A Himba Tour

Reflecting on an earlier piece, Photographing the Himba, Photo Etiquette – I think it is fitting to discuss what a Himba tour entails.

Firstly, when you are staying at Epupa Falls Lodge & Campsite, you can either pre-book your tour or book it in camp. If you book it in camp, please make sure that you have enough cash.

Secondly, Epupa Falls Lodge & Campsite offers two types of Himba tours.

The Traditional Himba Tour

This is the tour that most tourists will go on. You book your tour as per above methods and you will go out with a local Himba guide to a village we frequent.

Although this all sounds very “normal” this tour is also unique. You see, the guides we “use” and highly recommend, are local Himba from the very village you will be visiting. These guides, though English speaking, do not own a vehicle and certainly don’t have a driver’s license. This means that they will go with you in your vehicle to the village. Now don’t stress – these are westernised Himba and very well trained.

This means that you won’t share your Himba Tour with other guests. You will go out alone with your guide on a private tour. You can also decide when you would like to go and for how long. As you are not bound to wait for other guests, this tour offers the most flexibility.

The Himba Alzheimer’s Project

During this tour, you will go out with Lodge owner, Koos Verwey, to visit the Himba Village of Chief Kapika and the Alzheimer’s Village next door.

During this tour you will not only learn about the Himba while visiting Chief Kapika, you will also learn about Chief Kapika’s sister, Ndjinaa and the Himba Alzheimer’s Project. (Read more about Ndjinaa here.) This is quite a fascinating story and a must if anthropology and/or religion fascinates you.

However, this tour must be pre-booked to ensure that Koos is in camp during your stay.

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Exceptions

Professional Photographers, anthropologists etc. who wishes to spend more time with the Himba, always need to specify their specific fields of study or interests when booking a tour. These tours are hand-made accordingly and are charged differently.

For more information, please feel free to contact me at bookings@epupafallslodge.com

 

Photographing the Himba

A Tough Question

I have always wondered how you ask someone, that doesn’t understand a word of what you are saying, to pose for you. For free. As the person being asked to pose, this must be really awkward? I mean, how would you feel if you are sitting watching CSI New York, and here walks in Mr & Mrs Tourist, snapping away… I don’t think I’d be too impressed. And yet, somehow, there are thousands of people who just assumes it as their right to take photos of the Himba – or any other African tribe for that matter.

Is there a right way?

I am a huge fan of Christopher Rimmer’s work (https://christopherrimmer.com/spirits-speak-exhibition/) and have often wondered how he does it. Then, I learned that he takes a local guide with him to help with translation etc and spends hours with his subjects. In using a guide, one subjects oneself to the rules set by the specific tribe. The Himba for instance, prefers to receive food and beads for being photographed. Using a guide and obeying to the rules of the said tribe or village, amounts to quite a few bucks and very few people want to pay for the right to photograph the traditions of a tribe. But again – wouldn’t you also want to be paid?

On this note, I have to add, that I don’t think paying with sweeties is a fair trade. This has not only lead to a nation addicted to sugar, but also to a lot of begging. Ever noticed all those little kids begging for sweeties (or even money) whenever you pass through a village? This is not part of the African culture. This is a classic case of the foreigner attempting to please without considering the long-term effects.

mariette du toit

Unfortunately the whole “Pay for a Photo” also has a downside. Not too long ago we visited Etosha National Park and upon entering the park, I wanted to take a photo of the entrance gate. Incidentally a group of Himba ladies were sitting there, trying to sell their goods. As soon as they noticed my camera, they started screaming at me – apparently I needed to pay to take their photo. Now what?

Firstly I think this behavior is as a result of either being photographed once and paid an exorbitant fee or the result of never being asked for permission to be photographed. Like with everything in life, once we recognise something as a source of income, we can, if not trained, milk our source until it runs dry. And these Himba ladies, I strongly suspect, were in it for the latter.

mariette du toit

How to go about photographing traditional tribes?

Never, as in never, attempt to visit a traditional tribe without a local guide. It doesn’t matter if you are from the same continent or country, if you are not part of that tribe you are a foreigner. You cannot begin to understand their traditions – no matter the amount of books you have read. A guide will help you get a glimpse of the true side of the tribe you are visiting and also translate what your reason for visiting is. Always try to and find a local guide who is one of the tribe or village you are visiting.

If you are staying at a lodge or camp in the area, ask if they offer a guided tour. If you are more than just a tourist, specify your interest so that they can cater for that. For example, a photographer will need to spend much more time with the people than a tourist. A photographer will also need different permissions and therefore be willing to pay more.

Never undervalue the service or privilege that the tribe / village offers you. Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself how much do you think you are worth.

Conclusion

During my last visit at Epupa, I had the opportunity to photograph two Himba girls. Though they agreed and offered to sit in different poses – I was really uncomfortable. I kept wondering how I would feel if I was in their shoes. Remember to always respect your subjects. Ask their permission and pay them accordingly. Respect comes a long way. Not just for you, but for every photographer that will follow in your shoes.

Disclaimer:

The above is merely my, (Mariëtte du Toit) own opinions and does not represent the views of a lodge or group of people.

 

 

Activities | Himba Tour

Epupa is not just about the Epupa Waterfalls – it is also about the Himba. Though the Himba in Epupa has given up their nomadic lifestyle, the villages in the area are still very much traditional. But don’t expect to find a Himba without a phone – even they have learned that it is easier to call to find out where it has rained than to walk there…

Photos © Dieter – Epupa Falls Lodge

Damaraland | Damarana Safaris

So the far west of Namibia (Kaokoland) isn’t quite your dream, but desert elephants, a bit of culture and a waterfall is more than an appetizing menu to you… then this is for you.

©Epupa Falls Lodge

©Black Bean Productions

©Chris Martin

Damarana, a French Travel Agency in Namibia, offers a tour that will not only take you to the main destinations in Namibia, but also the far flung, the beautiful and the wild.

Visit their website for a look into this specific tour: Grandiose-namibie

Photo Memories: Donkey Race

Epupa Falls Lodge owner, Koos Verwey, celebrated 25 Years in the Kaokoland last year end of August. To celebrate it, he decided to give the biggest party that the Himba has ever seen. The Friday consisted out of several competitions. A Donkey Race kicked things off. For those of you who understands the pace that the Himba people usually move at, this will be fairly interesting. The young Himba lads took the competition quite seriously.

Donkey Race_2 Donkey Race_3 Donkey Race_4 Donkey Race_5 Donkey Race_6

All photos by Janine Botha