Home to the Himba, the last nomadic tribe in Africa, and the famed desert-adapted elephant, Kaokoland is an extraordinary semidesert zone with spectacular mountain scenery. Here you will discover unparalleled serenity and a sense of proportion in the face of nature’s enormity.
Also known as the Kunene, this rocky semidesert and mountainous zone lies east of Namibia’s treacherous Skeleton Coast. Kaokoland was established as a homeland for the Himba people in the 1920s and despite numerous changes in the Namibian sociopolitical landscape over the last 100 years, it remains their chosen home. The Himba remain faithful to their cultural traditions and preference for isolation from the modern world. That said, contact between groups of Himba and visitors are becoming more commonplace – in fact, a visit to a Himba community is high on the list of must-do’s for many visitors who explore this rather harsh and extreme landscape.
Spanning an impressive 50 000km2 and stretching south to north from the Hoanib River to the Kunene, which forms the natural border between Namibia and Angola, Kaokoland offers unparalleled serenity thanks to an enormity of nothingness and unspoilt wilderness surrounds – at night, the canopy of stars will ensure stargazers won’t want to leave! Meanwhile, the endless horizon of the rocky desert landscape makes the sightings of the animals that call the region home all the more special. First on the Kaokoland wildlife list is the uniquely adapted desert elephant that, compared to its other African cousin, has longer legs and amazing drought-resistant capabilities, regularly travelling hundreds of kilometres in search of water. Other species include mountain zebra, black rhino, giraffe and gemsbok, which gather together at infrequent waterholes, making for extraordinary sightings and photo opportunities.
Bird enthusiasts flock to the Kunene stretch of Kaokoland in the summertime (November to April), where the river’s comparatively lush surrounds play host to a small but fascinating population of residents – from malachite kingfishers to fish eagles and the rare rufous-tailed palm thrush. With these birds best sighted from the water, a guided boat trip here yields photo ops aplenty. Other water-oriented sights on the Kunene include the 120m-high Roacana Falls as well as the Epupa Falls; for adenaline junkies, a white-water rafting trip is definitely one for the books.
Things To Do
• Visit ancient rock art sites
• Guided canoeing trips
• Guided desert elephant tracking
• Guided white-water rafting trips
• Photographic wildlife safari
• Roacana & Epupa Falls
• Visit the Himba people
• Game viewing