Namibia is a relatively young country that gained its independence in 1990. Its area is close to319,000 sq miles but with a population of less than 3 million it is an arid mostly empty land. Most of its area is desert and it is possible to drive hundreds of miles on dirt roads without seeing additional vehicles. Animals, on the other hand, cross these paths unexpectedly so people are not the only ones out there.
The diversity of the desert landscape is fascinating almost as much as meeting the diverse minorities scattered through the country’s various region. Namibia also offers multiple nature reserves with many varied animals. Namibia also has an extremely long shoreline with unique dunes surrounding it.
We started our trip by visiting the Okavango delta that limits visitors based on eco tourism limits. The tour of the delta takes place in traditional canoes with one person standing on the canoe, and propelling it using a long pole.
The waterways are actually hippopotamus trails. It is highly advisable to avoid encountering this “cute animal” as Hippos are highly territorial animals and lead in the number of human lives lost.
Only after swimming in the cool water did we understand that our tour guide insisted on an open area for our swim, clean of vegetation so that he may look out for stray crocodiles may want to join our party.
Next we visited Etosha National Park. It offers a huge variety of animals. You’re allowed to choose which watering hole to visit and watch the movement of the varied animals. Of course, safety rules must be maintained to keep both the visitors and the animals safe. At night, it is possible to move only on a guided safari and the escort illuminates the animals with special red lights so as not to interfere with the night routine.
In the accommodation areas, there are views of the watering holes where the animals usually congregate.
Animals always have the right of way on the road- so be careful.
OPUWO is the main town of the KAOKOLAND region in northern Namibia. Two very unique minorities live in this area – HIMBA and HERERO. We were joined by a guide from the Himba tribe.
Women from the Himba tribe in the county town. Tribal people become a photo bonanza for most tourist which is why we traveled to the villages to view authentic tribal life.
The Himba women are bare-chested and dressed in goatskins. The Herero women dress in Victorian-style modest dresses covering them from head to toe.
From OPUWO, we set off north with our guide from the Himba tribe to tour some villages in the area.
Before entering the village, our escort must first enter and ask the headman’s permission for our visit. We have brought bags full of staples such as flour and sugar and we lay these at the headman’s feet. Once the approval is given, we are given free reign tovisit the whole village as we wish and even venture into the huts.
We are hosted by the village elders in their hut while the children peek beyond the doorway and block out the only rays of incoming light. Women can sit like this for hours while men prefer the free air.
Himba women apply a mixture of red clay and butter to their skin in order to protect the skin from the sun and the mosquitoes. The shape of their braids also has significance providing meaning of their age and class. Once we leave the hut, we also painted red.
The women usually meet for small talk and childcare and the men discuss village matters separately.
Water wells are extremely important. When one dries up, a new well is dug in another area. The girls draw water from the wells and pass the buckets from hand to hand to provide water to the flock. The hard work is accompanied by singing. Each village in the tribe has its own well.
Small children are responsible for herding the sheep.
CAPE CROSS has tens of thousands of seals, it is a magnificent sight to see them all and hear their voices mingle in the distance.
The road to the dunes area is a wide road running in the middle of desert land with hardly any cars on the road.
The SUSUSVLEI area is the unique red dunes area of Namibia. You can climb the dunes and sink in the soft sand or literally walk on the edge of them. Any light breeze shifts the sand and makes the walk so much more difficult.
Namibia has so much to offer that even a long stay does not do its beauty and diversity justice.
All Photos by: Beni Nissim. All rights reserved.