While the majority of Namibia's roads are gravel, for the most part they are kept in good condition and will take you to areas of breath-taking beauty and splendour. However, they can also be notoriously dangerous, as many visitors are unfamiliar with this type of driving and could easily lose control of their vehicles.
At Namibia2Go we strive to offer you a seamless experience and therefore share the following information with you. Below are some of the points you should be aware of:
In Namibia, we drive on the left side of the road.
Having said this, however, on quiet gravel roads you may find it better to drive more towards the centre of the road – except of course when going around corners, approaching a blind rise or with on-coming traffic. This will allow you more leeway in case your wheels slide on the gravel, etc.
The combination of gravel and speed is the main reason tourists have accidents. The roads are well maintained and can tolerate speed; however, this can be exceptionally dangerous.
We encourage you to maintain a safe speed when driving on gravel roads. Always keep an eye out for animals running into the road.
120 km/h on tarred or sealed roads
80 km/h on gravel roads
Particularly on gravel you should adjust to a lower speed if the conditions deteriorate. If you feel you're losing control of the vehicle, take your foot off the accelerator and hold your steering wheel firmly. Excessive steering movements and sudden braking can cause your vehicle to skid.
If you feel the need, stop, take a break and enjoy the scenery.
Gravel roads offer less grip. Therefore, speeds should be significantly reduced, and braking distances increased. Driving in existing tracks will provide a harder surface and therefore better grip.
When crossing between tracks make sure you slow down, not only due to having less control, but the loose gravel often has larger stones that may cause damage to the vehicle. And keep an eye out for a train coming!
Keep a good distance behind other vehicles. This is to avoid dust and reduced visibility, as well as to avoid potential rocks that could be kicked up by wheels. Only overtake on a long stretch of straight road where visibility is clear, the road condition suitable and the vehicle ahead is aware of your presence.
It is always a good idea to have your lights on in dusty conditions to allow for better visibility.
It is much more likely that animals will wander across the road at night. Also, it is more difficult to judge the road conditions in the dark.
Plan your route carefully to avoid being caught driving at night. Please bear in mind that in winter (approx. May-August) the sun sets already at 18:15 in central Namibia – and it’s dark within 20 minutes from sunset - and on the longest days in summer at about 20:00.
Always be on the lookout for animals and of course the unexpected. Keeping to the speed-limit will help avoid accidents and collisions with animals – but this is not always possible when driving in the wild.
Changes in the road colour may also indicate a change in the surface condition.
Despite looking like a tarred road, most routes along the coast consist of salt roads. These are perfectly safe if the weather is sunny and dry but if there is moisture in the air, it can be slippery.
Please do not leave valuables on obvious display, especially if you are in towns and you leave your vehicle unattended. Try to keep as much luggage as possible in the boot/ trunk or smaller, more valuable items locked in the glove compartment.
Special care needs to be taken during the rainy season, as the roads can be especially bad and even the tarred roads may be prone to substantial flooding and serious potholes. The first rains can also make tarred roads very slippery. So, keep your distance!
If at all possible, avoid crossing a running river. Most rivers stop flowing after only a few hours so enjoy the enforced break. If you do decide to cross, either wait for another similar vehicle to cross safely or walk through the river first to determine the flow velocity and depth, and to establish a safe route without obstacles (large stones, deep holes, etc).
Driving into a river with a hot engine can cause serious damage. Likewise, it is very bad for water to enter the engine through the air intakes; stay well clear of water deeper than about 30cm in a small car and 50cm in a 4x4.
If there are crocodiles or other dangerous animals in the area, wait until the flow has decreased and drive through when it is shallower.
Dry riverbeds can be challenging to navigate as well and should only be done with expert guidance and confidence.
Even when a river seems dry, during the rainy seasons flash floods have occurred and can be extremely dangerous.
If you're serious about 4x4 driving in the more obscure areas, prepare well. You should know how to engage and best use the four-wheel drive on your vehicle. Please remember to disengage the 4x4 when driving on tarred roads.
A detailed map, 2 spare tyres, a long-range fuel tank (or fuel cannisters) and plenty of water are a decent starting point.
If you are likely to be doing any sand driving, then include a shovel and a tyre pump. In deep sand, it is recommended to deflate the tyres to avoid getting stuck.
Make sure someone knows your entire itinerary and whereabouts.
Namibia uses the Namibian Dollar (N$) which is linked on a one-to-one exchange with the South African Rand (ZAR). The Rand is legal tender in Namibia.
Banks are open from 09:00-15:30 on weekdays and from 09:00-11:00 on Saturdays.
Most Major Credit cards are accepted at most supermarkets, restaurants and accommodation establishments in urban Namibia (Visa and MasterCard are commonly accepted, Amex & Diners Club are not) but outlets in rural areas are more likely to only accept cash payment.
NB: N$ is not accepted in South Africa. If you have any N$ it should be exchanged to Rand before leaving Namibia.
Namibia has a GSM 900-cell phone network which covers most cities, towns and major roads. For peace of mind have your phone activated to roam in Namibia, rent a local phone or if you have an unlocked phone the cheapest option is to buy a local SIM card or a Namibia2Go WiFI dongle.
Both day visitors & those staying at accommodation within national parks are required to pay a daily entrance fee. This is payable at the park office and your receipt will be checked at the gate prior to leaving the park.
Park entrance fees details can be found online or can be enquired with your agent / consultant.
Most items and services attract 15% VAT, visitors to Namibia can reclaim VAT on any goods which the export from the country (VAT cannot be reclaimed on services such as hotels or rental cars OR on goods which are consumed within Namibia). VAT refunds can be done at Hosea Kutako International Airport (Windhoek), Ariamsvlei border post and Noordoewer border post.
To qualify for a VAT refund, the goods and the valid tax invoices must be shown to a customs official and an official of the VAT refund administration. For this reason, it is not a good idea to pack or wrap items on which you intend to claim back VAT - as they will need to be unpacked / unwrapped to be shown to the relevant officials
Police / all emergencies - 10111
(for cell phones you will need to dial the area code before this number -
061 10111 for Windhoek,
067 10111 for most of northern Namibia,
063 10111 for most of southern Namibia,
064 10111 for central coastal region)
Windhoek City Police - (061) 302302
Tend to be more efficient than the standard police if involved in an incident in Windhoek.
International SOS Medical Emergency Services - 081 707 or (061) 230505
EMED Rescue 24 - 081 924 or (061) 2999924
Cell phone users can call 112 which connects you to MTC's call centre who will then direct you to the appropriate emergency service.
Call your rental company.
Gondwana Travel Centre
Office Hours: (061) 427200
Emergency Number: 081 1292424
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