Whilst as a traveller I certainly want to visit the typical tourist attractions, however in saying that, I get more satisfaction from experiencing local culture and interacting with the local people. When I arrived in Windhoek, I met a South African business man who regularly comes to Windhoek for business, he had a day free and offered to show me the real Windhoek, not the typical tourist trail!
With a population of over 1.5 billion, the chinese seem to have created a China Town in pretty well every country around the world, and Windhoek, Namibia is no exception. Whilst China Town in Windhoek doesn’t have the intricate dragons and Chinese decor that other Towns do around the world, it does present an awesome shopping mecca of imported chinese clothes, accessories, underwear and random electronics.
China Town – Windhoek, Namibia
Katatura is local township in Windhoek and basically home of the black Windhoek residents who work in and around the CBD in hospitality and retail jobs. The township itself is quite expensive to live in and very run down with a room costing 1000NMB a month which is quite expensive given that the average income of the people living in this township being 4000NMB / month. Visiting this township provides a unique insight into how the black community of Windhoek lives, each street is lined with bars and street food vendors and beauty salons. Given how developed the CBD of Windhoek is, it is quite surprising seeing the contrast of Katatura in comparison to other parts of the city.
Katatura, Windhoek, Namibia
Bars & Restaurants
If you like a cold beverage, Katatura provides an excellent opportunity for a cheap pub crawl with dozens of bars located within the township. The beer is much cheaper than in the backpackers hostels or in restaurants as you can get a 750ml lager for 12NMB ($1.20USD). Like everything African, hip hop music is radiating throughout the bars and as the African’s love this music, the volume is cranked so loudly that you can barely hear yourself think, nevertheless talk to anyone else. I was the only white person in the village whilst I was there and found it incredibly interesting walking around, I attracted considerable attention from the locals, but they were all very accommodating of my presence and made me feel very welcome.
Typical Katatura Bar
Meat Market & Single Quarters
The meat market in Katatura is where all the beef and game meat in the local area is slaughtered and distributed, whilst the market looks quite unhygienic, it is actually very heavily regulated with 4 permanent health inspectors present at the market every day observing the standards of the butchery. As a vegetarian, the concept of eating the meat didn’t appeal to me but it was certainly very interesting to watch the process and learn more about the meat and produce standards in Namibia. I actually found it incredibly interesting that Namibia’s meat and produce industry is heavily regulated and the use of hormones and growth pesticides in this country is forbidden, therefore all the food is incredibly organic and very tasty. Whilst i didn’t eat any meat personally, I was told that it certainly is one of the best places in the world for the carnivores!
There are many local restaurants in the meat market who cook food freshly for dinners in the local area, as a vegetarian I had a fabulous lunch consisting of sweet potato and spinach and freshly made chilli sauce and the company I was with, refused to let me use cutlery to consume my lunch!
I would definitely recommend taking some time and exploring the local township in Katatura, Windhoek, Namibia, the area is rich with history and culture, the people are friendly and the food is amazing. It also gives a real appreciation of the realities of life for the people in Namibia, providing realistic glimpses into the issues faced by these people. Unfortunately many ‘local village tours’ that are conducted by tourist operators throughout Africa only provide glimpses of traditional ways of life, such as the Masaai Tribes, but this way of life is ceasing to exist and townships such as Katatura provide an honest account of the way of life in Namibia.
I was lucky enough to have meet a friend who took me on this tour, however with that being said, the Cardboard Box Backpackers can arrange local tours of the Katatura Township, however with that being said, it isn’t difficult to get a taxi to drop you off in the village and spend a couple of hours there on your own. Again, as a solo female traveller, I never felt my safety or security compromised, if anything I felt nothing but welcome thanks to the kindness and hospitality of these wonderful people.