Drive Time on a Namibia Road Trip is the best way to enjoy a holiday in Namibia.
Hire a vehicle and drive yourself around this amazing country. That way you have the freedom to stop where you want to and enjoy everything the country has to offer along your journey.
I would highly recommend hiring a 4×4 vehicle for the duration of your Namibia Road Trip, and having the airport as your pick up/drop off point for ease.
Are Namibian Roads Dangerous?
Namibia has plenty of arresting and striking areas to drive through, however statistically, 1 in 10 tourists will have an accident during their holiday. Why does this happen? The fact that 87% of Namibian roads are gravel is not the reason. The main culprit is tourists themselves and the majority of accidents are “single vehicle” with no animal, object or other vehicle being involved.
Tourists assume that the roads are similar to those “back home”, that they are used to driving on ice/snow and that they are competent and careful drivers.
Namibian roads are unlike other roads that you will have experienced before. They are slow and at times tedious and distances are long and drawn out between places. If you decide to drive on gravel roads, faster than the recommended 60 km/hr and have to break suddenly, you may slide, then try and over correct your steering and lose control of the vehicle which can then overturn.
This is not the place to be adventurous, take unnecessary risks, drive when tired or become complacent. Remember – EXCESS SPEED IS THE MAIN CAUSE OF ACCIDENTS!
Namibian Road Facts
- Driving is on the left.
- Speed Limit on Tarred Roads is 120 km/hour.
- A Safe Speed Limit on Gravel Roads is 60 km/hour.
- All occupants must wear seat belts by law.
Driving On Tarred Roads
Major highways (Usually “B” Roads) are tarred, link to most larger towns, are usually single carriageways and excellent to drive along. Due to the sheer scale of the country and the wildlife that you can encounter, conditions are very different from back home. Roadside fencing is none existent and you will often see wild and domestic animals crossing the road on their journey across the country.
Driving On Gravel Roads
Most gravel roads are in good condition, and a means of reaching most of the attractions in Namibia. They are made by compacting stones onto the road surface which does not last and there will be slight tracks/ruts forming where other vehicles have driven.
It is important to reduce the tyre pressure by 20% when driving on gravel roads.
THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR :
Stones can be found on the track edges which can cause damage to the tyres and smaller stones in the tracks themselves can be thrown up and hit the windscreen, hence the importance of driving at 60 km/hour.
Gravel roads are less forgiving as they offer little in the way of traction so it is important to stay within the tracks to avoid the sharp stones that can damage your tyres.
Road surfaces vary considerably and you may hit a patch of soft sand which can result in the vehicle sliding slightly. Again, if you are driving at the safe speed then you will handle this with ease and become able to deal with them when they arise.
Sometimes locals who are used to the roads and the driving conditions will overtake you at a higher speed. Slow down and move over to the left to minimise damage by the vehicle’s dust cloud and by any small stones which could hit your windscreen.
If you stay in the overtaking vehicle’s tracks and the dust cloud is thick, you will not be able to see anything until the dust disperses.
Distances should not be underestimated. Journeys can become tedious and tiring, and even though you may not see another vehicle for an hour or more, it is important to remain alert, take regular breaks and not increase your speed.
Ensure that you have adequate time to reach your destination by mid afternoon to avoid rushing.
Do not travel in a vehicle’s dust cloud as you will not be able to see where you are going. Be vigilant approaching corners as these may become obscured from view. Drive with your lights on at all times.
Driving In Sand
The number one rule for driving in sand is to keep going! Do not lose momentum or the tyres will sink and the vehicle will come to a stop.
If there are existing tracks in the sand, just stay here and let your vehicle do the steering, whist maintaining steady momentum.
When we visited Sossusvlei, we decided to go on a tour as we would have been driving at 4.30am in the dark, on a surface that we had no experience with. As we were leaving the area, we counted five 4×4 vehicles that were stuck in the sand, all within 20 metres of the parking lot!
OTHER POTENTIAL HAZARDS :
You will certainly see both domestic and wild animals on your journey as Namibia is a large farming country, so always be on the lookout for animals crossing the road. Remember to slow down and not swerve to avoid them, as the vehicle may rollover.
Animals to watch out for include Kudu, Warthog, Guinea Fowl, Baboons, Cows, Goats, Sheep, Horses, Donkeys and Dogs.
It goes without saying, that you should not drive at night unless you have to. Animals, who are most active at night, will sleep at the roadside and on the quieter roads, which will have absorbed the heat of the day.
Colliding with even a small animal will result in the death of the animal and cause severe damage to your vehicle.
If your visit coincides with the rainy season, then extra care must be taken. Flash flooding is common and the best advice is to sit back, enjoy the scenery and wait until the flow is diminished or stopped.
GENERAL DRIVING INFORMATION :
- Drivers must be over 21 years of age to hire a vehicle and have an international driving license.
- It is cheaper to hire a vehicle from Windhoek or Windhoek International Airport, although outlets are situated in areas such as Swakopmund, Walvis Bay and Luderitz.
- I advise you to take out FULL INSURANCE including Premium Collision Damage Waiver and Premium Theft Loss Waiver with zero excess. (Includes General Public Liability Insurance, Personal Accident Insurance, Third Party Liability Insurance, cover for damage to windscreen, undercarriage & tyre, rim and hubcap (but not delivery of a replacement).
- When you pick up your vehicle, make sure you know whether it uses unleaded petrol or diesel. Yes really!!
- Plan ahead and order 1 or 2 extra tyres as spares, as you never know when a puncture will occur and it pays to be fully prepared.
- Child seats can also be ordered ahead of time, and these will ensure your child enjoys the best visibility, although not required by law.
- Always top up with fuel when you have the opportunity.
- Read the small print of any car hire agreement, so you are aware of any exclusions.
- Sand will get everywhere, leaving a dusting inside the vehicle and over your luggage.
- Crime in Namibia is low, but as in any part of the world, do not leave valuables visible and on show.
OUR EXPERIENCE DRIVING ON OUR NAMIBIA ROAD TRIP
We hired a 4×4 from AVIS through a Travel Company based in the UK, with Full Insurance cover. I found them cheaper than booking direct.
We collected our vehicle on arrival at Windhoek International Airport and were given full instructions on jacking up the vehicle, repairing a puncture and replacing a tyre. The full tool kit was taken out and its uses explained fully before going inside the office and watching a 15 minute video on road conditions and driving tips.
I have to say, we have never had such an in depth handover before when collecting a hire vehicle. All questions were answers and maps given out and the staff even asked which roads we were thinking of using so they could ensure we were fully prepared for any issues we may face.
We found driving on the gravel roads no problem and did not encounter any problems either with the vehicle or the road conditions.
Distances are long between places and I wouldn’t suggest driving more than 400 kms a day as you do become tired.
Driving yourself around Namibia is a great experience. Driving on the roads is easy, navigation is easy and ANYONE can drive around Independently, with no need to be concerned about safety or practicalities.
- Keep to the recommended speed limits and be patient.
- Be alert and sensible. Take no unnecessary risks.
- If in doubt, slow down.
- Drive with your lights on.
- Plan your journey thoroughly and do not try and cover too many kilometres each day. Try and limit your driving to 5 hours per day and arrive at your destination by early afternoon.
- Remember EXCESSIVE SPEED IS THE BIGGEST CAUSE OF ACCIDENTS.
And finally, ENJOY YOURSELF … Namibia is an incredible and beautiful country and an ideal place for a Self Drive Independent Trip!
Have you visited Namibia yet? If so, how did you find the driving?
PIN TO SHARE OR READ LATER :