Traveling in Namibia

Namibia combines in one country so many of contrasts between the forbidding desert with it rolling sand dunes next to the cold Atlantic ocean, lush greenery of the north where hippos and crocodiles sunbath on the river banks, wildlife in great numbers on the endless savannah plains…. And so much more makes Namibia a paradise for photographers.

Those looking for peace and stillness and enjoy mesmerising landscapes and wide desert expanse, are going to fall in love with Namibia, one of the least populated countries in the world. Namibia is Africa at its best, with friendly, natural people, breathtaking landscapes and an amazingly diverse animal world, protected in the vast Etosha National Park and in many other game reserves. Namibia is an adventure, but one doesn’t need to be an adventurer to experience this country. A well maintained road network, comfortable hotels, lodges and guest farms make travelling a pleasure.

Getting behind the wheel and setting out on the open roads of Africa on a self-drive safari is an incredibly romantic notion for many people, and there is no better place to start than in Namibia. The landscape that rolls past is epic in proportion, as is the wildlife, and Namibia is one of the safest countries on the continent.

 

What you need to know about driving on Namibian Roads

To travel in Namibia comfortably, it is best to drive in a rental car. Public transport is practically non-existent. The roads – about 5,000 km of tarred road and almost 40,000 km of gravel or sand roads – are usually well maintained. Some gravel roads form “corrugated” tracks.

The unpleasant grooves are mostly 5 to 10 cm deep and result from speedy driving. Vehicle and passengers can get extremely shaken up on corrugations. The best method is just to “fly” over these tracks, which means to drive fast enough so that the wheels don’t dip into each single groove. The ideal speed is approx 80 km/h. However, the road traction is reduced on gravel roads and one must slow down before curves. Careful with oncoming traffic on gravel roads! If you go faster than 90 km/h, you risk windscreen damage.

Generally, a 4×4 (four-wheel-drive vehicle) is not required for travelling Namibia although it feels much nicer to have one. A four-wheeler is necessary for the Sossusvlei, for the Khaudum National Park, for Kaokoland and for drives through sandy terrain, on dunes, beaches or in riverbeds. Some farm roads might also be difficult to negotiate without a 4×4.

In Namibia one drives on the left side of the road. You will frequently encounter four-way-stops without traffic lights. The rule here is: each vehicle stops at the stop line. Who arrived first, drives first. Otherwise, the traffic rules are the same as those in Europe.

Climate

With 300 days of sunshine on average per year, Namibia is truly a sunny place. It rains sometimes, during the summer months from November to February usually in form of cloudbursts. In this “rainy season” – which is a slightly exaggerated term – the dry riverbeds, get filled with torrents of muddy water for a short time. Then the sun-scorched land comes to life and develops a colourful horizon to horizon floral carpet within a few days.

Namibia can be travelled at any time of the year. The best time, however, are the months from April to October, when the temperatures are around 25 degrees during the day and the sky is always blue. The nights are cool, but a pleasantly dry cold. The dry winter months (July to September) are also a good time to visit this desert country. The day temperature usually stays above 20 degrees. But on the central plateau and in the Namib desert the nights can be freezing.

 

The summer months are hot in Namibia. Then Namibians like to move to the cooler coastal towns. Here, they can expect sea fog in the mornings, which keeps temperatures down. The fog usually dissolves around midday. Windhoek is also bearable in summer due to its altitude of about 1650 m. However, the Namib regions should be avoided in summer when temps climb to over 40°C. Same applies to the tropically humid north-eastern regions, especially the Caprivi. In your travel planning keep in mind that the seasons are the other way round in the southern hemisphere!

 

 

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