northern namibia

Himba People - Namibia

The Himba people are the indigenous people of Northern Namibia, also residing in parts of Angola, particularly along the Kunene River. They are a semi-nomadic and pastoral community. Himba women take on many roles in their community, everything from creating handicrafts and minding children, to building homes from mud bricks. 

In the Himba community, hairstyle is used to symbolise social status. Men often have a single plait that extends towards the rear of their head. Women have vertical plaits. Variations of these styles can denote details such as whether a tribe member is married. 


What a geode

Just to give you an idea of scale as it sits pretty on its pallet, the yellow calcite blade that grew within the cavity from a second generation of mineralised fluids (this one carbonate rich) is a metre or so long. Weighing in at over a metric ton and a half it originally formed as a large bubble in a basaltic lava, which remains as the greyish outer layer of the extracted piece. The hydrothermal system created by the interaction between the heat of the cooling lava and infiltrating groundwater mobilised silica and precipitated it as the first generation of gleaming amethyst crystals lining the inside of the cavity.

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Himba Bath Time 

Location: Epupa, Namibia

Photographer: Ben McRae

The Himba live in the arid parts for northern Namibia and southern Angola, they are semi nomadic people who usually don’t have access to water, but when they do have it is a precious commodity. Due to this the Himba women never actually bathe themselves, they know how precious every drop of water is so rather than wash themselves each day they go about smoking themselves clean. A small fire is usually started, to which aromatic herbs are added. Once the fire starts to smoke the women place a conical shaped basket over the fire to direct the smoke towards the part of their anatomy they wish to clean. They then wrap themselves up tightly in a large blanket and sit back to relax whilst the aromatic smoke does its job. This is usually quiet a private process, so I was privileged to be invited in one morning by Tjimawemo to photograph her daily ritual. 


Himba Hairstyles

The Himba women are famous for their coating their bodies and hair with a red paste called otjize.

In Himba culture there is a close tie between marriage and hairstyles.


As children, girls wear two plaits called ozondato, unless they are one of a set of twins.

Once reaching puberty, they are ready to wear their famous red locks of hair.

To create this elaborate hairstyle, their hair must be lengthened by weaving hay, goat hair, or Indian hair extensions. Then the hair is coated with a mixture of clay and red ochre, an earth pigment.

It is important that the the hair is not groomed back, so to let the hair act as a veil, hiding the face from unwanted male attention.

After marriage, the hair can be groomed away revealing the face.


Boys and men wear only a single plait throughout their lives as bachelors. It is when they are finally married that a head-covering is placed. The head-covering is to only be taken off in the even of a death, and/or being windowed. After a death, the men shave their heads.

In the unfortunate event that a man is widowed, his hair returns to being uncovered.

Source: [DailyMail]

Snowdrop Hydroid (Gattya humilis)

…a delicate species of colonial Halopterdid hydroid which is endemic to an area off the south African coast, ranging from Northern Namibia to KwaZulu-Natal. Snowdrop hydroids typically occur from the littoral zone to ~70 m (230 ft) under water, where they are usually found growing on coralline algae or weed. 


Animalia-Cnidaria-Hydrozoa-Hydroidolina-Leptothecata-Plumularoioidea-Halopterididae-Gattya-G. humilis

Image: Seascapeza

Rock Pratincole (Glareola nuchalis)

…a strikingly marked species of pranticole that is native to Africa. Two subspecies occur G. n. nuchalis which occurs from Chad to Ethiopia, south to Angola and northern Namibia to western Zambia and Mozambique and G. n. liberiae which occurs from Sierra Leone to western Cameroon. Like other pranticoles (and unlike other shorebirds), rock pranticoles prefer inland habitats to coastal/wet areas, where they will forage for insects and other invertebrates, usually among rocks as their common name suggests.  


Animalia-Chordata-Aves-Charadriiformes-Glareolidae-Glareola-G. nuchalis

Image: Francesco_veronesi

Welwitschia in B&W: Botanical Conservatory. UC Davis, 06-11-14.

The Welwitchia is native to southern Angola and northern Namibia. It has only “two permanent leaves” that will “eventually grow to a length of 2–4 m and usually become split, frayed and shredded into several well-separated strap-shaped sections by the distortions of the woody portions surrounding the apical slit, and also by wind andadventitious external injuries. The largest specimens may be no more than 1.5m tall above ground, but the circumference of the leaves at contact with the sand may exceed 8m….The age of individual plants is difficult to assess, but they are very long-lived, living 1000 years or more. Some individuals may be more than 2000 years old.[13] Because it only produces a single pair of functional leaves, it has been suspected that the plant is actually neotenic, but research shows that its anatomy is not that of an adult and giant seedling. Instead, it turns out that the plant is "handicapped” in having “lost its head” at an early stage.“