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The Himba Tribe of Namibia

The Himba Tribe of Namibia

The Himba are a tribe of nomadic pastoralists who inhabit the Kaokoland area of Namibia. The Himba are actually descendants of a group of Herero herders who fled into the remote north-west after been displaced by the Nama.

One of the most fascinating groups of people that call Namibia home is the red clay covered tribes of Himba people. They are most well known for their unusually red pigment that comes from spreading red clay on to their face and hair.

This tradition dates back hundreds of years and is still practiced today. The clay is used as protection from the sun and pests and each application can stay on for weeks. The women of the Himba people also do not wear any clothing on the top of their bodies only the red clay.

Damaraland and Kaokoland are home to the Himba, one of the last truly traditional tribes still seen today in Africa. These friendly people are closely related to the Herero and lead a semi-nomadic life as herdsmen, breeding mainly cattle and goats.

The community invites visitors to learn more about their proud and ancient lifestyle and traditions. You will be able to see their cone-shaped homestead made from palm leaves, mud, and cattle dung and learn more about their unique customs and survival techniques.

Where to find the Himba people in Namibia

You can find Himba people in the North of Namibia, in the Kunene region. The first Ovahimba came here from Angola and spread around Kaokoland (old name of Kunene region). In the XVI century, some groups of Herero people in search of better pasture lands crossed to Namibia. As it often happens after some time due to new environment and living conditions they modified from their origin so far that became a separate group. The name “Ovahimba” in the language of the Ngambwe (another local group) means “beggar” and refers to the difficult times the Himba went through, including severe drought with following massive loss in livestock.

Nowadays there about 50 000 Himba people live in Namibia. Though there are many small Himba villages all over the Kunene region only a few of them still preserve their traditional lifestyle. Most of them are under the strong influence of the modern world mainly in terms of changing their traditional diet and consuming more junk food.

How to get to the Kunene region where the Himba tribe live

This is a remote, desert area of Namibia, encompassing most of its far north-west corner. Although it incorporates parts of the Skeleton Coast, it includes the interior sections of Kaokoveld, Torra, Marienfluss, Twyfelfontein/Damaraland, and Palmwag and the region is located 66 km from the capital Windhoek and using a 4×4 safari vehicle travelers can travel by road or a charter flights can be taken from Windhoek to the Kunene region.

Where to stay while visiting the Himba tribe in Namibia

Some of the best places to stay while visiting the Himba tribe of Namibia include Twyfelfontein country lodge, Kunene river lodge, omuranga lodge and campsite, and Vingerklip lodge

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