As the capital of Namibia, Windhoek is for many a starting point for road trips in Namibia, Botswana, or South Africa. Rental cars are cheaper here than in Botswana, so we start our almost 4-week trip with a roof tent in Windhoek.
If you don’t feel like sightseeing, that’s no problem. Because you don’t really miss anything in Windhoek.
Windhoek’s Hosea Kutako International Airport is approximately 41 km east of the city. On the way with the driver, I immediately recognized an important feature of Namibia on the left and right of the road: It is dry and the colors yellow and brown dominate the landscape.
We are approaching the valley basin in which the “city” of Windhoek is surrounded by the Eros Mountains, Auas Mountains, and the Khomas Highlands at around 1650 meters. In the rising sun, the mountains glow reddish.
Namibia’s Laid-Back Capital
For a capital, Windhoek tends to be quiet and much more relaxed than one would expect from an African capital. With around 325,000 inhabitants, the city is the largest in the country – and, according to friends, the only place that can be called a city. For most tourists, Windhoek is just the start and end point of a trip, also for us. Therefore, we only took the time on the day of arrival to explore the center of the city a little.
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My fellow travelers have all been to Windhoek several times. There isn’t much to see. You will always pass by the most important sights in Windhoek, such as the Christ Church, the Equestrian Monument, or the Ink Palace, where Parliament meets.
Independence Avenue is the main street and main thoroughfare. You can explore the actual center of Windhoek quickly and easily on foot.
In Windhoek Everything is German
In some corners of Windhoek, I don’t really feel like I’ve arrived in southern Africa. Everywhere I read German words, discover German restaurants, a beer brewed according to the German Purity Law, and a German radio station blares from the rental car.
Even though the official language is English, many people know at least a few words of German. No wonder, then, that the city is in the hands of German tourists. Of course, there is a reason for all this:
Namibia’s German Past
If you are wondering why there is a lot of German language in Windhoek and Namibia in general, there is a reason. The colonial rule of the German Empire over what is now Namibia was called Deutsch-Südwestafrika at the end of the 19th century. The country should secure important raw materials for Germany.
Any locals who resisted expropriation and displacement were literally slaughtered. The whole thing lasted about 29 years. During this time, many Germans settled in Namibia, whose influence can still be seen and felt today.
During the First World War, the South African Union reconquered Namibia, but the influence of the less glorious time of our compatriots can still be felt today.
Sights in Windhoek
You can explore the main tourist attractions in Windhoek, but you don’t have to.
- Christ Church: The church built in 1907 is the German landmark of Windhoek. It commemorates the peace between Germans and Namibians since 1915. Since colonization, the majority of Namibians have been Christians.
- Independence Memorial Museum: The National Museum commemorates the colonial era and the struggle for independence. If you have a little time in Windhoek, you can visit the museum, because entry is free.
- Katutura Township: The suburb of Windhoek – like so many townships – was created under the leadership of South Africa and the apartheid policy. If you’ve never been to a township, you should definitely study the history of segregation. Book a tour and never go into a township on your own without a local guide!
- Ink Palace: Seat of Parliament. Above all, the green area around it is worth seeing and is considered the “green lung” of Windhoek, in addition to all the drought in the whole country.
- Old festivals and equestrian monument: The fort, which was also built during the German colonial period, is the oldest building in the city. Inside is the National Museum of Namibia
Even before the trip, I raved about Joe’s Beerhouse. So I had to see it myself. I can only confirm: Sensationally good. It’s not only tourists and world travelers who dine and drink in a cozy atmosphere here, but also many locals.
I feel like I’m in a museum: the furnishings are so original that I discover new details around every corner. On the menu, vegetarians will be just as happy as lovers of kudu, oryx, or springbok. There are burgers, steak, fish and salads.
Tip: Namib Bush Fire with an ice-cold Savanna Dry.
- Address: 160 Nelson Mandela Ave
- Reserve a table online
Craft Market & Craft Cafe
There is no better place to shop for souvenirs before heading home than the Craft Market in the former brewery building. Here you can shop for handmade art and take a break at the iconic Craft Cafe.
Address: Old Brewery Building, 40 Tal Street
Malls and Supermarkets
Actually, nothing is further from my mind than going shopping in malls. Especially not in Africa. As a self-driver, it is still useful to know where you can go shopping at the weekend.
On Saturday afternoons, when everything is already closed, there is the Grove Mall, which is a bit out of the way but is open until the evening. Here we could buy everything for our upcoming road trip.
On the last day, we also went to de Maerua Mall, which is at the end of Independence Avenue. The third mall, Wernhillpark, is just a few minutes away from the Crafts Market right in the center.
Tip: Buy Solar Lights in Windhoek
Many travelers in southern Africa find Consol’s solar lights great. Especially in Namibia and South Africa, these hang as signposts or stand at the accommodations to replace the missing electricity and thus light. We have often brought these glasses to Germany as souvenirs (let’s be honest, everyone already has the wooden giraffes and massive wooden hippos – my parents have even dragged the animals home with them). The lamps make a great light and work without electricity.
In Windhoek, you can get them from Weche & Voigts directly on Independence Avenue. The lamps are very hidden opposite the cash register at the bottom of the shelf. Next door there is a nice café (once again with a German name), where we had a quick coffee before we headed towards the airport and Germany.
Store website with all locations
Rental car: Toyota Hilux With Roof Tent
At Asco Car Hire we pick up our car for the tour, a Toyota Hilux Double Cab with a roof tent and camping gear. After we have filled out umpteen forms, watched a safety video, and had the car explained to us, including how to set up the roof tent, we can start driving.
In Windhoek, traffic drives on the left. No longer a problem for me. But since I’ve always driven automatic cars in left-hand traffic, shifting gears is pretty unusual at first. The fact that I mix up indicators and windshield wipers in a classic way is somehow part of it on the first day.
Accommodation in Windhoek
Villa Moringa Guesthouse in Klein Windhoek
The small and fine Guesthouse Villa Moringa is located in the quiet district of Ludwigsdorf. Cozy rooms, great breakfast buffet, small outdoor pools, and a large sun terrace. Our room is spacious with parquet floors and a large rain shower. There is parking protected by a high-security fence.
I felt very comfortable here. A relaxed arrival!
Between Windhoek & Airport: Naankuse Charity Lodge and Wildlife Sanctuary
The alternative to city hotels is the Naankuse Charity Lodge & Wildlife Sanctuary. At the end of the round trip, we enjoyed the peace and wonderful nature of Namibia before our return flight. We lived in one of the villas, which was about 2 km from the main building (reception, restaurant, and pool) in the middle of nature. The villa was gigantic and one night was much too short for our stay.
The food is highly recommended. During the day you can participate in many activities. Since we had already done something similar for 3.5 weeks, we were just exhausted and enjoyed nature to the fullest on the terrace of our villa.
On the next Namibia trip, I will not only spend one night here.
More travel tips
You do not need a visa to enter Namibia. A valid passport with at least two blank pages is sufficient to enter the country.
No time difference!
The great thing about southern Africa: is there is no jet lag! That’s why I love traveling to this part of the world!
Worth Knowing About Windhoek
Until 1990 Namibia was under the administration of South Africa. The country has only been autonomous and independent since 1990.
Did you know that Namibia is one of the most sparsely populated countries on earth? Of around 2.3 million people, 323,000 live in Windhoek alone. In addition, only three people live per km². Awesome right?
Attention important holiday: December 10th is one of the most important holidays in Namibia. On Human Rights Day, the forced resettlement of the population in the township of Katutura is commemorated.
Frequently Asked Questions
The spelling Windhuk comes from German usage. From time to time, you will still encounter this spelling. Since 1918 the official spelling has been Windhoek, which means “windy corner”.
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