i-con2 Travel Information : Carhire in Namibia

Rental Cars
Namibia is best explored in a reliable rental car. There are a number of car hire companies in the country, most of them with their head offices in Windhoek. The rates are considerably higher than in South Africa, due to high wear and tear on Namibia's gravel tracks. And the relatively high number of accidents is reflected in high insurance fees.

Normally two types of insurance are available. With "Standard Cover" one has to pay a certain amount of excess - between 300 and 500 EUR - in the event of accident or theft. Under "Super Cover" the excess falls away or is very low. Tyres, rims and glass are never insured. If driver negligence - like speeding or driving under the influence of alcohol -  can be proven, the insurance doesn't pay anything. Make sure that your insurance covers driving on untarred roads, because not all do.

Vehicle Delivery
When taking the car over and before signing the contract, check for dents and damages and also have a close look at the spare tyre.

Driver's License
The driver must be at least 23 years of age, for a minimum of two years in possession of a driver's license. One should bring an international driver's license plus the national license.

Four-Wheel Drive
Many car rental companies in Namibia offer 4x4's with camping equipment. Quite common are the Toyota Hilux or the Nissan Double Cab for up to 5 persons. Most 4x4's have a diesel engine. For driving in remote areas - like the Kaokoveld - one should choose a vehicle with a long range tank. To take a extra fuel along in jerrycans is not very pleasant. Big four-wheel drives, like Toyota Landcruiser or Mitsubishi Pajero, are extremely expensive, because they draw an enormous import duty (60%!) resulting in a high purchase price. The Landrover Defender costs a bit less, but this car is not everybody's cup of tea, especially since it is prone to having breakdowns and is not dustproof.
Many Namibia travellers rent a 4x4 with a roof tent for 2 persons. With two roof tents, however, the centre of gravity is raised which make the car less stable, especially on vaulted gravel roads. This causes quite a few accidents in Namibia every year. Rather opt for one roof and one ground tent.

engel_fridgeTo rent a compressor fridge, an "Engel", for the trip makes sense. Cooler bags and boxes are not suited due to the high Namibian temperatures. Food poisening in the bush is much more unpleasant than it is anyway. Although compressor fridges don't use much electricity, the vehicle should have a double battery system to make sure that the engine still starts after longer breaks.

Off Road Driving
The most important advantage of a 4x4 is the good ground clearance. Let the rental company, nevertheless, explain to you how to change into four-wheel mode (wheel hubs). If you have to drive through soft sand for longer stretches (e.g. in Sandwich Harbour), you should reduce the tyre pressure, but not below 0.8 bar. Once the tyres are soft like balloons, you can't sink into the sand so deeply. As soon as you get back to firm ground, pump the tyres up again. That can be strenuous and therefore a good compressor is better than a manual air pump.

Long Term Rental or Vehicle Purchase
Some companies offer long term rental tariffs. If you are planning, however, to spend 3 months or longer in Namibia or other souuthern African countries, you might want to consider buying a car there. The prices are much lower in South Africa than in Namibia. The problem is always to sell the car again at the end of the tour without running a loss. Easiest to sell are big four-wheel drives with turbo diesel, luxury finishes and low mileage. However, those cars are not easy to find.