From paragliding and seeing cheetahs to meeting the Himba and Herero tribe, in this post, I share my Namibia experience to inspire you to visit Namibia
The Himba Tribe of Africa
I am fascinated by Africa, by its people and its diversity of culture. A history of Apartheid, slavery and homogenous tribes. Africa is where mankind is thought to have begun, and 400,000 years after the emergence of Homo sapiens, this country still holds an aura of mystery and fascination.
Having read about the Himba tribe who live in Northern Namibia, I was intrigued to meet these tribeswomen, who cover their bodies and hair in red ochre and are admired for their unique beauty. The Himba tribe are a semi-nomadic tribe that lives within the Kaokoveld region.
I’d heard that they regularly visit the town of Swakopmund to sell their hand-made jewellery and I hoped that during my visit to Namibia, I would be lucky enough to meet them.
Walking around the German town, I could see a small group of women with red dreadlocked hair and goat-skin loincloths. My heart began to race. As much as I had read about this tribe, I was unaware of how their reddish appearance could be so striking.
I had seen pictures of them in books, and here I was, standing right in front of them. I was star-struck, unable to communicate. One by one they tied a bracelet around my wrists, then another, until my arms were covered in the same red powdery stain as theirs. All the time speaking amongst themselves in a language that I could not comprehend.
This tribe were a far cry from their ancestors who I had encountered just a day before. A tribe who adorned themselves in Victorian dress and pointed hats and lived within modern houses in the townships.
Could these really be the same people?
One tribe seemed so primal and the other so Victorian. They spoke the same Bantu language and shared the same holy fire custom yet were so different.
Both descendants from East Africa, the tribe had segregated two centuries before and many moved South and settled as cattle ranchers, becoming known as the Herero tribe. Upon arrival of the missionaries, the Herero tribe were encouraged to wear the clothes of that era, and wore victorian dresses and cow-horn hats, which have become their tribal landmark.
Both had welcomed me with such warm smiles and had given me a glimpse into the strength of their culture: the Himba who had survived through adversity to maintain their traditional way of life and the Herero, once nomadic pastoralists who have preserved their way of life despite German rule.
One ancestry, two tribes, a total contrast from one another yet united in so many ways…
My Namibia Experience
Seeing Cheetahs in Namibia
I could feel the heat of the African sun, beating down upon my white milky shoulders. I climbed on top of the open truck, feeling a warm glow as I looked around at the African Wilderness.
Maybe it was the two beers I had just consumed from the bar or the feeling of being out here surrounded by a pride of wild cheetahs, watching me hungrily, waiting for their kill.
As the Cheetah boy threw the first course to the hungry beasts, they each ran in turn, swinging each piece of meat between their razor sharp teeth, devouring their dinner with pride. I watched in awe as over 16 cheetahs surrounded the truck and were just metres away from me. One false slip and I too would be dinner.
It was such an amazing feeling to get so close to these stunning animals. The Cheetah Park in Etosha gives you the chance to walk with the cheetahs (the tame ones) and even stroke these beautiful beasts.
We were on our way north through Namibia. En route to Etosha National Park – a haven for giraffes, elephants, zebras, lions and basically the Big 5. Named so, because of their hunting difficulty (lions, buffalo, elephants, leopards and rhinos).
I had left the desert and was travelling through the African bush, eating caterpillars with the locals (not recommended as a Namibia experience) and drinking the local beer (which actually does not give you a hangover due to the lack of chemicals and for only $2 dollars a pint – it would be a sin not to).
But my adventures at the Cheetah Park were not as adventurous as some, who chose to go into the wild cheetah enclosure at 2 am drunk. Luckily for the one that fell off the truck, the cheetah's bellies were full…
The Cheetah Park in Etosha gives you the chance to walk with the cheetahs (the tame ones) and even stroke these beautiful animals.
Paragliding in Namibia
“Left, left,” Mario shouted. “Good. Hold it.”
I held my arms in the air and enjoyed the weightless sensation of my body gliding over the sandy dunes; the ocean in the distance.
”Pull down,” came his booming military voice.
I thrust my body into a penguin dive and felt the sand between my toes as my feet hit the ground. Mario's little helper ran frantically to catch my shoot and make sure I didn't nose dive.
“You're a natural,” said Mario, as I climbed back up the dune, wide-eyed and eager for my second flight. I loved the feeling of paragliding – being free and peaceful, flying through the air.
Namibia is an adrenalin junkie's desert paradise. You name it, you can do it here: tandem skydives, sandboarding, quad biking, and even aero-dynamic flights. What a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon…
Namibia is a wonderful and beautiful country to explore. I hope I've inspired you to have a Namibia experience. If I have, you can find out exactly what to see and do in Namibia, how to get around and where to stay with the link to my Namibia guide below.