Once known for having elephants marching through the streets, Katima Mulilo is now a thriving hub of activity. However, it’s surrounded by verdant forests so you still get a feeling of being cut off from the rest of the world. The tropical atmosphere might make you feel like Katima Mulilo has more in common with Zambia and Zimbabwe than the rest of Namibia, but it’s definitely worth the trip.
Katima Mulilo sits right at the eastern edge of the Caprivi Strip. It’s just about as far from Windhoek as you can get. The town itself sprawls across the border with Zambia, and isn’t too far from Botswana. It’s quickly becoming the commercial centre of the area, despite being surrounded by lush greenery and sitting on the banks of the Zambezi River. We can’t wait to see what it will become. Katima means to ‘quench the fire’ in SiLozi. The name comes from the nearby rapids that keep the area cool, and the thick, moist air that encases the town.
During your stay, you should visit the open market for a more authentic Namibian experience. See the women in chitenges crouching over their stalls and try to sample as much local produce as you can – the fruit and sweets are a great place to start. It’s a truly magical experience as you’ll hear the Sungara and Zed beats blending together to make an atmospheric marketplace.
For something a little more modern, head to the town centre. Here you’ll find supermarkets, banks and strip malls. It may sound a little dull, but while you’re there, you should check out the work of the Zambezi Arts and Cultural Association; they’re developing a unique and interesting art scene here.
Katima Mulilo is a charming, but slightly commercial spot. With a bit of work, it could soon become a tourist hotspot. The Zambezi Waterfront Park is being developed, so soon the locals and visitors will be able to make the most of this riverside setting. However, for now it seems that Katima Mulilo is more of a shopping destination than a waterside retreat.
It’s worth spending a day here on your way through to Zambia. Many travellers skip it, but this could be your chance to discover its full potential before it becomes overrun by tourists.
Plan your trip to Katima Mulilo today.