Safety Tips in Namibia

  • Calm before the storm - agricultural checkpoint
    Calm before the storm - agricultural...
    by GrumpyDiver
  • Road with a dry stream
    Road with a dry stream
    by GrumpyDiver
  • Guage to tell you the depth of the water
    Guage to tell you the depth of the water
    by GrumpyDiver

Most Viewed Warnings and Dangers in Namibia

  • DAO's Profile Photo

    ATM ROBBERY

    by DAO Updated Mar 2, 2012

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    Namibia has few large cities and towns. They also have very little crime. What they do have, especially in Windhoek, is a thriving business in stealing from you when you go to an ATM. Think about it. You have your back to the world and they have all day to watch you. The most common fraud is for 2 guys to watch you go to the machine and turn your back. As you enter your card they come up behind and quickly tell you that there is a problem with the machine and you must enter your PIN and hit the reject or red button. They just saw your PIN and your card has just come out. They grab the card and run - your account is empty in 5 minutes. Picture 2 is a picture, I believe, of 2 guys who just robbed a guy I met 20 minutes before at my hotel. Sadly, the victim could have crossed the street and stood next to an armed guard and used the other bank's machine!

    Standard Bank has some good guidelines on their website for you in Namibia:

    ATM fraud

    Do
    • Remain aware of your surroundings without allowing anything or anyone to distract you while doing your ATM banking.
    • Approach an ATM only under the right conditions and, for your own security, be alert and conscious of your surroundings.
    • Choose a familiar and well-lit ATM where you are more visible and safe.
    • Scan the area for suspicious looking characters before you approach the ATM.
    • If you think the ATM is faulty cancel the transaction IMMEDIATELY, report the fault to your bank and try another ATM to transact.
    • Have your card ready in your hand before you approach the ATM to avoid opening your purse, bag or wallet while in the queue.
    • Be cautious of strangers offering to help as they could be trying to distract you in order to get your card or PIN details.
    • Follow the instructions on the ATM screen carefully.
    Don't
    • Never force your card into the slot as it might have been tampered with.
    • Use ATMs where the card slot, key pad or screen have been tampered with -it could be an attempt to get hold of your card.
    Tips on protecting your PIN
    • Don't let anyone stand too close to you whilst at the ATM in order to keep both your card and PIN safe.
    • Shield the keypad when entering your PIN to ensure that no one can see it.
    Tips on protecting your cash
    • Some fraudsters wait until you've drawn your cash to take advantage. Be wary of people loitering around at the ATM.
    • Take your time to complete your transaction and secure your card and your cash in your wallet, handbag or pocket before leaving the ATM.
    • Check your balance regularly and report discrepancies IMMEDIATELY

    BOB THE ATM !
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    DOUBLE YOUR WATER

    by DAO Updated Mar 1, 2012

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    Too much water? Other than a flood, have you ever heard that as a problem? I was told that it might be unnecessary by a fellow traveller in Namibia. We had set off by car across the dune sea. We were leaving the car in a remote area with no facilities for an all day walk across the dunes. He suggested 2 litters of water per person in our group. That meant 8 litters in our band of 4 for the day in 4 backpacks. I suggested 16 litres. ‘Too heavy’ and ‘we will not need that much’ I heard in reply.

    We drank every drop in 3/4’s of the day and became very thirsty. Fortunately my car had another 20 litres inside (I plan well) and we still had a long drive to a place with water available. Had our car broken down on the way to the roadless dune sea or back, we would have been in real trouble.

    Also, have 10-20 litres of water in your car (additional) at all times. Namibia is a vast desert and they do sell water in large 10-litre containers at about any good-sized grocery store.

    On my journey north-south we came across a van driver who was broken down., He had reported it to the break-down agency he belonged to 123 hours before and he was still waiting. We offered him water, but he had plenty. He did ask for a cigarette!

    The moral of the story is this: Water is heavy, but it lightens the load when you drink it. In most of Namibia there are few other things you need to pack other than sunscreen and sunglasses. Water will keep you alive to make sure that the sunscreen and sunglasses were worth the effort.

    Double your water!

    VT SAYS
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    Drive safely

    by toonsarah Updated Feb 27, 2012

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    I know I’ve already mentioned this on my introductory page and in my Transportation tip, but you really can’t be too careful when driving in Namibia! Most of the roads, even major routes, are gravel, but because they’re wide, straight, very quiet and mostly pretty smooth, it’s easy to start to relax and let your speed creep up above the recommended 50 MPH. This happened to us one day while Chris was driving - not that I’m passing the blame ;)

    We were on the fairly good stretch of road heading towards the coast from Solitaire to Walvis Bay. Unnoticed by either of us our speed was increasing. Suddenly Chris spotted a larger-than-most stone in his path and swerved to avoid it – the one thing you should never do, but a natural reaction in the circumstances. Next thing we knew the car was spinning wildly and all we could see was flying gravel. Luckily (but not unusually in Namibia) there were no other cars around for us to hit, and equally luckily all four wheels stayed on the road. We’d be warned that on average one tourist car a day is flipped on its side, and for a while there I was sure we were going to be that day’s statistic. So please be careful – but don’t let this tale put you off, as it really is safe if you stick to the rules!

    Namibian road
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    Car Guards

    by GrumpyDiver Written Dec 12, 2011

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    So you are in a Namibian town on city and are thrilled that you can park for free on the street. There are no parking meters!

    Not so fast, there are "car guards", and for $N3 - $N5 per hour they will watch your car. They do have a quasi-uniform (jacket or vest) that identifies them as an official car guard.

    While under their watchful eye, nothing ever happened to our car or it's contents, so I figure the system does work.

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    Veterinary Control Points

    by GrumpyDiver Written Dec 11, 2011

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    Namibia is in many ways two separate countries. The south that has commercial agriculture and industry and the north the supports traditional lifestyles, including traditional susistance agriculture and herding.

    In order reduce the rist of animal diseases being transferred to the farms in the south, there are animal control checkpoints along all the roads. There is no issue when travelling from south to north, but when travelling back to the south from the north, your vehicle will be inspected. No unprocessesed meat is allowed to cross this control line, even if you bought it in a supermarket.

    The other warning is that the veterinary inspectors at two of the control points tried to get bribes.

    Warning sign Control point gate across the road
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    Driving in Namibia - Back roads

    by GrumpyDiver Updated Dec 10, 2011

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    This is a warning to those peope that do not have any experience in driving on gravel and sand roads. SLOW DOWN!

    I saw too many people driving these as if they were the Autobahn or some other western superhighway. They are not and even though the speed limit is normally 80 km/hr and in some cases higher, you can't do it. Sand and gravel do not give you the same grip as asphalt or gravel and stopping and turning distances are far greater than you are used to. Roll overs are frequent and a lot of people get flats and in some cases the tires are so badly damaged that they have to be replaced.

    Try to drive towards the centre of the road, that way you won't damage your tires (sidewall damage that can't be repaired) and move over to the left when approaching blind hills or curves you can't see around.

    Animals, can dart out unexpectedly and your first reaction is to swerve to avoid them. If it something small like an impala or warthog, just hit it; it's safer. Larger animals; elephants, kudu, giraffes should be dodged.

    Another problem is domestic animals, especially as you get into the north. Cows and goats often wander across the road in great masses. Cows are predictable and don't do anything too quickly, but goats will often cut across quickly. Donkeys are unpredicatable as well, but far less common than goats and cows.

    Back road in Namibia - sandy and steep! Herd of goats blocking the road Springbok enmass on the road
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    Driving in Namibia - Wet Gravel / Sand Roads

    by GrumpyDiver Updated Dec 10, 2011

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    As they say, when it rains, it pours. The sand and gravel roads turn from acceptable driving surfaces to soft mud very quickly and you will have very limited control of your vehicles. If you are an experienced ice and snow driver things will feel very familiar to you! Most people will probably visit in the dry season, but if you are there during the little rains or rainly season, please take note!

    SLOW DOWN! Deep ruts can develop very quickly and your car will follow these rather than where you want to be. Take it easy of the gas (spinning your tires will throw mud around and you won;t have any control) and don't try to brake too hard as you will just slide like on an icy surface.

    If you are driving a 4x4, consider switching into 4x4 mode; low or high, depending on the conditions.

    Calm before the storm - agricultural checkpoint
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    Driving in Namibia - Choosing a vehicle

    by GrumpyDiver Updated Dec 10, 2011

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    The paved B roads can be driven with normal vehicles, but the C and D roads may be problematic.

    If you are planning to drive on any unpaved roads, consider getting a 4x4 with high clearance. This applies to Etosha National Park as well. The main roads are fine, but the side ones, especially during rainy season can be problematic if you have a slow slung vehicle and front or rear wheel drive only.

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    Driving in Namibia - Deep Sand on Roads

    by GrumpyDiver Updated Dec 10, 2011

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    There are some areas on main roads (C and D roads) where you might frun into deep sand. The last part of the drive to the sand dunes near Sessriem and the road up to Nhoma are two places we ran into this.

    If you are not an experience deep sand driver (or if you are used to driving in very snowy areas, many of the same skills apply). You can get stuck. If in deep sand, try to drive through it slowly and try to not stop! Don't drive too quickly and you can easily loose control and get stuck. If in a 4x4, switch into 4x4 mode (low) before driving through the deep sand.

    Watch where other vehicles have gone and follow the tracks that have gone through the shallowest sand, don't get into the deep stuff if you can avoid it!

    If you do get stuck:

    1. Try to rock your way out by switching between 1st gear and reverese.

    2. If you get really stuck and rocking does not work prepare to dig your way out. Make sure that your front wheels are straight and not turned. If your vehicle has a shovel, great, otherwise use any other tool (bucket, pot, pan, even your hands if the sand is not too hot!) and dig a trench that is 0.75m - 1m / 2ft - 3 ft long as deep as your tires are buried in front of all 4 tires. When done, get into a low gear (4x4 mode if you have it) and drive straight ahead. This should get you going.

    3. If all else fails, wait for someone else to show up!

    You drive in sand this deep near Sossusvlei
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    Credit Cards, ATMs and cash

    by GrumpyDiver Written Dec 10, 2011

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    The telecommnications infrastructure in Namibia is not terribly robust, especially in more remote parts of the country. In bad weather, this problem extends to places like Windheok as well.

    Bottom line is that your credit cards may not work, ATMs may not give you cash, so make sure you have sufficient cash to cover off your costs if you run into these issues. While we did not have any. I wouild assume that traveller's cheques are not going to be accepted anywhere other than banks, so don't count on these!

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    Dangerous creatures - the black mamba

    by GillianMcLaughlin Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    On the day we were out trying to spot a desert elephant or two, we had just got back into our jeep when a black mamba slithered across our path. The mamba's reputation goes before it. For the wary traveller, it is sometimes hard to separate fact from myth.

    The black mamba is in fact an olive green colour (but I wouldn't advise you to approach one just for the sake of proving me wrong). At 3 to 4 metres long, it is Africa's largest venomous snake, and with an ability to move at up to 18 kmph, its fastest. It's not though the world's most deadly: that honour goes to the Inland Taipan: one bite by all accounts (and don't ask me how they know this), can kill 200,000 mice.

    Death is not an inevitable end after a mamba bite, in fact only 20% of attacks end in death. Despite all the horror stories, mambas are not programmed to attack without provocation: attacks are normally the result of people encroaching on their territory. However it is true that when really upset, a Mamba can rear up by almost half its length to frighten and attack its prey or tormentor, but mortality is more likely in Africa following a bout of Ebola or tick fever.

    This is not to say that an attack is to be taken lightly: 2 drops of the venom are sufficient to kill a human adult, and there are 20 drops in an average attack! The venom contains both neurotoxins, which attack the nervous system, and cardiotoxins, which attack the heart.

    Symptoms include loss of control of the tongue and slurred speech, mental confusion, blurred vision, quickly leading to paralysis of all muscle groups and drowsiness. (These effects are NOT to be confused with the side effects of drinking a bucket of rum which can be fairly similar). Hospitalisation is a must. Treatment may involve an antivenom, but, there is a risk of allergy. Patients' own bodies can heal themselves under medical supervision and paralysis can disappear completely within 12 hours.

    My information comes from an amalgam of sources, but mainly from the following website.

    Sunrise over the namibian bush
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    Deceptively Deadly

    by jdd1701 Written Jan 21, 2011

    I have read several of the posts regarding the travel conditions in Namibia, and I must say more emphasis must be placed on personal awareness, each visitor taking their safety completely upon their own shoulders. I say this because I received zero information, instructions, warnings, or any material regarding driving dangers from my rental company. Please see the blog I created specifically to address my concerns for drivers that follow behind us visiting Namibia.

    http://namibiandrivingdangers.blogspot.com/

    The posts I did read on Virtual Tourist mention actions and factors that lead or contributed to particular accidents. Our story is different, in the fact that we were driving under the posted speed limit, and suddenly, without warning our truck went into a slow-motion clock-wise spin on a smooth straight section of gravel road, resulting in 2 violent rollovers before settling back on our tires. By luck or grace neither my wife or I lost our lives, but I was close as I suffered a head gash that the attending doctor thought was almost miraculous as somehow a critical vein was "skipped over", and if that had been damaged, bleeding out was a distinct possiblity.

    I can't stress enough the need to drive with utmost care and caution to secure the health if not lives of yourselves and loved ones with you. I discovered very concerning information regarding deaths on the roads of Namibia AFTER we returned from our trip. Namibian governmental staistics (I stumbled onto a government report online that's a .pdf file), and frank disclosure from car hire companies I communicated with presented pictures of numerous injuries, property loss, and death of tourists and Namibian citizens. Allow me to put it this way - if I knew before going what I discovered post trip, I would've taken much more care than I already practiced. And my wife, during the 2-week trip, already thought I was being too cautious on several occasions! Of course she changed her tune after our horrible experience.

    http://allafrica.com/stories/201006240789.html

    Damage to the cab. My blood on the liner. Doctor sewing me up. After being repaired. Truck Before Accident
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  • jdd1701's Profile Photo

    Deceptively Deadly

    by jdd1701 Written Jan 21, 2011

    I have read several of the posts regarding the travel conditions in Namibia, and I must say more emphasis must be placed on personal awareness, each visitor taking their safety completely upon their own shoulders. I say this because I received zero information, instructions, warnings, or any material regarding driving dangers from my rental company. Please see the blog I created specifically to address my concerns for drivers that follow behind us visiting Namibia.

    http://namibiandrivingdangers.blogspot.com/

    The posts I did read on Virtual Tourist mention actions and factors that lead or contributed to particular accidents. Our story is different, in the fact that we were driving under the posted speed limit, and suddenly, without warning our truck went into a slow-motion clock-wise spin on a smooth straight section of gravel road, resulting in 2 violent rollovers before settling back on our tires. By luck or grace neither my wife or I lost our lives, but I was close as I suffered a head gash that the attending doctor thought was almost miraculous as somehow a critical vein was "skipped over", and if that had been damaged, bleeding out was a distinct possiblity.

    I can't stress enough the need to drive with utmost care and caution to secure the health if not lives of yourselves and loved ones with you. I discovered very concerning information regarding deaths on the roads of Namibia AFTER we returned from our trip. Namibian governmental staistics, and frank disclosure from car hire companies I communicated with presented pictures of numerous injuries, property loss, and death of tourists and Namibian citizens. Allow me to put it this way - if I knew before going what I discovered post trip, I would've taken much more care than I already practiced. And my wife, during the 2-week trip, already thought I was being too cautious on several occasions! Of course she changed her tune after our horrible experience.

    http://allafrica.com/stories/201006240789.html

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    Flat Tires

    by Gili_S Written Oct 17, 2009

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    Most of the roads in Namibia are gravel and it is almost certain that you will have a flat tire somewhere on the road. It is good to have the 2nd one spare tire available just in case till you get to repair the 1st one, so ask for it when renting a car.

    fixing the flat tire in Etosha.

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    ANIMALS IN THE ROAD

    by DAO Updated Feb 25, 2008

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    Elephants! You always wanted to see them, but did you want to run into them with your car? Poor Elephants. It will hurt them when you hit them. They will walk off from the mangled wreckage of your car and body and be sore for days. If you survive your travels will at the very least be over. Giraffes, wild boar, donkeys, horses, children and gemsboks all run or crawl into the road. You need to keep looking and slow down when you see shadows ahead. Driving at night? Not an option. There are no street lights and you are asking for an accident. Also you get bugs the size of your hand that come out to cover your windscreen. If you are driving, get up early and get going. Be careful out there!

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