Namibia Shopping and nightlife
Shopping in Namibia
Namibia may not have much of a reputation for retail therapy, but there’s plenty on offer if you know where to look. Windhoek is where you’ll find international brands, most of which are South African. The capital has several shopping malls, the best of which is Post St Mall, although it’s worth noting that most of the curios on offer there are cheap imports from Zimbabwe.
Local crafts such as wood carvings, karosse rugs and Herero dolls can be bought in curio shops and at the Windhoek Street Market, held every second Saturday. Precious gems are another big draw for Namibian shoppers, and the best are to be found at the House of Gems in Windhoek, which sells gorgeous jewellery. Also worth picking up are Swakopmunder leather shoes, most of which are made from kudu skins. Swakopmund also has plenty of gift shops for souvenirs.
In Rundu and other areas in the north east, you’ll find traditional San handicrafts including arrow heads and ostrich egg jewellery. Crafts and curios can also be found at regional craft centres and safari lodges. Visitors may reclaim VAT on goods of a minimum value of N$250.00 at Hosea Kutako International Airport, Eros Airport and Walvis Bay Airport, although the process is notoriously tricky to understand and follow.
Be extremely careful if you’re contemplating buying a piece that looks as if it could be made from an exotic skin or material. Buying and selling products made from protected animals such as elephants, black rhinos, cheetah and leopards is forbidden and attracts harsh punishment. However, you are likely to see some ivory on sale in and around Windhoek. This is usually the legitimate product of park culling operations and will be clearly marked.
Mon-Fri 0900-1700; Sat 0900-1300. Some bigger supermarkets are also open Sun 1100-1300 and 1600-1900.
Nightlife in Namibia
With most visitors to Namibia heading into the wilderness on safari, nightlife tends to be concentrated around the camp bar. Most of these are convivial, if quiet, and you’ll find staff ever ready to come and share a drink with you. The majority of towns will have a little pub, many attracting a crowd of local farmers supping on pints of beer and chewing the fat over a plate of biltong. For more serious party opportunities, head to Windhoek, Walvis Bay or Swakopmund, all of which offer a variety of activities after dark. Windhoek, as you’d expect, has the most to offer and benefits from a growing range of cigar bars, jazz clubs, arty cafes, cinemas, theatres and clubs. Visit during Windhoek Karnival in March or Oktoberfest to get the best of the action.
Joe’s Beerhouse (www.joesbeerhouse.com) is a local institution, which serves up a game-heavy snack selection, washed down with local beer. It’s fun and friendly, with boozing sessions extending into the small hours. Also worth a visit is Club Thriller, which is located in a rough part of town and is best done as a group. Beyond the unnerving weapons search at the door, you’ll find upbeat African tunes and a friendly crowd. At La Dee Da’s nightclub, you can dance to African beats beneath Namibia’s largest national flag. Swakopmund’s night scene is concentrated around several lively late-night pubs, often filled with overlanding groups. The old train station has been renovated into a casino if you fancy a flutter.