Occupying the northwest corner of Namibia, northern Kunene is a predominantly mountainous wilderness area, accessed by few roads and sparsely populated even by Namibian standards. The Baynes Mountains, which overlook the picturesque Epupa Falls on the Kunene River, rise to over 2000m. Elsewhere, the land consists of rock-strewn, reddish earth covered in acacia trees and flat-topped escarpments. Often referred to as Kaokoland, the former bantustan name that is still commonly used, or the Kaokoveld – designating the geographical area – it is home to the vast majority of the fifty thousand Himba, who are very much in evidence in Opuwo, the Kunene region’s unlikely capital. Stretching from the Skeleton Coast in the west a few hundred kilometres inland towards Etosha, northern Kunene is bounded by the perennial Kunene River in the north, which marks the border with Angola, and the dry Hoanib River in the south. It is here, and along the sandy riverbeds of the Huab, Hoarusib and Khumib rivers, that desert-adapted elephants and black rhino wander, seeking out vegetation in the scarce, spring-fed waterholes.

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