Top tips for a Self-drive Family Safari in Namibia
Having travelled to other areas of Africa previously and had some hair raising experiences, I was a little apprehensive about this trip. I feel I need to share some top tips that I learnt on our self drive family Safari in Namibia!
Firstly, my main concerns were about safety so before I left I tried to ease my these by reading information on the web. But this seemed to be few and far between. Hopefully they can help you too!
So I’ve created my list of lessons to try and help your planning and preparation:
- Top up with fuel when you are near a petrol station. We heard rumours that some Namibia petrol stations run out and there are large distances between them. We never experienced this but we listened to local advice and didn’t have a problem.
- When driving the tyre pressure needs to be amended from grit to tarmac roads. The car rental company will advise you on this and provide you with a pressure gauge. Every service station has the ability to reinflate and as most tourists are self drive. Literally everyone does this!
- Bring or buy black sacks/covers for bags and food. Namibia has dust everywhere from the sandy and gritty road! Cover up important stuff in the back cab area.
- We had a problem with our stove (pesky sand & dust!). The ladies and gents at service stations will help you. We found them to be most helpful! Make sure you pack everything away properly.
- If you are camping get some logs. Its very hot during the day, but gets very cold as soon as the sun goes down! Plus it’s useful for cooking!
- If arriving in Windhoek head towards the grove mall of Namibia. There are a number of supermarkets there and shops. So get well stocked up before you hit the road.
- Expect to tip the petrol station attendants. We paid $N10 to $N20. But this is mainly because it’s the lowest denomination we had. Coins are a rarity. But I’ve seen some suggest that $N5 is sufficient.
- Most places accept cards, especially the campsites, lodges, supermarkets and petrol stations. There are ATM machines at the main towns and we never had a problem with money in Namibia.
- Driving distances are fairly long and straight. Make sure you bring sufficient entertainment for the kids, as well as water and snacks. If you have music via bluetooth or USB stick, then bring it for the car as radio reception is not good!!
- Outside of the national parks it is ok to get out of the vehicle without fear of predators. I had visions of them being everywhere!!
- Picnic areas are dotted along the main routes and comprise a table and chairs with a tree for shade. Great for a lunch stop.
- The main towns all have a supermarket and petrol station for lunch stops or to stock up.
- Get a map of Namibia to help with navigation. We had a sat nav which made things easier, but with very few roads if you are sticking to the main route you can’t go wrong.
- We didn’t use a satellite phone. Instead we bought a SIM card at the airport. Note, at Windhoek there is only one desk. For the most part we had a signal, but we were also on the main artery. If you are going off the beaten track consider a satellite phone in case of difficulties.
- Everyone is friendly, smiling and helpful. We did see a few hawkers. But you delightfully decline and they walk away. We didn’t get anyone hassling us at all.
- Most of the national parks have 2 gates. The first appears to be to register the vehicle/occupants and the second is for the entrance fee. More often than not there are sites inside the first gate and means you are the first to enter the national park (usually before sunrise/after sunset). Read up on the national parks and decide which ones you want sunrise or sunset photos as you’ll be better choosing accommodation inside the first gate.
- WiFi: it’s very sketchy to say the least! We added data onto our SIM package, which was useful. However, if and when you do get access don’t expect fast speeds. Most areas are only 2G! Some campsites did have WiFi but it kept dropping out and at times we were wandering around with ito phones in the air!!
I think that’s the main points. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions or looking for some more details!