Namibia Travel Tips in a Nutshell
Last Revised: $Revision: 1.2 $, $Date: 2001/08/11 22:56:49 $
Car rental and Equipment
- the standard off road car is the Toyota Hilux (the workhorse of Africa).
- it is excellent and cheaper then any other so don't try to get a Land Rover or similar.
- get one which needs 93 octane fuel not 95 becase 95 octane fule is not every where availble
- if you have a fridge then ensure that you get two batteries.
- this avoids to be unable to start after the fridge has drained the one battery.
- get two spare wheels.
- on bad corrugations tires usually are destroyed beyond repair.
- bring your sleeping bags don't rent them.
- in the south it can get 7 C at night in the north it is warmer (in spring).
- a 25 liter water can is enough for Namibia.
- get two jerry cans and fill them with petrol.
- ensure that the seals of the jerry cans are good
- if not a plastic bag between the closure mechanism can seal them
- one roof-top tent can house up to two persons
- roof top tents are safer since they are off ground
- In my option Technitop roof tens are more convenient the the usual Eezi-Awn.
- get a hard tent case instead (like Technitop) instead of the polyuretan bags which are a hassle to pack
- the car rental I got with my local European drivers license and we did not need the international drivers license
- and even most of the times at police-checks this is enough we were told by the rental company.
- However having and international drivers license is on the save side.
- get all insurances you can get.
- in any case you will be liable for like around 2000 USD
- on almost 25% (I heard) of the trips an accident occurs due to bad driving skills
- check that you are allowed to drive on gravel/dirt roads
- with some larger companies like Hertz in some cases you may only drive on tarmac roads, which will bring you no where.
- usually you are not insured at all if leaving official roads but there rarely a change to leave these.
- one can drink all water that comes out of a crane without any treatment we where told at the car rental.
- however the water in Windhoek tastes awful and one should go out side.
- you can get tap water e.g. at gas stations.
- all water is pumped out of the ground except far in the norths where it comes from the Okavango river and there you should not drink it. (And not go there in first place)
- 93 octane gas is available almost evreywhere but 95 octane not
- one liter 93 octane gas costs around 3 NAD in October 2000
- Solitare is a kiosk not a city. The gas station is closed there.
- plastic bags to cover baggage
- toilet paper
Equipment Top Ten
Most important equipment:
- sun hat
- heavy hiking boots. You need them always when leaving thew car.
- your flashlight - it is 12 hours dark a head light for (7 EUR ) proved most useful.
- water bottle
- sharp knife
Roads and Driving
Maybe you expect the wild free Africa in Namibia. Don't expect to much.
Every square inch beside the parks is fenced and used for cattle.
A cow need 20 ha, farmer have usually 6000 ha. That leave you with the excellent network of gravel roads, except 5 km in Sossusvlei which is a real sand field
- and don't follow the soft sand sign. If you think it can't get worse
- it can.
Roads are classified with letters and numbered:
B are tarmac roads
C are gravel roads which are maintained more often
D are gravel roads which are maintained seldom
In reality C or D may be as good or bad.
You are allowed to drive:
- 120 km/h on tarmac roads
- 100 km/h on gravel roads
- 60 km/h in the cities
- on gravel road you need a longer distance to stop
- driving on bad road with corrugations there is a low speed
- and a high speed (e.g. 70km/h) where no shaking is felt
- on sandy pads apply acceleration very careful.
- after some days driving all day gets boring - plan time for something to do
- It will always get sand into the car even through the sealing and closed windows.
- you can reduce this if you set the ventilation to circulate inside the car
- you should always fill up gas and water where ever possible
- you never know when the next gas station is available
- this especially important if you are not used to the car
- most gas gauges are defect and will indicate full until the tank is half empty and then drop at once.
- gas stations are often more then 100 km apart
- always ask where the next gas station is with your type of gas
Four Wheel Drive
Cars with permanent four wheel drive have 3 differentials, two axel and one
center deferential. Those (center) differentials prevent wind-ups by different
rotation speed of the wheels (in curves) on tarmac roads.
On slippy roads the differentials can be locked to prevent spinning on loose ground and digging the car in.
Cars with part time four wheel drive have no center differential - front and rear wheels are always locked when four wheel drive is applied.
- therefor four wheel drive can applied when the surface provides enough slip
- that is when you leave tarmac road and travel on gravel roads
- do not apply four wheel drive on dry tarmac roads with part time four wheel drive (you have no center differential)
- on really difficult terrain you may the apply the rear axel diff lock and then the front axel diff-lock if it is equip with those
- sand driving is done by momentum
- apply 4WD before you need it
- if stuck stop hitting the acceleration pedal immediately, to avoid to dig you in
- the track you came is now firm
- if stuck reverse along the same track you came and get momentum
- after starting in first gear select the highest gear that give you enough torque to get through (Low third)
- follow other vehicle tracks
- get a the standard 1:4000000 road map
- signs showing road numbers, direction (city) and distance are every where
- you don't need any other mean of navigation or maps
- learn the upcoming roads you will cross to check your position
- always stop at major intersection or when unsure
- this only takes 10 seconds getting lost may cost hours or your live
- don't go to close to the boarder to Angola and to Caprivi - shootings happen there
- the sun stands in the north at noon in the southern hemisphere
- the sun travels from east in the morning almost straight vertical to the west in the evening.
- don't make the mistake and conclude that e.g. east is right from the sun position around noon, as the sun does not travel from right to left.
Camping and Park Permits
- as I mentioned there are not many free spots you could camp wild.
- we only did this twice which was beautiful.
- you will look for one of the many camping site and guest farms.
- those have water, a shower, a fire place and a toilet.
Here is and example from Sesrim:
- there is one misconception that you can only get the permits in Windhoek.
- this is not true - The permits you only get at the camp entries.
- only the government camping reservation can be done and pre-paid in windhoek
- the dates are mandatory but may be changed if space is avaliable
- if you are lucky you get a space without reservation at government camping
- there are always other camps out side and you just need to pay the permit to enter
The camp Sesriem has noting to do with the entry to Sossusvlei.
But you have to pass the camp in order to get to
Sossusvlei and the camp gates open at sun rise and close at sunset (currently at 19:00h). Sossusvlei itself closes at
20:00h. This means when you stay in the camp you can watch the sunset and animals grassing otherwise you have to
leave before. The permit costs 30 NAD per person and 10 per car.
- go to a snake park to see what you can encounter (e.g. Swakopmund, Mokuti Longe).
- also you will hardly see snakes, they are there and you will see their traces.
- snakes are camouflaged - you will not see them even if you are very close. Believe it!
- high boots and long pants protect you from many snake bits
- there are 160 species of snakes in Namibia but 85 % of the snakes are not dangerous to humans
- treatment for the bite of venomous snakes is a subject of controversy and some treatments that were recommended only a few years ago are no longer thought to be effective
- most of what you may read about treating snakebites that was written more than twenty years ago is probably wrong
- many vets/doctors have never seen an actual case of snakebite.
- fortunately, venomous snakes do not always inject venom when they bite; in roughly 25% of the bites from venomous snakes no venom is injected
- immobilize a limb of a snake bit like a broken bone
- appropriate is a springe style suction device, the rubber suction cups often sold in "snake-bite kits" do not develop enough suction to do the job
- with a springe style suction device you may still only remove as little as of 5 to 15%
- The Black Mamba is the most dangerous snake. Already 10 mg of the neurotoxic venom is deadly and it injects 100 to 400 mg with a bite
- they can get up to three meters and deliver a byte in your upper body.
- most snakes flee when they feel the vibration of large predator and humans
- an exception is the Puff Adder, this potential deadly snake is to lazy to flee and counts for most accidents with humans
- in cities there are often beggars
- leave your car only on a monitored closed parking lot in cities (e.g. Windhoek)
- in the country side there a not many people and you are perfectly save
Beside the standard vaccination Tetanus... you should get the following:
- No vaccination are required currently
- but if you stay aboard you need some vaccinations as preparations.
- Hepatitis A
- Typhus, and some
- Malaria profilaxe.
- Places from Etoscha National Park and north are in the rainy season a Malaria(Tropica) risk areas.
- don't trust and info on Malaria aboard - ask at a pharmacy in Windhoek
- cover your body tread exposed body parts with some Moskito repel
- sleep in a Moskito-net or a Moskito tight tent
Places to Go
- Ketsmanshoop and the Quiver-tree camping
- Etoscha National Park
- Bushman farm
- Ameib Ranch
Places to Avoid
- Lüderitz (noting to see)
- Waterberg Plateau (Personal I find it boring)
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