4x4 Vehicle Driving
Many roads in Namibia have been tarred in the last years. But gravel tracks, in Namibia called "pads", still prevail. Most of these tracks can be negotiated in normal 2x4 vehicles, although some rental companies don't like that because it puts much strain on the tyres and the chassis. For some stretches a 4x4 is indispensable anyway. This applies especially to the entire Kaokoveld in the north, to the Khaudum National Park, parts of Damaraland, parts of the Caprivi, the Sossusvlei access and some areas in the Fish River Canyon and Ai-Ais regions. Also for driving through Botswana, for example between Chobe and Maun, Moremi and the Kalahari, one cannot do without a 4x4. On game drives in game reserves a 4x4 offers the advantage of an elevated seating position so that one can observe the game better, especially if one is standing in a queue with other cars.
The weather conditions are another major factor for deciding which vehicle to hire. After heavy rains gravel roads get muddy and difficult to negotiate. Off-road vehicles perform better under these conditions, but also reach their limits.
Most car rental companies in Namibia offer four-wheel vehicles with complete camping equipment including a roof tent or two, for 2 to 4 persons. Quite common is the Toyota Hilux Double Cab for up to 5 persons. Most 4x4's in Namibia have a diesel engine nowadays. This also applies to the famous Landrover Defender. The stylish vehicle has unbeatable off-road qualities, but unfortunately is not very reliable and figures in breakdown statistics near the top. However, Landrovers can normally be fixed by any "bush mechanic".
All four-wheel drives are very expensive in southern Africa, because they draw high import taxes, obviously reflecting in the rental rates.
Photo: Toyota Hilux Double Cab, equipped for an expedition.
Photo: Nissan Double Cab with 2 roof tents. With a high top load one has to drive very carefully, especially on gravel tracks.
If you wish to visit remote areas like Kaokoland, you should rent a fully equipped expedition vehicle. Important is not the make of the car, but the extra equipment. Useful are a long range tank, 2 spare wheels, a hi-lift-jack and some more recovery tools, a water tank and a compressor fridge. It is also a good idea to have a proper air compressor onboard to be able to inflate the tyres after having driven through soft sand.
Do you Need a Roof Tent?
All 4x4 rental companies in southern Africa offer roof tents. The demand for them is the reason behind it. People fear to be visited at night by snakes, spiders and other creepers. So one prefers to sleep on top of the car rather than in a ground tent. However, rooftents are potentially dangerous as they shift the centre of gravity upwards. Especially with two tents on the roof the maximum roof top load is more than reached. With a high gravity centre, one easily looses control over the car on the vaulted dirt roads, especially when taking the bends with too high speed. The many rolled cars in Namibia prove the point. Rooftents are definitely a hundred times more dangerous than snakes and insects.
We cooperate with many 4x4 rental companies in southern Africa and will gladly give you advice which type of vehicle to get for your particular tour. Our offers are usually cheaper than a direct booking with the car rental company would be. Send us an email with your dates of travelling (dates and place of delivery and return, intended travel areas): email@example.com
Please note: We are only acting as agents for the rental companies. The car rental company in Namibia or South Africa is the contract partner of the renter.