If you’re planning a trip to Namibia, you will not be disappointed – especially if you make an effort to see some of the local Namibia tribes.
If you’ve already read about my experience travelling through Namibia and the Top 10 Places to visit, you’d know that I’m one of Namibia’s greatest fans.
But there is more to Namibia than most tourists see and that’s the locals within the community.
African people are known for song and dance, friendliness and hospitality.
That’s why no trip to Namibia will ever be complete without visiting the Namibia Tribes and Locals, including the:
- Himba Tribe
- Damara Tribe
- Herero Tribe and
- The San People (Bushmen)
In this article, I’ll provide some insight into some of the different tribes in Namibia and why they are worth the visit throughout your journey.
At the end of this article, I’ll also reveal the best way to see and visit the Namibia tribes, as well as the group tour that I went on.
The tour I did was fantastic and allowed me to visit 3 different tribes during my travels! I can highly recommend it.
An Overview of the Namibia Tribes We Visited
1) Damara Tribe
The Damara tribe consists mainly of ancient hunter-gatherers and animal farmers.
They are believed to have once inhabited large parts of central Namibia, and are considered one of the oldest inhabitants of Namibia.
We visited the Damara tribe for a few hours on our tour and it was actually a really cool experience.
They showed us how they:
- Make fire
- Communicate in their local language
- Make jewelry
- Play games and
- Dance and sing in their local culture
The way that they spoke was fascinating because they include a lot of clicks and noises as they speak. We don’t do this in English.
I tried on many occasions to learn how to do it but failed miserably. Some of the other travellers did catch on though, which was pretty cool.
The tribe’s people were very friendly and had a great sense of humour.
If you’re interested in doing a cultural tour to learn more about these incredible tribes, here are some great tours to check out:
2) Herero Tribe
Whilst overlanding through Namibia we stopped on the side of the road to visit a group of Herero women sitting outside their shops.
I’d never seen anything like them until this point in our trip.
The first impression was clear….They take great pride in their clothing and their cattle.
In the Herero Tribe culture, they believe that the more cattle one has, the richer one is. Therefore, having a lot of cows (not money) signifies real wealth.
This is why you’ll often see Herero women wearing cow-horn shaped hats in a similar material to their Victorian-style dresses and petticoats.
Regardless of the stifling heat, they will continue to wear these voluminous dresses all year round.
I’d probably pass out if I tried wearing that much clothing whilst travelling through Namibia.
On a separate note, this tribe also has a really interesting, but brutal history.
In 1904 the Herero Tribes waged a rebellion against German forces who had seized their cattle after creating a German colony in Namibia in 1884.
The uprising prompted the German forces to massacre nearly 80% of the Herero population between 1904 and 1908, now termed the Herero Genocide.
Since then, it is estimated that there are about 250,000 Herero people left in Namibia, as of 2013 anyway.
3) The San People (Bushmen)
The third Namibia tribe that we visited was the San People.
Of all the tribes, this tribe seemed to be the most indigenous, almost living fully off natural resources from the earth.
The San People are mostly hunter-gatherers and can be found in Namibia, as well as Botswana, South America, Angola and Zimbabwe.
Being semi-nomadic, they tend to move locations seasonally depending on the availability of water, animals to hunt and edible plants.
They are believed to be among the oldest cultures on Earth.
Our G-Adventure tour organised a walking excursion with the San People, so we could learn about how they live and the different resources they are able to source from the ground.
From vegetables and grubs they could eat, to various roots with healing and cleaning properties. It was pretty inspiring!
5 Reasons you should visit the local Namibia Tribes
- It gives you an authentic insight into how Namibian people traditionally live/lived
- You get to support the local community and those who make the country what it is
- You get to have a more rounded experience of Namibia culture, rather than just seeing the tourist attractions or staying in touristy areas
- You get to learn the ways of the people, whether it be their traditional song and dance, how they live off the nature and also interesting facts about their history.
- You may not be able to see these tribes in other parts of Africa
How to Find the Namibia Tribes
If you’re interested in seeing these local tribes when travelling in Namibia, the best way to do it is on a group tour.
Some of the tribes are located in parts of Namibia that are off the beaten track, so they are not easy to find unless you know where you’re going.
I chose to travel with G-adventures as they are always focused on supporting the local community and giving travellers authentic experiences.
Here is the link to the group tour I did, however there are some smaller tours which you may be more interested in.
This shorter tour (13 days) by G-Adventures also provides you with an opportunity to meet some of the Namibian tribes and local people.
You can check it out here: Cape & Dunes Northbound: Wildlife & Starry Night Skies
There are some great day tour alternatives here as well, which may tickle your fancy.
If you have any general questions about Namibia, or are interested in learning more about it from a solo traveller who has done it, feel free to leave me a comment below and I’ll get back to you.
So, there you have it:
3 Namibia Tribes in Africa you Must Visit
Here’s a summary of what we covered in the article.
- Himba Tribe
- Herero Tribe
- Damara Tribe
- San Bushmen
- 5 reasons you should visit these local Namibia Tribes
- & How to find them