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WINDHOEK

NAMIBIA, SOUTHERN AFRICA

 
 

Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, is located in a basin between the Khomas Highland, Auas and Eros Mountains. Whether due to pure luck or a brilliant stroke of Germanic planning, Windhoek is situated in almost the exact centre of Namibia. This has obvious benefits when it comes to governing a country the size of Namibia, and also makes it the ideal place to start and plan any Namibian travel arrangements.

Windhoek is home to approximately two hundred thousand people, an extremely small capital by global standards. This number is growing rapidly at present mostly due to a lack of employment in rural areas. Despite the large increase in population over the last few years the city centre is extremely clean, and mostly trouble free. Most tourists comment on the cleanliness of the city, and often pronounce Windhoek to be a most un-African city. As can be expected from a capital city, Windhoek is home to many of the best hotels in Namibia, the city also offers several other accommodation establishments ranging from backpackers to up-market guest house.

 

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The Windhoek city centre is characterised by a proliferation of German style buildings, a lasting reminder of Namibia's early colonial history. Early buildings such as the Alte Feste (old fort), Christuskirche and Tintenpalast (the parliament buildings) are of particular historical interest. In a typical display of unintentional Namibian irony, the Alte Feste Fort, once the bastion of German colonialism, now houses the National Museum which places particular emphasis on the freedom struggle and Namibian independence.

Windhoek has had several names the earliest of which were the Damara /Ais //Gams (/ indicates a click in Nama spelling) which means firewater and the Herero Otjimuise or place of steam. The area was also called Queen Adelaide's Baths for a (mercifully) brief time. Several opinions are offered for the origin of the present name, the most popular of these is that in 1840 Jan Jonker Afrikaner, a Nama leader, named the area Winterhoek, after the farm in South Africa where he was born. Windhoek, or windy corner, is a corruption of this name.

Apart from being the logical place to start your travels, Windhoek has Namibia's only international airport. During the day the city centre has a European cafe culture, German cuisine dominates, but Namibian influence can be found in the quantity, and quality, of meat on offer (vegetarians be warned, Namibia is carnivore country). Nightlife in the city centre is limited to a few restaurants and the occasional night club. Rather strangely most of the nightlife happens outside of the city centre in the suburbs and township areas.

During South African occupation Windhoek was divided into three areas: Windhoek for the whites, Khomasdal for the coloureds and Katatura for the blacks. Katatura and Khomasdal have a vibrant nightlife and over the weekends the party last twenty four hours non-stop. For the uninitiated visiting one of these disadvantaged areas can be extremely daunting (and unsafe), but with a little local guidance you could be in for the time of your life. The safest and most informative way of visiting these areas is on a Windhoek Township Tour. Most importantly Windhoek is home to Namibia's brewing industry, and for the less active Windhoek is a great place to wile away the time while sipping (or gulping) a cold beer.

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