Windhoek, Namibia

Windhoek is an attractive city situated in Namibia's central highlands, surrounded by the impressive Auas and Eros mountains and clusters of hills. The climate is typical of a semi-desert country, with hot days and cool nights.

At 1650m above sea level Windhoek is only slightly lower-lying than Johannesburg, South Africa, and Denver, the 'mile-high' city in the United States. Tree-lined Independence Avenue provides a pleasant ambience of tranquillity and leisure to the heart of the city with its fountains and walkways and continental-style sidewalk cafes and beer gardens. Zoo Park in the mid-city adds to the relaxed atmosphere with its lawns, trees, shrubs and flowers.

Specialized shopping in the city includes distinctive jewellers ranging from classic to contemporary designs using local or imported gemstones, or designed for individual tastes by local goldsmiths. A special feature is individually designed hand-woven carpets and wall hangings made from karakul wool. A number of curio shops offer a wide range of African arts and crafts and there is a fine choice of Namibian semi-precious stones. Street vendors spread their wares on the pavements, reflecting Namibia's cultural heritage, in the form of woodcarvings, basketry and pottery.

The city is enhanced by stately buildings in the German architectural style of the turn of the last century. Old buildings include the historic seat of government which is known as the Tintenpalast, meaning Palace of Ink, and the Christuskirche with its graceful spire which provides the city with a striking landmark. The white-walled Alte Feste, which was once a fort and now a museum, reflects the history of the country. Three German-style castles designed by architect Willi Sander in the early 1900's add a romantic touch to the city. Imposing modern buildings in the central business district echo the forms, shapes and colours of this architectural heritage.

Windhoek offers every modern amenity, including comfortable hotels and pensions, as well as restaurants offering Namibian-style cuisine, which has developed its own particular flavour. Local venison like gemsbok, kudu and springbok is featured on the restaurant menus. Venison is also delicious when smoked or served as paté. Ostrich steaks, fillets and biltong (strips of dried meat) are also available. There is never a shortage of tasty meat dishes, as Namibia is a major producer of top-grade beef and mutton. Seafood specialties from the West Coast include succulent rock lobster, oysters, and fish such as kingklip, sole and steenbras.

Like other spheres of life in Namibia, the German influence is also apparent in local foods, offering a wide selection of traditional sausages and polonies, various types of bread, and superb confectionery. Local beer is light and refreshing and refreshing and brewed according to the traditional Reinheitsgebot (purity laws), using only natural ingredients.