Rundu, Namibia

Reading Time: 8 minutes

Rundu, Namibia

Region: Kavango East


Geographic Coordinates: -17.916700, 19.766700
Climate: Varies.
Population: 63431
Language: English

Rundu is a vibrant town located in the northeastern part of Namibia, Nestled on the banks of the mighty Okavango River. It serves as the capital of the Kavango East region and is a bustling hub for both locals and tourists alike. With its unique blend of cultural heritage, Natural beauty, And adventurous activities, Rundu offers an unforgettable experience to visitors. One of Rundu’s main attractions is undoubtedly its stunning location along the Okavango River. The river provides a picturesque backdrop with its tranquil waters and lush vegetation.

Visitors can take leisurely boat cruises or go fishing to enjoy this serene environment while spotting various bird species such as African fish eagles or kingfishers. The town itself has a lively atmosphere with bustling markets where locals sell traditional crafts, Fresh produce, And homemade delicacies. Exploring these vibrant markets provides an opportunity to immerse oneself in local culture while discovering unique souvenirs to take home. For nature enthusiasts, Nearby Popa Falls offers breathtaking views and cascades created by rapids along the Okavango River. This scenic spot is perfect for picnicking or simply enjoying nature’s serenity.

Rundu also boasts several community-based tourism initiatives that offer visitors an authentic insight into traditional life in Namibia’s rural areas. These initiatives allow travelers to interact with local communities, Learn about their customs and traditions firsthand, And participate in activities like basket weaving or dancing. Another highlight near Rundu is Mahangu National Park – one of Namibia’s hidden gems. This park showcases diverse wildlife including elephants, Buffalos, Antelopes like sable or roan antelope, As well as numerous bird species. Game drives through Mahangu National Park provide incredible opportunities for wildlife sightings within a pristine natural setting.

but not least important are Rundu’s friendly residents who warmly welcome visitors from around the world with open arms. Their genuine hospitality and willingness to share their rich cultural heritage make Rundu an even more memorable destination. Rundu offers a unique blend of natural beauty, Cultural experiences, And adventurous activities. Whether it’s exploring the Okavango River, Visiting vibrant markets, Immersing oneself in traditional communities or discovering the wonders of Mahangu National Park, This town has something for everyone. With its welcoming atmosphere and stunning surroundings, Rundu is undoubtedly a must-visit destination in Namibia.



Important Landmarks

  1. Popa Falls: Located on the Okavango River, these series of rapids and cascades offer stunning views and are a popular spot for picnics.
  2. Kaisosi River Lodge: A scenic lodge situated on the banks of the Okavango River, offering accommodation, boat cruises, fishing opportunities, and wildlife sightings.
  3. Mbunza Living Museum: A cultural village that provides an authentic experience of traditional Kavango culture through exhibits, guided tours, and performances.
  4. Rundu Open Market: A bustling market where visitors can find a variety of local crafts, fresh produce, clothing, and traditional food.
  5. Mahangu Game Reserve: Located about 22 kilometers from Rundu town center, this reserve offers opportunities for game drives to see various wildlife species such as elephants, antelopes, giraffes, zebras, and numerous bird species.
  6. Rundu Cathedral (St Mary’s Catholic Mission): This beautiful cathedral is one of the largest in Namibia and features unique architecture with a blend of African and European influences.
  7. Divindu Cultural Village: Situated near Rundu town along the Okavango Riverbank, is an ideal place to experience local culture through dance performances, demonstrations, and traditional meals.

These are just a few examples; there are also other natural attractions like riverside lodges offering river cruises or fishing trips that provide tourists with memorable experiences in this region.


Primary Industries

  1. Agriculture: Rundu is known for its fertile soil and favorable climate for agriculture. The region produces a variety of crops such as maize, millet, sorghum, beans, vegetables, and fruits.
  2. Livestock farming: Cattle farming is a significant industry in Rundu. Many farmers rear cattle for meat production or engage in dairy farming.
  3. Fishing: Rundu is situated along the Okavango River, which provides opportunities for fishing activities such as tilapia harvesting.
  4. Retail and trade: As a regional hub, Rundu has numerous retail stores ranging from supermarkets to local markets where various goods are sold.
  5. Tourism: While not as prominent as other regions in Namibia like Swakopmund or Etosha National Park, Rundu attracts tourists due to its scenic location on the Okavango River and nearby nature reserves like Popa Falls.
  6. Manufacturing: There are some small-scale manufacturing activities present in Rundu that involve processing agricultural products such as milling grains or producing food products like cooking oil.
  7. Construction industry: With ongoing development projects within the town and surrounding areas, construction companies play a vital role in infrastructure development.
  8. Hospitality sector: Hotels, lodges, guesthouses cater to tourists passing through or visiting attractions around the area.
  9. Transportation services: Given its strategic location along major transportation routes connecting northern Namibia with Angola via the Trans-Caprivi Highway (B8), there are businesses involved in transportation services such as trucking companies or taxi operators.

It’s important to note that while these industries may be significant within Rundu’s economy; they might not be on par with larger urban centers within Namibia.


Noteable History

Historical Events:

  • German Colonization: Rundu was established as a German military post in 1900 during the German colonization of Namibia.
  • South African Occupation: After World War I, Rundu became part of South West Africa (now Namibia) under South African administration until independence in 1990.
  • Independence Struggle: Rundu played a significant role during Namibia’s struggle for independence from South Africa. It served as a base for SWAPO (South West Africa People’s Organization) fighters who fought against apartheid forces.

Notable People:

  • Sam Nujoma: Sam Nujoma is one of the most prominent figures associated with Rundu and Namibian history. He was the first President of independent Namibia (1990-2005) and played a crucial role in leading SWAPO’s fight against apartheid.
  • Hage Geingob: Hage Geingob, born in Otjiwarongo but raised in Rundu, is another notable figure from the area. He served as Prime Minister of Namibia from 1990 to 2002 and has been serving as President since 2015.
  • Kaptein Hendrik Witbooi: While not directly associated with Rundu, Kaptein Hendrik Witbooi is an important historical figure for all of Namibia. He was a Nama leader who resisted German colonial rule fiercely during the late 19th century.

These are just a few examples; there may be other individuals or events specific to Rundu that hold significance within local communities or oral traditions that aren’t widely known outside those circles.


Museums and Things To See

  1. Mbunza Living Museum: This open-air museum offers insights into the traditional lifestyle and culture of the Mbunza tribe. Visitors can witness traditional dances, crafts, and learn about their customs.
  2. Kavango Woodcarvers Market: Located in Rundu town, this vibrant market is a great place to appreciate local craftsmanship and purchase unique wooden sculptures carved by talented artisans.
  3. Popa Falls: Although not technically in Rundu (about 200 km east), Popa Falls is worth a visit for its scenic beauty and wildlife. These rapids on the Okavango River offer opportunities for birdwatching and boat safaris.
  4. Kaisosi River Lodge Crocodile Farm: Situated on the outskirts of Rundu, this crocodile farm provides guided tours where visitors can learn about these fascinating reptiles up close.
  5. Mbangura Woodcarvers Craft Market: Another craft market in Rundu known for its intricate wood carvings made by local artists.
  6. Mukwe Village: A small village near Rundu where visitors can experience rural life in Namibia firsthand while interacting with locals and learning about their traditions.
  7. Okavango Delta Boat Trips: While not directly within Rundu but accessible from there (around 100 km away), taking a boat trip into the Okavango Delta offers an incredible opportunity to explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site filled with diverse wildlife.

Remember to check opening hours and availability before visiting any specific location as they may be subject to change or seasonal variations.



Sports Teams

  1. Rundu Chiefs FC: Rundu Chiefs is a football (soccer) team based in Rundu. They compete in the Namibia Premier League and have had moderate success over the years.
  2. Kavango East Regional Games: The Kavango East Regional Games is an annual multi-sport event held in Rundu, showcasing various sports disciplines such as football, netball, athletics, volleyball, and others.
  3. Kavango River Marathon: The Kavango River Marathon is an annual marathon race held in Rundu since 2014. It attracts runners from across Namibia and neighboring countries to participate in different race categories.
  4. Netball tournaments: Rundu has hosted various netball tournaments at regional and national levels over the years.

It’s important to note that while these events may have contributed to the local sporting scene of Rundu, they might not have gained significant national or international recognition compared to other regions within Namibia or globally recognized teams/events elsewhere.



Cultural Events

  1. Kapana Festival: This annual event celebrates Namibian street food culture, with a focus on kapana – grilled meat skewers. It features live music performances, traditional dances, and various food stalls.
  2. Rundu Trade Fair: Held annually in August, this fair showcases local products and services from different sectors such as agriculture, tourism, crafts, and technology. It provides a platform for businesses to promote their offerings and attracts visitors from across the country.
  3. Kavango Cultural Festival: Celebrated in October each year, this festival highlights the rich cultural heritage of the Kavango people. It includes traditional music performances, dance competitions, storytelling sessions, arts and crafts exhibitions.
  4. Rundu Carnival: Taking place in December during the festive season, this carnival brings together people from different backgrounds to celebrate with colorful parades featuring vibrant costumes and floats accompanied by music and dance performances.
  5. Okavango Music Festival: Although not directly held in Rundu but nearby Bagani village (around 40km away), it is worth mentioning due to its popularity among locals and tourists alike. This multi-day event showcases a diverse range of African musical styles including traditional rhythms blended with contemporary sounds.

These events provide an opportunity to experience Namibian culture firsthand while enjoying lively entertainment surrounded by friendly locals.


Cuisine

  1. Kapana stalls: Kapana is a traditional street food in Namibia, consisting of grilled or barbecued meat skewers. There are several kapana stalls in Rundu where you can try this delicious local delicacy.
  2. Mahangu Grill: Mahangu is a staple food in Namibia made from pearl millet flour. Mahangu Grill is a popular restaurant in Rundu that serves traditional dishes made with mahangu, such as porridge, bread, and pancakes.
  3. Kavango River Lodge Restaurant: Located on the banks of the Kavango River, this restaurant offers stunning views along with a menu featuring both local and international dishes. It’s known for its fresh fish and seafood options.
  4. Ndonga Linena Traditional Restaurant: This restaurant specializes in traditional Ovambo cuisine. You can find dishes like oshikundu (traditional drink), ombidi (wild spinach), oshifima (maize porridge), and various meat stews.
  5. Savanna Coffee Shop & Restaurant: This cozy coffee shop serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner with an emphasis on local flavors and ingredients. They offer a range of dishes including burgers, sandwiches, salads as well as traditional African specialties.
  6. Divava Okavango Resort & Spa Restaurant: Situated just outside Rundu overlooking the Okavango River, this upscale resort offers an exquisite dining experience with a fusion of international and African cuisine.
  7. Donkey Cart Pub & Grill: Known for its relaxed atmosphere and live music performances on weekends, this pub serves up tasty grilled meats like steaks and burgers along with other pub-style favorites.

These are just some examples of the popular local cuisine options available in Rundu; there are many more small eateries offering authentic Namibian flavors throughout the town.


Parks and Recreation

  1. Popa Falls Resort: Located about 200 km east of Rundu, this resort offers beautiful scenery, hiking trails, fishing opportunities, and boat tours along the Kavango River.
  2. Kaisosi River Lodge: Situated on the banks of the Okavango River near Rundu, this lodge offers various outdoor activities such as bird watching, fishing, canoeing, and sunset cruises.
  3. Mbunza Living Museum: This cultural museum provides visitors with a chance to learn about traditional lifestyles and customs of the local Mbunza tribe through guided tours and interactive experiences.
  4. Mahangu Game Reserve: Located approximately 70 km southeast of Rundu, this reserve is home to diverse wildlife including elephants, buffalo, antelopes, hippos crocodiles and numerous bird species. Visitors can enjoy game drives or self-guided walks within the reserve.
  5. Camp Hogo: Situated on a private island in the Okavango River near Rundu (accessible only by boat), Camp Hogo offers camping facilities as well as activities like fishing trips and river safaris.
  6. Riverside Park: A popular recreational area along the banks of the Okavango River in central Rundu where locals gather for picnics or leisurely walks while enjoying scenic views.
  7. Golfing at Omega Golf Course: This 18-hole golf course located in eastern Rundu provides an opportunity for golf enthusiasts to enjoy their favorite sport amidst beautiful surroundings.
  8. Boat cruises on Kavango River: Several operators offer boat cruises along the Kavango River where visitors can relax while observing wildlife or enjoying stunning sunsets.
  9. Fishing trips on Okavango River: Fishing enthusiasts can embark on guided fishing trips along the Okavango River to catch species like tigerfish tilapia and catfish.
  10. Birdwatching: Rundu is known for its abundant birdlife, and birdwatchers can explore the surrounding areas to spot various species such as African fish eagles, kingfishers, herons, and many more.

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