Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, is located in a basin between the Khomas Highland, Auas and Eros Mountains. It is 1,680m above sea level, 650km north of the Orange River and 360km from the Atlantic seaboard. Whether due to pure luck or a brilliant stroke of Germanic planning, the city is situated in almost the countries epicenter. This location 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.
The majority of tourists visiting Namibia on a fly drive safari start their adventure in the capital as it is the main entry point to the country. There are several large international companies offering rental cars at Windhoek International Airport while numerous smaller companies offer vehicle hire in Windhoek.
In 2013 the population of Windhoek was approximately 342,000 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 it to be a most un-African city (a somewhat back-handed compliment).
The 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 wonderful display of 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, right in front of the fort is the iconic Reiterdenkmal (equestrian memorial). Other notable buildings in Windhoek include St Mary’s Cathedral and the Turnhalle Building.
Windhoek has had several names, many inspired by the hot water springs found in the area, 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 sometime before 1840 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.
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 carnivorous country!) Saying that, the streets are choc-a-bloc with people of all ages and cultures, all bearing a wonderful sense of pride, hope and ambition.
Nightlife in the city centre has grown with the population, with a decent amount of restaurants, bars and night clubs. There is still a fair amount of nightlife happening outside of the city centre, in the suburbs and in township areas. During South African occupation the city was divided into three areas; the central suburbs for the whites, Khomasdal for the coloureds and Katutura for the blacks. Katutura and Khomasdal have a vibrant nightlife and over the weekends the partying is 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.
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. There are also a number of private hospitals, a state run hospital, doctors surgeries, banks, (with 24hr ATM’s) pharmacies, supermarkets, bakeries, and clothes shops. There is a large(ish) shopping mall at Maerua Mall, (complete with indoor swimming pool and gymnasium) and a smaller one on Post Street Mall, (Town Square) and at Wernhill Park, all worth a visit, especially if you’ve had enough of looking at curios. There are also 2 industrial area, Northern and Southern, handy for bulk buying or car parts and repairs.
Windhoek’s (and Namibia’s) sense of progress since Independence, is emphasized by the presence of new offices, combined with expanding and bustling building and commerce industries.
There are plenty of places to stay both in and around the city, these range from backpacker hostels, through bed and breakfasts and guest houses to luxury hotels and lodges. For more information on where to stay visit our Windhoek
The Heinitzburg Hotel, is situated in and overlooks Namibia’s capital city Windhoek. This beautiful castle was commissioned in 1914 and is renown for it’s attention to detail and personal undivided attention received from both hosts and staff, emphasized in it’s four-poster beds and hand-made wooden furniture. If you’re looking for a romantic and relaxing destination to spoil yourselves, or someone special, then this is the place to go!
There is a lounge and bar, meeting and conference rooms, restaurant and an outdoor swimming pool. Lovers of authentic, historical artwork should head for the Knight’s Room, situated in the original castle. Amenities include an outdoor dining and lounging area and valet parking.
There is a choice of venues for a full continental breakfast, either outdoors in the garden cafe overlooking the city and the mountains, or indoors in the richly finished Aschenborn Room, located in the old Castle.
Fine wining and dining is at Leo’s at the Castle Gourmet Restaurant, which overlooks the skyline of Windhoek. It is one of the best restaurants in Namibia. The cuisine is varied, ranging from International to French à la carte. The Garden Terrace, along with superb views over the city and the surrounding mountains, is the place to go for meals, coffee, and cakes. For something a lighter, snacks and sundowner cocktails are also served here, and is the venue for stunning views and spectacular sunsets.
Accommodation at Hotel Heinitzburg is in 16 spacious and generously appointed rooms. Every room has a magnificent view of the capital city Windhoek and the surrounding Khomas Hochland mountains.
• Superior Rooms: Fully equipped with en-suite bathroom, air-condition/heating units, direct telephone lines, electronic safes, mini-bars, televisions with cable channels and music facilities.
• Deluxe Rooms: The Deluxe Rooms are poolside with both a shower and a bath. They have similar facilities to the Superior Rooms.
• Family Room: The Family Room has similar facilities to the Superior Rooms and is for 2 adults and 2 children. There are 2 rooms, 2 bathrooms and an inter-leading door.
You may also want to add car hire in Windhoek to your accommodation request.
Hotel Heinitzburg – Fit for a King or Queen.
Olive Grove is a guest house situated close to the city centre in a quiet, peaceful area. It is a good choice of accommodation in Windhoek and and the rooms cater for every need of the traveller, their emphasis is one of simplicity and elegance.
For example, the inside lounge is tastefully decorated, with comfortable chairs and a welcoming fireplace. There is a guest computer available, so emails and photographs can be exchanged with family and friends back home. Guests can also help themselves to drinks from the ‘honour bar.’
The open-air lounge, spa bath, plunge pool and tranquil garden, all invite the visitor to unwind and relax, either under a warm Namibian afternoon or a beautiful, star-lit sky.
Olive Grove’s wellness room offers a selection of professional services and therapies, especially designed to de-stress and recuperate guests, perhaps after a long flight or at the end of an arduous and adventurous holiday. Their resident therapist will rejuvenate and invigorate even the most tired and aching body, with a combination of hot stone treatments, Swedish massages, facials, manicures, reflexology and a host of other balanced and healthy treatments.
Accommodation is in 10 rooms. One of Olive Grove’s main features is the large veranda in front of every room, with tables and chairs for ‘al fresco’ dining. There is no better way to end a perfect day at Olive Grove Guest House, than to slip under a down duvet and onto to those 100% cotton sheets. There are:
• Standard Rooms: Each of the 3 Standard Rooms has remote controlled air-conditioning, direct dial telephones, multi-channel satellite television, tea/coffee making facilities, a mini-bar, snack bar and a private wall-mounted safe.
• Luxury Rooms: The 7 Luxury Rooms have the same furnishings and similar facilities as the Standard Rooms all presented with an abundance of style.
• Executive Suite: The executive suite is large and spacious complete with private lounge and dining area, separate bedroom and luxurious bathroom. For the travelling executive, the private lounge is an excellent venue for small meetings or a convenient ‘home office’, equipped with an 84cm flat screen TV, DVD player/mini Hi-Fi, and complimentary Amarula, sherry and mineral water. The facilities are similar to the standard/luxury rooms.
Residents of the guest house can enjoy lunch or dinner on the verandah, and meals can be complemented with a hand-picked selection of fine South African wines.
There is also a laundry service, airport (and other) shuttle service and secure on-site parking (ideal for you vehicle rented from Windhoek International Airport)