Windhoek is often described as a city with a ‘continental’ atmosphere, the meeting place between Africa and Europe, the modern and the old. In the main street, well preserved German colonial buildings are in sharp contract with modern architectural styles, while it would not be uncommon to see a Herero woman in full traditional dress and a businessman in a suit side by side. Windhoek is a small bustling city with an estimated population of 280 000 and surrounded by the Auas Mountains in the south-east and the Eros Mountains in the north-east and the Khomas Hochland in the west and because of its central location; Windhoek is the starting point of most holiday visitors to the country. Windhoek was initially known as Ai-gams, a Nama word meaning ‘firewater’, ‘steam’ or ‘smoke’ and Otjomuise, a Herero word meaning the ‘place of steam’, because of the many hot springs in the area.
In the early 1840’s, the Nama captain, Jan Jonker Afrikaner, named the town after the farm in the Cape where he was born, called Winterhoek, but during the German colonial administration the town was called Windhuk, which was subsequently changed to Windhoek. Windhoek has a wide choice of accommodation options, ranging from 5 star luxury, to four star hotels and homely pensions to backpackers establishments and even campsites. There is a lot to see in Windhoek, but as the rest of the country has so much more to offer, this is suggested to only be a one night stay, if any.
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