Windhoek (pronounced vind-huuk) is not only Namibia’s capital city, it’s the cynosure of almost all the country’s economic and political life (and is appropriately set almost exactly in Namibia’s geographic centre). More than a mile high up on the Khomas Highlands, Windhoek is, perhaps surprisingly, a modern contrast to the vast wilderness that draws us to Namibia, and we find it a fine and lovely place to relax, enjoying some urban pizzazz before or after heading out into Namibia’s compelling, undisturbed, and extremely unurban backcountry (where, it should be said, Micato’s camps and lodges, while blending with their wild environment, suffer from no lack of up-to-date amenities).
Windhoek calls itself a City of Many Faces, and prides itself on its harmonious intermingling of European and African cultures. First settled in 1840 by the Afrikaans-speaking Orlam people, it came under German Imperial rule in 1890, and remained a German colony until World War I, when the British took it over and ruled until the country achieved its independence in 1990. That ultra-short précis is another way of saying that Windhoek, its people, architecture, and monuments, provides a fascinating look at this part of Africa’s past, and its resurgent, proud present.