"Hiring the right vehicle to explore Namibia" Top 5 Page for this destination Windhoek Transportation Tip by CatherineReichardt

Windhoek Transportation: 34 reviews and 61 photos

 
 

If you want to explore Namibia in a flexible manner, then there's no doubt that hiring a car is the way to go ... and once you've got over your nervousness at the prospect of Driving In Africa (and on the left hand side of the road), you'll find it surprisingly easy, as Namibia has an unexpectedly good road network.

So, a few pointers to consider if you think that this option is for you.

Firstly, most of the major car hire companies operate in Namibia (sometimes in partnership with local companies), as well as a range of smaller local service providers. It's not possible to generalise about who offers the best deals, as this changes from day to day, so I would suggest that you search online for the best offer. However, when comparing offers, be sure to compare 'apples with apples' - similar vehicles and levels of insurance being the most obvious.

Don't even consider anything that doesn't offer you unlimited mileage (which, fortunately, is a standard offering from most companies). Bear in mind that Namibia is a vast country, and even if you're flying into Windhoek (the major port of entry) on business, consider that the airport is 45km out of town, so just travelling to and from the airport will consume nearly half of a 'free' 200km allocation. There is no better way to spoil a road trip than to agonise over whether an enticing detour is really worth the hefty additional mileage charges ...

I would always advise registering two drivers when you hire the car: this is inexpensive, and allows you to share the driving, as well as providing a fallback solution if (God forbid) something happens to the main driver - such as spraining an ankle, for example.

Secondly, air conditioning is also non-negotiable, particularly if you're visiting in summer. Even in winter, it's not advisable to travel with your windows open on dirt roads because of the dust, so in any season, bargain on using the aircon. Daytime in Namibia can get incredibly hot, even in the winter months, and if you don't have aircon, then you're going to struggle and possibly risk dehydration. Just keep an eye on the fuel gauge, as obviously using the aircon will reduce the mileage you'll get on a tank of fuel, especially if you're driving on dirt roads.

Four wheel drive (4WD) vehicles are useful in terms of negotiating poor road conditions, providing clearance on dirt (unsealed) roads and adding height for game viewing, but these are much more expensive than ordinary 2WD and much heavier on fuel. So consider your proposed itinerary carefully and ask yourself whether 4WD is really essential or just desirable (in which case, you can make an informed decision on whether you feel the cost differential is justified).

If you do bite the bullet and decide that 4WD is for you, then make sure you know how to operate a vehicle in 4WD mode - a bewildering number of people who hire them (and even some that actually own one) don't, and the time to be experimenting with this is not when you find yourself stuck in the middle of nowhere on a track with no through traffic from which to seek assistance! Similarly bear in mind that is not advisable to travel into remote vehicles as a single vehicle: people who are experienced off road drivers travel sensibly travel in convoys of at least two vehicles, and I would caution anyone planning to visit locations such as the Skeleton Coast and the Kaokoveld to do likewise.

If you're going to be doing guided tours in the game parks, then chances are that the service provider will have their own game viewing vehicle anyway, so you need to work out what's practical and cost effective getting to and from the reserves. My personal feeling is that unless you're not planning to do seriously off the beaten track destinations, then you'll be fine with a 2WD vehicle that has high ground clearance. A good compromise is what is known as a 2WD 'bakkie' in Southern Africa (aka a 'pick up truck ' in North America and a 'ute' in Oz).

Lastly, comprehensive insurance cover is NON NEGOTIABLE – chances are that if you are involved in an incident that damages your vehicle, its going to involve major cost to put right. By way of example, I once got caught in a sandstorm between Luederitz and Aus (a not uncommon occurrence) which stripped the paintwork on the underside of the vehicle down to bare metal, and another sandstorm on the same section of road (but with a different vehicle) sandblasted the windscreen to the point where it was like the frosted glass used for bathroom windows. Compared to the cost of undertaking that sort of repair, the insurance premiums are well worth it!!!

Mode: AROUND
Type: Car/Motor Home

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Feb 17, 2012
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