Katete, Zambia, is a tiny town on the Great East Road that runs from Chipata and the Malawi border, through to Lusaka, the Zambian capital. Katete is eighty-six kilometers west of Chipata and just under five hundred kilometers east of Lusaka. There is also a road south fifty kilometers to the Mozambique border and onward to Tete at Katete.
Katete is located at the foot of a number of rocky hills that cry out for exploration. Unfortunately, Katete is just another town passed through on the journey between Lusaka and South Luangwa National Park, which is a shame, as this is a very interesting area to explore.
Accommodation in Katete is fairly thin on the ground, but it does have a community center, which has hostel dorm beds and cheap huts available for international budget travelers. This is the main reason for coming to Katete. The community center offers lots of activities including walks and cultural performances, and visitors can volunteer here and get involved in local community projects. As the Katete, Zambia hostel and community center offers cheap accommodation, it makes a viable stop for travelers interested in the village culture of the region.
Katete's hostel and community center offers the visitor three meals a day on request and can get you involved in any of the many activities it organizes throughout the town. Much of the volunteering centers on getting the residents to be self-sufficient in their farming and small business activities. Health is an important issue with HIV infection rates very high.
The community center also has a small gift shop, selling handicrafts made by the locals and is a very worthwhile cause to support, even if you are just passing through. If you're lucky enough to be around Katete in August, you might be able to witness the "Gule Wamkulu." The "Great Dance of the Chewa Tribe" takes place during the five-day Kulamba Festival, when the Chewa tribe gather from Malawi, Zambia, and Mozambique in the village of Kachipu, just a fifteen-minute oxcart ride from Katete. The celebration takes place after the July harvest, and the dancers wear costumes of wood and straw. The Gule Wamkulu is recognized by UNESCO on their Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
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