Monday, 18 September 2017
NAMIBIA: Windhoek Is Lovely But Waiters Will Tell You If The Tip Is Small, Ladies Of The Night Are Plenty
Windhoek is Namibia's capital and largest city of the Republic of Namibia with a population of about 250,000. It is in the geographic centre of the country at an elevation of 1,600m.
This is the city where most safaris travelling through Namibia begin, and also the first point of entry in Namibia should you arrive by airplane.
It is located in central Namibia in the Khomas Highland plateau area, at around 1,700 metres (5,600 ft) above sea level, almost exactly at the country's geographical centre. The population of Windhoek in 2011 was 325,858, growing continually due to an influx from all over Namibia.
The town developed at the site of a permanent spring known to the indigenous pastoral communities. It developed rapidly after Jonker Afrikaner, Captain of the Orlam, settled here in 1840 and built a stone church for his community.
In the decades following, multiple wars and armed hostilities resulted in the neglect and destruction of the new settlement. Windhoek was founded a second time in 1890 by Imperial German Army Major Curt von François, when the territory became colonised by Germany.
Windhoek is the social, economic, political, and cultural centre of the country. Nearly every Namibian national enterprise, governmental body, educational and cultural institution is headquartered there.
The city of Windhoek is traditionally known by two names:
- Khoekhoe: hot springs
- Otjiherero: place of steam.
Both traditional indigenous names refer to the hot springs near today's city centre.
Theories vary on how the place got its modern name of Windhoek. Most believe it is derived from the Afrikaans word wind-hoek or wind corner.
Another theory suggests that Captain Jonker Afrikaner named Windhoek after the Winterhoek Mountains at Tulbagh in South Africa, where his ancestors had lived. The first known mention of the name Windhoek was in a letter from Jonker Afrikaner to Joseph Tindall, dated 12 August 1844.
Expanding the town area has apart from financial restrictions proven to be challenging due to its geographical location.
In southern, eastern and western directions, Windhoek is surrounded by rocky, mountainous areas, which make land development costly. The southern side is not suitable for industrial development because of the presence of underground aquifers.
This leaves the vast Brakwater area north of town the only feasible place for Windhoek's expansion.
Windhoek's City Council has plans to dramatically expand the city's boundaries such that the town area will cover 5,133.4 square kilometres (1,982.0 sq mi).
Windhoek would become the third-largest city in the world by area, after Tianjin and Istanbul, although its population density is only 63 inhabitants per square kilometre.
The city is the administrative, commercial, and industrial center of Namibia.
A 1992/93 study estimated that Windhoek provides over half of Namibia's non-agricultural employment, with its national share of employment in utilities being 96%, in transport and communication 94%, finance and business services 82%.
Due to its relative size Windhoek is, even more than many other national capital cities, the social, economic, and cultural centre of the country. Nearly every national enterprise is headquartered here. The University of Namibia is, too, as are the country's only theatre, all ministry head offices, and all major media and financial entities.
The governmental budget of the city of Windhoek nearly equals those of all other Namibian local authorities combined.Of the 3,300 US$-millionaires in Namibia, 1,400 live in Windhoek.
Due to Windhoek's proximity to Hosea Kutako International Airport, Windhoek serves an important role in Namibia's tourism.
The report on Namibia Tourism Exit Survey 2012 - 2013, produced by the Millennium Challenge Corporation for the Namibian Directorate of Tourism, indicates that 56% of all tourists visiting Namibia during that time period, visited Windhoek.
In addition hereto, many of Namibia's tourism related parastatals and governing bodies such as Namibia Wildlife Resorts, Air Namibia and the Namibia Tourism Board as well as Namibia's tourism related associations such as the Hospitality Association of Namibia are headquartered in Windhoek.
Windhoek is also home to a number of notable hotels such as Windhoek Country Club Resort and some international hotel chains such as Avani Hotels and Resorts and Hilton Hotels and Resorts, that also operate in Windhoek.
- Alte Feste – (Old Fortress) Built in 1890, today houses the National Museum.
- Christuskirche – A Lutheran church opened in 1910, built in the gothic revival style with Art Nouveau elements. Situated in the historic center of Windhoek next to Parliament Gardens and Tintenpalast.
- Curt von François monument in front of the municipality building. Inaugurated on 18 October 1965 on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the second foundation of the town by von François.
- Heroes' Acre
- Independence Memorial Museum
- National Library of Namibia
- Reiterdenkmal (Equestrian Monument), a statue celebrating the victory of the German Empire over the Herero and Nama in the Herero and Namaqua War of 1904–1907. The statue has been removed from its historical place next to Christuskirche in December 2013 and is now on display in the yard of the Alte Feste.
- St. Marien Kathedrale
- Supreme Court of Namibia – situated in Michael Scott Street on Eliakim Namundjebo Plaza. Built between 1994 and 1996 it is Windhoek's only building erected post-independence in an African style of architecture.
- The three castles of Windhoek built by architect Wilhelm Sander: Heinitzburg, Sanderburg, and Schwerinsburg
- Tintenpalast – (Ink Palace) within Parliament Gardens, the seat of both chambers of the Parliament of Namibia. Built between 1912 and 1913 and situated just north of Robert Mugabe Avenue.
- Turnhalle – neo-classicist building of Wilhelmine architecture, inaugurated in 1909.
- Windhoek Public Library – built in 1925, next to the Alte Feste.
- Windhoek Railway Station
- Zoo Park – a public park on Independence Avenue in downtown Windhoek. The current park is landscaped and features a pond, playground and open-air theatre.
In public life Afrikaans and to a lesser extent German are still used as the lingua franca even though the government only uses the English language.
English is spoken throughout Namibia,it is the country's official language and is also the medium of instruction in most schools, although in many urban areas Afrikaans similar to Dutch is used as a lingua franca, as 50% of the Namibian population speaks Afrikaans. German is widely used in tourism and business. Oshiwambo is spoken by 50% of Namibians as a mother tongue.
Radio and television is also predominantly in English.
Other langauges include Oshiwambo, Otjiherero, Damara/Nama, Setswana, SiLozi, and Rukwangali.
The B1, which runs from the north to the south and the B2 (Trans-Kalahari) which runs from the east to the west through Namibia are the primary land routes into Windhoek.
Northern towns served by the B1 include Oshakati, Otjiwarongo, and Okahanja. Southern towns include Rehoboth, Keetmanshoop and Lüderitz. From the west the B2 connects Swakopmund and from the east it connects Gobabis.
This is the easiest way to get to Windhoek for people without a car. Combies run from everywhere in Namibia, and through some combination of different routes, one can always find their way to Windhoek.
The Engen petrol station north of downtown (Rhino Park) is the rank for southern and western destinations such as Mariental, Swakopmund, Keetmanshoop.
For northern destinations such as Otjiwarongo, Oshakati and Rundu go to Hakahana Service Station, Katutura. However, it is easier to arrange for a minibus to take you,opposite SAA in Independence Avenue.
Combies/Shared Taxis run directly from Cape Town, the long distance taxi terminal on top of Cape Town station on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays at 11am. Cost: 650 rand 17 hours.
If you're arriving in Namibia by airplane, this is most likely to be via Hosea Kutako International Airport. The airport is approximately 40km out of town, so give yourself plenty of time to travel to the city centre. A taxi to the city center will run you about $350N per person
Windhoek also has a municipal airport called Eros. This is the main airport for all domestic flights, so travellers making a connection between international and domestic aircraft should also allow at least one hour for the travel time between the two airports
Windhoek is served by two airports. The closest one is Eros 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) south of the city center for smaller craft, and Hosea Kutako International Airport 42 kilometres (26 mi) east of the city.
A number of foreign airlines operate to and from Windhoek. Air charters and helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft rentals are also available.
Hosea Kutako International Airport, situated 42 kilometres outside Windhoek, handles over 800,000 passengers a year. It has one runway without capacity limitations.
The other international airport is located in Walvis Bay, with domestic airports at Luderitz, Oranjemund and Ondangwa. Air Namibia connects daily to Johannesburg, Cape Town and Frankfurt, with four times weekly connections to Durban via Gaborone. Air Namibia also services Harare, Lusaka and Victoria Falls.
South African Airways, TAAG-Angola Airlines, Airlink and Air Namibia all have regular flights to Windhoek-Hosea Kutako International Airport, whilst Condor Flugdienst has bi-weekly turnarounds to Frankfurt.
KLM from Amsterdam connects Windhoek 3 times weekly via Luanda.
Ethiopian Airlines has 4 weekly direct flights to Addis Ababa. Qatar Airways introduced four times weekly flights between Doha and Windhoek on September 28, 2016.
It was the first major carrier to introduce the Boeing 787-800 Dreamliner to Namibian aviation. Since July 2017 Eurowings introduced a bi-weekly service between Cologne/Bonn and Windhoek.
Airlink start a new service from Johannesburg to St Helena in October 2017.A N$900m/78km long dual carriageway is being constructed linking Windhoek to Hosea Kutako International Airport.
Eros Airport is the busiest airport in Namibia in terms of take offs and landings and a domestic hub for Air Namibia.This city airport handles approximately 150 to 200 movements per day around 50,000 per year.
In 2004, the airport served 141,605 passengers, the majority of which are light aircraft. Primarily, limitations such as runway length, noise, and air space congestion have kept Eros from developing into a larger airport. Most of Namibia's charter operators have Eros as their base.
Windhoek's train station is in the city centre, just off Bahnhof Street.
TransNamib, via their StarLine passenger service, operates trains from Windhoek to destinations all over Namibia. Some routes are
- Windhoek-Swakopmund-Walvis Bay
- Windhoek-Keetmanshoop ; this train used to continue on to Upington in South Africa but no longer does so.
There are no dedicated passenger trains in Namibia, apart from the luxury Desert Express tourist train. The StarLine scheduled service described above conveys passengers via special coaches hooked on the back of freight trains.
These passenger coaches offer comfortable airline-style seating with air-conditioning and sometimes video entertainment.
Vending machines provide refreshments on long journeys. Note, however, that Namibian trains are considered a relatively slow method of transport.
The Desert Express is a luxury tourist train that traverses Namibia regularly, taking tourists to such destinations as Walvis Bay, Swakopmund and Etosha National Park. Buses are used to transport visitors from train stations to the various sights.
Intercape runs a bus service to and from Cape Town and Johannesburg in South Africa and Livingstone in Zambia. It's about 24 hours to either city. Book a few days in advance at least to be sure that you have a seat. The cost was about R700 for either ticket.
AT&T Monnakgotla Bus run biweekly buses to and from Gaborone, departing from the Thuringerhof Hotel. Transport can be arranged to and from Maun and Ghanzi via bus transfer.
There are a number of car rental agencies operating in Windhoek:
Okavango Car hire, 124 Andimba Toivo Ya Toivo Street.
Adozu Car Hire.
African Car Hire.
Avis (Airport), At Hosea Kutako International Airport.
Budget (Airport),At Hosea Kutako International Airport.
Imperial (Airport),At Hosea Kutako International Airport.
There is no public transit in Windhoek but there is a system of shared taxis which are similar to combies in South African cities. Taxis primarily run between the townships and the main industrial/commercial areas of the city.
Routes are not fixed like a bus route or the combie routes in South Africa. This gives some added flexibility, but also means that fares between given destinations may not always be the same. You can get in or get out wherever you want along the "route".
To catch a taxi just flag it down by holding your arm out and waving your hand down towards the ground. It's a casual gesture, so don't stick your arm straight out like a sign post, and don't wave your arm around like you're calling for help.
The fare for destinations that are on the "route" or close to the route is N$8, destinations more out of the way are charged at N$16. Non standard destinations cost around N$30. Tell the driver where you want to go when you get in or before you get in.
If the destination is too far off their route, they will tell you they're not going there so you'll just have to wait for another taxi. This can be common during rush hour. It will take some time to figure out what these informal routes are.
Most taxis cruise along Independence Avenue south of the intersection with Fidel Castro Street. The easiest place to catch them is in front of the Gustav Voigts Centre/Kalahari Sands Hotel.
If you feel uncomfortable taking shared taxis, there are on-demand taxis which allow you to hire the entire car to yourself. Most of these taxis have to be pre-booked via telephone; they'll come and get you wherever you are.
In the city, they can be found behind the Tourist Information Office at the intersection of Independence Avenue and Fidel Castro Street opposite Gustav Voigts Centre/Kalahari Sands Hotel and on the northern-side of Wernhill Park shopping mall.
They also tend to gather at popular restaurants and nightspots. Make sure you agree on the price before taking them; most will ask for at least N$50 to go anywhere around Windhoek.
These taxis also can take you out of Windhoek, and especially to the airport; it's just a question of how much they are going to charge.
Here are some taxi companies:
Most hotels and hostels are centrally located close to the city centre, so you can easily walk to most shops, restaurants, clubs and sights.
Parliament of Namibia Formerly the legislative assembly during the apartheid days, this is now the home of the National Assembly. There is also a new building next door for the National Council.
National Gallery of Namibia
Though Namibia isn't a dictatorship, there are a few leaders with whom Namibia's first President was quite friendly during the days of the struggle for independence and still is. There is one in downtown Windhoek: Robert Mugabe Ave. You will also find Fidel Castro St. in downtown Windhoek, named after the Cuban revolutionary leader.
Christuskirche In the middle of a big traffic circle where Robert Mugabe Ave. and Fidel Castro St. meet, at the gates of the Parliamentary compound. The old Lutheran church.
Wildlife Conservation. Go on a Cats Unlimited expedition just outside of Windhoek and help with the conservation of big cats and other mammals.
Cats Unlimited. Cats Unlimited conservation expeditions N$11999.
The University of Namibia (UNAM) and the Polytechnic of Namibia (PoN) are located in Windhoek. There is also the Franco-Namibian Cultural Centre where you can take classes in everything from French to photography.
For excellent and affordable game meat go to Readi Bites meat market. They usually have oryx and kudu, sometimes springbok and zebra, just ask .
They have no fancy display, you go in ,order at the counter and they cut it freshly for you. It is located at Bohrstrasse in the Industrial area.
They also have excellent chakalaka braaiwors.
There is a craft market in Post Street Mall in central Windhoek, though prices are quite high. For cheaper prices, go to the craft market in Okahanja, which is about an hour north of Windhoek. You can hitchhike to Okahanja or catch a combie.
There are a number of arcades and small shopping centres in the centre of Windhoek. Between them you can find pretty much anything you need. There is also a larger mall called Maerua Mall in the south end of the city on Jan Jonker Road, easily accessible by taxi.
For arts and crafts you can visit Jennys Place located at Bougain Villa 78 Sam Nujoma Drive, Klein Windhoek. It is the largest arts and crafts shop in Namibia.
They sell everything from paints, face paints, canvases, beads, ribbons, costumes, scrapbooking supplies, brushes, spraypaint, decoupage, wooden blanks, pewter and the occasional oddity such as glow in the dark spraypaint, gifts and decorations.
They also provide a variety of art classes such as painting, card making and scrap booking. It has a calm and tranquil atmosphere and a great place to meet other crafters.
- PepperCorn, Shop 59, Maerua Mall opposite the cinema. 9AM-10PM. . Try to get a seat in the lounge and have a drink before and after the meal.
- Joe's Beer House, 160 Nelson Mandela Ave. M-Th 4PM-late, F-Su 11AM-late. If you are looking for the place all tourists go and the waiters will tell you when the tip is not sufficient, this is the place to go. The food is really good though. Get a Zebra steak or an ostrich kabob to round off that game drive. Be aware that the meals served are extremely large and don't come with many vegetables.
- La Dolce Vita, Kaiserkrone Center Windhoek. Has pizza and pasta dishes and salads served in another shaded courtyard.
- Luigi and the Fish, 320 Sam Nujoma Dr in Klein Windhoek, on the way to the airport. 6PM-10PM. A nice restaurant and bar, many travellers here. It describes itself as having the biggest menu in Namibia, with a mix of game, beef, pork, seafood, pizza and vegetarian dishes.
- NICE (Namibian Institute of Culinary Education), Storch St. Windhoek. Lunch M-F, Dinner M-Su. Excellent place to eat. Has many choices of meals, ranging in extravagance and creativity. Basically a classroom of fine Namibian cooking. Bon appetit!
- Pick'n Pay, Wernhil Center. For those who want to cook on their own, this is the largest supermarket with probably the best prices and selection downtown.
- Sardinia, 47 Independence Ave. 9AM-11PM. Italian restaurant with great pizzas, hot dishes and excellent ice cream.
- Tim Sum, at Wernhil Park Shopping Centre in the Post Street Mall Windhoek. until 6:30PM. Offers a excellent range of Taiwanese vegetarian foods. N$25–35.
- Joes Beer House, A trip to Windhoek is incomplete without visiting this unique beer garden. It is always packed with locals and travellers. It has an excellent menu and reservations must be made in advance.
- The Wine Bar Located on a hill overlooking Windhoek with fantastic sunsets, perfect for that romantic occasion. The staff give excellent service and have good knowledge of the wines being served. You may also purchase wine here.
- Blitzkrieg Bunker Bar A loud rock and metal bar. Despite the risqué name, a perfectly friendly place with laid-back staff and a good crowd. Writing anywhere on the walls with a marker pen is not discouraged.
- Bump Located in the Southern Industrial section of Windhoek, Bump features a spacious outdoor area, mid-sized dance floor and a large bar. Although the music is often limited to house and rave music, the service is friendly. Popular with the Afrikaner crowd.
- Wirtshaus Windhoek or Zum Wirt or Zum Wirts they keep changing their name, 101 Independence Avenue Turn right after exiting Kalahari Sands Hotel. 11AM - midnight. A huge thatched roof structure,inhabited by an odd combination of locals and ladies of the night, and behind that a lovely beer garden,popular with tourists in particular.Reasonably priced food and drink and you are sure to meet interesting company.
- Cheztemba Nightclub for locals, open Wed-Sun. Fri-Sun entrance is 30 namibian dollars. Small beer for 16 dollars. Popular with locals and the only place to go out Sunday because other places are closed or dead quiet. Located in corner of Independence Avenue and all the taxi drivers know it.
- J & J and Gamblers Probably most popular gambling houses in Windhoek. J & J is behind Cheztemba and Gamblers is located close to Angola House and American Embassy in Independence Avenue. Big (750ml) beer 11 namibian dollars, you cant find cheaper beer even in Katutura. J & J can get a bit rough time to time but security is good.
- Cardboard Box Backpackers Hostel, 15 John Albrecht St. at the corner of John Meinart. Has a bar and a swimming pool; close to downtown. Also the site of the Cardboard Box Travel Shop. Dorms 120 rand, camping 80 rand.
- Chameleon Backpackers Lodge & Guesthouse 5-7 Voight St. Has a mix of dorm and private rooms with a bar, swimming pool and booking desk for Chameleon Safaris. Close to downtown. Dorms 170 rand.
- Paradisegarden Backpackers 5 Roentgen St. at the corner of Beethoven Street and John Meinert turn right into Beethoven. Roentgen is the first street on your left. Has travel information desk, wi-lan internet, laundry facilities, a huge and always clean swimming pool; 10 min walking distance to downtown.
- The Olive Grove Guesthouse, 20 Promenaden Road. A small upmarket accommodation establishment situated close to Windhoek city centre in a quiet, peaceful area.
- Jan Jonker Accommodation, 183, Jan Jonker Road Windhoek, City Centre.
- Okavango Guesthouse, 124 Andimba Toivo Ya Toivo Street.
- Hotel Casa Blanca, 52 Fritsche Street, Pioneers Park.
- Galpinii Guest House (b&b), 45, Prinsloo Street, Pioneers Park.
- Klein Windhoek Guest House, 2 Hofmeyer Street, Klein Windhoek.
- Jordani Bed and Breakfast, 55 Hamutenya Wanehepo Ndadi Street. checkin: 14h00; checkout: 10h00.
- The Olive Exclusive all-Suite Hotel, 22 Promenaden Road. This intimate boutique hotel in a tranquil corner of Windhoek embodies the very essence of chic comfort.
- Protea Hotel Furstenhof Dr. Frans Indongo Street. Luxury Hotel Downtown with a pool and beautiful view of the City.
- Kalahari Sands Hotel 129 Independence Ave. Luxury hotel downtown with a casino and a small shopping centre.
- Windhoek Country Club Luxury resort and conference centre in the south end of the city.
- Heinitzburg Luxury resort looks like an old castle above the city
- Hilton Hotel Rev. Michael Scott St., Luxury, certainly when compared to the alternatives, new modern, well equiped, excellent service, city center location.
The area code for Windhoek is (061). When calling Windhoek from outside Namibia do not put a '0' between the country code and the area code.
It is cheaper to buy mobile phone starter packs than rely on roaming. Starter packs, including SIM cards and airtime, can be purchased throughout the city at less than N$20. They will work throughout Namibia, except 'Switch' CDMA cards that only work in Windhoek.
There are a number of well-equipped Internet cafés in Windhoek.
Internet Cafe, Wernhill Center on 2nd floor above Pick 'n Pay, near Post St Mall entrance. Large number of computers with good connection speeds. Also has a few terminals for Skype calls. N$12 for 30 min.
There is a laundry facility at the corner of Sam Nujoma Dr. and Hosea Kutako Dr. They charge by the weight of clothing and will usually have it done within two days. You can pay in advance for a fixed number of kilograms at a lower rate if you plan to be around for a while.
There is a grocery store or supermarket in the Wernhil Centre at the Western end of the Post Street Mall which starts opposite the Central Post Office in Independence Avenue, look for the red clock tower and turn down the mall.
Supermarkets in Namibia have just about anything you might want from back home, though the brand names may be different.
There is also a small outdoor market on the north side of Wernil next to the taxi rank and a souvenir market opposite South African Airways on Independence Avenue. This is a good place to shop for souvenirs and wood carvings. Prices here will be a lot cheaper than in the shops. Feel free to negotiate.
Keep in mind that many places, shops, restaurants, and internet cafes included are closed on Sunday or stay open only until 1 PM. Note also that alcoholic beverages,beer and wine are also available in shops isn't sold after 19:00 (weekdays) and after 13:00 on Saturday through until Monday morning.
There are three free-to-air television stations NBC TV, One Africa TV and TBN religious station, with CNN news each afternoon 13:00 - 14:00 on NBC TV, local news on NBC TV at 19:00 - 19:30 and local news on One Africa TV 19:30 - 20:00. One Africa TV also relays BBC World news in the mornings until approximately 10:00.
Radio Stations in English include NBC (92.6), Radio Wave (96.7), 99FM (99.00) and Kudu FM (103.5).
Radio Stations in German are NBC German Service (94.9) and Hitradio Namibia (99.5)