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.

Namibia tours, tour namibia, africa tours, what is community tourism. Community tourism, tourist attractions Namibia, tours in Namibia, himba people Namibia, visit himba people

 

Where to find the Himba  

Namibia tours, tour namibia, africa tours, what is community tourism. Community tourism, tourist attractions Namibia, tours in Namibia, himba people Namibia, visit himba people

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

    There is no comments yet. Be the first to post a comment!