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
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  • Guage to tell you the depth of the water
    Guage to tell you the depth of the water
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Most Viewed Warnings and Dangers in Namibia

  • Myndo's Profile Photo

    Toilet - what toilet?

    by Myndo Updated Jul 17, 2004

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    It can happen: you are in the wild and ...Nature calls ...
    and no toilets around
    So what to do?

    This is the right procedure if you have to go:
    Take with you:
    a shovel: so you can make a hole
    a flash-light : when its night.
    toilet paper - no, you will not find any leaves.
    a lighter - to burn the toilet paper ( burying it is no good, since it is so dry, it will not decompose).

    And remember: there are quite a lot of snakes (and scorpions?) around here.

    In the Etosha Ntl park you better try to "plug it" until the next toilets (yes, here there are some)

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  • toonsarah's Profile Photo

    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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  • Acirfa's Profile Photo

    Do not drive at night

    by Acirfa Written Nov 20, 2005

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    Firstly, watch your speed on the dirt roads, think of them as icy roads as the problems driving on them are similar. A sensible speed is required at all times, the gravel can change and one dirt road needs a different type of driving to another one.

    Keep alert, wild animals come out of nowhere before you realise it and especially do not drive of a night as animals are more difficult to spot and breaking down during the night is much more problematical. Nature comes alive and you never know what is out there.

    Also take care with being mesmerised by the roads, some are long, dusty and never ending, with the sun beating down too, this can cause sleepyness and thus an accident, try to keep alert and cool.

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  • Myndo's Profile Photo

    Childrens gangs at the gas stations

    by Myndo Updated Jul 17, 2004

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    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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  • diageva's Profile Photo

    Warning Wild animals

    by diageva Updated Oct 26, 2004

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    All along Namibia you will find different traffic warning of different kinds of animals. One of my favorites is this one ... cheetas warning ... great :))) more if you are sleeping near it at a camp with any kind of fence:)

    The real animals that will get near your tent at night are the jackals ... they will still your shoes if you left them outside

    Traffic

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  • toonsarah's Profile Photo

    Watch out for wildlife!

    by toonsarah Written Jan 13, 2007

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    As well as the danger of skidding on the gravel road surface, there’s an additional hazard to be aware of when driving in Namibia – animals! This is particularly true in Etosha of course, but you’re liable to see different types of deer and smaller animals anywhere. On our first day in the country, just 15 minutes drive from the airport, we spotted our first kudu, so don’t think you’ll need to be miles from anywhere to encounter this hazard. There are very few fences and the quietness of the roads means that animals are likely to regard them as a simple extension of their usual territory.

    Female kudo

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  • GillianMcLaughlin's Profile Photo

    breaking down in the desert

    by GillianMcLaughlin Written Apr 3, 2004

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    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.

    Puncture in the desert

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  • Myndo's Profile Photo

    Namibia road conditions and offensive driving

    by Myndo Updated Jul 2, 2004

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    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).

    damaged car, namibia
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  • GillianMcLaughlin's Profile Photo

    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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  • GillianMcLaughlin's Profile Photo

    Dangerous creatures - scorpions

    by GillianMcLaughlin Updated Apr 3, 2004

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    I don't intend to be a scare mongerer, in fact, after travelling in the tropics off and on for almost 10 years, it was only last year that I encountered any dangerous creatures at all - and of course, then became fascinated. While on our bush safari to visit the Himba tribe, we were sitting around the campfire telling tall tales (as one does), with only the light of the fire and one or two torches.

    Out of the corner of my eye I saw a sand-coloured “scuttle”. I announced the gathered assembly that we had a scorpion in our midst, but was met with ridicule, it being patently obvious that a Scot working in an office in Brussels was hardly in a strong position to diagnose danger in the African bush. Nevertheless we all went hunting, and sure enough, there was a tiny sand-coloured scorpion beside my stool!

    To avoid unwanted surprises, make sure that when you camp, you close your tent up properly at all times. Also “close” your boots when you’re not wearing them, by covering the top with a sock or seaking them into a bag, knotted at the top.

    Sunset in Namibia - watch out for creepy crawlies
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  • Myndo's Profile Photo

    Wildlife - yes not only the big 5

    by Myndo Updated Dec 5, 2004

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    Although you must be very lucky (or unlucky) to actually meet one of these scorpions (see picture) or a snake, especially, if you are not camping outside overnight, there still IS a chance.

    This really wonderful exemplar of a scorpion was discovered by my boyfriend after he moved the bedside table in our bungalow room in Gross Barmen.

    I am not sure whether it is poisonous or not, but we decided to put it outside, since I for sure didn't wanted to share my room with it. :-)

    Anyway, I think it was as afraid of us as we of it....

    Scorpio, Namibia
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  • diageva's Profile Photo

    Snakes

    by diageva Updated Jan 29, 2005

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    It is true that you are advise of snakes and scorpions ... but you never really think you are going to find one in your way.

    It did happend to me. I was walking in Aus Klein Vista Camp before sunset with John and Shona and suddenly we founded this big snake in our way. It was a strange snake because she didn't move waving and was a little flat. We did get near to make pics ...

    It was a very dangerous snake, a mortal one, ... I don't remember the name, but we learn after how dangerous it was

    This is what JohanJume have comment at my page:

    "JohanJume Sat Jan 29, 2005 13:36 CET
    ... The snake in the pic is known as a Puffadder (Bitis Arietans). Only one of the most venomous snakes in Namibia. Though it seems lazy and will try to keep away from humans, it will kill if confronted "

    So I was wright in put it at Warning tips and not at other :))) Thanks JohanJume :)

    Snakes
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  • SanguiniA's Profile Photo

    Be Safe ...

    by SanguiniA Written Aug 2, 2006

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    You should have no problems driving in Namibia if you follow a few basic rules

    * Gravel roads are so good & smooth you might give in to the temptation to overspeed - be careful, no matter how good they are they the car is prone to skidding at curves. So keep an eye on the road and avoid any sudden swerves or braking. It is very easy to lose control of the car on a gravel road!
    * Do not drive close to the car in front of you in a gravel road as the front may be damaged by gravel-blasting
    * when you pass another car from the opposite direction reduce the speed and put your hand on the windsreen. This will help to absorb the shock of the impact of any stones which may otherwise shatter it. Many insurances won't cover damage to the winscreen so better safe than sorry
    * Always beware of animals in the road, even in the middle of the desert
    * Be prepared for punctures, they are a way of life on such roads
    * Drive slowly when there are people walking near the road, to avoid them any injury due to flying stones
    * If you can, always get the advice of a local about the state of the roads especially if travelling in the rainy season or exactly after it. It is common for the gravel roads to be damaged or swept away.
    * Always keep an eye on the car temperature

    Rental car
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  • GillianMcLaughlin's Profile Photo

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

    by GillianMcLaughlin Updated Feb 29, 2004

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    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.

    A lonely drive
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  • DAO's Profile Photo

    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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