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Travel Diary

Namibia – Himba, Part One

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 ©Kara Rosenlund

Some of you may remember I visited Namibia in Africa about eight weeks ago.

The trip really came out of nowhere, I had just finished the final design stages of my interiors book (available next month, nudge nudge) …. so I was looking for the next real ‘thing’… something new, which I could totally lose myself in and which was emotional and had substance… not sure exactly what it would be, or even where it would be, though I had a feeling it was out there somewhere.

So when the opportunity arose to visit Johannesburg I couldn’t help but think that maybe the next ‘thing‘ would be in Africa, somewhere.

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…..what attracted me to Namibia was the vastness and the isolation, it is one of the least populated countries on earth and for some reason this really excited me.

Sometimes I feel a little overwhelmed with the buzz of social media and our appetite and pace for more-more-more, so to have some quiet time was really appealing….. however, saying this – the vastness meant chartering your own plane… I know, right, your own plane, plus a bush pilot…like how English Patient do you want it to be…. I loved every single moment, even if the plane was as large as a small ‘ride on mower’ and over 40 years old –  eeeeek.

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  High up over the plains, desert and dunes…. depending on where you are in Namibia the landscape dramatically changes…

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 Surprisingly, THIS is a common runway in Namibia…. we would have to do two landings each time we wanted to land, one faux and one real – the first would be to come in low, but not land.

It would be to scare all the animals off the runway…don’t want to get in a tangle with a giraffe or elephant…. then we would literally ‘loop de loop’ and go upside-down (think air tricks of the 1940’s) and come back around to land in the biggest cloud of dust and dirt…

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… from the plane we would then 4WD for hours across the desert, Timothy O – my husband, our Namibian tracker Nestor and myself…. just the three of us, all dedicated to my goal – to spend proper time with the traditional tribes of Namibia….

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 We would come across hundreds of cattle, owned by the Himba Tribes.

The cattle would drove themselves in long herds all throughout the day, looking for grasses.

They would know exactly where they had to go and surprisingly at what time, as the Himba had trained them this way… come dusk if they weren’t back at camp you would see them at quite the speed, racing across the horizon through the sand to get back home…

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This was the landscape that most stirred me… no distractions besides the sheer isolation and scale…

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After many hours 4wdriving across the desert we arrived at the Himba camp.

The Himba are a nomadic tribe who move around with their cattle…. the cattle are highly prized and the Himba count their wealth in the number of their cattle…. At the bottom of the mountain range in the shot above you can see their camp.

A circle made from dead wood to keep the cattle in at night and a sprinkling of huts for the tribe. They like to keep the cattle very close to protect them.

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 Young boys playing in the sand… while the little girls of the tribe drove goats and tend to cattle out in the far off distance… surprisingly women and girls tend to perform more labor-intensive work than what men and boys do… even at this little age.

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The Himba women cover their skin in a paste of butterfat and ochre, this is to cleanse their skin over long periods, as water is so scarce and also to protect them from mosquito bites… it too acts like a sunscreen from the belting extreme heat.

They can spend up to three hours rubbing this mixture into their bodies and their plaits.

It is considered aesthetically very beautiful and this tradition symbolises the earths richness and the blood of life….

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Himba huts made from collected dead wood to make huts…

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I spent the entire day with these women…. sitting in the sand with them, being invited inside their huts…. and even trying their tobacco… even though they all don’t look convincingly affectionate in this shot, I promise you they were… my white shirt was covered in their red ochre from all the hugging, holding and touching…. such spirit in the vastness…

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I love this shot…what I learnt from interacting with these powerful women was that the most important thing in life is how we make each other feel…. if you remove a shared language, what you are left with is feelings and instincts…. which I believe to be the strongest language of all…

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Such raw beauty in the natural world…. Hypnotic… more to come…

This was Part One… Part Two and Three of the Himba is live, have a look below for part two and three…Were you enjoying it? Hanging for more like a bad afternoon TV soap opera?  Well, don’t miss out, remember to sign up to the newsletter to know when the next instalments are live

Kara x

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17 Comments to “Namibia – Himba, Part One”

  1. I became emotional reading this and looking at your beautiful images. You’ve certainly ignited a spark in me to explore this incredible place. There is something so beautiful about their remoteness. I can’t wait to read Part 2. Namibia is on my list for our trip to Africa next year.

    xxxx

  2. Oh my god! I've only just had a chance to look at this now. STUNNING. Absolutely stunning Kara. What an adventure, and such an amazing capture of these glorious women and their way of life. I can't wait for Pt. 2!

  3. Oh Kara the colour in words & image are inspirational. I like learning about why your plane would have a faux landing. I loved what you learnt from interacting with these women saying, “The most important thing in life is how we make each other feel…. if you remove a shared language, what you are left with is feelings and instincts…. which I believe to be the strongest language of all…” x x

  4. I waited until you had posted all three because I have no patience and wanted to read them right the way through. Absolutely stunning and facsinating! So completely remote. Now onto Part 2.

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