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Dirt road through Namibia landscape

Self-Drive Planning Essentials for a Namibian Road Journey

Namibia, a land of endless space and contrasting landscapes, is the perfect destination for a self-drive safari vacation. Here are 5 self-drive planning essentials for a Namibian road journey.

Discover the countries two UNESCO World Heritage sites, Twyfelfontein and the Namib Sand Sea. Visit the world-famous Sossusvlei sand dunes – one of the most astonishing sights in the world with its wind-blown razor-sharp dune ridges towering some 300 meters into the air. 

In the Nama language, Namib means “vast,” and that’s an understatement as Namibia’s desert occupies around 80,900 square kilometres, stretching 1,600 kilometres along the Atlantic coast, varying in width from 50 to 160 kilometres.

Tarred road through Namibia landscape
Image via Pixabay by Pezibear.

Namibian driving conditions can be tough, unforgiving and lengthy, and if you don’t plan your trip well, you could end up wasting a lot of time. Here, then, are 5 self-drive planning essentials for a Namibian road journey.

1. Visa Essentials

All visitors must be in possession of a passport which is valid for at least 6 months beyond the intended departure date from Namibia and a valid return ticket. Entry into Namibia is permitted for a maximum period of 90 days, although extensions are possible on application to the immigration authorities during your stay in Namibia. 

Namibia visa stamp in passport
A typical Namibia visa entry stamp. Image courtesy of pointmetotheplane.

Nationals from the countries listed below are not required to obtain visas to travel to Namibia: 

Angola, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Botswana, Brazil, Canada, Cuba, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macau, Malaysia, Malawi, Mauritius, Moldova, Mozambique, New Zealand, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Russian Federation, South Africa, Singapore, Spain, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Tanzania, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uzbekistan, Zambia and Zimbabwe. 

2. Driving & Permit Essentials

Namibians drive on the left side of the road (as does South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique). When you’re driving through a stream, though, it doesn’t matter if you’re on the left or the right.

International Driver's Permit with passport
International Driver’s Permit image courtesy of the economist.com.na.

To drive a vehicle in Namibia, you need a valid driving licence and must carry it with you when you are driving. If your driver’s licence is not printed in English, it is advisable to travel with an International Driver’s Permit (IDP). Note that an IDP can only be obtained/issued from the country where you obtained your driver’s licence.

To obtain an IDP in South Africa from the Automobile Association of South Africa, you’ll need 2x identical passport-sized photographs, a valid South African credit card driver’s licence and your identity document. The cost of the IDP is R268.00. IDP’s are issued immediately at selected AA Accredited Sales Agent Stores or you can apply online at https://idp.aa.co.za/AAIDP/Home.aspx

To obtain an IDP in the USA from the American Automobile Association (AAA), do the following: Complete the AAA IDP application. Visit your local AAA branch and bring the completed application; your valid driver’s license; two passport-sized photos of yourself; and cash, a check, or a credit card with which to pay the $20 fee. It will take 5-10 minutes to fill out the application, and you can expect to receive your IDP in approximately 2 weeks if you “snail-mail” in the application. 

To obtain an IDP in Europe, the Automobile Association (AA) advises applying in branch from selected Post Offices as there is no mail order service. 

According to the Namibia Government Gazette, 30 March 2001, a foreign/international driver’s license is invalid, unless:

  1. The license has been issued in English; or
  2. A certificate of authenticity or validity relating to the license issued in English by a competent authority (Embassy, High Commissioner); or
  3. A translation of that license in English by a sworn translator is attached thereto; and
  4. The license contains a photograph and signature of the holder thereof.

Note that BOTH your national and international driving licenses have to be brought along at all times. The international driving license is valid ONLY in conjunction with your national driving license! Make sure that you adhere to these requirements to ensure that your insurance takes effect in terms of the car rental agreement.

3. Car Rental Essentials

The best way to see Namibia is along its dirt roads, which, although well maintained, are better driven using a 4×4 vehicle. We recommend hiring a 4×4 double cab from Two Oceans Adventure Car Rental. Owner operated by Andre Marais and Chris Liebenberg, Two Oceans provide a full-service experience for their clients from arrival at any of Namibia’s three airports (Windhoek, Walvis Bay, and Luderitz Airports) all the way through to their clients’ departure from Namibia.

4x4 rental vehicle with camping roof rack
Image courtesy of Two Oceans Adventure Car Rental.

A major advantage of hiring your 4×4 vehicle through Two Oceans is that you’ll have access to their years of collective experience in having arranged self-drive Namibian road journeys for hundreds of clients before you. That knowledge alone is worth more than their reasonable car rental daily rates. In addition, you’ll have their personal mobile numbers in the unlikely event of a road accident, vehicle breakdown, or medical emergency situation.

4. Camping Essentials 

Camping gear against a desert sunset
Background image via Pixabay by Free-Photos. Camping gear by Two Oceans Car Rental.

Below is a list of essential camping equipment that you will need. All of these items are included in your 4×4 hire from Two Oceans Car Rental.

  • 1x Rooftop tent (2pax) 2x Rooftop tents (4pax)
  • Sleeping bags (2pax/4pax)
  • Pillows (2/4pax)
  • 12v Fridge
  • Dinner plates, bowls & mugs (2/4 pax)
  • Cutlery set & barbecue utensils
  • Kettle
  • Pots & frying pan
  • Tin opener
  • Cutting board
  • Battery lantern
  • Gas cylinder
  • Cooker
  • Small broom
  • Axe
  • Washbasin
  • Steel table and camping chairs (2/4 pax)
  • 2 x spare wheels (tools included with vehicles)
  • First aid kit
  • Fire extinguisher.

In addition, you may want to include a GPS and take Tyre and Windscreen insurance cover and extended insurance waivers, all of which are available at affordable daily rates in addition to your 4×4 car rental.

5. Itinerary Essentials

Planning your road trip ahead of departure is another self-drive journey essential. In this regard, taking first-hand advice from someone who has actually done a self-drive journey is always best. This ‘Common Wanderer’s’ article ‘The best of Namibia: the perfect 10-day Namibia road trip itinerary’ is based on using a 4×4 hired vehicle with hired camping gear. 

Photographer taking a shot inside an abandoned desert house in Namibia
Image courtesy of thecommonwanderer.com

The 10-day itinerary follows an anti-clockwise route. Starting and ending in Namibia’s capital, Windhoek, the route takes you to the wildlife haven of Etosha National Park, before moving south towards Spitzkoppe and Swakopmund, After the highs of Swakopmund, head to even higher surrounds in Sossusvlei, home to the famous red sand dunes. The final stop is the second largest canyon in the world, Fish River Canyon, before heading back to Windhoek. 

Conclusion

If you still have questions after reading this article, Andre and Chris at Two Oceans Car Rental would be more than happy to answer them for you. Simply email info@2oceanscarrental.com, call +264 (0)81 698 4590 or visit 2oceanscarrental.com.

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