The Ultimate Self-Drive Through Namibia
Are you wanting to take to the wheel and self-drive across Namibia, but often find yourself questioning how long we will be driving for? If you are wanting to ask questions, here are the two you should rather be thinking about beforehand: How big is a country like Namibia? And secondly: how can you not simply enjoy the beautiful, varied landscape – even over a few hours’ drive? For hours through nothingness, no other vehicle, no other human soul. The ultimate feeling of freedom. Namibia is the most sparsely populated country in the world after Mongolia. But yet, over kilometers of untouched vastness and wilderness my fellow travellers keep begging the questions, “how long do we still have to drive” or the famous “I need the bathroom, how much further”. The bottom line for me was: Namibia at any time, that is, sometimes with your own car, and preferably with family or friends will be one of the most adventurous and captivating self-drive experiences. I recently completed a self-drive trip with a small group of colleagues, the classic destinations on our itinerary were Windhoek, Sossusvlei, Swakopmund, Damaraland and Etosha National Park. Namibia is one of the largest destinations for a self-drive, and there are a few things to take note of before planning your trip – here are my six tips:
1. Road Conditions
The road conditions in Namibia may be the biggest surprise for many. Although the infrastructure is generally very good, not even 20 percent of the roads are paved. The most important federal highways, such as the B1 from north to south, are in perfect condition, but if you head further inland, you usually drive on dust and gravel.
2. Rental Car
So, if you want to explore the country extensively, a four-wheel drive vehicle is recommended. In regions like the Damaraland, for example, the roads were sometimes a great challenge – even with a 4×4 jeep – unthinkable with a smaller car.
3. Speed & Left-Hand Traffic
On the few paved roads, a maximum speed of 120 km/h applies, and depending on the condition of the gravel roads, between 60-80 km/h apply here. Some people do not take the speed limit very seriously and you’ll possibly take the view of other drivers through huge dust clouds: it is essential to keep enough distance here. In Namibia, as in almost all of southern Africa, there is left-hand traffic, so be careful when turning and at the roundabouts, etc.
4. Supplies & Water
Not surprisingly, food and water are not available everywhere in Namibia due to the sparse population. It may well be that you drive for hours through completely uninhabited landscapes and meet no human soul anywhere, let alone a supermarket or the like. So, make sure that you are always provided with sufficient water and food.
The same applies to water and food for petrol. Before departure, always look carefully on the map where there is a sufficiently large place on the route and make sure that the tank is full for the next 300-400 kilometers.
6. (Wild) Animals
What makes Namibia so special can be a challenge for self-drivers. Wild animals cross the streets here and you will see signs depicting jumping kudus or a family of warthogs. This is not a tourist joke, but is actually meant to warn of game. It can be particularly dangerous after dark: many of the animals are extremely blinded by car headlights and lose control. We generally recommend avoiding car trips at night. Not only can wild animals become a traffic obstacle, cattle such as goats and cows can suddenly appear on the road too.
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Image Courtesy: Wolwedans // Ongava
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