We certainly believe a self-drive holiday is one of the most enjoyable ways to explore Southern Africa...
Wedged between the South Atlantic and the Kalahari Desert, Namibia boasts an array of natural sites, activities, adventures and once-in-a-lifetime excursions. From rich history and cultural heritage to wildlife sightings in the reserves and natural wonders like the dunes and salt pans, Namibia has something for everyone. Travelling through Namibia by car is one of the best ways to explore this extremely vast and beautiful country, boasting unspoiled natural environment from your choice of guided trips, hot air ballooning, nature drives, sundowner trips, bush dinners, guided sunset walks and scenic flights.
A top pick is a self-drive in your own vehicle - as South Africans, Namibia is on our border to the north, and a self-drive offers the freedom to stop and go as you please in the comfort of your own car and at your own pace, making self-driving in Namibia extremely rewarding. Self-drive holidays also offer the opportunity to visit places off the beaten track. Self-drives are popular for Honeymoon couples, friends, small groups and families wishing to travel together.
Be sure to be well prepared for the long open roads and brilliant landscapes. Here are some important tips to make the most of your road trip in Namibia:
Things you should take along in your car:
- A camera: This is invaluable on your trip, from wild animals to stirring landscapes and interesting people, there are photo opportunities galore and documenting your road trip is a great way to make the memories of your adventure last even longer.
- Water: Take lots of bottled water in the car with you. Namibia can be very hot and you may drive for a long distance before seeing a spot to replenish, so always make sure you are hydrated. Snacks such as biltong and droewors are also a good idea to pack to have a bit of food to nibble on.
- Sunglasses and sunscreen: It is very important to protect yourself from the sun while driving. Wearing a good pair of sunglasses will not only protect your eyes but also reduce the sun’s glare, which will help you be able to spot animals and other things in the distance.
Fill up with petrol when you have a chance:
- There are many petrol stations dotted along the national roads, but you must always make sure that you have enough petrol or diesel in your car to get from one station to the next. Namibia is a sparsely populated country so be sure to fill up when you can. Always make sure to have enough cash on hand as well as a bank card to pay for your fuel. It is also a good idea to carry a Jerry can of petrol for emergencies.
Know the major national roads:
- The national roads of Namibia are all labelled with the letter ‘B’ and you can use them to get to most major destinations in the country. Take a look at these major highways in order to plan your route:
- B1 from Noordoewer (South African border) to Oshikango (Angolan border), 1694 km
- B2 from Walvis Bay to Okahandja, 285 km
- B3 from Nakop (South African border) to Grünau, 324 km
- B4 from Lüderitz to Keetmanshoop, 351 km
- B6 from Windhoek to Buitepos (Botswana border), 335 km
- B8 from Otavi to Katima Mulilo (Zambian border), 837 km
Only take the secondary roads if your car can handle it:
- These roads are identified by either their ‘D’ or ‘C’ prefixes and are mostly un-tarred, graded dirt roads, home to lots of hidden gems along the way such as rest camps, conservation centres, traditional communities and even the largest meteorite in the world! These roads are more often than not easy to drive on, but you will need a car that can handle a bit of sand and dust.
Look out for animals!
- No matter what road you’re driving on, highways or side roads, you need to be on the lookout for animals. Not only because they are amazing to spot and observe, but because they can run into the road unexpectedly so always stick to the speed limits and keep a look out for these animals. It is important to note animals are most active during the dusk and the dawn, so if the sun’s going down, or if the sun’s coming up, then sharpen your wits and keep a close eye on the verge of the road.
Plan your trip before you set out:
- It is important to decide on a route before you launch out into the wild on your road trip adventure. Following your itinerary, do some googling before you depart, plot out the sights you want to see and then plan a route that’ll best get to there keeping the kind of car and roads in mind. Also, don’t over-estimate the amount of kilometres you can do in a day. With any road trip, it’s always better to give yourself more time to get to a destination. You never know what could delay you, whether it’s a rough road that calls for you to slow down or stumbling upon a quaint town you want to spend time exploring.
The weather in Namibia:
- Weather in any country can be unpredictable and Namibia is a notoriously hot country being mostly covered in desert. Some places, especially coastal spots such as Swakopmund and Walvis Bay, offer a much cooler climate which is a welcome relief for in-between destinations. The winter months can also be fiercely cold at night and in the early mornings, so if you are traveling between April and September take warm clothing as well as light clothing for the days, which are generally sunny and bright.
Make sure your car is ready for adventure:
- You will need to pick the appropriate type of car for your journey. If you are planning to stay on the national roads then any reliable four door sedan should be fine. Do bear in mind though that a car with a very low ground clearance may run into trouble, so it’s probably best to leave the sports-sedan at home.
- Check your tire pressure, in a standard vehicle travelling on dirt roads with normal air pressure will result in punctures, before setting off pull into a petrol station and get the air pressure set.
- Make sure that you have all the required documentation you need for a long-distance trip. Is your car is roadworthy? Do you have all the equipment you will need in the event of a flat tyre or other minor mechanical faults?
- GPS is highly recommended however it is very important to take a physical map with you. Electrical equipment can fail so you need to have a backup plan. A map is solid and dependable.
A few more tips to note:
- It’s a good idea to leave your headlights on through the day and the night. Headlights, even in daylight make your car easier to see for oncoming vehicles.
- Drive carefully and cautiously, as always. Be especially careful when leaving or entering villages and towns. There are often people and animals crossing the road.
- Make sure you have a roadside emergency kit in your car as well as a basic first-aid kit.
- Do not speed! The penalties for exceeding the local speed limits are extremely severe, and law enforcement is wide-spread.
- Cell phone reception is not consistent all over the country so have a look at your service provider’s coverage map or contact them directly to see if where you’re going will have service.
We offer a range self-drive packages with Namibia being one of our most requested and popular destinations. To find out more or for sample itineraries for self-drive tours using your own or a hired vehicle you are welcome to contact us.