Roads and Driving For travelling Namibia comfortably, it is best to drive in a rental car. Public transport is practically non-existent. The roads - about 5.000 kilometres of tarred road and almost 40.000 kilometres of gravel or sand roads - are usually well maintained, but every now and then one comes across "corrugated" tracks. The unpleasant grooves are mostly 5 to 10 centimetres deep and derive 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.
Every year the car rental companies in Namibia report numerous accidents, many of them roll-overs and some with fatal consequences. On the slightly arched gravel roads, inexperienced drivers get too far to the edge and then turn the steering wheel abruptly. Especially lighter vehicles with a high centre of gravity (like the Toyota Hilux) react to this driving mistake by rolling and the car turns over.
Generally, a 4x4 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 4x4.
Photo: Typical gravel road in Namibia. Careful with oncoming traffic! If you go faster than 90 km/h, you risk windscreen damage.
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.
Detailed advice about driving in Namibia and car rental, to be found on the Carhire information page.