Today’s choice was rhinos or the Himba tribe. Yes, you can meet (see?) Himba on your way to Etosha, at the Otjikandero Himba Orphanage Village or a Himba village walking distance from Toko Lodge, both near Kamanjab. Online reviews clearly indicated this was not for me though, so the only real option for us was to drive up north towards Khowarib and beyond and try to meet some Himba there. Not enough time it seemed, so we decided for a game drive through the Palmwag Concession and perhaps see our first rhino… Besides, yesterday we had seen a few Himba selling souvenirs at the nearby Vet Fence, so we planned to stop there on our way to Etosha and briefly meet some Himba there.
We entered the park right during a spectacular sunrise.
Time for breakfast! All clear, only rocks: all safe to get out of the car. That’s what we thought…
I got out of the car to prepare for breakfast. No animals in sight and only a single bush in a landscape of rocks. I opened the back of the car and all of suddenly from the corner of my eyes I saw movement behind this one single bush and all of a sudden this spotted hyena couple was standing there, about 8 meters away and clearly as startled as I was. They must have had a nap in the shade and didn’t expect any visitors… We looked at each other for 10 seconds and they then decided to find another bush a bit further away; what a moment!
I’m not sure who scared who the most, but wow, this was a memorable experience..!
So that was the Palmwag Concession. We spend 4 hours in the park, and didn’t see any other car, which was pretty cool… It’s a bumpy ride here and there, but that’s all part of the experience. No rhinos, although I could completely visualise some standing there, in the middle of the rock-filled plains.
At the Vet Fence we made a stop to meet some of the Himba tribe, who were selling some handcrafted souvenirs.
The red paste in the hair is Himba cosmetics, a mixture of butterfat and ochre pigment, sometimes perfumed with an aromatic shrub. It’s like a clay. They also cover their bodies and it protects them from the hot and dry climate as well as against mosquitos. For the Himba red symbolises earth and blood, both the essence of life. What is less known is the fact that most this hair is not their natural hair, but actually hair extensions woven into the usually relative thin hair of the Himba women. The entire hairdo takes a few hours.
Just after noon we left the vet fence, through again spectacular scenery, particularly from Palmwag over the mountain pass towards Kamanjab. We made a quick stop in Kamanjab for some shopping and to fill up fuel. We were finally on our way to Etosha, the park that inspired me to forget about my plans to visit South Africa and Kruger and visit Namibia. Yeah…!!
On the road to Kamanjab.
That was Damaraland, time for our next destination, ETOSHA National Park.