The Friday Photo: Forgotten in the Desert

Jan 22, 2016 Community and Culture
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Sometimes a photo can tell far more of a story than we may at first believe. I was looking back through some of the photographs I had taken while staying at Serra Cafema Camp in Namibia. When I think of this camp I always think about the wonderful and very interesting time I spent at the nearby Himba village.

The photograph above, the first in our Friday Photo Series, was taken on our afternoon activity. On this trip I was with friends Andrew and Clare McElhayer and we decided to visit the Himba village. Clare (being British), was a little unsure about the correct etiquette for visiting Himba people, so we agreed that an “easy come, easy go” approach was good. Clare was comfortable with that and after chatting it through with our guide, decided that they would leave when ready and head out for sunset drinks in the Hartmann’s Valley. I persuaded the guide to leave me with the Himba so that I could spend more time, without rushing, to take photographs. Plans were made with a back-up guide to collect me on the way back to camp and we would then have dinner in the wine cellar together.

The afternoon light started to dim and a nasty sand storm picked up… I started to fear the worst. Had I been forgotten? Would I be spending the night in this unknown village with people who I could not communicate with because of our language barrier? Where would I sleep? These are the sorts of thoughts that race through your mind. I was in a vast desert with people who I hardly knew, from a very different background!

Sometime later after 7:30 pm, it was dark and Andrew and Clare raised the alarm that I was not back in camp… It seems that they had in fact forgotten to pick me up!

Meanwhile back at the Himba village the sand storm continued to howl… I considered my options… I could perhaps sleep in one of the huts, and use my fleece for warmth. The Himba people were going about their evening preparations, the men returned from the wilderness and were smoking and chatting. The women were cooking pap and I was pushing up my ISO – impossible to change to a faster lens with the sand storm raging. I decided to make the best of the kit I had in my hand.

The communication with the Himba women was all by eye contact and they are very used to tourists with cameras, so paid little attention to me. They went about their business of rounding up the chickens and comforting the baby who was playing music from an outrageous red radio!

As you can imagine, it was with great relief that I spotted the lights of a vehicle in the distance coming my way…

It was a great day and a story I will always remember.

Written and Photographed by Caroline Culbert

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By Caroline Culbert

Caroline is the Image and Video Coordinator for Wilderness Safaris. In this capacity Caroline is tremendously inspired by amazing wildlife photography on a daily basis, while working with the Wilderness Creative Resource Team has taken her own photographic interests to new heights. "I have been generously encouraged by the talented team of copywriters, web and graphic designers and professional photographers with whom I work. I feel privileged to have been able to visit some of the most pristine wildlife areas in the Wilderness Safaris portfolio." Caroline's recent travels have taken her to the Arctic, exploring polar bear territory from Svalbard, and wild gorilla and primate tracking in Central Africa. Her other passions experienced in rather different climates include a love for snow skiing in the Alps.

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