About Windhoek

Welcome to Namibia

Windhoek, Namibia is likely your first port of call if you’re flying in for a Namibian safari via Hosea Kutako International airport.

Yet, Namibia’s largest city has so much more to offer than an airport and somewhere to rest up before travelling onward to your next destination.

A Brief History of Windhoek

In a country where water is scarce, natural springs are a major drawcard for those in search of somewhere to settle. While the local people had long known about and used the water sources in the Windhoek area, nobody set up home here until 1849.

At this time, Jan Jonker Afrikaner, captain of the Oorlam Afrikaners (a subtribe of the Nama people), staked his claim to the largest spring in the vicinity. Known as the Place of Steam to the Hereros, and fire Water by local Namas, this spring now goes by the simple name Klein Windhoek.

No one is completely sure about how this settlement got its name. It’s thought that Afrikaner had grown up near the Winterhoek Mountains in South Africa’s Western Cape province and named his new home after these.

Afrikaner wasted no time in building a church to serve the spiritual needs of his family and neighbours. This large building could accommodate 500 people and doubled as a school in between services.

Hugo Hahn and Heinrich Kleinschmidt, two Rhenish missionaries started work at the church in the 1840s and were later replaced by two Wesleyan missionaries who laid out beautiful gardens around the settlement.

The city started to grow and soon prospered.

Unfortunately, apart from being a gathering place for the devout, Windhoek was also the scene of clashes between the southern Namas, led by Afrikaner, and the northern Herero tribes. Before long, this incessant warring destroyed everything that Afrikaner and the missionaries had set up.

When Germany declared Namibia, then South West Africa, a German protectorate in 1884, the city didn’t have much to offer except for jackals.

Merchants in Luderitzbucht acquired more of the surrounding land, and Germany sent a protective corps, called the Shutztruppe to maintain law and order. In 1890, von Francois set the foundation stone of Windhoek’s first building, the Alte fest, in place.

For fourteen years, the city spread slowly as more small-scale farmers moved here to farm fruit, dairy cattle, and tobacco. By 1907, settlers from South Africa and Germany were flowing into the city setting up businesses along the main street and houses along the ridge, including three castles.

On 12 May 1915, South African troops occupied the city on behalf of Britain, and with the military running the show, all development came to a halt.

By the end of World War II, Windhoek’s economic outlook improved slightly, and many larger projects got underway from 1955 onwards. These included a hospital, schools, tarred roads, dams and pipelines to ensure a supply of water to the city.

Since the middle of the 1980s, Windhoek has grown rapidly, with considerable investment following the country’s independence in 1990.

Don’t Miss These Windhoek Sights

You’ll still see a few snippets of Windhoek’s interesting history when you visit the city. Some of the best ones are:

  • Christuskirche
  • Alte Fest
  • Independence Museum
  • The Three Castles
  • Windhoek Railway Station
  • Tintenpalast
  • Heroes Acre

Although these architectural gems and important landmarks stand out in their own right, you’ll also find many more modern-day attractions in this bustling city.

Things to Do in Windhoek

Windhoek is an excellent place to stock up for your trips into the wilderness and has a wide range of shops to satisfy your every need.

Any one of the four malls in the city are an obvious choice for everyday and speciality items, but you can also pick up some unique finds at the Namibia Craft Centre.

Take a break from the city beat with a stroll around Zoo Park or a relaxing meal amongst the gardens of Arebbusch Travel Lodge, where you’ll enjoy the chance to catch up on some birdwatching, too.

You can also head out of town to Avis Dam, Daan Viljoen Nature Reserve, Okapuka Ranch, or NamibRand Nature Reserve.

If you’re looking for a little more action, try one of the following Windhoek activities:

  • Go-Karting
  • Horseback riding
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Mountain Biking
  • Township bike tours

No trip to Namibia is complete without sampling some of the local delicacies. Game meat is a favourite along with beef, but you’ll also find international eats are readily available.

You can enjoy these dishes at swish restaurants, game lodges, relaxed eateries, and even on a township tour. Don’t miss the chance to try a barbecue, or ‘’braai’’ as it’s known in Namibia.

Accommodation in Windhoek

As the most common entry point to Namibia, Windhoek offers a host of accommodation options for weary travellers.

The budget conscious can enjoy camping or backpackers’ accommodation, and the city offers a good selection of bed and breakfast accommodations, hotels, and self-catering accommodations, too.

Arebbusch Travel Lodge, located on the tranquil outskirts of town, has a little bit of everything for travellers to choose from.

Getting Around in Windhoek, Namibia

The best way to explore Windhoek is with a rental car, although the city does offer an Uber-type of service, called LEFA.

If you’re travelling onward from the city, you could opt for a coach tour, or hire a 4×4 to maximize your travel opportunities.

Explore the Best of Namibia from Windhoek

Windhoek is located roughly in the centre of Namibia, about 360km from Swakopmund and about 550km from the nearest border with South Africa at Mata Mata.

The Hosea Kutako International Airport is just 46km from the centre of town. This makes Windhoek the ideal starting point for your Namibian explorations.

Start planning your trip today by browsing our Travel Guide, Maps, and blog for more information.

Please Note: The details shared herein were correct at the time of publishing. However, with time some of this information may change. We recommend confirming information with suppliers prior to making final travel arrangements. If you do happen to find an issue with any information we’ve shared here, please feel free to contact us so that we can make the relevant changes.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


First Padel Courts Open Near Arebbusch Travel Lodge in Windhoek

The first padel courts in Windhoek are set to open soon and they’re located close to Arebbusch Travel Lodge. Find out more here.

5 Reasons to Try Ice & Spice Café in Swakopmund

Ice & Spice is the perfect fit for a trip to the seaside town of Swakopmund. Here’s why we love and why you should try it on your next visit.

About Leopards

Leopard sightings are usually at the top of anyone’s wish list of safari sightings. Find out more about leopards in Namibia and where you might get to see them.

Grey-Backed Camaroptera

Namibia is a paradise for bird watchers with over 850 birds to see. Discover more about the grey backed camaroptera and where to find it.

6 Reasons To Go Game Viewing In Namibia

There are so many places to enjoy game viewing in Namibia, but do you know why you should try it? Here are 6 reasons to dust off your binoculars and head to Namibia asap.

4 Reasons To Explore Kolmanskop In Namibia

Kolmanskop in Namibia is one of the country’s most fascinating destinations. Find out why you shouldn’t miss it during your Namibian trip.

Acacia Pied Barbet

The Acacia Pied Barbet is one of the many birds you’ll get to see during a trip to Namibia. Find out more about this interesting creature here.

Vote For The Best Activities In Namibia

We would love to know from you which you think are the best activities in Namibia.

The Oryx

The oryx represents the essence of Namibia with its graceful beauty and hardy nature. Find out more about this iconic antelope here.

4 Reasons To Go Stargazing In Namibia

Namibia is a place of boundless beauty by day and night. Click through to find out why you should plan to go stargazing in Namibia, soon.

Share This