A visit to Himba village is a must for anyone interested in culture. These people still live very much as their forebears have, forging an existence in the harsh environment of Kunene (formerly called Kaokoland). They are pastoral nomads, whose livelihood is based on cattle herding, hunting and gathering, and who need to move seasonally to find grazing land. Their villages consist of simple huts formed of branches, mud and cow dung with thatched roofs.
Men, women and children rub a dark red paste called otjize, a mixture of cattle fat, ash and ochre, into their skin to protect them from the sun. This gives them their distinctive red colour, which is considered highly desirable within the Himba community. Their clothes are made from goat skin, and women have long braided hair, coated with otjize, worked into elaborate styles, and wear jewellery – necklets, anklets and bracelets - formed from iron, copper and shells.
A visit usually lasts a couple of hours and is led by a local guide who also acts as interpreter, allowing you to talk to various members of the community and learn about their day-to-day lives, traditions, beliefs and customs. It’s a fascinating glimpse into a way of life that is so far removed from our own.
where to go
The Himba people, also called the OvaHimba, live in the Kunene region of northern Namibia, which was previously known as Kaokoland.
when to go
Visits to Himba villages can be made year round, but do depend on their location, as they are nomadic so may not be always be in close proximity to where you are staying.
how to do it
Many camps and lodges in this area can arrange visits to Himba settlements. These include Serra Cafema Camp, Kunene River Camp, Epupa Camp, Grootberg Lodge and Opuwo Country Lodge.