Kaokoland is located in the northwestern part of the Kunene region of Namibia. Today it is the most “untouched” corner of the country (and the most inaccessible). Most of its locations can only be reached by a four-wheel drive vehicle or even a full-fledged monster truck. But it’s worth it. In addition to the amazing nature, Kaokoland is interesting because it is here that one of the most traditional African tribes, the Himba, lives. According to petwithsupplies, Kaokoland is one of the largest cities in Namibia.
It may seem to some that breaking into such an ancient and traditional way of life is somehow indecent, but in fact, Himba have long understood how much benefit tourists can bring to them.
Before colonization, these places were inhabited by Ovambo, Nama and Herero. In 1884, Kaokoland became part of German South West Africa, and the Namibian Herero changed their traditions and costumes significantly. South Africa received a mandate from the League of Nations to administer Namibia after World War I and applied the principle of apartheid to it. The result was the organization of a kind of reservation for different ethnic groups – and Kaokoland became one of these reservations. So the Himba tribe was almost isolated from others in the 19th century and preserved its nomadic customs to the greatest extent.
The locals, the Herero and the Himba, are two closely related tribes who speak the same language. Herero youth often speak good English, but among the more traditional Himba you are unlikely to find someone who knows other languages than their native.
There are several traditional villages around Opuwo, which are a favorite destination for tourists to visit. Organized excursions with local guides are also arranged here. It may seem to some that breaking into such an ancient and traditional way of life is somehow indecent, but in fact, Himba have long understood how much benefit tourists can bring to them. They hospitably invite travelers to the villages and gladly introduce them to their way of life and way of life.
If you arrived at the Himba village with a local guide, you should not pay the natives with money: take food with you: maize, sugar, flour and vegetable oil. Money means very little to the Himba. But there are a lot of grains, because the Himba are not engaged in agriculture: it is too dry here for this. In addition, all guides urge you not to bring alcohol to the villagers: this violates the traditional way of life most of all.
The incredibly remote and inaccessible village of Puros stands in the midst of a striking mountainous landscape. It takes about 5 hours to drive here from Opuwo, in the northeast. Puros is relatively famous for the bush elephants that can be found along the river behind the village. This is one of two species of African elephant that was badly damaged by poachers in the 70s. 20th century, although recently the number of animals began to grow. The bush elephants of Kaokoland may look similar to their other African relatives, but they behave differently and are very interesting for zoology lovers. Savannah lions also live near Puros.
Once you’ve left Opuwo, don’t expect to find a restaurant or cafe. Extremely primitive foodstuffs are sold in village shops (in the same Puros), but this, to put it mildly, is not what Western people are used to eating. It is better to take food with you.
Marienfluss is an amazing valley located in the north and adjacent to the Cunene River, along which the country’s border with Angola runs. A trip through it to the river gives travelers exceptional opportunities to get acquainted with the nature of Kaokoland. From the east, the valley, where the antelopes gallop, and the wind walks in the tall white-yellow grass, is surrounded by the picturesque Otzhihipa Mountains, from the west, the Hartmann Mountains. Along the valley you can get to the Epupa waterfalls, but the route must be chosen carefully: one of the paths lies through the Van Zila pass.
The Epupa Falls (in Angola they are called the Monte Negro Falls) on the Cunene River stretch for 1.5 km. The width of the river in this place reaches half a kilometer, and the highest single-cascade waterfall reaches 37 m. The word “epupa” in the Herero language means “foam”, and this gives a rough idea of how these beautiful waterfalls look in a colorful rocky channel. Several specific species of fish live here, and fig trees, baobabs, and macalani palms grow around.
The Van Zila Pass is passable only for very experienced 4WD drivers. It is known as the most difficult “road” in Namibia and throws a real challenge to those who consider themselves hardened car enthusiasts. Through the passage you can get to Marienfluss, and you can drive it only in this direction – the road back is too dangerous.