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No visit to Namibia would be complete without visiting the capital, Windhoek.  As world capitals go, Windhoek is one of the smallest with only about 250,000 inhabitants, but what it lacks in size is more than compensated for by charm.  Visitors are often surprised to find a modern and cosmopolitan city. With German widely spoken wherever you go you could be excused for being a little confused!  Welcome to Windhoek!


Best Time to Visit:

Anytime! For safaris the best time is during the dry winter months from June to September.

Average Visitor Rating:

5 out of 5 'Pawprints' Based on 0 Review(s)
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Windhoek – Gateway to Namibia

Windhoek is extremely well-positioned for a capital city – situated almost exactly in the centre of the country.  The city has good infrastructure and the central position makes it an ideal place from which to start your Namibian adventure or even a good starting point for safaris into the neighbouring countries of Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa.  Windhoek airport is served by several International airlines and it is easy to arrange car hire from here.  The city has several interesting places to visit and it is certainly worth spending a few days here before you set off on your Southern African tour.


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A Little History

The city of Windhoek was originally founded on the site of a hot-water spring and was known by two different names in the local languages of the Nama and Herero tribes which meant “place of hot-water” and “place of steam”.  Origins of the current name of the city are slightly blurred, with some people believing that it derives from the Afrikaans language description of a windy corner, while others believe it to be a corruption of the name “Winterhoek”, a range of mountains in South Africa where one of the cities’ first settlers came from. 


The reason that German is still so widely spoken here is that Namibia was a German Colony prior to WWI when it was called German South-West Africa, and was in fact almost twice the size of the German Empire in Europe!  These were dark days for the local tribes who were effectively dispossessed of their land and all their rights, and many were forced into slavery and concentration camps.  In 1915, during World War I, the region was invaded by the Allies (South African and British forces) and after the war the administration of the land was taken over by the South African Union, which was then part of the British Empire.  Namibia gained independence in 1990, but the German legacy lives on in the architecture, language and culture of Windhoek and there are still about 30,000 people of German descent living in Namibia today.



Historical Buildings, Heroes Acre and other city Highlights

Historical Buildings

See how German architecture has left its’ mark on Windhoek by visiting a few of the historical buildings in the city.  Of particular note are the Christuskirche (a German Lutheran church built in 1907 in a strange combination of Neo-Gothic and art nouveau styles!), Central Railway station, the Old Prison (in Goethe St), the College of Arts (Fidel Castro Street), Turnhalle Buiding (Bahnhof St), and the Tintenpalast in Robert Mugabe Street.  


Heroes Acre 

This moving monument is dedicated to all the indigenous people who lost their lives fighting for the land they considered their birthright.  It is a large area housing 174 graves, with public seating, a white marble obelisk and a flame that is kept constantly burning to honour the men and women who have contributed to the freedom of the country.


National Botanical Gardens

This is an excellent place to visit before setting off on your Namibian exploration, as it will give you some background on the strange and wonderful flora to be found in Namibia, such as the striking tree Aloes and several other unique species.  The Botanical gardens are just a few hundred meters from the centre of town and provide a quiet (and largely deserted!) place to commune with Nature.



Day Tours in and Around Windhoek

Namibian Brewery Tour

If you enjoy beer then this one is for you!  The tour will take you to the new home of the famous Windhoek Lager, Namibia’s favourite brew.  You can still visit the Old Brewery building in Town, but this tour takes place in the new modern premises where you can visit the bottling plant and production line before sampling the product for yourself.


Diamond Showroom

Diamonds are Forever, and Windhoek is the place to buy your very own genuine, certified item!  The showroom also sells other precious and semi-precious stones and jewellery; you need to arrange your visit ahead of time.


City and Township Tours

There are half-day guided historical and cultural city tours available, while for something a little different you can visit one of the Townships on the outskirts of the city to learn about  pre-independence apartheid, as it applied to Namibia.


Game Farms

If you happen to be visiting Windhoek on business and have no time to go a wildlife safari in Etosha, taking a day trip to one of the private game farms near Windhoek is a good chance to see some wildlife and conservation projects close to the city.



Accommodation in Windhoek

There is a reasonable choice when it comes to finding accommodation in Windhoek and there are several hotels and guesthouses to choose from, as well as the Windhoek Country Club Resort, where you can also enjoy a game of golf.



Restaurants and Nightlife

You will definitely not go hungry in Windhoek!  Meat, including game, features prominently on most menus and you will also find many restaurants serving traditional German food.  Some of the eateries are situated in really atmospheric buildings too...Leo’s, for instance, is found in Heinitzburg Castle and you will dine in the former ballroom, pampered with silver service, bone china and gleaming crystal.  Joe’s Beerhouse is something of a legend in Windhoek, serving up enormous portions of venison and other game meat (zebra, anyone?) – this one is probably best avoided by vegetarians, but carnivores will love it, as will beer drinkers as the restaurant stocks a wide range of Namibian and German beers.


The city is also not short of pubs and nightclubs and there is something for everyone, including a cinema complex and theatre.



How to Get There

Several International airlines have scheduled flights to Windhoek from all over Europe and the UK.  It is also possible to fly into Johannesburg or Cape Town from Europe and then transfer to Windhoek on Air Namibia or SAA.


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