Exploring unadulterated Namibia on one of our self-drive safaris is an exhilarating and unforgettable experience.
If you think you’re ready to tackle this spectacular country under your own steam, while we’ll do what we can from our side to ensure you and your vehicle are kitted out and prepared for the road ahead, we also recommend you do some of your own reading and research on basic self-driving tips, for your peace of mind.
We thought we’d take a moment to start that process for you here. Here are a few tips to get the ball rolling:
Patience, a sense of humour and an open mind will go a long way
There’s an old adage that says Africa is not for sissies. This certainly applies to Namibia. The heat can be oppressive; some dirt roads can be tricky; there’s dust everywhere; the distance between one destination and another can be vast, and it often takes longer than you think to get anywhere.
But this is all part of the fun, right?
So take a leaf out of the locals’ books and embrace the fact that time generally works differently in Africa. We can assure you that once you get used to this, it’s a refreshing feeling.
Stock up on water and snacks
Again, Namibia is generally very hot and dry. Be sure to always have a lot of drinking water on you – much more than you might think you’ll need.
As mentioned above, there’s a lot of open space in Namibia and sometimes very few passing cars or amenities around, so in the unfortunate event of a breakdown, you’ll be particularly thankful for the extra water supplies. This is very unlikely to happen, but it’s advisable to be prepared for any eventuality.
It’s also advisable to carry snacks with you on the road, as you might not always be able to stop and grab something on a whim when hunger strikes. Biltong (dried spiced meat) and dried fruit and nuts are always a good bet.
Fill up on petrol or diesel whenever you have the chance
Fuelling stations, like everything else in Namibia, are sometimes separated by significant distances. Be sure to top up your tank whenever possible, so as to avoid a scenario where you are nervously watching the gauge hovering dangerously near empty and wondering if you’ll make it to the next town.
Also, in more remote towns and villages you might only be able to pay for fuel with cash, so always be sure to carry enough cash on you for this.
Look out for animals
Namibia is a wild country with plenty of wild animals free-roaming all over the place. Impromptu game viewing is part of the allure of self-driving across Namibia, but it’s also important to be particularly vigilant for animals who might decide to dice with death on the roads.
There’s certainly nothing fun about driving into an elephant, and big buck such as kudu can also do plenty of damage to your vehicle and themselves if you’re not careful. Also look out for harder-to-spot culprits like lizards, snakes and rodents.
You’ll also notice plenty of cows, goats and donkeys ambling across the road without a care in the world, so be sure to slow down and give them as wide a berth as possible.
With all of this in mind, it’s generally advised to avoid driving at night in Namibia, as this is when many animals are both most active and hardest to spot. We plan your itineraries with this in mind.
Be prepared for dirt roads
Many of Namibia’s roads are not tarred, though most gravel and dirt roads are generally good, flat and well-graded.
However, always drive carefully, stick to the speed limits or slightly below them and keep both hands on the steering wheel. If it’s your first time off the tar, start slowly and cautiously and work your way into it. Try to avoid breaking too hard or accelerating too sharply, particularly on corners.
Keep your eyes peeled for potholes or patches of loose sand and try to avoid them or slow down gradually well in advance.
For all untarred roads, it is also advised to drop the usual pressure of your tyres. You can find out more about what tyre pressure to go with for different types of road surface here.
There’s a fairly good chance you’ll experience a flat tyre somewhere on Namibia’s untarred roads. Be sure you know how to change a tyre.
Otherwise, all that’s left to say for now is good luck and enjoy the ride!