Friday, 24 February 2012

Experience Africa by Bicycle

Namibia offers a unique service - bicycle tours - to people who want to experience the scenery of Katutura. Mafwila started her Katu Tours six months ago and so far she has had more than a hundred customers. She has always worked in the tourism industry and she used to cycle to and from work.

After some brainstorming with Michael Linke of the Bicycling Empowerment Network Namibia, she decided to combine the two and start Katu Tours. "I love the tourism industry and wanted to do something for myself but I was not able to afford the cars but the bikes I could afford," says Mafwila.

The tours are offered seven days a week from Penduka and follow a route of about 8km through Eveline Street, the Soweto Market, the Single Quarters, the King's Daughters bicycle workshop and back to Penduka. People are free to stop along the route and to interact and talk to the community.

"We stop at a shebeen for water, we also stop at the Soweto Market to have some vetkoek and other traditional Namibian food. Some of my clients even have their hair cut at the market."

She can accommodate 18 people per tour and the tour usually lasts four hours. Although the tour follows a basic route, it can be adapted at the customer's request. "My clients' safety and their well-being and needs are most important," she added. "I have found a market and I know that people are very sceptical but if you don't try it you would not know how awesome it is," she says.

By being on bicycles and not in cars, interaction and communication with the community is much easier and people really get to experience Katutura. "In the beginning the community was very wary of the strangers cycling through their neighbourhood but now children and even adults on bikes join the tour for a while." Mafwila has also started with guided city centre tours on bicycles. The tours start and end at the Card Board Box and stop at all the main landmarks in Windhoek. She also rents out bicycles in the city centre. This year she plans to expand further and wants to offer team-building drives through Katutura. "Firstly people can experience a traditional market and traditional food like kapana and oshikundu and secondly the women selling their goods can make a little extra money," says Mafwila.

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