Explore the central region of Namibia from the capital city of Windhoek; an oasis in this arid land and a great base for day trips to attractions further afield. Edged by the Namib Desert to the west and the Kalahari to the east, this region offers you the chance to view the dramatic differences in each. The Kalahari, not a true desert because it receives a fair amount of rainfall, is characterised by small red dunes, pockets of indigenous trees and fossil waterways compared to the arid and stark Namib.
If you are lucky you will come across some of the original inhabitants of the Kalahari, the San people who for thousands have years have survived in these extremely hard conditions. They were responsible for the magnificent rock carvings and paintings that you will see on your travels through Namibia and today often have crafts available for purchase in major centres.
Windhoek is the best place to find a luxury accommodation base from which to explore the region. This capital city of Namibia is a quaint blend of African and European lifestyles with much Germanic influence from its former days as a colony. There is plenty for you to do in the city itself with its wealth of museums, heritage buildings and art galleries. And there is no lack of evening entertainment as theatres regularly put on international, regional and local productions as well as cabaret shows. If you are feeling lucky head to the casino else spoil yourself at any of the fine dining restaurants by trying the Namibian meat; ranked as some of the best in the world. And of course, Windhoek is the home of the country’s renowned breweries so don’t miss out on tasting the world’s finest beers!
This vibrant city makes a great base from which to explore the surrounding attractions in a variety of day trips – to the famous Arnhem Caves and the Gross-Barmen hot springs. Or start your Namibian experience here by signing up for the Namibia in a Nutshell tour that begins and ends in Windhoek.
The Arnhem Caves
Situated just 124km from Windhoek is the longest and most impressive cave system found in Namibia. The Arnhem Cave is still in a completely natural state and comprises a large complex of narrow tunnels and gaping caverns up to 110m deep. Be warned though that the caves are home to several species of bat including the giant leaf-nosed, Egyptian slit-faced and long-fingered bats. You need to wear sturdy shoes and it is advisable to go exploring in a group.
The Gross-Barmen Hot Springs
Nestled on the banks of a tributary of the Swakop River you will find the Gross Barmen Hot Springs Resort. A perfect day excursion, this destination is only 100km from Windhoek. Originally an early Rhenish mission station, established in 1844, today it is a hot spring resort that is open throughout the year to the public. Water bubbles from the earth at 65 degrees Celsius and then cools off before it reaches the indoor thermal pool, open-air swimming pool and private baths.
The capital city of Windhoek
First settled by Europeans in the early 1800s because of the availability of fresh water, Windhoek is located in what is thought to be the bowl of a prehistoric lake. The name of the city comes from one of the first farms in the area, Winterhoek, and not because of the weather, as is commonly thought from the direct English translation ‘windy corner’. Although the colonial Germanic influence remains, today the streets are a blend of all the people of Namibia from the Nama, the San to Owambo, Herero, Damara as well as those of European descent.
Have an extra-terrestrial experience
Make sure that you visit the Post Street Mall to see the collection of Gibeon meteorites. There are 33 pieces on display, some of them weighing in at over 500kg. They are thought to be 4 billion years old and to have come from an exploding supernova that fell to earth between 200 and 220 millions years ago.
Pay homage to Namibia’s fallen heroes
Visit Hero’s Acre just outside of the city to pay homage to those that sacrificed their lives in the fight for Namibia’s independence. This state-of-the-art national symbol was built in 2002 to foster a sense of patriotism and nationalism in the country. A white obelisk dominates this sanctified space and attractions include the eternal flame that burns 24 hours a day and the eight-meter tall sculpture of the ‘Unknown Solider’.
Indulge in some of the purest beer on earth
Take a tour of Namibian Breweries, one of the most prestigious in Africa. Beers are created using the German Purity Laws of 1516 and they are fabulous. Perhaps the most popular is Windhoek Lager, a speciality beer with a rich golden taste and mild bitterness. Tours are by appointment only, ask your luxury guesthouse hosts to organise this for you.
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