Travel Guide

Visiting the Himba tribe in Northern Namibia in 2023

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Throughout our 2-month street journey by Namibia, we had been fortunate sufficient to go to the Himba tribe, an indigenous tribe residing in North-Western Namibia and Southern Angola. The Himba Village was one of many greatest locations in Namibia we visited throughout our street journey. Attending to know indigenous individuals who have been residing within the area for 1000’s of years is an enriching experience that each traveler will profit from. We discovered an genuine Himba Village within the Kunene River area.

A Himba woman in a traditional clothing making a fire
A younger Himba lady making a hearth at Ovahimba Museum in Northern Namibia

Driving from Namibia to Victoria Falls we began seeing small villages consisting of round form huts and other people with purple ochre-colored pores and skin and complicated hairstyles. We had been within the Kunene area and my dream of assembly the Himba folks of Namibia was about to develop into true. We didn’t do any analysis on the place to seek out this pastoral tribe of Northern Namibia we simply determined to comply with the street and see the place it leads us. Driving with none specific plan we noticed an indication subsequent to the street saying Ovahimba Residing Museum and with out pondering twice we adopted it. 

The place to seek out the Himba tribe?

You will discover Himba folks within the North of Namibia, within the Kunene area. Within the 16th century, some teams of the Herero tribe searching for higher pasture lands in Southern Africa crossed to Namibia. The primary folks of the semi-nomadic tribe got here right here from Angola and unfold round Kaokoland (the previous identify of the Kunene area).  As typically occurs after a while as a result of new environments and influences from completely different cultures the tribe’s customs and way of life modified rather a lot and result in the formation of a brand new tribe. 

Himba tribe location map

Kunene region, Northern Namibia. Namibia regional map.
Kunene area, Northern Namibia. Namibia regional map.

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What’s the origin of the tribe?

The identify “Ovahimba” within the language of the Ngambwe (one other indigenous group) means “beggar” and refers back to the tough occasions the members of the Himba tribe went by, together with extreme drought adopted by the large lack of livestock.

These days there are about 50 000 members of the Himba tribe residing in Namibia. Although there are a lot of small Himba villages within the Kunene area just a few of them nonetheless protect their conventional methods of residing. In recent times lots of the tribes are underneath the robust affect of the trendy world primarily when it comes to altering their eating regimen and consuming junk meals.

A goat enclosure at the Himba Village in Namibia
A goat enclosure on the Himba Village in Namibia

When is the very best time to go to Namibia?

Himba Tribe fascinating information

All members of the tribe paint their whole physique with the ochre pigment to maintain it moist, and gentle and to guard it from the solar radiation. The pigment serves as a pure physique lotion/sunscreen in addition to an insect repellent. It’s believed to forestall hair progress. The combination, a mix of butterfat and ochre, known as otjize paste.

Himba folks use solely 4 names to explain completely different colours and shades. They use zuzu for darkish shades of inexperienced, blue, purple, and purple; vapa for white and yellow; buru for some shades of inexperienced and blue; and dambu for some shades of inexperienced, purple, and brown. 

Two young Himba boys in Namibia
Two younger Himba boys on the Ovahimba Residing Museum in Namibia

Himbas’ eating regimen primarily consists of cornmeal porridge, milk, eggs, seasonal fruit/herbs, and occasional meat.

The normal Himba society has a polygamy system. A Himba man can have as much as three wives.

The common life expectancy within the Himba group is 80-85 years, and a few members of the tribe as much as 100 years.

The Himba language is a spoken language solely.

Tribe’s girls don’t wash with cleaning soap and water. For private hygiene, they take a each day smoke bathtub in smoke with many various herbs. 

Most Himba girls nonetheless put on conventional apparel fabricated from animal skins. 

The frilly hairstyles and handmade jewellery play a big position within the tribal construction. They point out an individual’s age and social standing.  

A woman of the Himba tribe washing herself with a traditional smoke bath
A Himba lady taking a smoke bathtub inside a standard hut

Himba faith and believes

Himbas are animists they apply ancestor worship. The supreme god is Makuru. Tribe members talk with their spirits utilizing ancestral fireplace and Makuru who in his flip connects them with the ancestors of the villagers. Makuru doesn’t have any energy to affect one’s life it’s the ancestral spirits that members of the Himba household ask for assist or recommendation.

Himba tribe construction

The Himba is semi-nomadic folks they stay in huge homesteads with their prolonged household. The Himba tribe is a patriarchal clan based mostly on a bilateral descent which implies that every member of the tribe belongs to 2 clans; one on his/her mom’s aspect and one on her/his father’s aspect. The clan is often led by the eldest male. Himba apply polygamy. Himba males have a mean of two wives. A Himba lady has her personal hut the place she lives along with her kids. Preserving shut household ties helps Himba tribes to protect their conventional lifestyle. 

A family with two small children in the Himba Village in Namibia
A Himba household within the village

The peculiar coiffure of the Himba

Distinctive hairstyles have greater than an ornamental objective in Himba tradition. Based mostly on a coiffure of an individual they will say how previous he/she is, what’s her/his social standing, if he/she is married, has kids, and so on. It’s virtually like an ID doc in Western society. For Himba, their hair is an extension of their physique. All Himba tribe members begin their lives with daring heads. 

Younger women and boys have two thick braids on the rear of the pinnacle. Twin girls and boys have solely a single braid every. As a lady reaches puberty her coiffure begins altering first her hair is organized right into a headdress to partially cowl her face. A younger lady who has been married for over a 12 months or has kids wears the Erembe coiffure which consists of many braids typically adorned with an ornate headpiece made o goat hair, jewellery, and so on.

Younger boys proceed to put on a braided hair plait until they get married. A married younger man wears a head wrap with unbraided hair. 

Himba boys develop into younger males once they get married whereas women are thought-about younger girls solely after having a baby. 

A traditional Himba Village in the north of Namibia
A conventional village of a Himba tribe in Namibia

A conventional Himba Village

A conventional Himba hut is sort of fundamental. It has a hearth within the center. Dried cow dung is usually used for making a hearth. Across the fireplace on the bottom, there are a lot of cow skins which can be used for sitting and sleeping on. No beds or mattresses all people together with kids sleeps on these factor cow skins. Males use a wood holder as a pillow. A number of pots and baskets are used for cooking and gathering crops. All their pots, jags, and cups they make themselves from clay or carve out of wooden. Their clothes is self-made as properly. They primarily use cow and goat pores and skin. 

The Sacred Fireplace (Okuruwo) within the centre of the village has specific significance and is a logo of the Himba lifestyle. The fireplace keeper (often the oldest and probably the most revered man of the tribe) takes care of the holy fireplace and makes certain it all the time smolders. It’s the place the place all spiritual rituals happen. The straight line from the chief’s hut previous the sacred fireplace to the cattle enclosure throughout the village borders known as a holy line. It may well’t be crossed by a stranger who hasn’t acquired an invite to go to the village.

Four Himba men around the fire in Namibia
Himba males sitting across the sacred fireplace within the village

Visiting the Himba tribe in Opuwo

The Ovahimba Residing Village Museum is situated 40km north of Opuwo, the closest city, on the way in which to Epupa Falls. It’s an ideal tenting spot and an awesome alternative to fulfill Himba folks and find out about their conventional customs and life-style. Even when should not planning to camp there it’s positively price making a cease only for the museum itself. The museum is open for guests each day from 8am to 6pm.

Discover the very best campsites in your Namibia journey

What makes the Ovahimba Residing Museum particular?

  • To begin with, there are only a few conservation or cultural tasks in Africa which can be run by native folks. That is certainly one of them. Rimunikavi Tjipurua is a younger native man from Mamachanja village who began this undertaking a few years in the past on his uncle’s land. 
  • Second, a really private strategy. It’s not a spot the place huge tour buses come and cease for images. You get an actual probability to study concerning the Himba conventional life-style with an area information who belongs to the Himba tradition.
  • Third, the situation of the campsite is gorgeous; greenish hills, huge baobab timber, lookout factors, rock work, and so on. All these in a really calm peaceable place. 
Hand-made souvenirs made by the members of the Himba tribe
Handmade souvenirs and jewellery at Ovahimba Residing Museum

What are you able to do and see on the Himba Village?

  • Go to the village, see conventional Himba dancing, get some information on medication crops, purchase hand-made souvenirs, and do a guided stroll. 
  • Do a brief hike to the highest of the hill and see bushmen rock work and an enormous baobab.
  • Watch the celebs, the evening sky right here is improbable. 
  • Chook watching, many various birds (hornbills, eagles, and so on.) flying round.

Ovahimba Residing Museum

There are many Experience Himba life actions you are able to do right here, I’ll point out a few of them; the normal lifetime of a Himba village, bushwalk, physique portray, singing, dancing, and so on. For extra data on completely different Himba excursions and costs go HERE

Stingy Nomads' car and tent at the Himba Living Museum in Namibia
Our tenting spot on the Ovahimba Residing Museum in Northern Namibia

Omungunda campsite

The campsite is situated proper subsequent to the village so that you see Ovahimba strolling round even with out doing a tour. For now, the campsite has solely fundamental services however Rimunikavi is planning to improve it quickly; set up photo voltaic panels for electrical energy and sizzling water. We completely favored the place, right here you get an actual experience with Himba folks.

Campsite services

  • Sizzling water bathe – No
  • Flushing bathrooms – Sure
  • Electrical energy – No
  • Energy retailers – No
  • Working water – Sure
  • Wi-Fi – No
  • BBQ services – Sure

Different Native tribes of Namibia

There are a number of different native tribes in Namibia. When you have time you’ll be able to go to a few of them to study extra concerning the tribal and language range of the nation.

  • the Owambo, occupy the Northern areas between the Kunene and Okavango rivers, 700 000 folks, the biggest group in Namibia, about 45% of the full inhabitants. 
  • the Herero, stay within the North of Namibia; Kunene area, with a present inhabitants of 250 000. 
  • the Damara, primarily stay in Damaraland, present inhabitants 90 000. 
  • the Kavango, stay in Caprivi (Kavango area) between the Chobe and Zambezi rivers, present inhabitants 140 000, shut kinfolk to Ovahimba. 
  • the Nama, stay largely within the South of Namibia, close to Keetmanshoop, present inhabitants 90 000. 
  • the Bushmen (San), occupy the distant East a part of Namibia, 27 000.  


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Hey! A bit about us - we’re John & Maria and we're a couple that loves to travel the world and document our adventures! We enjoy writing, blogging, exploring and sharing our adventures. We’re always embarking on new journeys and here you’ll find articles covering many travel destinations, and topics, such as culture, history, art and cuisine. Our goal and mission is to present compelling stories, photography and personal opinions, as well as serve as an online resource for anyone who wishes to plan their own trips and visit the destinations we've been to. We genuinely love meeting new people, mingling with locals, listening to their amazing stories and trying new travel experiences.

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