Self Drive Touring in Namibia. all the info your need is here.
Self Drive Touring in Namibia - All you
need to know!
OK. You are on this page, because you want to
do it your way. That's fine, but unless you've been to Namibia before
and know the country I strongly recommend you take a bit of friendly
advice from me, and do some homework before you begin your adventuring. We're
here to help, so please
read on. Believe me. It's worth the time and effort. Watching a
constant trail of self drive tourists wandering haphazardly across
Namibia, missing most of what there was to see, or not knowing what
they'd seen was the motivating force for the construction of the
Namibia-1on1 group of sites.
Driving in Namibia:
- Foreign registered vehicles: You Must
be in possession of Proof of Ownership of The Vehicle
Owner / License / Plus Police Clearance Certificate. The
Chassis, Engine Number, Trailer Number, and License Details will
be checked by the Police from the country you are leaving and
also by the Namibian Police on Entry into Namibia and Departure.
If your vehicle / Trailer documents are not in order they will
not be allowed to enter Namibia.
- A Cross Border Entry Fee: Is payable when entering
Passenger Cars N$110
- Insurance: You should consult with your
insurers before commencing your journey and ensure that you have
adequate insurance cover for your vehicle, loss or theft of
belongings and medical health including medi-vac.
Namibia - Rules of the Road:
- In Namibia driving is on the Left Hand side of
- The maximum speed limit on open roads is 120 km/hr
- The maximum speed limit in
towns is 60-80 km/hr ( 37-50 mile/hr)
- Documentary proof of ownership of the
vehicle along with a police clearance certificate are required if
your are driving to or from Angola or Zambia.
- Car hire companies will provide the
necessary documentation if the vehicle is rented on the basis for
cross border use.
- All passengers are required to
wear seat belts *
- Drivers must be in possession
of a valid driving license at all times *
- The use of cellular phones when
driving is illegal))*
(* N$300 fine for not
complying with the law.)
Use of Headlights During Daylight Hours:
The Road Traffic And Transport Regulations states that head lights of
a vehicle must be switched on between sunset and sunrise. However, during
day-light hours when the visibility is poor, such as fog, mist, smoke, sandstorms, rain and other
poor weather conditions you are required by law to drive with your headlights on
as a warning to on-coming traffic.. You will see many Namibian vehicles using their
headlights in the day time, particularly when crossing the desert. This
is done as a safety precaution.
Touring By Car or 4x4 Vehicle: Namibia is
a big country with its major tourist attractions positioned far from each other,
so your self drive tour of Namibia will entail a lot of time behind the wheel,
much of which will be spent on gravel roads. You must choose the places
and sites that you want to visit and also decide on
the most suitable vehicle for your purposes and budget.
Namibia's tarred roads are amongst the best in
Africa. The Namibia gravel road system is extensive and usually of a
good surface. Many self-drivers rent sedan cars which are less
expensive on charges than pick-up trucks and 4 x 4s. It should be
understood here that a 4x4 vehicle is only as good as the driver's
experience and even the best of off road drivers can get stuck in
sand or meet some other obstacle that requires an amount of hard
labour to get the truck back on track. Driving in soft sand requires
a good amount of experience plus the truck must be equipped with the
necessary recovery tackle. Most of your driving time will be spent
on roads, and the larger diameter wheels of a 4x4
or pick-up truck will help to 'smooth out' road corrugations and the many 'bumps'
that you will encounter in the roads. Your ride will be more
comfortable than in small car and you will have plenty of luggage
space. You will be driving on commercial tyres which less
susceptible to blow-outs than the average small car tyre. Several of the 4x4 rental companies do offer vehicles along
with the camping equipment that you would need for a
holiday 'in the bush'. These advantages and extras all come at a
cost, so it's up to you to decide how much you want to spend on
Types of vehicle for rental:
- Sedan Car
- 2 x 4 Single Cab Bakkie (Pick-up truck with
- 4 x 4 Single Cab Bakkie (Pick-up truck with
- 4 x 4 Double Cab Bakkie(Pick-up truck with
- 4 x 4 Station Wagon (Land-Rover -
- You cannot just drive off road anywhere in
Namibia. Many of the areas that you will be passing through
while driving on gravel roads will be in National Parks and you
may not leave the road for eco reasons.
- The coastal gravel desert is home to delicate
lichens which are protected by law. Should you drive off road in
these areas you will damage the gravel surface and will leave
ugly vehicle tracks that will remain visible for hundreds of
years. It is an offence to drive in these areas.
- Should you plan to drive into off-road areas
you should make arrangements to make a contact person or
authority aware of your planned route along with stop over
places and time table. The have been cases where tourists have
become disorientated or ran low on fuel and or water and have
died as a result before the alarm that they were considered to
be lost had been raised.
- Whatever vehicle you choose, if you are
planning to drive on gravel roads you should ask the rental
company to provide you with 2 spare wheels. Plus you should
carry an amount of emergency supplies.
- During the rainy season (November to
April) you will find that certain gravel roads may have suffered
from wash-away caused by flash flooding.
The Costs Involved When
Renting A Vehicle In Namibia:
Below is an indication of the costs you
will have to make when renting a vehicle in Namibia. The insurance excesses can
be quite high owing to the amount of tourists who crash or damage their
vehicles. Your chosen rental company will explain exactly what is involved and
the detailed costs involved.
- Collision Damage Waiver (CDW)
- Theft Loss Waiver (TLW)
- Additional Collision Damage Waiver ACDW)
- Excess - The Deposit Required For (CDW)
- Reduced Excess - The Deposit Required for
- Rental Charge -Rates vary depending on
duration of rental
Road signs in Namibia are good. Below is a selection you may not
be familiar with.
Animals On Road Warning:
Animals on the roads present a major danger to drivers.
The areas in which the particular species of wild animals are liable to be are
well signed with warnings. When driving in the South of the country you are
likely to find Wild Desert Horses crossing the main B2 road to Luderitz, just
west of Aus. Throughout the south you may also find Oryx on the roads,
especially during hours of darkness. In the central and northern areas of the
country you may find Kudu and Warthogs grazing alongside the road. You can also
find domestic Livestock grazing alongside the roads where there are small
villages and settlements. Driving at night in areas where animals are to be
found on the road is dangerous. Avoid driving after dark. Certain species are
confused by oncoming headlamps and will run head on into the vehicle.
|This is the road-sign that I get the most
questions from overseas visitors.
"What does this mean?" Answer: "Do not stop the vehicle on a roadway or
shoulder of a road where this sign is displayed."
Tarred road surfaces are quite well
maintained and one can cruise along at 120km/hr. The distances
between towns in Namibia are lengthy. The roads have a low traffic
density and driving can become monotonous. Falling asleep while
driving is one of the main causes of tourist accidents on
Namibian roads. You may find the main roads in Namibia narrow
compared to the road system in your home country. Beware of Heavy
The gravel road system in Namibia is considered to be of
a high standard. Driving on gravel roads requires constant
concentration. One has to be on the look-out for sharp stones on the
road surface that may cause impact fractures to tires. These usually
result in a blow-out, and often cause the driver to lose control
resulting in a roll over. Beware of fast driving vehicles as these can
throw stones onto your windscreen. If the conditions are dusty switch on
your headlights in order to make oncoming vehicle that bit more aware of
you. Beware when driving on a corrugated road surface. When approaching
bends you can literally be bounced across the road.
If you intend to drive on gravel roads in Namibia
during the rainy season you would be wise to consult with locals or the
Automobile Association Office for a road report.
Driving on gravel roads during rains, or following a
downpour of rain can be tricky. The road surface can, in areas, become
extremely slippery owing to a soap like mud. When encountering this
condition please drive accordingly. When encountering normally dry
rivers that are in flood and cross the road be extremely cautious. Fast
flowing water across a gravel road carries small stones along the river
bed which act like small ball bearings. Your
vehicle could lose traction with the road surface and could be swept
along with the river, usually with fatal results. When crossing mountain
passes you may find that heavy rains have washed the road binding away
and that the surface is just a gravel or boulder bed. You should drive
carefully in order to avoid damage to your vehicle. Rental companies
will charge you for any damage to the vehicle.
You will see plenty of cars being driven on
gravel roads in Namibia. However, 4 x 4 vehicles or 2 x 4 pick-up trucks
are more suitable for this type of road surface. Their tire size is
greater thus giving a more comfortable ride.
The C34 Salt Road along the Skeleton Coast
from Swakopmund north is made of a mixture of compacted sand and
salt. There are no centre
of road markings. Head on collisions are not uncommon. You are requested to
drive, even in daylight, using your headlights to alert oncoming vehicle
of your presence. At certain times of the day reflections on the road
surface give the impression of it being water. Mirage effect along
this coast is common.
Following a heavy mist the salt road becomes
extremely slippery. Please drive accordingly.
In the rare event of it raining you are
advised not to make use of the road. (1) There is little traction on
the surface making driving , even for a 4 x 4 difficult. (2) The salt- mud
accumulates on the vehicle and is costly to remove. (3) Your usage of
the road when it has been softened by rains will damage the existing
structure of the road making it a longer and more costly for the Roads
Authority to repair the road for service-able use.
Beware of Super-links
these are 26 wheelers, 22 meters in length and having a gross
vehicle mass of up to 56 tons and are
common on Southern African roads. They are legally
limited to a maximum speed of 80km/hr. However, you might encounter one
cruising along in comfort on the open roads at speeds of over 120km/hr. Be
careful when overtaking or passing these long heavy vehicles. You can experience
air-blast which has the effect of either sucking you into the
oncoming traffic lane, or blowing you off the road. Drive
defensively and hold your steering wheel
|Long empty roads
Beware of Super-Links
|Gravel Road in Damaraland
||C34 Salt Road
Dry Season -
Serious Fire Hazard Warning
Bush Fires are a major cause of
loss of wildlife, livestock and even people
Please take care when driving
off-road where there is GRASS during the dry season. Your vehicle
exhaust system can become hot. Dangers that can happen:
(1). Grass can accumulate around
the exhaust systems of certain vehicles. It then ignites and sets
the vehicle on fire.
(2). The hot exhaust systems
can cause the grass that you drive over to catch on fire which then
causes a bush fire.
Supplies For The Journey:
Check tire pressures regularly, and if you have been driving on
gravel roads check the tire condition for stone cuts etc. Make sure that the
vehicle has the necessary tools for tire changes etc. Some car hire companies
may supply you with two spare wheels, and I strongly recommend that you carry 2
Food and Water:
MUST carry a sufficient amount of emergency drinking water with you at
all times. You may also want to carry your own food for on the road
picnics. You will find picnic areas along side the main roads.
However, if you intend to make use of these please keep alert. It is
not common, but there have been cases of people being hi-jacked at
Medical Supplies: A well equipped First Aid Kit is essential. If
touring during or following the wet season you should seek advice
from a chemist regarding Malaria Prophylaxes.
always carry enough fuel to get there and back, plus extra, in the event of you
taking the wrong path. This is important info. There have been cases in Namibia
where tourists have met with fatal consequences when having failed to adhere to
this rule. I always carry 2 x 20liter Jerry Cans. There are times when you will
find fuel stations in remote locations in Namibia having allowed their tanks to
run empty. It's not common, but does happen, so be warned.
A Few Words About 4 X 4 Driving
Serious off road 4 x 4 driving requires a considerable amount of
hard earned and costly experience. If you intend to go off-road
in Namibia you should be aware of what you are in for. You are advised
to plan your journey carefully. There are many areas of Namibia where there is a
great and lonely emptiness out there, and you should be well prepared for it.
Many of the areas that you will be driving through have no mobile
phone coverage, so you are literally 'incommunicado' and thus must
be prepared for any emergency that may present itself. You must
always have more than enough fuel to get you, not only to your
planned destination, but also to get you back to base should you
experience problems along the way. You must always have more than
enough drinking water with you. Plus an adequate supply of food and
equipment to see you through an emergency. An emergency medical kit is also a
wise thing to carry. We also recommend you
have two spare wheels. It's a long way between fully equipped tire
depots. 'Hear' this warning loud and clear. There are recorded cases
of tourists getting lost, running out of fuel and water with fatal
Leave a record of your planned journey with somebody reliable
so that if you don't arrive at you planned destination on time they will
know you have run into trouble.
One For The Road:
The famous explorer Sir Francis Galton (Fellow of the
Royal Society) trekked
around the northern area of South West Africa in 1851-52. Galton
first arrived by ship at Walvis Bay and, being an Englishman - from England, his choice of transport was a horse. However within a
couple of days, he noted in his journal that his experienced Africa
travelling companion named Stewardson preferred a trained riding-ox,
"He showed me all the points
of an ox; explaining how immeasurably superior that beast was in every
respect to a horse..." At that time the most reliable and popular transport animal
for African 'self-drive' explorers was not the horse, but the trained African-Riding-Ox.
The sturdy ox could carry a heavier load than a horse, could go for longer periods without food
or water and did not suffer from the seasonal sicknesses that horses
succumbed to in the tropics. Galton was soon converted and
later wrote affectionately of his trusty riding ox.
The rifles of
those days were flint-lock operated and the picture shows the gun
nestled stock-down in the gun bag. In this way the lead ball along
with wadding and black-powder charge stayed firmly packed in the
firing chamber section of the gun-barrel. The charged weapon could
be quickly drawn from its holster, cocked and was ready to fire. To
avoid injury that may be caused by accidental discharge the rider
safely tucked the gun barrel under his arm.
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