Windhoek, Namibia

Arriving in Windhoek Airport in early afternoon, we picked up a Budget Car - or at least attempted to pick up a Budget Car. Note to self for future holidays: "Avoid Budget Cars". In the heat of the African afternoon sun we toiled to get a correct set of keys, the right papers for the car and so on. In the end we were lacking the right papers and had to bribe a border guard to get out of Namibia and into Botswana. The whole exercise at the airport took over an hour - complete rubbish the service we got from Budget. The petrol gauge on the car did not work, but we only discovered this many kilometres alter, so couldnot return the car - the result was I had to zero the odometer on each refill of petrol, and knowing the number of kms we were doing per litre of petrol, get an idea of when it needed refilled - an interesting exercise in a country like Namibia with hundreds of kms between petrol stations in places.

Anyway we got to Galton House, for our first night. It was tucked away in a residential suburb of Windhoek. We were there only for the one night and had dinner there. A pleasant hotel for the night, but there are probably better hotels in Windhoek if you were staying longer. The official photos make it look better/bigger than it is, and the lighting in the dining room was a bit dingy at night. However the chap that checked us in was very helpful with all sorts of information about Namibia, so we were happy with the stay

The following morning we stopped in the city centre for a few hours on our way south, in order to have a look around. There are many remnants of the German colonial past, not many of the South African occupation. Basically the South Africans did very little to develop Windhoek, and therefore left little in the way of buildings.

In 1878, Britain annexed Walvis Bay but did not extend British influence into the hinterland. A request by merchants from Lüderitzbucht resulted in the declaration of a German protectorate over German South-West Africa in 1884. The German colony came into being with the determination of its borders in 1890 and Germany sent a protective corps, called the Schutztruppe under Major Curt von François, to maintain order. Von François stationed his garrison at Windhoek, which was strategically situated as a buffer between the Nama and Herero, while the twelve strong springs provided water for the cultivation of food.

Present-day Windhoek was founded on 18 October 1890, when Von François fixed the foundation stone of the fort, which is now known as the Alte Feste (Old Fortress). After 1907, development accelerated as people migrated from the countryside to the city. There was also a larger influx of European settlers arriving from Germany and South Africa. Businesses were erected on Kaiser Street (now called Independence Avenue), and along the dominant mountain ridge over the city. At this time, Windhoek's three castles, Heinitzburg, Sanderburg, and Schwerinsburg, were built.

The German colonial era came to an end during World War I , when South African troops occupied Windhoek in May 1915 on behalf of the British Empire. For the next five years, a military government administered South West Africa. After World War II, Windhoek's development gradually gained momentum, as more capital became available to improve the area's economic climate. After 1955, large public projects were undertaken, such as the building of new schools and hospitals, tarring of the city's roads (a project begun in 1928 with Kaiser Street), and the building of dams and pipelines to finally stabilize the water supply. It also introduced the World's first potable re-use plant in 1958, treating recycled sewage and sending it directly into the town's water supply.

Post independence Windhoek continues to be the capital city of the Republic of Namibia.

Click on any of the thumbnails below to get a larger photo

Galton House, our hotel, with a small pool and modern decor. Set in a residential suburb of Windhoek it was fine for our 1 night stop.
Evidence of Gibeon Meteorites, 1838. A German War memorial ,1897. The 1910 Lutheran Church. Independence Museum 2013.
The Alte Feste is a old German fort and now the State museum , interesting but a bit dilapidated. The German railway station built 1902

 

On to Kalihari

Namibia Holiday