sat in the shade, sweat pouring down our faces, marveling at the
detailed rock art before us. The White Lady was in the middle of the
panel, and the only human figure painted in white.
Further northwest we were taken by a guide and an interpreter to
a Himba village in Koakaland in northwestern Namibia. The semi-
nomadic Himba are a pastoral people. The Himba women glowed in
the morning light, their beautiful, ebony skin was in stark contrast to
the parched African landscape that surrounded their village. One Himba
woman smiled and invited Lori and me into her dark mud hut.
She sat on a mat and a dusty blanket, began nursing her sweet
baby boy while mixing a batch of butterfat made from goat’s milk
and red ocre. Himba women don’t bathe with water. Instead they
rub this useful concoction from head to toe as a lotion, bug repellent
and sunscreen. Rubbed into their black skin, they arguably possess
the prettiest skin color I’ve ever seen. The mixture gives their skin a
reddish glow. This symbolizes earth’s rich red color and the blood that
symbolizes life, and is consistent with the Himba ideal of beauty.
Then she started rubbing it on Lori’s arms. Then it was my turn, but
that didn’t last long. Their lotion didn’t mix with hairy arms, so I bugged
out of there. I stepped out to a circle of Himba women gathering from the
village. Their jewelry was on display signifying their various stages of
maturity. I also detected that my inability to communicate was amusing
to the Himba while I admired their craftwork. They giggled and joked
amongst themselves as I made the rounds.
Later they gathered together and danced for us, enough stomping
on the ground to create their own plume of dust, their thick braids
swinging wildly around their heads. Then one by one they performed
alone displaying their own version of their dance. They continued
singing as we drove away weaving between swaying palm trees and the
water source they draw from.
The watering holes surrounding the salt pan of Etosha National Park
offered the best possibilities for photographing wildlife. Vegetation was
low to the ground, so spotting wildlife was easier. We grabbed a map at
the visitors’ center, paid for our permit and were off.
When we found watering holes with lots of game congregating,
we patiently waited for something to stir. It didn’t always have to be
predator on prey. Eventually everything needs to come down for a drink.
Sometimes it was mirror-like reflections of zebras and greater kudus
drinking or elephants taking a mud bath.
There were lots of dead trees surrounding Etosha, “place of dry
water,” fantastic perches for the abundant birdlife in Namibia. Pale
chanting goshawks, greater kestrels and Bateleur eagles, their keen
eyesight scanning Africa’s oldest national park.
Some of the best regions of Etosha proved to be Okondeka on the
west end of the pan. For two days, a pride of lions preyed on the healthy
procession of wildebeest, zebra and springbok. The road leading to
Okondeka was also fruitful for black-backed jackals, raptors, ostriches,
steenbok and one of the smallest antelopes, the dik dik.
Salvadora is a bluff that overlooks a water hole with great views of
the Etosha Pan. There were huge processions of oryx, ostriches, giraffe
and lions and we found the rare black-faced impala here. Ombika was
excellent for reflections where guinea fowl, impala, warthogs, zebra,
greater kudu and giraffe were in large quantities, making it ideal to wait
But wherever we were throughout the wide-open spaces of Namibia, the
desert silence captivated us. Tempting wanderlust across endless horizons,
the foreboding desertscape overwhelmed us with natural wonders.