In the remote north western reaches of Namibia one finds the nomadic Himba. Perhaps one of the last true tribes in Africa, the Himba walk a fine line between ancient traditions and the onslaught of the 21st century. They cling desperately to their traditions and beliefs. The Himba are a semi-nomadic group of pastoralists whose very existence, dress and beliefs are dictated by traditions. They are tall, slender and statuesque people, characterised by their proud bearing. Their dress and elaborate hairstyles indicate their position and social status within their community.
Walking great distances in search of grazing for their herds of long-horned cattle and feisty goats, the young men are often away from their villages for weeks at a time. In times of drought the whole family will close up their simple, cone-shaped homes and move to seek better pastures. Men, woman and children adorn themselves with necklaces, bracelets, anklets and belts made from iron and beads.
Scattered across the great expanse of Kaokoland the Himba seem as ageless as their land which stretches from rugged mountains across sandy plains to the great Kunene River where it plunges over the breath-taking Epupa Falls.
Upon your arrival at the international airport you will be met by your guide who will give you more information about the tour. Thereafter you will proceed to the coastal town of Swakopmund, where you will spend the night.
Swakopmund, German for Mouth of the Swakop, is a city on the coast of north-western Namibia, 280 km west of Windhoek, Namibia’s capital. It is the capital of the Erongo administrative district. As a seaside resort, the weather is cooler here in December to January (Namibia’s summer months) so the territorial administration moves to Swakopmund for these months.
Germany’s annexation of the territory of Deutsch-Südwest-Afrika became reality in August 1884 when the German flag and wooden notice boards were planted at various points along the south-west African coast proclaiming the protection of the Reich and supplanting after 400 years Portugal’s claims to sovereignty over the territory. There was only one really viable natural harbour along the coast, namely Walvis Bay, but it was still in British hands. The new German colony’s need for a port of its own led to the founding of Swakopmund in 1892 and it was served as the territory’s main harbour for many years.
Today this quaint desert town, hedged by desert and sea, is enhanced by lush green lawns, palm trees and carefully tended public gardens. It has a wide choice of hotels, pensions and restaurants, and several coffee shops. The coast with its desert hinterland offers many options, both for adventure and for relaxation. Swakopmund is much loved by Namibians as a welcome respite from the heat of the interior. It is also popular amongst visitors because of its old-world charm and relaxed atmosphere. You can take part in optional activities that Swakopmund and the surrounding area has to offer, ranging from dolphin cruises, sand boarding, kayaking, paragliding, quad biking and much more.
The morning after breakfast you will travel further north, along huge lichen fields to Cape Cross, a seal reserve where at times over 80 000 animals frolic in the waves of the Atlantic. Thereafter you will continue via the Brandberg, Namibia’s highest mountain, into Damaraland. Damaraland is one of the most scenic areas in Namibia, a huge, untamed, ruggedly beautiful region that offers travellers a more adventurous challenge. Here there are prehistoric water courses with open plains and grasslands, massive granite koppies and deep gorges. Towards the west, the geography changes dramatically with endless sandy wastes, that incredibly sustain small, but wide-ranging populations of desert-adapted Elephant, Black Rhino, Giraffe, Ostrich and Springbok. These animals have adapted their lifestyles to survive the harshness of the sun-blistered, almost waterless desert spaces. Elephant move through euphorbia bush country, and can travel up to 70km in a day in search of food and water and actually do not destroy trees in their quest for food.
Kaokoland in the Kunene region, known as home to the Himba people who have kept their ethnic individuality and culture in the seclusion of Kaokoland and also home to the Desert Elephant as they adapt successfully to life in arid areas.
The Himba people are semi-nomadic people who still live and dress according to ancient customs and traditions, and they trek from one watering place to the next. With the Tjimba and other Herero people who inhabit Kaokoland, the traditional name of Namibia’s remote northern-western Kunene region, they are informally referred to as the Kaokovelders. The Himba live in scattered settlements throughout the region. Their homes are simple coned-shaped structures made of saplings bound together with palm leaves and plastered with mud and dung. The Himba are tall, slender and statuesque people, renowned for their beauty and photogenic qualities.
We visit a Himba village before heading to Ruacana where you will spend the night. Ruacana is a settlement in the Omusati region which is located on the border with Angola on the Kunene River. Ruacana was developed around a major underground hydro electrical plant linked to the nearby dam across the border in Angola in Calueque. The dam and pumping station were bombed in a Cuban airstrike in 1988 during the Angolan civil war. The facilities were repaired by Nampower and they now operate it producing 240 megawatts with three turbines. A few kilometers from the Ruacana town are the Ruacana Waterfalls. The waterfall is 120 meters high and 700 meters wide in full flood.
We visit the Ruacana Falls before proceeding to Oshakati where you will spend the night. Oshakati is a town located in the Oshana Region. It is the regional capital and it was officially founded in July 1966. Oshakati means “which is in between” in Oshiwambo, the language of the Ovambo. The city was used as a base of operation by the South African Defence Force and Namibian war of Independence. Oshakati is considered to be the largest town and capital of the northern area known as Ovamboland.
Today after breakfast you will proceed down to Etosha National Park which is home to 4 of the Big Five (Lion, Elephant, Rhino and Leopard). Etosha National Park is one of Southern Africa’s finest and most important game reserves. Etosha Game Park was declared a national park in 1907 and covers an area of 22,270 square km. It is home to 114 mammal species, 340 bird species, 110 reptile species, 16 amphibian species and surprisingly one species of fish.
Etosha, meaning “Great White Place of Dry Water”, is dominated by a massive mineral pan. The pan is part of the Kalahari Basin, the floor of which was formed around 1000 million years ago. The Etosha Pan covers around 25% of the national park. The pan was originally a lake fed by the Kunene River. However the course of the river changed thousands of years ago and the lake dried up. The pan now is a large dusty depression of salt and dusty clay which fills only during heavy rains and even then only holds water for a short time. This temporary water in the Etosha Pan attracts thousands of wading birds including impressive flocks of flamingos. The perennial springs along the edges of the Etosha Pan draw large concentrations of wildlife and birds.
Today you proceed down south to the Otjiwarongo area, your destination being the Waterberg Plateau Park where you will spend the night. Waterberg was the site of one of the major turning points in Namibia’s history. It was here on the foothills that the Herero people lost their last and greatest battle against the German Colonial forces at the beginning of the century. The Herero were forced to retreat from the Waterberg and headed eastward to British Bechuanaland (now Botswana). Thousands were killed by the Germans and many lost their lives due to lack of food and water. Estimates are that nearly two thirds of the Herero population lost their lives during this period. The graves of German soldiers who lost their lives at Waterberg can still be viewed near the Waterberg Rest Camp.
This morning after breakfast you will proceed back to Windhoek where you will be dropped off at the airport for your departure flight or at the accommodation of your choice.