Traveling from Grootfontein on the B8 north-east, the scenery becomes more and more African after about 100km. Small settlements of thatched rondavels spring up close to the road and the bushveld becomes denser and greener. More trees grow here than in the south. Between the settlements, one can even find vegetable patches and maize and millet fields. There are no fences and often goats, sheep or cattle cross the road. The closer you get to Rundu, the more frequently you find woodcarvers' huts along the side of the road. The Kavango are skilful woodcarvers. They patiently wait at the roadside to offer their artwork to the few tourists on Namibia safari tour to Rundu.
This is the communal settling area of the Kavango with the district capital Rundu. It is situated on the Okavango River, the lifeline of this region. The slowly flowing river marks - for more than 400 kilometers - the border between Namibia and Angola, before it takes a turn to the south into the Okavango Delta, where it trickles away in a thousand little armlets in the Kalahari basin which has no outlet.
The Kavango people originates in Angola. Many came to Namibia during the civil war. But the border is practically non-existent, since the Kavango have been living for centuries on both sides of the Okavango River. Most families have relatives and friends on the other side.
The district capital Rundu is the only commercial center in the Kavango region. During the independence struggle, Rundu was the base of the South African military forces. The little place of 50,000 inhabitants owes its tarred road, the B8, to the fact that it was the supply route to the north. The town offers hardly any attraction, but lively markets in halls and on the streets where mainly fish produce of the local fishermen and farmers is for sale. And Rundu has beautiful spots on the river and spectacular sunsets.
Where is Rundu
Rundu is the gate to the Caprivi and here is the place to fill up the fuel tank and stock up on groceries. There is not much to buy later on the 500 km stretch of the Trans-Caprivi-Highway to Katima Mulilo.
Rundu is a city found in Kavango East, Namibia. It is located -17.93 latitude and 19.77 longitude and it is situated at elevation 1110 meters above sea level.
Rundu has a population of 58,172 making it the biggest city in Kavango East. It operates on the CAT time zone.
Rundu is the second largest town after the capital of Windhoek. Rundu is situated in the north east of Namibia directly at the Okavango River and the Angolan border. The town is the main centre of the Kavango Region.
History of Rundu Namibia
The area north of the Okavango, which today is Angola, had already been colonised during the 18th/19th century by the Portuguese, which led to the resettlement of numerous inhabitants from the northern side of the river to the southern banks.
The southern side of the Okavongo became part of German South West Africa in 1885. Due to its isolated position the first expedition into the area only took place in 1903. The establishment of several missionary stations followed shortly afterwards.
The town was founded in 1936 by the South African government and served as administrative centre for the Kavangos.
In line with the apartheid politics of the South African government separate black and white suburbs where formed in the seventies.
As Angola supported the Namibian civil war for independence from 1966 until 1988 and had a fierce civil war itself South African troops were stationed in Rundu. At the end of the eighties UN soldiers were stationed in Rundu. They also supported the elections for independence in 1990.
After independence the number of inhabitants has more than doubled due to immigrations from Angola (rural depopulation and political refugees). This necessitated some investment into the towns’ infrastructure, which was financed by the government, the town and by aid organisations.
Although Rundu still counts to one of the poorest towns of Namibia it experiences an economic boom due to the finalisation of the Trans-Caprivi-Highway. It connects the harbour of Walvis Bay with Lusaka, the Capital of Zambia improving the connection of the Caprivi Strip to Central Namibia and the Atlantic coast immensely. Zambia has thus also gained faster access to the ocean.
Climate in Rundu
Rundu has a hot semi-arid climate, with hot summers and relatively mild winters (with warm days and chilly to cool nights). Even though it has a hot semi-arid climate, the area experiences high diurnal temperature variation ;during the winter with average high temperatures at roughly 26 °C (79 °F) and average low temperatures at 6 °C (43 °F). This large swing in daily temperature is more commonplace among areas with cold semi-arid climates. During the summer, the diurnal temperature variation is less pronounced. The average annual precipitation is 568 mm (22 in).
Top Things to Do in Rundu
Small and quiet, Rundu is not a party place, but a place to unwind and relax. If you’re travelling to Rundu from the Namibian coast, your eyes will be struck by the green fields and trees - it’s a totally different landscape than the yellow sand dunes and the wide and endless nothingness of many places close to the coast. Since it’s at the edge of the Caprivi Strip, Rundu is also a good spot to break up the trip and it’s an inevitable stopping point when travelling in the region. So what can you do while you’re here? Here’s a list of suggestions, for you.
Okavango River Walk
One of the best things in Rundu is the river side. The Okavango River is the natural border between Namibia and Angola, making all the hippos and crocodiles, citizens without a country. Walking along the Okavango is calming and you might, at times, meet people bathing, here. Don’t try to visit alone, though as crocodiles and hippos are not always friendly to people who invade their territory!
Explore Rundu Open Market
Founded in 1996, the Rundu Open Market is where you can find a wide variety of things, from local food and drinks to clothes, shoes, beans and flour. It’s an interesting place to pass through. You can see some Namibian crafts here and interact with the sellers - they are very friendly and welcoming to tourists. Although it’s not huge, it’s the largest open market in Rundu and depending on the time of day, it can be either crowded or rather empty.
Visit Mbuza Living Museum
There are many living museums across Namibia. The concept is intended to bring extra income to local communities while giving tourists an opportunity to experience the culture and habits of different ethnic groups. The environments and outfits are often reproduced from old photographs. To get to Mbunza Living Museum, you have to drive 14 km (8.7 miles), west of Rundu. The living museums show the pre-colonial lifestyle of the Kavango area. Everything is presented in the local language (Rukwangali), but the guide will translate for you, into English. If you want to buy souvenirs, there’s also a small craft shop on the premises.
Tour St Joseph Catholic Mission Museum
There aren’t many museums in the north of Namibia, but one of them is inside the church of St. Joseph’s Catholic Mission. Getting there is a bit of a drive since it’s 34 km (21 miles) away from Rundu. This mission was established in 1930 and it has a church, two hostels (one for boys, one for girls), a school and a clinic. The museum provides information about the region, mostly historical facts, so it’s a good learning opportunity. If you’re driving past Ngone Village, do make sure to stop for a short visit.
Visit Ncumcara Community Forestry Craft Center
If you are interested in wood carvings, Ncumcara Community Forestry Craft Centre is the place to find them. The products are high quality, made by local artists. All the profits from the craft centre benefit the local community, making the project a sustainable one. Even if you’re not interested in buying things, you can stop by to have a look and be amazed at the carving skills of the local people. You can also compare these products with those from other parts of Namibia.
|Languages spoken||Afrikaans, German, English|
|Currency used||Namibian Dollar (NAD)|