Self Drive Namibia?
A self drive to Namibia is one of the best ways to see this country – but is it for you?
Namibia is so vast that you need to take things at your own pace in order to really appreciate the stunning surroundings. The beauty of Namibia is that there is a spectacular scenic panorama at practically every corner, being on a self drive allows you to stop and absorb is all without annoying fellow travellers. Travelling to Namibia is a paradise for those who want to experience and enjoy nature, agoraphobics not advised!
Namibia is rugged yet fragile, barren but beautiful, is a country of compelling vistas and a sense of unconfined space. With its unspoilt landscapes, its wide horizons and clear, unpolluted skies, there are many reasons to visit this remarkable country.
It is an excellent self drive destination, ideal for those looking for a sense of freedom and adventure and the divine lodges that blend into the landscape create a natural and tranquil ambience. Travelling under your own steam and not being confined to activities that other group members are wanting to do, self drives enable you to have your own mini adventure yet in a safe and secure environment. What more could you want from a holiday? Do something different.
The famous sights of Namibia are unforgettable; the oldest desert in the world, the highest sand dunes in the world, one of the world’s ancient plants, one of the world’s largest game reserves. Etosha National Park is a major sanctuary for a variety of animal species in Africa, protecting the largest concentration of game in the country. Spend time watching the wildlife come into floodlit water holes creating a natural theatrical spectacle. And all these can be seen as a self drive safari. Imagine driving through Etosha National Park!
You can get to most places that are considered places of interest with a self drive and here are some top tips for some of them.
Self Drive Sossusvlei
The entrance gate to Sossusvlei opens at sunrise and this is the best time of day to see the dunes. You will need to pay National Park entry fees of approximately N$80 per person and N10 per vehicle per day. These can be paid on return so that you do not waste time paying beforehand and missing the sunrise. The main part of the road is actually tarmac, so it gives you a rest from the corrugations of gravel roads.
The last section of the road into Sossusvlei is 4×4 and you can either leave your vehicle at the car park and proceed either on foot (a beautiful walk), or take the shuttle. The shuttle costs approximately N$100 per person return.
The desert can be extremely hot in the middle of the day, so remember plenty of water, a hat and good walking shoes! Enjoy the amazing scenery of the desert, and maybe take a short walk to Deadvlei, a bizarre collection of ancient camelthorn trees, or climb the nearby dunes.
Self Drive Etosha
Driving across Etosha is an absolute dream. Again park entrain fees are approximately N$80 per person and N10 per vehicle per day. You pay for this at one of the rest camps and not at the gate. It is always a good idea to go to the rest camp nearest your entrance gate as there is a book there that other travellers will have written in if they saw anything of interest. Always good to see if a pride of lions has been seen recently and where.
Planning our route across Etosha is always fun as there are a number of ways to travel through the park. Make sure you visit some of the more permanent waterholes, especially in the dry season as this is where the game will be congregating.
And make sure you still keep your eyes open for the drive between waterholes as you never know what you will see.
Is a self drive for you?
Be prepared for some long driving days. They will long whether you are on a self drive or in a group, but just be prepared. If you are on a self drive then it is advisable for more than one driver per vehicle to give yourself a rest.
People are often scared of driving in Africa so here are some things to make you feel comfortable.
- Namibia drives on the left as in the UK
- Navigating is very easy as there only a few roads so you will not get lost
- There are very few road accidents as there are so few car drivers out in the countryside
- There is always back up in the form of a phone or another passing road user.
- After half a days driving you will wonder why you were so worried.
Top tip: the signs at junctions are actually at the junction, no warning is given, so you may find you sail past your turn off before realising it!
Top tips for driving in Namibia
- Familiarise yourself with the places where you can get fuel and fill up when ever you can.
- Cash is only accepted at fuel station so make sure you have enough on you.
- On gravel roads, which will be take up most of your journey, stick to around 60 km/h. do not get lulled into a false sense of security and drive faster.
- A 4×4 is more advisable, partly due to the space it gives but also the high clearance making game viewing a bit easier.
- Do not judge distances by how far it is in kilometres, go by the time that it will take you. Distances can be deceptive and the state of the rad and speed limits in reserves can alter your timings. If you are with a good tour operator they will be able to give you driving times between destinations.
- Drive with your lights on when travelling on gravel roads, even during the day, it makes it easier for other road users to see you.
- Do not tailgate as the dust from the car in front will reduce your sight considerably.
- Carry 2 spare tyres, punctures often happen in Namibia.
- Have lots of water and snacks on board!
- Remember your driving licence, it is obvious, but it does happen. You will need one that has a photo of you on it and is in English.
Safety and Back up
Is it safe? This is probably the most common question asked. Well, yes it is. Crime rate is very low, the roads have very few traffic jams, the scenery is spectacular and the whole country is designed around self drivers. The maps are brilliant. And Sense Africa provide you with a phone and 24hr contact service.
Your own self drive safari to Namibia is affordable, safe and full of exciting this to see on the way. Imagine driving through a vast game park. Get away from the crowds and see Africa at your own pace.