How to Plan a Namibia Self Drive Trip

September 18, 2017 - Comment

The One Bag Traveler recommends Gear, Destinations and Adventures. Namibia is perfect for your first African road trip. It’s a safe and accessible country with stunning attractions such as the rhinos and cheetahs of Etosha and the huge sand dunes of Sossusvlei. The roads may be rough, but at least there’s no traffic and the

The One Bag Traveler recommends Gear, Destinations and Adventures.

Planning a Namibia self drive trip including the sand dunes of Sossusvlei

Namibia is perfect for your first African road trip. It’s a safe and accessible country with stunning attractions such as the rhinos and cheetahs of Etosha and the huge sand dunes of Sossusvlei. The roads may be rough, but at least there’s no traffic and the scenery is wild and beautiful.

We have already shared our detailed Namibia road trip itinerary, and in this post I’ll cover how to plan your own Namibia self-drive trip.

Contents

Visas

Many nationalities including citizens of the US, UK, EU, Canada and Australia don’t need a visa for Namibia if your stay is for 90 days or less.

Back to Contents

When to Go

The June to October dry winter season is considered the best time to visit Namibia. Days are warm, nights can be chilly, and the dry weather is the best time for a Namibia safari in Etosha National Park.

The rainiest and hottest weather is from December to March. We visited in April and had some rain but it didn’t affect our trip. Temperatures were usually around 30ºC during the day and in the low 20sºC at night, although the Namibia coast is always cooler. Roads were in a rougher condition at the end of the rainy season than they would be in the dry season.

The biggest problem at this time of year was that it was difficult to see animals in Etosha as they don’t need to go to the waterholes. We had some luck at the eastern edge of the park and saw rhinos, giraffe, zebras, many types of antelope, and even two cheetahs, but in the centre of the park we sometimes drove for hours without seeing anything.

If a self-drive safari in Namibia is important to you, go during the dry season. Otherwise, the country can be visited at any time of year.

Stormy skies in the Namib desert on our Namibia self drive road trip.

We had stormy skies in the Namib Desert but very little rain.

Back to Contents

Getting There and Away

Unless you are overlanding across Africa or driving up from Cape Town, you’ll probably travel to Namibia by plane to Windhoek airport. We flew from Cape Town on Air Namibia and left to Johannesburg on British Airways.

Air Namibia has direct flights to Namibia from Frankfurt, Germany. From everywhere else you will need to transit via Johannesburg or elsewhere in Africa. Check Kiwi and Skyscanner for the best flight deals.

Arriving at Windhoek airport was easy. In less than an hour we had passed through immigration, withdrawn cash from an ATM, bought a SIM card at the MTC shop, and picked up our rental car. It helped that we only had carry-on bags so didn’t have to wait for luggage.

Back to Contents

Language

English is Namibia’s national language and is widely spoken. Other languages commonly spoken are Afrikaans, German, and many African languages.

Back to Contents

Should You Rent a 2WD or 4WD in Namibia?

The biggest decision to make when planning your Namibia self-drive trip is whether to rent a 4WD or regular 2WD car. It’s a controversial issue and you’ll hear very mixed opinions. Some people say a 4WD is essential while others manage in a compact car.

Most Namibia tourist attractions are accessible in a 2WD, but a 4WD (usually a Toyota Hilux) will be more comfortable on the long, bumpy gravel roads. A 4WD is recommended in the rainy season.

The major downside of a 4WD is that it’s much more expensive—both the rental fee, excess amount, and fuel costs. We also heard that it’s easier to roll a 4WD on a gravel road if you are inexperienced.

We decided to risk it with a 2WD and originally booked a Toyota Corolla for £421 ($556) for 15 days. But then our friends visited Namibia the month before us and lost a piece of the underside of their car from all the rocks bouncing around.

We decided it would be safer and more comfortable to rent a higher clearance SUV—a compromise between a sedan and a 4WD. We changed our booking to a Nissan X-Trail, which cost double the price at £810 ($1069).

We were happy with our decision as the roads were rough and uncomfortable in many places and it would have been worse in a smaller car. The only place we thought a 4WD would have been better was in Damaraland where we had to drive through flooded and sandy sections of roads in the middle of nowhere—we managed though!

Our Nissan X-Trail SUV, one of our biggest Namibia travel expenses

Our Nissan X-Trail SUV in Namibia

Back to Contents

Car Rental

In high season book as far in advance as possible, especially for a 4WD.

If you decide to go with a 2WD, you can find the best rates on sites like Kayak and Rental Cars. We searched on Kayak and booked with Argus for a Thrifty car. We had no problems with them. The big companies have offices at the airport so you can start your road trip straight away.

For a 4WD you are better off renting with a local…

http://www.onebagtraveler.com

——————————–

Comments

Comments are disabled for this post.