31 March to April 1 – Kunene River Lodge
A long drive from Etosha to Kunene. We stocked up en route and arrived at the lodge mid afternoon. The campsites are well positioned, right on the edge of the Kunene River, with Angola on the opposite bank. They also have excellent facilities. The rains have followed us as it continues to pour down all afternoon, preceding the torrential rain that came in the night.
Unfortunately, none of the activities are available, such as visiting the rapids, a sunset cruise etc. and also most disappointingly for me is that they really don’t offer an authentic trip to a Himba settlement (just a small family of four that don’t reside in a traditional settlement?!).
April 1 to April 3 – Ruacana and The Himba
So, although we had paid for four nights, we decided to leave after two and head to Ruacana where I have a contact (Miina) for the Himba. The management at Kunene lodge did not enquire about our early departure and seemed little interested in how we found our stay there. ‘nuff said!
I dearly wished to photograph the Himba properly and had brought with me a “mobile studio” to do so. The Himba are an ancient tribe that are synonymous with Africa and part its interwoven fabric. They are as much a feature of Africa as its mountains, rivers and savannahs.
We found a very basic place to stay just outside Ruacana and met with Miina the following day. She has a long history with the Himba and is loosely connected as family. We visited two tribes, only about 4 kms from Ruacana and next door to each other. They were so warm and welcoming and appeared to really enjoy having their photos taken. The air was filled with shrieks and giggles when they saw their pictures on the camera screen. I was even invited into the elders abode. There were two elderly women. One was very very old and could hardly move. The Himba don’t know their age but she had to be over 90. What did strike me about the elderly woman is that she was surrounded by, and looked after, by probably three or four generations of her own family. There is no hospice or care home where strangers take care of you, just loving, caring family that will no doubt take care of her until her last breath.
When we left they all gathered around and wished us well and asked us to return. It was quite a moving experience and although we could not communicate through the spoken word, body language, smiles and laughter was really all we needed.
And that folks, brings to an end our wonderful fun filled adventure to Namibia. All that is left is to make the very long journey home to South Africa. It’s been a voyage of discovery and wonder, we have made so many memories (many captured on film!) that will keep us entertained for many years to come. All that remains is to say “Thank You” for following us…….we hope it was an enjoyable ride!