Windhoek is a mix between quaint Germanic and modern day African, with the accent more on the old than the new. There are plenty of historic buildings in the town centre, although new shopping centres have sprung up in the past few years. Most of them are smart enough to make full use of the warm weather so the shops and restaurants spill onto the pavements. The malls are eroding some of the charming quaint old shops of the past, but it still has lots of good restaurants, coffee houses and beer.
The city centre can easily be explored on foot, but hire a 4x4 or join an organised tour if you want to venture further afield. Which you must, because Namibia is a place of stark, stunning ancient beauty. Windhoek is a business centre with enough sights to make time for after work or before your bigger adventure begins.
Windhoek Tourism Information Centre is welcoming and friendly, and English is very widely spoken.
Namibia is GMT +1 hour, with daylight saving time going forward an hour to GMT +2 from the first Sunday in September to the first Sunday in April.
The Namibian Dollar is fixed and equal to the South African Rand, which is also an accepted currency. But South Africa doesn’t return the favour, so you can’t spend Namibian Dollars across the border. ATMs are common, and credit and debit cards are widely accepted. Foreign currency can be exchanged at bureaux-de-change, hotels and banks.
Namibia gets very hot, then pretty cold, then very hot again. Windhoek itself doesn’t get the extreme weather of the deserts that cover much of the country, hitting 30°C from October to January and sometimes dipping into single figures in June and July. May to September is the dry period, with December being the wettest month.
Namibia uses the same type of sockets as South Africa, with three fat round pins. Many hotels have installed European or UK-style sockets too, and keep adaptors at reception.
The city has good mobile coverage with 3G networks and some patches of 4G with a LTE network. You can buy a pay as you go sim card at the airport or rent a satellite phone if you’re heading into the wilderness.
The city centre is very walkable, but to reach hotels in the suburb you’ll need to hire a car, call a taxi or try the bus service. It runs on a smart card ticketing system and the timetable is online at www.movewindhoek.com.na
Public transport beyond Windhoek is poor, mainly because this scantily populated country has so few people to transport.
Airport to City Center
Hosea Kutako International Airport (HKIA) is 45 km east of Windhoek. There are car rental service and taxis available. Some hotels offer a collection service or you can book a company like Shuttle Namibia (www.shuttlenamibia.com) in advance.