What to drive: 4WD or 2WD?
Most of Namibia’s main routes are tar or good quality gravel for which a normal saloon car is perfectly adequate.

 

If you are heading out to the more remote areas of northern Namibia in Kaokoland or to Bushmanland you will definitely need a 4WD to drive the dry river beds, rough pot-holed tracks and occasional deep sand. Some roads flood after the rains in January, February and March and a 4WD might be better if your trip is early in the year. If you do hire one and have never driven one before then consider getting some tuition before you leave. www.landroverdriving.co.uk  has a range of courses to suit most itineraries. Try www.be-local.com for lessons on the ground in Namibia. It is worth arranging your vehicle hire in advance as you’ll get the best deals and the best selection.


GPS Road signs are great in Namibia but GPS can be useful to find remote campsites or to share information with fellow travellers about viewpoints or where that elusive cheetah is hanging out. It is also useful if you break down as you will be able to give your exact location to whoever is coming to rescue you.


Air conditioning Air conditioning means it will take you longer to acclimatise to Namibia’s high temperatures but it will make your journey much more comfortable. Air con also helps stop everything inside your car getting covered in the fine dust that the gravel roads throw up. Remember your camera lens will mist up when you first take it outside an air conditioned car.


Satellite Phone Mobile phone coverage outside the main towns is limited so consider hiring a satellite phone if you are heading off the beaten track (try www.be-local.com). The Iridium network covers the entire country. www.namibiatourism.com.na has a map detailing the areas where a mobile phone with a roaming agreement will work.


Roof top tent If you want to camp on your trip then hiring a roof top tent is a great option. They are fabulously comfortable, airy and very easy to put up and down. Kids also love them.


Tyres Before you head out, check the conditions of your spare tyres – ideally you should have two – and make sure you know how to change a tyre and that you have the equipment to do so. Punctures are common. For gravel roads your tyres should be very slightly softer than on tarmac. If you hit deep sand you will need to reduce the pressure considerably. Ask your hire firm for the guidance for your particular vehicle. A basic tyre compressor will come in handy for changing your tyre pressures.


Extra fuel capacity There are few petrol stations between towns, so fill up wherever possible and opt for cars that have long range tanks. The rest camps in Etosha do stock fuel but they have been known to run out. If you are heading to Namibia’s far north or into the desert then talk to your guide or car hire company about your route and whether you will need extra jerry cans to carry fuel. Remember that air conditioning and low-range gears eat up fuel.


Water cans and recovery kit If you want to visit Namibia’s remote regions then you will need to carry jerry cans for water and some basic recovery equipment in case you get stuck. You can share the recovery kit between you if you are travelling in convoy, but make sure you don’t get separated.


Red Tape Check you are happy with the small print of your hire agreement – particularly the insurance and collision damage waiver. You have to be at least 23 years old to hire a car in Namibia and you’ll need a valid driving licence from home (the new photo ID licence is best) and your passport. Double check with your hire firm before you leave to find out what paperwork they require. If you intend to hire a car for more than 90 days you’ll need an International Driving Licence.

 

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