Conservancy Safaris Namibia Press Room
People of the Desert


It’s my first attempt at a Himba greeting, and my accent and intonation are probably totally wrong. But Mbinge, who I’ve just met, gives me a broad, gap-toothed grin and beckons me inside her house.

Mbinge constructed this shelter herself, house-building being the exclusive responsibility of women in these parts. It’s a small, brown, igloo-shaped hut made from flexible mopane branches, supported by a central pole. The outside is rendered with cattle dung and earth, baked hard in the heat. The open doorway is tiny. As I stoop to enter, my eyes, full of the glare of the morning sun, see nothing but darkness. Instead, I take in the jangle of Mbinge’s heavy beads and the soft rustle of her goatskin skirts. Finding myself a perch, I feel coarse hide under my palms and my nose detects a sweet, pungent aroma I can’t quite place.

Namibia: A wildlife safari in the Kunene region offers substance over style

Russell Vinjevold, our guide, broke into the soppiest of smiles. "Will you just look at that little chap!" To many bush-hardened southern Africans, a baby elephant sheltering under its mother's belly is not necessarily something to get gooey about. After all, many parts of Africa have more elephants than they can handle, and tiny, shy, week-old babies with improbably delicate-looking trunks soon grow into tree-wreckers.