Day one of Go Big Namibia took us on an exciting whizz-about tour through Namibia’s capital city, Windhoek, a vibrant place that is a blend of old and new – long-standing colonial churches built by early German settlers stand amongst bustling modern-day infrastructure.
The city is safe to explore on foot, and, if you know where to go, you’re in for a delightful cultural and culinary adventure!
We began with a visit to the pretty, well-maintained Parliament Gardens, a great place to picnic. From the gardens it is an easy walk to Christ Church, a National Monument and one of the oldest churches in Windhoek, built by early German colonialists who shipped the windows and doors all the way from Munich. The Rider Memorial also known as the ‘peaceful monument’ is quite impressive.
My favourite part of Windhoek was, without a doubt, the bright and colourful township of Katutura.
When the first World War ended, Namibia (then South West Africa) was passed from German colonial rule to South African governance (under the League of Nations Mandate). South Africa imposed their system of apartheid, forcibly dividing Windhoek into areas inhabited according to race and ethnic groups. Katutura Township was the area allocated to “blacks” and remains home to 65% of Windhoek’s population.
I recommend taking a slow drive along Katutura’s legendary Evaline Street (‘the street that never sleeps’) which overwhelmed me with its bright colourful houses, shebeens, hairdresses, friendly car-washes and enthusiastic entrepreneurs.
We then stopped to explore the extremely popular meat market at Single Quarters, which is an amazing experience, but definitely not for the faint-hearted! (Vegetarians be warned!) If you’re brave enough, join the locals by tucking into some famous Kaplan (braaied) meat, or, if you are feeling particularly adventurous, try a Mopane worm!
We then headed to the ‘Soweto Market’ where I couldn’t resist getting a few braids done by lovely hairdresser, Maria. The speed at which she worked was unbelievable – intricate, perfect little plaits were done in no time at all.
A little way out of town, we visited a place called Penduka, a peaceful, innovative initiative which empowers physically disadvantaged women. The women produce and sell exquisite handcrafts, which are imported to Holand, Germany and France. The project has spread throughout Namibia and assisted no less than five hundred women. Penduka also rests beside a beautiful lake, a great spot for bird-watchers.