From Traveller To Tribal Woman, This Was The Truest Adventure Experience
Watch My Incredible Experience In Namibia Captured by World Nomads
We live in such an incredible world rich in culture, beauty and full of diversity. My experience of meeting the beautiful people of the nomadic Namibian Himba Tribe is a true testament to that. It definitely was one of the most extraordinary, awe-inspiring and out of this world experiences I have ever had.
Before meeting the Himba I was so excited about the experience, but also a little nervous. You see, thinking about meeting a nomadic Namibian tribe is one thing. However, travelling for hours by small plane into the depths of Namibia, camping over night in tents along the Kunene River thats ripe with alligators and then arriving to the village and personally asking the Tribe’s Chief for permission to enter is something altogether different when you’re actually doing it! But it’s for these moments we travel and on which I thrive.
In my mind I thought that I would arrive to the Himba village super-charged and celebrating, as naturally I’m a pretty high-energy person. Yet although part of me was feeling this on the inside, I was completely out of my comfort zone when walking into the village and feeling like such an outsider when coming up close to this striking group of people. All of a sudden I felt the need to be more observant and attentive going into such an unfamiliar environment. I also felt that it was the only way to enter the village as sign of my respect. After spending some time amongst the Himba people, I discovered a great way to connect with the tribe was through their beautiful children. Although we didn’t speak a common word, I found that connecting through clapping, singing and dancing really started to wear down the cultural barriers, because the kids loved me playing with them (as much as I was enjoying it!) and that warmed their parents.
After Mamma teaching me about the significance of the red ochre and fat ointment that the Himba women smear on their skin and their traditional dress, I eagerly asked Mamma if the tribe’s women would transform me into a Himba woman for the day? I’d already thought about this before arriving and thought it would just be one of the most incredible things to experience. I was nervous to ask but I knew that it was now or never.
Before I knew it I was in a cow dung hut with a Himba woman smearing Himba ointment onto my skin and adorning me in ornate jewelry and animal hides. As a self-confessed ‘dress-ups’ enthusiast, this took my passion for costume to a whole new level! As the Himba woman started to remove her own pieces of jewelry to place them on me, it was a really powerful moment where I felt immense gratitude and beyond everything else, blessed. I knew that I had been let into something that was really special and sacred.
Emerging from the hut completely transformed, Mamma and the other women were amazed at my transformation and seemed to be enjoying the experience almost as much as I was! They were smiling, laughing and nodding in approval. I was so honoured that they allowed me to have such a special experience. This was by no means a “standard” or “tourist” experience. At this point I felt completely immersed in the Himba culture. The barriers of language and our cultures seemed to no longer exist. I couldn’t believe what was happening. I stepped right into a world that I read about from a distance and now I was actually part of it, even if just for an afternoon.
I admit that its always been a dream of mine to connect with a tribe as I did, to immerse myself in a foreign culture this way, to be allowed to dress like a tribal woman and to authentically sing and dance – Tribal.
This was a once in a lifetime opportunity. If I was ever going to be able to experience a celebration of life with this wonderful group of people through our mutual love for music and dance – this was going to be my only chance. I told Mamma how incredible it would be if we could…
At that point a group of the tribe’s women took me amongst them and spontaneously started to sing and dance. I can still distinctly remember their voices and the sounds they were making, sounds my ears had never heard before… the way they were stamping their feet as I tried to follow and copy… the way they moved their bodies and used their clothing as they danced. This is a moment and experience I will never forget and is by far one of the most extraordinary experiences I have ever had in my life!
That day, singing, dancing, being immersed into this nomadic tribal culture, the Himba took me to a place I could never have dreamed of. I was so lost in the moment… the best kind of lost.
Watch this magical experience as captured by the incredible team at World Nomads below. More pictures after the jump. Because why not?
Also, let me know in the comments section what’s been your most mind-blowing travel experience to date?