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Rundu

Travelling 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.

We are here in the communal settling area of the Kavango with the district capital Rundu, situated on the Okavango River, the lifeline of this region. The slowly flowing river marks - for more than 400 kilometres - 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.


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Photos: Left sunset over the Okavango. Right A Kavango woodcarver with a typical artwork.
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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 centre 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.

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.  

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