Written by Oryx
Surrounded by desert scrub and craggy mountains, Windhoek has a frontier feel. Lucy Corne explores Namibia’s capital on foot.
There’s something very pleasing about Windhoek. Its quaint Bavarian-esque buildings provide an unusual backdrop to the typical African street scene of honking taxis and roadside hawkers. It’s a compact city that’s a pleasure to wander, snapping photographs of the eclectic architecture framed against a seemingly permanent cerulean sky.
Leave the bustle of Independence Avenue behind to explore some of the city’s notable buildings, sitting on quiet side streets. The striking National Museum houses a free collection looking at Namibia’s history and road to independence, though its windowless, metallic façade is just as beguiling as the exhibits within. Pause at the early-20th-century Tintenpalast (Ink Palace), so-named for the amount of ink used in this government building during German rule. The gardens here are delightful but sadly off-limits to visitors. Head instead for Zoo Park, once the site of the city’s zoo but nowadays the hangout for Windhoek workers taking an al fresco lunch.
For those who don’t fancy a picnic in the park, try the Namibian Institute for Culinary Education (better known as ‘Nice’), where chefs-in-training create tasty, classic dishes with lamb, steaks, and game meat on the menu. For dinner, Leo’s at The Castle specialises in fine dining and equally fine views of the city from its outdoor terrace. The restaurant is part of Hotel Heinitzburg, a converted castle built in 1914 that is surely the city’s most regal place to stay.
Cultural cycling tour
Join a cycling tour of Katutura, a sprawling suburb at the northern edge of the city. Guides will explain how the township was established during the South African apartheid years and how it has grown into a bustling extension of Windhoek. Tours include a visit to a market, the chance to taste traditional cuisine, and a shopping trip to a women’s handicraft centre.
Distance: 6,415 km
Flight Time: 10 hours, 55 minutes
Frequency: 4 flights a week