Between the Etosha National Park and Namibia's wild Kunene River border with Angola lies a region known as the Kaokoveld, perhaps Southern Africa's last great untouched wilderness areas.
It's a land of extreme weather: the winters are marrow-freezing cold while the summers are searing hot and punctuated only by an occasional torrential downpour. But the Kaokoveld is also home to the Himba, a nomadic and pastoral people noted not only for their ability to survive in an arid and unforgiving environment but also for their striking appearance - of their women at least. By crushing ochre rocks and applying the reddish-brown powder to their skin with butter, Himba women gleam like the main currency of their culture: cattle.
It's a remarkably unchanged world. Coffee, tobacco and sugar are often exchanged by visitors for the leatherwork, jewellery and pottery of the Himba, many of whom are turning away from a life of herding livestock in the face of the ferocious climate and marauding lions. Tourism is slowly and inevitably encroaching on their way of life and if you want to see the Himba in their true environment, do it sooner rather than later.
Best experienced as a fly-in destination, there are only a handful of lodges in the region, set on the Kunene River itself. The bird watching on the river is good, while game drives will take you in search of rare and desert-adapted wildlife. There will be opportunities for cultural interactions with local Himba people on your Kaokoveld safari and needless to say, it's the place to go for a truly off-the-beaten-path holiday or honeymoon - ask us for more information and advice.
At a Glance
Southern Africa's wildest region is a fly-in destination but it's worth the effort: expect remote riverside lodges, amazing scenery and interactions with the local Himba people.