Sprawling along a bluff above the Kavango River, subtropical RUNDU’s rapidly expanding population – an estimated eighty thousand – has doubled over the last fifteen years. With the Trans Caprivi Highway speeding east to Zambia, and improving links with Angola, the town is developing as a commercial and transport hub, prompting the municipal website to declare optimistically that it is “much more than a refuelling stop”. Most tourists, however, have yet to be convinced, rarely spending more than a few hours, or a night, here en route to somewhere else. Yet outside the town, along the river, there are several relatively inexpensive lodges where you can unwind for a couple of days, though the setting and wildlife are not as spectacular as that offered by some accommodation further east. Their main appeal is the chance get on the water in a boat, watching the birds flit along the riverbank and soaking up the glorious sunsets. Take note, though, that at the height of the dry season (Sept–Nov), there’s rarely enough water in the river to float a rubber duck, never mind a motorboat.

Rundu itself has little in the way of tourist sights, and is trying hard to shrug off its frontier-town feel: hawkers have been banned from flogging their wares along the pavements – though some are defiantly resisting the “clean-up” – and a fairly swanky new shopping mall, with the predictable South African chain stores, has now replaced the older shops on the main street.

For more local flavour, wander round the open market, laden with fruit and vegetables, on Usivi Road. Or call in at the Mbangura Woodcarvers Cooperative, next door to the Spar supermarket – the Kavango inhabitants of the region are renowned for their woodcarving and here you can see artisans at work. Down at the river, Rundu Beach is another community focal point, where folk wash, play in the water, and party to loud music on the sand.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Namibia features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Namibia from above: the world's most extreme landscape

Namibia from above: the world's most extreme landscape

The Namib desert is one of the world’s most extreme environments. Covering 81,000 square kilometres, its vastness can only truly be appreciated from above. He…

17 Jul 2017 • Lottie Gross local_activity Special feature
In pictures: the otherworldly landscapes of Namibia

In pictures: the otherworldly landscapes of Namibia

From the spectacular dunes of the Namib Desert to the serpentine chasm of the Fish River Canyon, the rugged mountains of the Great Escarpment to the acacia-stud…

05 Jul 2017 • Sara Humphreys camera_alt Gallery
27 awe-inspiring pictures of Namibia

27 awe-inspiring pictures of Namibia

Namibia has some of the world's most astonishing landscapes. It's home to the world's oldest desert, a long and undeveloped coastline and national parks that te…

31 May 2016 • Lottie Gross insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month