Exploring Namibia: Tips for Hiring a Car for a Self-Drive Safari

Exploring Namibia: Tips for Hiring a Car for a Self-Drive Safari

Tips for Hiring a Car in Namibia.

Embarking on a self-drive safari in Namibia is a thrilling adventure that allows you to immerse yourself in the country’s stunning landscapes and diverse wildlife. However, choosing the right car for your journey is crucial to ensure a safe, comfortable, and enjoyable experience. Here are some essential tips for hiring a car for a self-drive safari in Namibia. Most international tourists planning a self-drive tour in Namibia will do so through a tour operator of which there are many benefits.

  1. Vehicle Type and Size: Consider the type and size of the vehicle based on your travel group and itinerary. For rough terrain and off-road driving in national parks like Etosha or the Namib-Naukluft region, a 4×4 vehicle with high ground clearance is recommended. Ensure the vehicle has enough space to accommodate passengers and luggage comfortably. The most popular type of car that is rented in Namibia for a tour is locally known as a bakkie (also referred to as a pick-up truck or utility vehicle). These are available in single cab or double cab variations. A single cab is ordinarily sufficient for two people but does not offer much storage space in the front of the vehicle, so a double cab is often hired which offers the back seats as additional space to place your regularly used equipment and personal stuff. These bakkies can be rented with camping equipment including roof-top tents or without camping equipment if you are planning on staying at lodges in Namibia.
  2. Off-Road Capability: Namibia’s terrain can be challenging, with gravel roads, sandy tracks, and rugged landscapes in remote areas. Choose a car with good off-road capabilities, including sturdy tires, reliable suspension, and traction control systems for navigating varied terrain safely. A 4×4 is recommended.
  3. Rental Company Reputation: Research rental companies with a good reputation for providing well-maintained vehicles, excellent customer service, and transparent rental terms. Read reviews from previous customers to gauge their experiences and satisfaction with the rental process and vehicle quality.
  4. Comprehensive Insurance Coverage: opt for comprehensive insurance coverage that includes damage waivers, theft protection, and roadside assistance. Confirm the coverage details and exclusions with the rental company to avoid unexpected costs in case of accidents, breakdowns, or theft.
  5. Navigation and GPS: Ensure the vehicle is equipped with a reliable GPS system or navigation app to help you navigate Namibia’s vast and sometimes remote areas. Familiarize yourself with the route and landmarks before setting off on your self-drive safari. It is important to take a good map with as well…there are large areas that have no cell phone coverage, and a map is especially useful.
  6. Emergency Equipment: Check if the rental car comes with essential emergency equipment such as a spare tire, jack, tools for changing tires, and a first aid kit. Carry additional supplies like water, snacks, a flashlight, and a portable phone charger for emergencies. It is recommended to take along two spare tyres – ask your car rental company to provide you with two spare tyres (many of them do).
  7. Fuel and Range: Plan your route and fuel stops carefully, especially in remote areas where fuel stations may be scarce. Choose a vehicle with good fuel efficiency and a sufficient range to cover long distances between refuelling points. Fill up with fuel every chance you get even if you still have a lot of fuel left in your tank. You can also request that your vehicle hire include long range fuel tanks.
  8. Wildlife Viewing Considerations: Keep in mind that some wildlife encounters may require specific precautions, such as keeping a safe distance from animals and respecting their natural behaviour. Follow Park regulations and guidelines for wildlife viewing to ensure your safety and minimize disturbances to wildlife.
  9. Vehicle Inspection: Before accepting the rental car, conduct a thorough inspection of the vehicle’s exterior and interior for any existing damage or issues. Document and report any discrepancies to the rental company to avoid being held liable for pre-existing damages.
  10. Local Driving Laws and Regulations: Familiarize yourself with Namibia’s driving laws, road signs, speed limits, and wildlife crossing areas. Practice defensive driving techniques, especially when encountering wildlife on roads or navigating challenging road conditions. 
Useful Information:
  • Please note that vehicles drive on the left-hand side of all roads in Namibia.
  • An international driver’s license is required only if the driver’s license is not printed in English.

By following these tips and choosing the right vehicle for your self-drive safari in Namibia, you can enjoy a memorable and rewarding experience exploring the country’s wilderness, encountering wildlife, and soaking in its natural beauty at your own pace. To find out more about what things to do whilst in Namibia visit our activities page. Happy travels!

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