The Zambezi region, like the neighbouring Kavango region, is renowned for its crafts, especially woodcarving and basketry. Over the last few years several centres have been established to showcase these skills and sell the fruits of the artisans’ labours as souvenirs to tourists. These have been encouraged by government as a means of sustainable development, though with varying degrees of success. However, the overall rise in visitor numbers to Namibia has increased the demand for crafts, resulting in more mass-produced items and fewer genuine, high-quality individually crafted pieces. Indeed, the selection varies little from place to place: walking sticks, wooden animals, baskets, clay pots, soapstone carvings and tie-dye textiles abound, with a smattering of jewellery across the craft shops. Designs often reflect the surrounding environment, also incorporating themes and techniques brought over from Zambia and Zimbabwe, while some items are straight imports from these neighbouring countries.
Junction of the B8 and the C49 (MR125), Kongola t 066 252800, w mashicrafts.com. An easy stopover at the intersection, opposite the Engen garage. Plenty of items nicely displayed, including carvings, basketry, pots and jewellery. Mon–Fri & Sun 8am–5pm.
On the B8, 2km before the border post t 066 252108. This unmissable, brightly painted thatched rondavel by the main road features baskets, mats, pottery and woodcarvings. Mon–Sat 8am–5pm.
Sangwali, just after the turn-off from the C49 towards Nkasa Rupara National Park t 081 238 6366. You’ll need to get someone to open up here, to see the rather dusty collection of basketry and woodcarvings. No fixed hours.
Zambezi Arts and Cultural Association
Hage Geingob Rd at Hospital Rd, Katima Mulilo t 066 252670. Unequivocally the best regional selection of crafts, choc-full of the customary offerings but with some more unusual items hidden among them. Mon–Fri 8am–5pm, Sat 8am–noon.