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Souvenirs in Namibia

I speak from my own experience of wanting to buy souvenirs for friends and family and then being pretty much ripped off 😂.

On my first visit to Namibia, I had absolutely no idea what reasonable prices are for some souvenirs and especially how to quickly convert to know how they relate. No one wants to pay 12€ for a Makalani nut (which I stupidly did at the time because I simply had no idea) when this nut with the carvings actually costs only a few cents.

Last year a vendor wanted to sell me another Makalani nut for 12€, but when I told him that you can get them for less than 3€ in Windhoek, he would have sold them to me for even less!

First of all, you should know the good souvenir shops or stalls. For me personally, the market in Independence Avenue right next to the Hilton Hotel is the cheapest and most authentic. The vendors are very good to deal with and you will find the same selection of products as you would find in other markets. The wood market in Okahandja is also supposed to be great, but I haven't been there yet. As the name suggests, the best wooden souvenirs are made there, from wooden cutlery to bowls and the famous carved animals, you will find much more there!

The important thing is that no price is set in stone, haggle for all you're worth and don't be fooled, be quick-witted and don't settle for the first price quoted! If you buy a few products at once, you can also negotiate a total price very well. It's a lot of fun and a great holiday experience!

In the various shops in the malls or craft centres, souvenirs often cost three times as much and the manufacturer still only earns the smallest part. What's nice is that most of the souvenirs are locally made and you can distinguish these products very well from imported products from China, etc.

That's why I like the stalls in Independence so much. You can really get into a conversation, everyone is super friendly and you have a great selection.

To convert, I always use a rough guide. For N$100 I always convert +-6€. Depending on the exchange rate, of course, but so far it has always worked quite well. Otherwise, you can also download an app if you want to know the exact exchange rate.

Important: If you want to take photos, ask first out of respect. No one will deny it. Some will ask for money, especially if they are wearing their traditional dress. But let's be honest, you can pay a few cents/euros for such a photo motif.

I was there a few days ago and met Suama, she is on Independence Avenue every day selling her souvenirs. She was super nice and helped me get an overview of the prices. I also got to take some photos and will definitely be back at her place soon to buy some stuff for our office!

Here is a small overview of a few prices to give you an idea:

Makalani nut: N$30-50 (depending on size and whether it is still personalised or not).

Table runner: N$200-N$250

Small wooden figurine (hand-sized): N$30-50

Large wooden figurines: N$300 and more, depending on the cost and size

Bangles: N$30-50

Beaded animals: N$50-100

Woven baskets: N$100 and up depending on size, the large ones at least N$250

Wooden bowls small to large: N$50-500

Beaded keychain: N$50-80

Of course, these are very rough prices, in the end you decide on the price with the trader and if both sides are happy, then you have achieved your goal!

Other souvenirs you cannot buy at such markets are for example local wine. Yes, Namibia also grows wine, in the Otavi region. Or Melktert Schnapps, which is also highly recommended!

You can also buy real skins, of ibex or zebra, but I think this has to be declared and customs paid, generally I wouldn't buy animal products and take them home.

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