guided self-drives, and search for the Desert Four: Elephant, Lion, Rhino & Giraffe.  

Find out more information here  

Charly's Desert Tours  

Charly’s Desert Tours offers round trips, guided and self drive tours in Namibia and the neighbor countries. Classical tours or tailor made – jut let us know what you prefer. We take our guests to the Himba and Bushmen, to the great Namib Desert with the highest dunes, and the Etosha National Park, to the moon landscape and the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. Around Swakopmund and Walvis Bay we organize lots of activities such as kayaking, dolphin cruise, fishing, paragliding, scenic flights, sand boarding and quod biking. Our half and full day tours include living desert and Welwitschia drives as well as mineral excursions, trips to Cape Cross, Spitzkoppe and Brandberg. Traveling with Charly’s Desert Tours means taking unforgettable impressions home.

Find out more information here

Kayaking on the Kunene  

Why not experience the peace of the Himba from the calm of the Kunene river? A10-day Felix Unite Rio Kunene Safari runs just once or twice a year. Experience the water and surrounding environment, combined with the excitement of river rafting.  

Find out more information here.  

Country Walkers  

The Country Walkers itinerary takes you west to the market town of Kamanjab before heading south into the heart of Damaraland. Extraordinary displays of natural color, magnificent tabletop mountains, rock formations and vizarre looking vegetation await. Formed by ages of wind, water and geological forces, the landscape fills the eye with rolling hills, dunes, gravel plains and ancient river terraces. The astounding variety, loneliness and visual splendor convey and authentic wilderness experience. En route to camp, your guide will track ancient pathways to bring you into a local Himba settlement. During your interactive visit, learn about the customs and beliefs that drive their way of life.  

Find more information here

 

Some other useful links and information  

  • Remember to show respect for local people when on a community tour. Request permission before taking photographs, and if photographing the Himba, it is appropriate to pay a small fee in exchange for the photo. Download our Photography Tips Travel Guide for more information.

  • Find out more about Himba culture and beliefs before you travel. Read about the Himba here

  • Still got a question? Ask a travel specialist

Experience Namibia's Cultural Diversity with Community Tourism

  
  

Namibia is a fascinating cultural melting-pot, combining early African populations with a wide array of western explorers.

Himba CultureSince gaining independence in 1990, Namibians have worked on mending Apartheid-era wounds, and today they are celebrating their rich heritage.

Namibia's colourful African vigour infuses old Europe into a distinctive Namibian spirit, creating unique architecture, food, customs and art. What has emerged is a true sense of unity in diversity – the coming together of 13 ethnic groups, each celebrating their past while working together toward the future. There is a powerful bond uniting rural and urban, farmers and professionals. While each of these groups has its own rich cultural heritage, they all share one thing in common…they are Namibian and proud of it.

This harmony exists through a shared history, expressed through a common sense of hospitality. The open, welcoming people of Namibia provide guests to the country with the opportunity to experience these customs and traditions first-hand, and visitors to Namibia are likely to experience an authentic way of life. Local tour operators have taken care to develop itineraries which includes visits to communities in rural areas where villagers eagerly share their everyday lives, from the Herero women who wear distinctive Victorian-style dresses and horn shaped hats, to the semi-nomadic Himba whose women wear intricate hairstyles and ornamental jewellery artfully crafted from shells and metals. Listen to the Nama or the Damara whose complex languages feature intriguing clicking sounds. Visit the San people who are among the last hunter gatherer communities on Earth and have been able to preserve much of their ancient culture.

San CultureCommunity based tourism options are a large part of what makes a visit to Namibia so distinctive, providing an enriching and engaging opportunity for both the traveller and the local communities to get to discover each other. At the same time, such activities generate real social and economic benefits to the empowered communities, and ultimately provide a more authentic Namibian experience to the visitors. Community campsites provide a base from which to enjoy and explore the highlights of the country and magnificent scenery, while offering opportunities to truly delve into what makes Namibia so unique, its people, its local feasts and customs, and, perhaps make a few new friends.

Come discover what makes us so proud to be Namibian – and allow us to share our Namibia with you! 

8 Things Namibia Taught Me

  
  

Namibia is a land of adventure and spectacle. Amazing natural parks, free-roaming wildlife, and iconic open spaces can inspire anyone. WWF Travel's Director Elissa Leibowitz Poma recently joined WWF's Chris Weaver in Namibia and came back with a few lessons that she originally posted on the WWF Travel Blog:

1. Black rhinos have a more sensitive disposition than white rhinos. Among several reasons why, according to Jeff Muntifering of the Save the Rhino Trust in Namibia, is the fear of being hunted. White and black rhinos alike have been poached for decades, but black rhinos, which are more solitary than white rhinos, appear to have passed along knowledge of that practice in their genetic code as a survival mechanism.

2. The San click languages spoken by some bushmen is quite difficult to pronounce. A language originating with the hunter-gatherers of southern Africa as they traversed their ancestral lands, the languages and various dialects are still spoken by about 100,000 people in Namibia and Botswana (and small groups in Angola, Zambia and Zimbabwe). The one I tried learning consists of four click styles, depending on the placement of your tongue in your mouth. The clicks themselves weren’t so hard to form, but connecting them to words twisted my tongue in knots! (See a pronunciation guide to practice.)

3. Giraffes are the best models in Namibia. You could be driving along a road, nothing around you but sand and rocks, and then all of a sudden a giraffe neck and head pops out from behind a grove of trees. The giraffe would hold your gaze, nibbling on some leaves but intently watching you from beneath impossibly long eyelashes. (They’re that long for a purpose, by the way: To keep insects, debris and sunlight out of their eyes.)

4. There must be a better word to describe a springbok’s leap than “pronk.”Springboks and other gazelles exhibit this behavior when they’re being pursued by prey or otherwise feel a need to get out quickly. It’s an elegant, ballet-like move that allows the springbok to gain extra distance, and surely the motion deserves a more elegant, ballet-like word.

5. You must succumb to the dust. Namibia is a desert. It’s hot, it’s dry - Arizona seems like a rain forest in comparison. So you must accept the fact that the dust will coat every inch of you - covering every centimeter of your skin and clothes, coating each strand of hair, lining the inside of your nose. Instead of resisting it, I  embraced it. It made me feel like a part of the magnificent, stark landscape.

6. It’s hard to eat game after watching it all day. Game meat is a way of life in Africa, and ostrich, zebra, kudu and other mammals frequently show up on menus. I recognize the realities of the world, and I’m not a vegetarian in “real life.” But for me, there was something quite difficult about watching dapper oryx walk across the valleys all afternoon, then mustering any desire to eat a steak of it for dinner. I was surprised by my reaction, actually. I stuck with pasta and veggies.

Ochre body paint made by Himba

7. The adornments that Himba women wear all have practical purposes.The Himba are a semi-nomadic group in the Kunene region of northern Namibia who have maintained a traditional tribal lifestyle. The women we met in a small village were coated head to toe in otijze, a paste made of butter, ash and the natural pigment ochre. The coating gives them a rust-colored, shiny glaze, which not only beautifies them in the Himba way (the rich red color symbolizes blood and life), but also provides sun protection. Likewise, women wear beaded anklets, to prevent snake bites.

8. I have a new appreciation for asphalt. After spending hours each day in a vehicle bumping along dry riverbeds, rock-strewn trails and paths formed by elephants, I hereby declare I will never complain again about potholes in Washington, D.C.

To learn more about how you can have an experience like Elissa's in Namibia's Conservancies, click here

10 Tips for Photographing Local Cultures

  
  

A highlight of any visit to Namibia is meeting the local people whose culture may be vastly different to your own, but whose warmth makes you feel quite at home. However, photographing local people is a delicate thing, and we want to offer ten quick tips to properly prepare you.

  • It is illegal to take photos of men and women in uniform, except when they are performing in a public parade or similar. Taking a picture of a police officer on duty is thus out of the question.

  • Ask your guide to break the ice. If you’re planning to take photos of people in their private surroundings, it is always best to have a local guide to take you around, converse with the people and overcome the barrier of photographer versus subject.

  • Always ask before you photograph someone. Not everybody likes to have his or her picture taken, so to avoid conflict, ask first. When in a crowd, it is easy to take a photo of someone with them not noticing, but in less populated areas, it's insensitive to just snap away.

  • Some people will expect payment for having their photo taken. This includes the Himba and Herero who still dress traditionally. They spend a lot of time and effort on their appearance and if you “steal” their image without payment it may land you in a bad position. Best is to agree on a price before you take the photo.

  • Young children are often fond of being photographed, but it’s always best to ask a guardian or parent first. Taking photographs of children without permission from their parents might land you in big trouble.

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  • Older people might be more hesitant to have their photo taken. Once again, friendliness and patience will get you far. If the subject seems unwilling, have a chat with him or her, maybe show him some of your other photos, let them warm up to you, and then ask again.
  • If you take a photograph of someone, show it to him or her afterwards (when shooting digitally). Many people don’t own cameras and is amazed by the possibilities of technology. This gesture will also make them warm up to you, which might result in you getting an even greater photograph.

  • If possible, send a printed copy of the photo to the subject. Those who live in rural areas without camera equipment will really appreciate it. But don’t make empty promises. If you’re not sure if you’ll ever get to send the photo, rather not make the promise.

  • When taking photos at a cultural village, at a cultural performance, or on a pre-arranged photographic tour, it is not necessary to ask for permission. To be on the safe side, check with your guide or local companion first.

  • When on an organized tour, many photo opportunities have been pre-arranged, making it easy for you to just snap away and leave the formalities to your guide. Ask your guide about this if you’re not sure.

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