The road trip from Cape Town to Namibia can be done in a couple of hours and we have done it a couple of times. This included a 2-month trip exploring everywhere from Etosha National Park to the Caprivi Strip on our honeymoon.
This spectacular country, filled with national parks and jaw-dropping deserts is an amazing experience to explore. Driving through the beautiful, rugged desert landscapes of this Southern African country is a journey that belongs on any bucket list.
For our best travel tips exploring Namibia read on! Do you really need a 4×4? what to consider and how to rent one. A fantastic trip, but not a cheap one, get an idea of what exploring Namibia costs here. We did a lot of camping, check out some great campsites and camp tips. Driving on the gravel roads was a bit different, see our car tips from refueling to flat tires. What about staying connected? all about sim cards, phoning, and the internet. Great maps and phone apps that will help you not to get lost and find a campsite! Use our Packing list to check if you have everything!
Table of Contents
The Cost of a Namibia Road Trip
A Namibia road trip is not a cheap experience. Grocery shopping is relatively cheap, with food, drinks, and essentials being very affordable. Namibia is not a good country for traveling on public transport. You will need to rent a vehicle and drive long distances on most days. Renting a truck with a rooftop tent and fuel costs results in your daily costs being very high. Add entrance fees and accommodation and daily costs can easily add up to $200 to $300.
The NAD (Namibian Dollar) is the national currency of Namibia and the value is the same as the South African rand (ZAR) which it replaced as currency in 1993. Mastercard and Visa are widely accepted throughout Namibia in shops and lodges, but we usually carried some cash. ATMs that accept VISA and MasterCard cards are available in most towns.
Best Time of the Year to Visit Namibia
The best time to visit Namibia is in the dry season between May and October. In the dry season the rivers and water sources are dry, so animals congregate around the few remaining drinking holes. This is excellent for game viewing.
January and February is mid-summer, most of Namibia experiences high temperatures at this time of the year and some regions get frequent afternoon rains.
Etosha National Park is vibrant green, with dense vegetation in the rainy season making it difficult to spot wildlife.
Rental Cars in Namibia
Do I need a 4×4 to drive through Namibia?
The main highways through Namibia are fairly good tar roads, but sticking to these roads offers little to see. To visit the main sites you will have to go on to the gravel roads.
It is possible to get to most places with a normal sedan car, 4×4 is not required, but it is risky to drive on a gravel road with a small car and you will have to drive very slowly. It is best to use a car with good road clearance. Smaller cars will very likely pick up significant damage from the rocks on the road, the ride will be uncomfortable with several flat tires, and slow, and driving fast is very dangerous in a smallish car.
Renting a Car in Namibia
4×4 Rental is big business in Namibia and there are many companies to choose from. There are hundreds of tourists driving around in fully kitted 4x4s with rooftop tents.
You can rent a 4×4 with camp gear. Normally this means a rooftop tent, table, camp chairs, cooler box, gas stove, sleeping bags, and everything else you might need for camping.
- Things that will influence the rental price:
- single or double cab bakkie (truck)
- insurance package
- limited/unlimited mileage
- place of pick up and drop off
- season: Low season Jan – June, High Nov-Dec, Peak July-Oct
We spoke to many travelers about their cars, prices around $80-90 (USD) per day for a single cab with unlimited mileage, camp accessories, pick up and drop off at the same place, and minimum insurance in low season is a good deal. In Namibia, you will drive long distances, and take unlimited mileage!
Petrol consumption will be more or less 8-10 km per liter in an equipped 4×4 not driving too fast.
Discover Cars is a great company for doing car rentals.
Namibia car tips
Flat tires are very common and towns are far apart. If you have a puncture on one of the gravel roads in the middle of nowhere, it might take hours or even days until another vehicle passes by and helps. Preparing to be able to handle 2 flat tires in a day is a good idea. Many people I know had tire problems, we however drove 12 000km without any problems. If you drive slowly and look out for big rocks and potholes you should be ok.
- Tire Repair
- Puncture repair kit, with these you can fix most punctures yourself quickly.
- 2 spare tires, small chance you will need both, but if you do get two flats alone in the middle of nowhere you have a problem. One spare and one repair kit should be more than sufficient.
- Take a small compressor, they are cheap, if you deflate the tires for driving in sand you will need to inflate them again. Also necessary when fixing a tire with the repair kit.
- Refill your car at every fuel station. If you can drive 400km with your car after refueling you should never run out of petrol.
- Jerry can – we had a 10L can with extra fuel, we stuck to the above rule and never needed to use our extra fuel.
Bringing a car over the South Africa/Namibia border
The process is fairly quick and painless and not expensive, including third-party insurance.
- Valid passport of the driver
- Certified copy of vehicle registration papers in the name of the driver
- Letter of authority from the registered owner if the vehicle is not owned by the driver
- If the vehicle is still being financed, carry a letter of authority from the bank (must include dates of travel) together with the vehicle license papers.
- Valid driver’s license
- Carnet de Passage: Only compulsory if the vehicle is being shipped to Namibia.
- ZA Sticker: Available at any AA Accredited Sales Agent store
- Motor Insurance Certificate: Obtainable at the Border Free of Charge. Valid for 30 days
Camping in Namibia
This is definitely the way to go in Namibia, it is the only affordable accommodation. Namibia is all about nature and what better way to experience it than camping? There are many fantastic campsites all over Namibia.
- Government campsites (NWR) are quite pricey. Many of the private lodges also have camping with access to good facilities at reasonable prices.
Phone Apps for Namibia road trip
Since there is no phone reception everywhere it is best to have an offline map, mapps.me is a free navigation app that worked well for us.
ioverlander is a very useful app that works offline, it shows campsites with facilities prices, and reviews, this was a super handy app to have in Namibia. Click here for some helpful apps for backpackers:
Phone and Internet
Airtime and data is not expensive in Namibia compared to South Africa. It is handy to have internet access and to be able to phone campsites, lodges, etc.
- In our experience, the best deal was with the MTC provider, buy a sim card.
- We used the Aweh Gig package
Food and Water
- Driving around in the desert you are going to get thirsty!
- Tap water in Namibia is potable in some places but even if so it doesn’t taste nice.
- Bring a couple of big water bottles 5l you can refill them for quite cheap in some supermarkets.
- There are campsites with good quality water, refill all your bottles at these campsites!
- WIMPY – these all-day breakfast and burger restaurants are all over Namibia, we had many streaky breakfast specials, great bacon, and eggs.
- Biltong and droe wors– in South Africa and Namibia we live on these dry meat snacks, I promise you, you will get addicted and might have to immigrate!
- BRAAI foreigners call it a barbeque, there is no set time for cooking to start, it depends on how much wood we have, afterward ‘caveman TV’ can continue until the early hours of the morning, staring at the fire and the stars talking nonsense. It all depends on how much booze we have.
- Buy real wood, not charcoal, you are in Africa now!
Namibia Driving Rules
- The speed limit is not a problem on the gravel road, there are no traffic police, and driving faster than the 100 kmh speed limit is a risk of flat tires and accidents.
- The B main roads are tarred, and there are many roadblocks and some speed traps. Make sure you have a license and registration with you.
PACKING LIST FOR NAMIBIA ROAD TRIP
- Tent, waterproof if you are going North
- sleeping mats
- sleeping bags
- headlamps, standing lamp
- table, chairs
- gas stove
- electric kettle – saves a lot of gas and time to make coffee, boil water before making pasta etc. Most campsites have power outlets
- pot, pan, cutlery, and mocha pot for coffee
- braai grid (barbecue)
- enough memory for taking thousands of photos
- ZA sticker, car registration papers
- Spare wheel
- Tire repair kit
- small air compressor
- sun cream, MOSQUITO REPELLENT, hat
- A yoga mat for stretching (you sit many hours in the car!)
The strong half of Stingy Nomads, a nomadic aquaman that would be happy to spend all his life in the water diving, surfing and spearfishing but often has to compromise with Alya and go hiking instead. Campbell is responsible for all our marine adventures and following them with write-ups. He loves traveling, braai (BBQ in South Africa), red wine and spending the day in a wetsuit.