When it comes to travel, we Africans have one big problem: we tend to think that all the holiday destinations worth saving up for are out of the continent. As a result, we end up missing out on some great places and experiences right here in Africa. Take Windhoek for example: now this is a gem of a place that is well worth your money. Located in the Khomas highland plateau area in central Namibia, Windhoek is breathtakingly beautiful, clean, cozy and has a gorgeous population.
I thought my first trip to Namibia would be uneventful, mainly because I had personal issues to attend to. However, the simple 45 kilometer drive from Hosea Kutako Airport to the Windhoek’s city center was all it took to have a change of attitude. The peaceful drive aided by a long smooth road that runs through an endless flat stretch with a beautiful view will have you excited before you even set foot in the city center.
Besides Hosea Kutako Airport –which has only one runway, a fact that saves tourists a lot of time – Namibia has other airports outside Windhoek. These are located in Walvis Bay and Luderitz, and act as a point of connection to nearby cities like Johannesburg in the West and Luanda in the North.
Not only is Windhoek the capital and largest city in Namibia; it is also the social, economic, political and cultural center of the country. Its growth and development has been strongly influenced by the Nama, Herero, German, Afrikaans, and British cultures.
Nearly every Namibian national enterprise, governmental body, educational and cultural institution is headquartered there which provides one with more than enough tourist attractions:
Once you’ve landed in Windhoek, make sure to visit the statue of Hosea Kutako, a nationalist hero, in the gardens surrounding the Tintenpalast; the seat of the Namibian legislature; or chow down on ostrich kebab or zebra steak at Joe’s Beerhouse before leaving on a safari into theNamibian wilderness.
Make a visit to Alte Feste -popularly known as the Old Fortress- a priority. Built in 1890, it currently houses the National Museum. Here, you will get to learn and be amazed by the rich history of this country that was once a war zone.
Don’t forget to make a stop at the statue celebrating the victory of the German Empire over the Herero and Nama in the Herero and Nama War of 1904-1907. The statue has been removed from its historical place next to Christuskirche and is now on display in the yard of the Alte Feste.
If you want to relax, take a break from all the city exploration, or simply learn more about the history of Namibia, check out the Windhoek Public Library just next to the Alte Feste- it will be worth your time, trust me.
For the tourist interested in animals or parents travelling with kids, the Zoo Park on Independence Avenue in downtown Windhoek is sure to be a fascinating and exciting tourist attraction. Not only will you get to see a variety of animals; the park is also well landscaped, features a pond, a playground and an open air theatre.
However I have to warn you: if you are from crazy places like Kampala that are famous for their vibrant nightlife, partying in Windhoek may prove to be a disappointment. Unless you are willing to head far west to the coast in Swarkopmund, down Walvis Bay or Luderitz; you might just have to settle for a braai at a house with friends.
On your next wander through Africa, don’t miss putting Windhoek on your travel bucketlist given its great charm that pull travelers from all the spheres of the world.