Windhoek, Namibia Geography

Windhoek, the capital city of Namibia, is located in the central part of the country. The city’s geography is characterized by its position within a semi-arid region and its proximity to mountains and rivers. In this comprehensive description, we will explore the geography of Windhoek, focusing on its unique climate, surrounding mountains, the influence of the Khomas Highland and Auas Mountains, as well as the role of the two rivers, the Windhoek and the Klein Windhoek.

Location in a Semi-Arid Region:

According to, Windhoek is situated within the central Khomas Highland of Namibia, which is part of the larger Namib Desert. This semi-arid geographical setting has a profound impact on the city’s climate and environment. The region is characterized by low and erratic rainfall, resulting in limited vegetation and a dry, desert-like landscape.

Auas Mountains:

One of the most prominent geographical features near Windhoek is the Auas Mountains, which are located to the south of the city. The Auas Mountains are part of the larger Khomas Highland and stretch for approximately 56 kilometers. These mountains play a crucial role in Windhoek’s climate and serve as a striking backdrop for the city.

The Auas Mountains are characterized by rugged terrain, rocky outcrops, and deep canyons. The highest peak in this range, the Hohenstein (2,347 meters or 7,700 feet above sea level), offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

These mountains have not only created a picturesque natural environment but have also influenced the local climate by blocking moisture-laden winds coming from the Atlantic Ocean. As a result, Windhoek experiences a semi-arid climate with limited rainfall.

Khomas Highland:

The Khomas Highland, in which Windhoek is located, is a plateau region with elevations ranging from 1,600 to 2,100 meters (5,250 to 6,890 feet) above sea level. This elevated geography contributes to Windhoek’s cooler climate compared to the surrounding lowlands. The Khomas Highland is characterized by its unique flora and fauna, adapted to the semi-arid conditions.

Climate Influence:

Windhoek’s geography and its location within the semi-arid Khomas Highland result in a climate known as a cold desert climate. The city experiences relatively mild temperatures and limited rainfall. Summers are warm to hot, with temperatures often exceeding 30°C (86°F), while winters are cool, with temperatures in the high teens to low 20s°C (mid-60s to low 70s°F).

The Auas Mountains and the Khomas Highland create a rain shadow effect, blocking moist air masses from the Atlantic Ocean, which results in the city’s arid conditions. Windhoek receives most of its annual rainfall during the summer months, with an average annual precipitation of around 360 millimeters (14 inches).

Windhoek River:

Windhoek is named after the Windhoek River, which flows through the city. The river, like many in the region, is typically dry for most of the year, only flowing seasonally or after significant rainfall. However, the riverbeds serve as a significant part of the city’s geography and are a focal point for urban development.

The Windhoek River and its surrounding valleys provide green corridors and recreational spaces within the city. The riverbeds are also essential for flood control during the rare but heavy rains in the area.

Klein Windhoek River:

In addition to the Windhoek River, the city is also influenced by the Klein Windhoek River, a smaller seasonal watercourse that flows through the suburb of Klein Windhoek. These rivers are significant for the local water supply, providing a source of freshwater for the city’s residents.

Development and Urban Layout:

Windhoek’s geography has influenced its urban development. The city is characterized by its modern layout, with wide streets and spacious boulevards. The surrounding mountains and valleys create distinct neighborhoods and provide natural boundaries that have guided the city’s growth.

The riverbeds, which are dry for much of the year, have been utilized for urban parks and green spaces, such as the Avis Dam Nature Reserve. These areas provide recreational opportunities and enhance the city’s aesthetics.

Agriculture and Water Supply:

The geography of Windhoek and its semi-arid climate pose challenges for agriculture. However, the city is supported by the two rivers, which have historically been crucial for water supply and irrigation. The municipality has implemented water conservation measures and wastewater recycling to address the limited water resources in the region.

Klein Windhoek and Surrounding Hills:

The Klein Windhoek River flows through the suburb of Klein Windhoek and has shaped the development of this area. The suburb is known for its hilly terrain, offering scenic views of the city and the surrounding mountains.

Tourism and Outdoor Activities:

Windhoek’s geography, with its surrounding mountains, provides opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking and mountain biking. The Auas Mountains, in particular, are a popular destination for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers. The mountainous terrain and semi-arid landscapes offer diverse ecosystems and stunning scenery.

In addition to outdoor activities, Windhoek’s location within the country makes it a central hub for tourists exploring the rest of Namibia. Many visitors use the city as a base to explore the country’s diverse geography, which includes deserts, national parks, and unique geological formations.


Windhoek’s geography is characterized by its central location within the semi-arid Khomas Highland, the presence of the Auas Mountains, and the influence of the Windhoek and Klein Windhoek rivers. This geographical setting contributes to the city’s climate, with distinct wet and dry seasons, and has shaped its urban development and green spaces. Windhoek’s proximity to the surrounding mountains and natural beauty also makes it a destination for outdoor activities and a starting point for exploring Namibia’s diverse landscapes.