Leaving Desert Rhino camp, we head north to the local centre, the town of Opuwo. We arrive at a bustling town with gas stations, banks, ATM’s and supermarkets. None of them would have been out of place in rural areas of the US. Development is occurring fast with strip malls appearing next to the tin shack funeral home and the local Road House bar. The town is also a melting pot and meeting place for the various peoples of Northern Namibia; we meet our first members of the Himba tribe, along with those of the Herrero. The Himba are striking with their ochre color and amazing hair; more about these people later.
We set up camp that evening and I discover camp sites in Namibia are very well equipped; ours has a showers and a flush toilet – wow, life is comfortable even out in the bush! Piers, our guide, has also brought along a wide variety of goodies in our portable refrigerator; we are not going to starve and I would describe it better as gourmet camping, we have steak, Moroccan chicken, BBQ, to name a few.
We set out on our first day in Himba country with the goal to find a local village where we can get to know the occupants and later in the day capture some images. The two year drought in Namibia is having a serious impact. We pass several villages that are deserted, the occupants have been forced to leave and move their cattle to new areas with grass, although I haven’t seen anything that I would describe as grass, more like short stumps of straw. We stop at a village and I am struck by the houses. They are similar and yet unique, each has its own style, I guess they represent the personality and desires of its owner. I also notice most have solid metal front doors with locks, this is very different to Ethiopia where even the permanent homes seem to have no door. These people clearly plan to return when the rains come and they can bring they cattle back to graze locally. I hope rain is on the way because I’m not sure what will be left if this drought extends into another year.