In total, Namibia has 27,600 miles (44,400 km) of roads, most of which (56%) are gravel, but many are also tar and dirt, and 90% of the major highways are tarred.  A few roads, like the C34 along the Skeleton Coast, are even salt.

The D707, a dirt road, on the edge of Namib-Naukluft National Park

While Namibia’s road network is good and traffic is minimal, it’s important to be safe and conscious of your surroundings.  Here are a few tips to help you negotiate Namibia’s roads:

  • Never drive after dark outside of a town or city, particularly on gravel or dirt roads.
  • Watch out for animals crossing your path, especially warthogs and kudus.  Animals often sleep on the roads at night (hence point #1).
  • Keep your running lights on at all times.  Turn on headlights in dusty conditions.
  • Stay below 120 km/h (75 mph) on tarred roads, and within 60 – 80 km/h (35 – 50 mph) on gravel roads.
  • Keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you on gravel roads to avoid stones that might get kicked up.
  • Never brake hard on gravel or dirt roads, especially going into a corner, as it might overturn the car.  It’s better to slow down and let the road guide you.
  • When you come across a sign indicating a gentle curve, reduce your speed by at least a third.  When you come across a sign indicating a sharp curve, reduce your speed by at least half.
  • Carry 2 spare tires with you.
  • In case of a (rare) tropical downpour, pull off the road, turn on your headlights, and wait for it to ease up.
  • To cross a stream, test it first by walking to see how deep it is, and/or wait for it to subside (many streams are ephemeral).
  • Stop at police road blocks.
  • Gas stations only accept cash, so make sure you bring enough for your trip.  Just to be on the safe side, we recommend that you fill up whenever you pass a gas station.  Gas stations in Namibia are also all full-service, and it’s common to tip the attendant around 5 Namibian dollars
  • For most tourist sites around the country you don’t need a 4×4 vehicle, but it does offer a lot more comfort, safety, versatility, and reliability.  If you do use a 4×4, make sure you know how it works first:
      • For the vast majority of the journey, you will only need to use 2×4 (2H) rear-wheel drive
      • On more difficult, unstable, or steep terrain, you may need to switch to 4×4 high (4H), but keep in mind this uses more gas
      • If you feel like you need some help getting through something, switch on the diff lock, which makes sure all the wheels spin together
      • If you’re really stuck in soft sand, mud, or going over a very steep pass, switch to 4×4 low (4L), which uses a lower gear ratio
      • Keep in mind that you can only use the diff lock and/or 4L for a very short time!  Once you are through the obstacle, switch back to 4H or 2H with the diff lock off to avoid causing damage to the car
      • For our 4×4 double cabs, we recommend keeping the tire pressure at 1.8 bars, which is a little soft but gives more traction and helps avoid punctures
      • Remember to check whether your car takes diesel (many 4×4 vehicles do) or gas, and only use the appropriate fuel when filling up!

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