There is no shortage of fabulous markets in Namibia, although some are located slightly off the beaten track. From the larger markets located in the major cities of Windhoek and Swakopmund to tiny, rural pit stops that are centered around community talent and local materials, every visitor is sure to find their own amazing mementos of Namibia. Here are some suggestions on where to pick up your own little slice of the country to take home with you.
Namibia Craft Centre
Authentic African handmade crafts and fabulous food is what this great market is all about, with in excess of 30 stalls run by local communities and ethnic groups. There is an assorted range of unique and genuine products to choose from that vary from beautiful pieces of jewelry to intricately carved tree roots. The market is also well known for its tasty and eclectic food, and is said to sell some of the best cheesecake and apple pie in the country.
Namibia Craft Centre, 40, Tal Street, Windhoek, +264 61242222
Okahandja Wood Market
These open-air wood markets are one of Namibia’s more popular tourist attractions, but do come with a warning about persistent sales people. If you have the patience, however, the markets are well worth it, as there is an excellent array of crafts, souvenirs, and memorabilia. The Okahandja Wood Market specializes in large wooden carvings of Namibian animals, people, jewelry, décor, and curios and is managed by the Rundu-based Namibian Carvers’ Association, ensuring goods of great quality.
Penduka Women’s Project
The Penduka Women’s Project in Katatura makes for an awesome day trip and is located on a picturesque lake. The non-profit organization provides employment for hundreds of local women who produce excellent handmade wares such as pottery, embroidery, and beadwork. After you have had your fill of retail therapy, you can enjoy the lake views with a drink and a bite to eat.
It could be argued that an experience of Namibia is not quite complete without tasting kapana, and one of the best places to do this is at the open-air market in Katatura, near Windhoek. Namibians are well known for their fondness of meat; kapana is strips of meat that are cooked over an open flame and served hot with your choice of spice, usually chili.
Post Street Mall
This colourful and bizarre market consists of a collection of street vendors selling everything from curios, paintings, and artwork to clothing and carvings. The mall is located on a elevated walkway in the heart of Windhoek’s retail hub and also houses an interesting display of meteorites that are over 600 million years old.
Kunene Craft Centre
The Kunene Craft Centre is situated in Opuwo, the traditional homeland of the Himba tribe. While there is nothing much else in the town besides a petrol station and a few shops, the Kunene market does sell an interesting collection of Himba jewelry made from metal, seeds, and beads. Himba crafts are starting to be noticed the world over as contemporary fashion items, so don’t miss out on the chance to pick up some gorgeous pieces.
Khorixas Craft Centre
This traditional Namibian arts and crafts centre is located between Twyfelfontein and Outjo, near the entrance to the Etosha National Park. It sells an assortment of handmade accessories that range from traditional dolls and gemstones to jewelry made from ostrich egg shells, and ornamental wood carvings. The majority of the products are crafted from natural materials or recycled goods, and visitors are always welcomed with warm smiles.
Ûiba Ôas Crystals Market
Located within the Erongo region of Namibia, this sparkling market is all about semi-precious gemstones and crystals that are dug from the ground on and around the nearby Klein Spitzkoppe mountains. The gems are sourced by members of the Small-Scale Miners’ Cooperative using hammers and chisels, before they are polished and brought to the market to sell. Pick up some aquamarines, amethysts, quartz, and a variety of other beautiful, healing stones.
Tulongeni Craft Market
It’s easy to go potty for pots at the Tulongeni Craft Market, an Owumbo community craft project where women from the community use their traditionally taught knowledge and skills to create pots from clay collected from the nearby floodplains. The market also sells fabulous woven baskets that play an important role in Owumbo cultural tradition and are used to store and carry grain and other foodstuffs.
Open on the last Saturday of every month, the Vineta Market in Swakopmund offers a selling space for entrepreneurs who cannot afford to fork out for hefty shop rentals or marketing campaigns. As such it attracts a wide variety of vendors from all over the country selling a smorgasbord of products ranging from plants and books to baked treats and homemade goods. A great place to spend a few hours.