The first attraction to anyone visiting Windhoek is its impressive and conspicuous cleanliness that places it among the cleanest cities in Africa. However, there is more to see and do in this city than just its neat and nicely paved streets. Below are 8 reasons to visit Windhoek.
1. Find Windhoek’s soul at Katutura
Katutura is Windhoek’s beating heart. The township’s name means a place we do not want to live, an expression of anger against the South African apartheid government who created the township as Windhoek’s ‘black township’. Today the anger is history, and Katutura has become a regular suburb of Windhoek where tourists ‘soak up’ the bustling life and enjoy its renowned mildly roasted and unsalted beef chops locally known as kapana. The township gives real African cheerful chaos and beautiful laughing children, which is lacking in Windhoek’s centre. With a bike, one could have a day tour of the township, visiting the busy Soweto Market with its hairdressers, tailors and barbecue stalls; lively Eveline Street with its plethora of shebeens and mobile phone kiosks; and Penduka where Katutura women produce and sell superb handicrafts.
2. See City’s Landmarks and National Monuments
Windhoek is a historic city; it’s one of where apartheid was fiercely pursued in Namibia as well as the theatre of the struggle for freedom. The various structures and monuments that dot its little space attest to the city’s history and a visit would be enough to go back in time. Popular among tourists in the city are a number of colonial buildings, and sites like the Heroes’ Acre. The Acre has over 175 graves that are memorabilia for Namibians about the pain of the past and the hope for a prosperous future. Also of interest to many visitors is the white obelisk in the city. Gorgeously designed with white marble and black granite, the obelisk is a distinct landmark that is visible from the city centre.
3. Alte Feste
This is one of the oldest buildings in Windhoek. Originally built by Schutztruppe as a fortress, Alte Feste is now a museum worth its salt in Windhoek. Alte feste is a place for a leisurely stroll while admiring its fascinating structure and imposing frame or/and learning something about Windhoek’s history, and its past military might.
4. Explore Windhoek’s Namibia Craft Centre
The craft centre houses 30 independent stalls with a variety of traditional Namibian work as well as exciting innovative art and craft. Thus, there is hardly a better alternative place to shop for souvenirs in Windhoek than here. Located in an old brewery, the Namibia Craft Centre parades quality carvings, pottery, leatherwork, jewellery and paintings, all sourced directly from producers. And if these don’t interest you, why not go straight to the Craft Café for delicious cakes and coffees, or juices made from wild figs and plums, organic wines and craft beers.
From the Geological Survey Museum to the Railway Museum and even the Alte Feste Museum among many others, Windhoek has many museums and it’s quite difficult to pick out one for a visit. What interests you may help define which one you visit, but most visitors favour the National Earth Sciences Museum where they spot colourful and sparkling minerals, fossils, meteorites, and other geological marvels and learn first-hand information about mining activity in Namibia through the collection of samples, photos and maps in this museum.
6. Eat at a Namibian Restaurant in Windhoek
Every country has something to brag about their meal, Namibia is not left out. Windhoek has incredible restaurants that serve those special local and continental dishes that suit your palate. The Namibian Institute of Culinary Education, NICE, and its restaurant and bar will be worth a visit. In addition to training young Namibian chefs who go on to work in the country’s luxury hotels and lodges, NICE’s restaurant offers an incredible blend of both classic international cuisine and local specialities on their menu. Ask for the special Namibian beef, game meat, oysters and crayfish, or simply watch the chefs put their skills to work in the glass-fronted state-of-the-art kitchen.
7. Have a Picnic at the Zoo Park
Windhoek’s Zoo Park is a nice place to relax or have a picnic in central Windhoek. The Park is a public recreational area with shady trees, pond, lawns and gardens by central Independence Avenue in Windhoek, Namibia. Schutztruppe Memorial, a smallish iron obelisk 2m tall, topped by an Imperial gilt eagle is at the park. On all 4 sides of the monument are memorial panels, bearing the names of the fallen men. There is a spiked cast-iron fencing surrounding the monument.
8. Hofmeyer Walk
If you are one of those who love to hike where there is enough fresh air, I think this is for you. The Hofmeyer walk is fantastic; its trail takes you through Klein-Windhoek Valley, lasting for about an hour at a leisurely pace. The hillside vegetation and cactus-like plants are just beautiful.
Usifo Mike-Alvin is a creative writer with a knack for budget traveling and adventure. He travels across Africa and reports for www.afrotourism.com
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