In total, Namibia has 27,600 miles (44,400 km) of roads, most of which (56%) are gravel, but many are also tar and dirt, and 90% of the major highways are tarred. A few roads, like the C34 along the Skeleton Coast, are even salt.
While Namibia’s road network is good and traffic is minimal, it’s important to be safe and conscious of your surroundings. Here are a few tips to help you negotiate Namibia’s roads:
- Never drive after dark outside of a town or city, particularly on gravel or dirt roads.
- Watch out for animals crossing your path, especially warthogs and kudus. Animals often sleep on the roads at night (hence point #1).
- Keep your running lights on at all times. Turn on headlights in dusty conditions.
- Stay below 120 km/h (75 mph) on tarred roads, and within 60 – 80 km/h (35 – 50 mph) on gravel roads.
- Keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you on gravel roads to avoid stones that might get kicked up.
- Never brake hard on gravel or dirt roads, especially going into a corner, as it might overturn the car. It’s better to slow down and let the road guide you.
- When you come across a sign indicating a gentle curve, reduce your speed by at least a third. When you come across a sign indicating a sharp curve, reduce your speed by at least half.
- Carry 2 spare tires with you.
- In case of a (rare) tropical downpour, pull off the road, turn on your headlights, and wait for it to ease up.
- To cross a stream, test it first by walking to see how deep it is, and/or wait for it to subside (many streams are ephemeral).
- Stop at police road blocks.
- Gas stations only accept cash, so make sure you bring enough for your trip. Just to be on the safe side, we recommend that you fill up whenever you pass a gas station. Gas stations in Namibia are also all full-service, and it’s common to tip the attendant around 5 Namibian dollars
- For most tourist sites around the country you don’t need a 4×4 vehicle, but it does offer a lot more comfort, safety, versatility, and reliability. If you do use a 4×4, make sure you know how it works first:
- For the vast majority of the journey, you will only need to use 2×4 (2H) rear-wheel drive
- On more difficult, unstable, or steep terrain, you may need to switch to 4×4 high (4H), but keep in mind this uses more gas
- If you feel like you need some help getting through something, switch on the diff lock, which makes sure all the wheels spin together
- If you’re really stuck in soft sand, mud, or going over a very steep pass, switch to 4×4 low (4L), which uses a lower gear ratio
- Keep in mind that you can only use the diff lock and/or 4L for a very short time! Once you are through the obstacle, switch back to 4H or 2H with the diff lock off to avoid causing damage to the car
- For our 4×4 double cabs, we recommend keeping the tire pressure at 1.8 bars, which is a little soft but gives more traction and helps avoid punctures
- Remember to check whether your car takes diesel (many 4×4 vehicles do) or gas, and only use the appropriate fuel when filling up!
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