Driving in Namibia, Namibia

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  • Calm before the storm - agricultural checkpoint
    Calm before the storm - agricultural...
    by GrumpyDiver
  • Back road in Namibia - sandy and steep!
    Back road in Namibia - sandy and steep!
    by GrumpyDiver
  • You drive in sand this deep near Sossusvlei
    You drive in sand this deep near...
    by GrumpyDiver
  • Myndo's Profile Photo

    Childrens gangs at the gas stations

    by Myndo Updated Jul 17, 2004

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Not from personal experience, but I have heard, that you should be careful, when filling up your car in Keetmanshope (goes for other towns as well).

    There a children gangs around.

    Always keep all doors closed and keep both sides of the car in sight.
    Don´t let your car stand there without anyone watching.

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  • Myndo's Profile Photo

    Namibia road conditions and offensive driving

    by Myndo Updated Jul 2, 2004

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    damaged car, namibia

    I am for sure not the first, nor the only one who says this, but:

    Namibias roads can be dangerous.

    Not because of the bad road surfaces. This might be gravel, but it is actually quite good driving on it. Too easy, actually. After a while you tend to drive too fast for the conditions. Stopping on gravel takes longer than you think.

    Often there are long distances where you only drive straigth ahead, you get used to it and suddenly there is a curve! Oups, brakes! steer! and you are rolling over (because your car has a higher center of gravity than you are used to)
    It happens all the times, mostly to tourists.
    The other things such as broken windows (from stones of other cars) or flat tires (because of the gravel) or animals on the road (mostly you have fences on every side of the road) come after this.

    You should also be warned because often the insurance makes troubles if that happens (it is your fault always, that?s clear).

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  • GillianMcLaughlin's Profile Photo

    breaking down in the desert

    by GillianMcLaughlin Written Apr 3, 2004

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Puncture in the desert

    Namibia is a country that lends itself to getting away from it all and touring around by car. However its desert roads and civilised cafes can be deceptive. You’ll need to think ahead to be sure that, if the worst happens, you are properly prepared.

    We blew a tyre on the long road towards the Skeleton coast. Although this road is one which is mentioned frequently in the guidebooks to Namibia (along the way you have the opportunity to see some rare plants etc) this does not mean that traffic is frequent. For the hour or so that we spent replacing the tyre, not one car passed!

    Even if you are adept at changing a tyre, bear in mind that the ground underneath is not solid on the desert roads, and your jack is likely to sink into the sand – a few rocks are needed to stabilise the jack, and to ensure that the vehicle doesn’t roll forward while you are underneath.

    Tyre blowouts are relatively common due to over heating and also from driving too fast on roads with lots of sharp stones

    A second mishap befell us on the road. A stone, kicked up by a springbok shattered a side window. Tape and cardboard meant that we could continue on our journey without too much inconvenience.

    Car hire insurance rarely covers burst tyres or windscreen damage (check the small print).

    Some general advice about driving in Namibia can be found in the website below.

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  • GillianMcLaughlin's Profile Photo

    And remember, if you're driving, take the car

    by GillianMcLaughlin Updated Feb 29, 2004

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    A lonely drive

    A driving holiday in Namibia is a great easy to get away from it all. there are some wonderful mountain roads, and You can drive for hours without meeting another vehicle or even another person. With this freedom however comes a set of warnings.

    Most places that you would want to visit are accessible only by taking gravel roads. Driving on gravel roads is a specialised skill, and in hiring a car, you will be drilled on some basic points. Before setting off, make sure you have plenty of drinking water: refreshment stops are few and far between, and if you break down somewhere, you will probably have a long wait before another vehicle appears.

    You’ll need to adjust your expectations of the amount of ground you can cover: we drove just over 200 km between Windhoek and Sessreim: it took the better part of the day (4 hours) and at times we were down to first gear and 5 kmh! Generally you should not exceed 60 kmh on gravel roads: faster than that and you risk skidding, running into some poor animal or generally being unable to manage an obstruction in a controlled way.

    You also need to take the weather into account: rain will inevitably cause flooding on low points in the road: you may not be able to reach your destination. If you’re very unlucky, you may be stuck until the water subsides. Many people spend money needlessly on hiring a 4x4. Unless you are planning to go far off track, it is unlikely that you will need to engage the 4 wheel drive: during our 6 day safari they were engaged twice: once when we were driving across a sandy river-bed and got stuck, and once when the incline of a road was too steep for the heavily laden bus and trailer. That having been said, you should discuss your planned route with the representative of the hire company to ensure that your vehicle is appropriate in terms of power and also in terms of clearance.

    The URL below will take you to a webpage that covers everything you need to think about when you drive in Namibia.

    Related to:
    • Photography
    • Desert
    • Road Trip

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  • Take heed of the road signs

    by peterscot Written Nov 18, 2003

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Rolled Land rover

    There are two signs on Namibian roads that need to be obeyed. One is like a smiley face, and means there is a dip (river-bed) in the road ahead. If you're going too fast, your suspension and teeth will take a hammering.

    The other indicates a bend, and is merely an arrow pointing left or right.
    Again, if you are going too fast, then you could lose control on gravel roads.
    The car in the picture failed to take the only bend on a straight road between Walvis Bay and Kuiseb Canyon. The driver was lucky - just scratched, but there was a 20 metre drop at the other side of the road. Note the missing windscreen and flat tyres.
    He was lucky also because we came along to pick him up. We saw no more cars for 2 hours.

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    • Desert

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  • Keep car doors locked in Windhoek

    by peterscot Written Nov 16, 2003

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Getting help

    Nothing got stolen but 2 guys tried to do an old trick. One distracted me at the side of the road - pointing as if the tyre was flat. Meanwhile his friend went round the other side of the car and opened the rear door. When I realised what was happening, he dropped the bag. So, when in town, it doesn't do any harm to keep all your doors locked. Otherwise, I've found Namibians honest and helpful.

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  • 850prc's Profile Photo

    Be prepared out on the road

    by 850prc Written Jul 26, 2003

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Far away from everywhere!

    Namibia is a beautiful country, with a varying landscape that stokes the creativity of any photographer. But, it's a largely rural land. When you're driving from town to town, you will be traveling vast distances, and will pass very little humanity in some cases.

    Be prepared. Make sure you've got extra gasoline (if you're 4WDing through the boonies), make sure your spare tire is pumped and ready to go. Make sure you have a small tool kit, and that you have plenty of water and human necessities. Should you find yourself stranded due to car trouble or an accident, it could be a while before help will arrive.

    The Namibian people are very friendly and helpful. But, there are quite a few places where these friendly people are few and far between. Be prepared.

    Related to:
    • Adventure Travel
    • Desert

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  • Pierangelo's Profile Photo

    Bumpy roads

    by Pierangelo Updated Aug 31, 2003

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Very dangerous are road bumps and dust for frontal crush. When we was there some Italians die in this way.

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  • chicabonita's Profile Photo

    Don't forget to have enough water with you

    by chicabonita Written Oct 24, 2002

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    If you travelling over the country be sure to have enough drinking water with you. It is not unusual that you ride in the car for two or three hours without seeing anyone.

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