Dubbed as the ‘cleanest city in Africa’, Windhoek is the capital and the largest city of Namibia. It is located in central Namibia in the Khomas region. It’s population is only around 300,000 but grows continually due to an influx from all over Namibia. It’s official language is English and this is the medium of instruction in most schools but in many urban areas Afrikaans is used as 50% of the population speak Afrikaans and German is also used in tourism and business. Oshiwambo is also spoken by 50% of Namibians as a mother tongue. The city began with settlers in 1840 building a stone church for their community. It is the social, economic and cultural centre of the country.
January is the hottest month in Windhoek with an average temperature of 24 degrees Celsius and the coldest in July at 14 degrees Celsius with the most daily sunshine hours at 12 in September. The wettest month is February with an average of 110mm of rain.
Central Windhoek is a surprisingly well-groomed, modern city where office workers lounge around Zoo Park at lunchtime, tourists funnel through Post Street Mall looking at African curios and taxis whizz around honking at potential customers. It wouldn’t look place as a city in the West which is unusual for a city in Africa. It has a relaxed, relatively hassle-free pace and cosmopolitan outlook and this makes for a very pleasant exploration. There are a few seemingly misplaced German castles which stick out in the skyline amongst the steel and glass high rises. It’s a great place to begin or break a journey through Namibia.
Some sites worth seeing while you’re in Windhoek include: Daan Viljoen Game Park, about 18km west of Windhoek. There are no seriously dangerous animals so you can walk to your heart’s content and spot gemsboks, kudus, zebras, Springboks, Hartebeests, warthogs and elands; Katutura – a township, relatively safe by day, boasting Soweto Market where traders sell just about anything; Zoo Park, a former zoo turned park. It commemorates a Stone Age elephant hunt that occurred here some 5000 years ago based on the findings of carcasses and quartz tools in 1962 which date back to that time; Turnhalle, the hall where several political summits and debates were held on the way to Namibian independence in the 1980s; Christuskirche – Windhoek’s best recognised landmark, a German Lutheran church which stands on a traffic island at the top of Fidel Castro Street.
Namibian cuisine is influenced by two primary cultural strands: Indigenous people’s foods such as the Himba, Herero and San groups and settler’s cooking during the colonial period, introduced by people of German, Afrikaner and British descent. This has created meals incorporating fruits, nuts, bulbs and wild plants and game and also heavy German tones for example Wiener schnitzels, sauerkraut and apple strudels. Namibians have also adopted the German brewing tradition with German lager beers including Hansa and Windhoek lagers still brewed in the country for domestic consumption and export.