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Healing Power of Himba

By: Carolina Ramirez Herrera

One of the most important parts of the Habitas Namibia experience is finding connection. Surrounded by the sounds of the bush, finding connection with nature will come easy but finding connection with yourself and really disconnecting is a feat easier said than done. The pace in Habitas Namibia’s vast savannah caters to the wellness-oriented wanderer, rising with the sun is common practice here, along with enjoying nutritious local fare and taking advantage of the abundant downtime. Stargazing, poolside yoga and bush meditations are a few offerings you’ll find in our wellness programming. 

Our wellness sanctuary in Namibia led by wellness manager Ru Hansen, is the perfect opportunity to recharge, restore and reconnect using ancestral practices inspired by the local Himba culture. 

“We are truly blessed that Habitas conscientiously creates homes in locations that inspire awe.  Inspiration happens for me on so many different levels. I am inspired by my Creator, humanity and nature. Every day, I marvel at everything around me and enjoy talking to all living things – the rock dassies, the plethora of birds, lizards etc.  As a morning person, the pristine air and primordial sounds ushering in a new dawn are pure meditation to my senses.” says Ru. Our wellness programming combines ancestral practices from around the globe with a strong influence from the Himba, the indigenous people native to Namibia. We sit down with Ru as she tells us about her favorite treatment and what wellness means to her.  

Perhaps one of our most unique and locally inspired treatments is the Hematite Full Body Mask, inspired directly from our Himba culture. For generations, the semi-nomadic Himba tribe have made the famous red ochre cream by pounding the ochre stone (Hematite) into small pieces. The fragments are then mixed with butter and myrrh essential oil, slightly heated using smoke and applied on the skin. This ‘otjize’ paste gives the women’s skin and hair a distinctive red glow which symbolizes both blood, the essence of life, and the earth’s rich red color. 

“Through personal conversations with our Himba sisters, we know that they use ochre butter to protect their skin from the sun and it also keeps the skin clean and hydrated.  The red stones are also rich in iron which we know is an essential mineral for our bodies and the skin is one way we ingest minerals.” says Ru.  This treatment can be offered as an individual treatment or as a communal wellness ritual. After letting the mask soak, it is rinsed in a traditional bush rinse. Due to the granular nature of the clay, the skin is left soft and supple. 

“Wellness is an embodiment of principles and practices that support and nurture the well being of the whole person. It is a harmonious integration of body, mind and spirit.  Wellness is an inner state which is cultivated within (mind and spirit) and expressed by the body as health.” says Ru. All of our treatments are meant to complement the tranquility of the bush and offer our guests holistic opportunities to disconnect to reconnect. A sunset bush meditation is an invitation to be present and practice true stillness surrounded by Namibia’s flora and fauna. Ru excitedly explains, “Sunsets are magical! Many times at night, I am pulled into a moment of absolute magic by the soothing chirping of crickets, the full moon illuminating the lodge, kudus grazing quietly and a sky ablaze with bright stars. I also love the rainy season and witnessing the transformation of the dry golden bush into an emerald green landscape. Inspiration is everywhere, we just need to pay attention.”   

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