I think it is safe to say that Libby Hess has fallen in love with Africa. Libby, who lives in Maryland USA, has travelled to Africa every year for the last five years. Once the Africa bug had bitten, Libby never looked back. Every year now Libby plans a trip to a new exciting safari with Africa Bespoke. Some of Libby’s highlights include: Kruger National Park, Kwazulu Natal, Kalahari, Eastern Cape, Madikwe, Botswana and Namibia so far. Here is a roundup words and photos from Libby’s recent journey through Namibia.
Libby’s Namibia Story
“Two things really stood out about the Namibia trip.
1. The wide open spaces and 2. finally meeting people who had been mostly untouched by Western life.
One morning Joas, my guide, casually asked, “Do you drink sour milk in Washington, DC?” So we had a nice discussion about typical diet, house, livestock, and family and it was an actual exchange rather than the more typical one-way intro to local culture, in this case Herrero. It was wonderful to meet someone who hadn’t been so exposed to Western TV that he was truly curious about life where I come from.
Later in the trip I went out for a day with the camp manager, guide and photographer as they visited a couple of Himba villages to check in on staff who had been ill. Along the way we visited a tree school (new term to me), picke up a little boy and drove him a couple of hours to an area school, and checked up on a solar-powered borehole pump. It was a day I will never forget. It sounds so condescending, but I was overwhelmed at being in a place where nomadic herders live in hide-covered stick structures. It’s one thing to see pictures in a magazine or on a website, but it’s quite another to be there.
The women were in traditional dress (headgear denoting marital status) and carried on with the few remaining cattle while the young boys dealt with the goats, the men having recently moved on to better water/grazing. After some discussion, the 8 year old boy packed up his blanket and a plastic container of biltong, hopped into the Land Rover and we drove off to deliver him to school a few hours away. I was told that eventually some family member would come and collect him when they were leaving the area.
In the afternoon we stopped by a tiny town (Irumwe) that boasted a breezeblock structure with electricity, a combination store and shebeen. The chief’s son was just driving off in a bright red bakkie with a newly-slaughtered cow in the back and the shebeen was doing an active trade. The women were herding cattle to a small waterhole that they had dug in the riverbed and the men where drinking beer.
I finally felt like I had seen the real Africa. Even after driving through many miles of the Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and KZN, I only saw glimpses of villages and people. But in Namibia I was actually right there in the midst of it and my respect for the women who make a life in the traditional manner is enormous. They are quite wealthy measured in their own terms of livestock holdings, but their work is never-ending and they can take nothing for granted. Ever.
I feel so incredibly fortunate to have had that day. It seemed wrong to take any pictures of the villages and people; they are not there for my tourist camera convenience. So there are none attached other than the kids at the tree school.
The vast openness of the wilderness in Namibia was enthralling/mesmerizing/enchanting. I’m not sure what the right word is, but the grand vistas of grassy plains, rocky mountains, sandy dunes seem so inviting, even though they are all quite desolate. The colors of the grass, sand and rock change markedly as the sun goes down into lovely pastel hues. If I were a better photographer, I could capture the sense of space and the changes as the sun moves throughout the day. If you yearn for nothing but the sky above and the earth beneath your feet, spend some time in Namibia.”
To see a virtual itinerary of this Epic Namibia Journey:
Contact us to book this journey of find out more: