"Some tips on driving through the desert" Top 5 Page for this destination Namib-Naukluft Park Things to Do Tip by CatherineReichardt

Namib-Naukluft Park Things to Do: 81 reviews and 169 photos

  Stampeding zebra, Namib-Naufluft Park
by CatherineReichardt
 
 

You either love deserts or you hate them, but one thing's for sure - it's hard to feel ambivalent about them!

If you've not visited a desert before, then here are a couple of suggestions that will hopefully help you to make the most of the experience.

Firstly, try not to travel during the hottest period in the middle of the day. Driving in extreme heat is not pleasant and even the wildlife tends to lie low and seek whatever respite from the heat it can find, so the game spotting opportunities will also be less. Instead try to time your travel for the early morning or the mid to late afternoon (bearing in mind that travelling on Nambian roads during the dark is not only poorly advised for fear of potential collisions with animals, but is actually forbidden in national parks).

Secondly, deserts lack vegetation, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they are devoid of life - it's just a different sort to that which you're probably used to. So drive slowly so that you don't miss the birdlife - which is often cryptically coloured to blend in with the landscape - and stop often to appreciate the smaller plants and animals such as insects and succulent vegetation. My personal feeling is that the allure of deserts lies at two ends of the spectrum: the vast majesty of the desertscape contrasted with the intricacy of the desert ecosystems.

Take regular breaks which mean that you're less prone to driver fatigue. I would always advise registering two drivers when you hire the car: this is relatively inexpensive, and allows you to share the driving responsibilities, as well as providing a fallback solution if (God forbid) something happens to the main driver - such as spraining an ankle, for example.

Lastly, get a feel for your vehicle's fuel consumption before you venture into the desert. The combination of dirt roads and aircon blasting full belt is not good for fuel consumption, and your fuel tank gauge can start to drop alarmingly under these driving conditions. My first recommendation would be to 'test' your fuel gauge on the main tar road - where there are petrol stations about every 100km - to see whether the level gradually reduces, or whether it shows very little decline until it hits a certain level and then plummets (this is largely a function of the shape of the fuel tank). In the same way as you should never pass a toilet with a small child in the car, never pass a petrol station, as you are never quite sure when you'll come across the next one (and, in more remote areas, even if you manage to find one, whether they'll have any fuel available for you to fill up).

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  • Updated Jul 25, 2012
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