Kaokoveld (Kaokoland) Located in the far northwest of Namibia, Kaokoveld (also called Kaokoland) with the district capital of Opuwo is one of the most pristine regions in Namibia. The almost inaccessible area south of the Kunene river, north of Sesfontein, can only be travelled in fully equipped expedition vehicles and, if at all possible, in the company of an experienced guide. There are hardly any sign-posts on the rough tracks. They are often rocky or of deep, soft sand. Acconmmodation is not available en route, but only a few campsites. Many travellers just sleep out in the wilderness.
The Kaokoveld is home to about 15.000 Himba, semi-nomadic pastoral people, who have largely kept their ethnic individuality and culture in the seclusion of Kaokoland. The friendly people breed cattle and goats and track with them - depending on the season - to the different waterholes. Their clothes, hair style and ornaments have a special meaning and are part of their tradition and culture. Even newborns are adorned with pearl necklaces. Older children also wear bracelets from copper and shells. The proud Himba women spend a couple of hours every day with body and beauty care. They rub their entire bodies with a cream made from rancid butterfat and ochre to which they add the aromatic resin of a shrub called Omuzumba. The cream gives the body an intensely red shine to achieve the Himba ideal of beauty.
The continuously growing number of visitors to the Kaokoveld pose a threat to the Himba culture. Tourists ignorantly hand out sweets to the children and alcohol to the men and many other items that don't belong to their culture and habits. Many Himba have changed their behaviour to become brash beggars, others got addicted to alcohol. Many concerned people demand Kaokoland tourism to be reglemented and the whole area to be declared a protectorate. However, the Namibian government so far doesn't find that necessary. For them the Himba people is uncivilised, backward and a bit of an embarrassment.
Travel Information and Accommodation
Left: The Kaokoveld at the Kunene river. At the northern bank lies Angola. Top: Himba woman with baby.