Self-Drive Namibia

Road tripping in Namibia, especially in the arid, sparsely populated southern half of the country is an adventure very different to road tripping in South Africa, North America or Europe.

Infrastructure

Although Namibia's road network is regarded as one of the best in Africa, most of your driving will be on gravel or, occasionally salt roads that vary from well-graded to rocky and/or sandy.  

 

Generally C roads are perfectly drivable in a sedan if you take it slowly, but beware of the D roads.  Most importantly, note that most Namibian roads are not fenced.  Encountering animals - both domestic and wild - is very likely, so stick to the speed limit, be alert at all times and avoid driving at night.

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Driving on Gravel

  • Do not exceed the recommended speed limit of 60-80 km/h.

  • Err on the side of caution when travelling on gravel, particularly in a sedan.  The condition of the roads change from season to season and even on the best gravel roads shale and sand can cause the vehicle to slide and loose rock can kick up and damage the underside of the car.

  • Road surfaces, particularly on the salt road on the Skeleton Coast, can be very slippery ofter rain.  During the rainy season be on the lookout for water on the road, sections of road that have been washed away and flooded causeways.

  • Carefully observe the signs that warn of hazards such as  blind rises, sharp bends and dips in the road and reduce your speed accordingly.

  • Be extremely careful when overtaking on gravel roads as due from the other vehicle may obscure your view of the road ahead.

Hiring a Vehicle

  • Make sure that you are fully insured for the journey.

  • You will need to take out additional insurance to cover damage to windscreen or wheels.

  • A reputable rental company will provide a thorough briefing of the vehicle, particularly if it has extra fuel tanks or other features that you may not be familiar with.

  • Do a thorough check of the vehicle before starting - don't hurry through this step - make sure you know how everything works.

  • A reputable vehicle rental company will provide advice on recommended tyre pressures for the number of passengers you carry and the amount of luggage that you are carrying.

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Self-Drive & Game Viewing

  • Namibia's desert top soil consists of a fragile dry dust which, when driven over, will remain fissured and scarred for millennia to come.  

  • Therefore off-road driving is strictly prohibited, not just inside all the national parks, but also on most private reserves and conservancies.​

  • This means game viewing might at times prove challenging since you are not allowed to veer off allocated roads (which incidentally are often surrounded by the most awe-inspiring landscapes) to approach wildlife. And yet this is all part of the attraction; the adventure of looking out for interesting animals and perhaps being rewarded by a great sighting on a long journey.