Car Rental Association of Namibia
P.O. Box 80368
Windhoek / Namibia
Cell: +264 81 417 3797
8h00-16h00 weekdays
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last update
25.01.2013

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Car Rental & Self-drives

CARAN, the Car Rental Association of Namibia, is a non-profit association of 17 members aimed at protecting tourists and the car-rental industry against sub-standard service and quality. Car rental companies must subscribe to minimum standards before they are accepted as members of the association.
For more Information please send your email to: caran@iway.na.

The Minimum Standards for the Car Rental Company are:

  • Be legally registered and comply with the requirements of the Namibian Tourism
  • Board (NTB)
  • Have a Vehicle Fleet consisting of at least five Vehicles which are not older than 4.5 Years. Sedan Vehicles having not more than 200 000km on the Clock or in case of a 4x4 Vehicle having not more than 250 000km on the Clock.
  • Provide sufficient insurance
  • Provide a 24-hour backup service in case of breakdowns or accidents.
  • Service and maintain its Vehicles regularly to ensure compliance with the roadworthy requirements.
  • service and maintain its vehicles regularly to ensure compliance with roadworthy requirements.
The Namibian Government, through its NTB, supports CARAN members by distributing their brochures and advertising material through its networks world-wide. (Non-CARAN car-rental companies don't enjoy this courtesy.)
The stringent standards set by CARAN were necessary due to the vastness of the country, the huge number of self-drive tours undertaken and the unfortunate experiences tourists have had in the past due to renting vehicles of sub-standard quality. CARAN, through its members, undertakes to immediately address problems that may arise concerning a vehicle that has been rented from one of its members.

Which vehicles are the most suitable to rent?

Car-rental companies are frequently asked which vehicles are the most suitable for Namibia. The main choices are:
  • A 2WD - an ordinary sedan car or minibus.
  • A 4WD - a four-wheel-drive, single or double Cab, Stationwagon or Camper, equipped with or without camping.
  • A camper-van or motor home.
Namibia has an excellent road system that reaches just about every popular tourist destination in the country. However, the majority of the roads are gravel, and in the more remote areas they become tracks, which require careful driving, and for safety considerations, a second vehicle. These areas are not recommended for the inexperienced driver, for whom guided tours or organized safaris are recommended.

Important facts to consider:
  • 4WD are more expensive to hire, because they are very expensive to buy and maintain. They are preferred Vehicles due to high ground clearance, better for gravel roads, tougher and to reach destinations where a 2WD wouldn't have a chance.
  • 4 WD Camping Vehicles can be equipped with everything you'll need.
  • 2 WD Vehicles cost less to buy and maintain therefore they are cheaper than the 4x4 Vehicles. They don't have high ground clearance and therefore not suitable for all kind of gravel roads.
  • Motor homes are usually better suited to tar roads as they tend to be top heavy and have poor ground clearance when not a 4WD.
Your final choice will come down to where you intend travelling and your budget.

Safety precautions

  • First and foremost, in Namibia we drive on the left side of the road.
  • Passengers in the back as well as on the front seats, must wear seatbelts.
  • To drive a Vehicle in Namibia you'll need a valid Drivers Licence (in English) or alternative have an International Licence which must be at all Times present while driving.
  • Make sure you are fully insured.
  • Your tyres must have the correct air pressure for the roads on which you're planning to drive, and also for the amount of luggage and number of passengers in your car.
  • Always carry at least one spare wheel. When visiting remote areas, it is advisable to carry a second wheel.
  • In Namibia, 4x4 vehicles are recommended when travelling through remote areas.
  • You should carry a well-equipped first-aid kit.
  • Plan your trip carefully, ensuring that you have enough fuel for the journey you have planned. Fill your tank at every available opportunity, even though you may not be in immediate need, it could be that the next fuel station is out of fuel.
  • Always carry water when you travel. Plan to have enough water for your entire journey, also in case you have a breakdown or become stuck.
  • It's advisable to leave your itinerary with your tour operator, hotel or friends. In the unlikely event that you become lost, authorities will be able to find you if they know your plans.
  • Make sure you have a current, authoritative map before you leave on your trip. When you leave the official roads marked on your map, there may be no road signs to direct you and the condition of the road may be poor.
  • Take time to listen carefully to the safety briefing given by your car-hire company. Ask advice on the condition of the roads in the areas you plan to visit. If your car has extra fuel and water tanks, use them.
  • Watch out for animals crossing the road or grazing near the roadside. Both wild and domestic animals frighten easily and can jump directly in front of your moving car.
  • Avoid travelling at night. Wildlife is most active at dusk and dawn, and the possibility of a collision is high, at night one sees obstacles to late.
  • When entering any game park or other area where there are wild animals, read the safety guideline available. It is dangerous to leave your vehicle when you are in a wildlife area. The only safe way to look at a wild animal is from the safety of your vehicle.
  • As distances are long, take regular breaks.
  • Even though the Cell phone network is wide spread in Namibia it is advisable to hire Satellite phones. These are recommended when driving into remote areas. It is helpful if you are Stuck or do need any help.

Absolute speed limits: Tarmac roads: 120 km/h
Gravel roads: 80 km/h
Towns: 60 km/h


Special safety precautions for gravel roads
Not all gravel roads are the same. Be aware of this and drive accordingly. Take note of the following before you set out:
  • Punctures are common on gravel roads, so carry two spare wheels.
  • Do not exceed the prescribed limit. The safest speed on a gravel road is between 60-70 km/h.
  • Observe road traffic signs conscientiously, particularly those indicating a gentle or sharp curve ahead, and reduce your speed accordingly.
  • In dusty conditions it is advisable to switch on the headlights of your vehicle so as to be more easily observed by other road-users.
  • When there is oncoming traffic, reduce speed and keep to the left of the road as far as possible. Windscreen damage is likely to happen here.
  • In rainy or wet conditions, beware of slippery roads, sections of the road that have washed away, and running or stagnant water at drifts or causeways, drive slowly through water if not to deep-if unsure, then first walk through.
  • Be on the lookout for animals, domestic and wild, at all times.
  • Other hazards are dry stream crossings and dry dips in the road. These are often eroded or rocky, don't rush through them!
  • Be constantly on the alert, as road signs have sometimes been removed or run over.
  • Overtaking on gravel roads is dangerous. Draw the attention of the driver in front of you by flicking your headlights, indi­cating that you wish to overtake.
  • The simple rule when going into a skid is: skid left, steer left - skid right, steer right. Gently! In other words, if the car starts to slide towards the left side of the road, gently steer to the left, and vice versa. Take your foot off the accelerator for a moment as the car is gently brought under control and stay off the brakes! Just don't over react!
  • Be careful when you approach the top of a blind rise, as there is often a slight bend just out of sight which could catch you off-guard.
  • Be constantly on the lookout for the unexpected, such as loose and sandy patches, potholes, rocks or a sharp bend in the road.
  • The major hazards when driving on gravel roads are: driving TOO FAST, not concentrating or taking a chance by overtaking 'blind' into the dust of another vehicle.


Driving on sand

The experts will tell you that the keys to successful sand driving are momentum and tyre pressure. Momentum and speed stop the vehicle from becoming mired in the sand, while dropping your tyre pressure creates a bigger tyre 'footprint', spreading the vehicle's weight over a larger area and giving you more grip.
So drop your pressures when you are driving in hot sand or in gravel (it will give you a more comfortable ride), but remember that fast cornering on soft tyres is highly dangerous (you can roll the tyre off the rim).
In extreme sandy terrain, deflate the tyre pressure to about 1 Kpa (front) and 1.2 Kpa (rear). If the vehicle becomes stuck, remember that brute force will not get you out of trouble. If anything, you'll become bogged down even further. Stop immediately and take stock of the situation. Check whether the vehicle is engaged in four-wheel drive and the front hubs are locked, and clear the sand in front and behind the wheels a bit.
Other options might be to deflate the tyres a little more, jacking the vehicle up to place stones or dead branches under the wheels.
Don't forget to re-inflate when you are back on hard ground.
This is only needed on real off-road tracks!

Rules when driving on sand:
  • Never brake hard in soft sand. Your wheels will dig in and you'll stop faster that you expect. Simply decelerate, as the loss of momentum will halt the vehicle.
  • Always stop on a downhill or on the flat.
  • Avoid wheel-spin - the vehicle will simply dig down into the sand.
  • Avoid burning the clutch- keep the feet off the clutch pedal. Rather choose a lower gear (L4) and do not worry about fuel consumption.


Danger of flash floods

Due to the erratic nature of Namibia's rainfall, the rivers in the interior of the country are ephemeral and usually dry. Runoff occurs only when the intensity of a rainstorm is high or if its duration is long enough to produce runoff. In terms of driving, all dry riverbeds should be considered as hazardous during the rainy season, especially when clouds are visible on the horizon. Visitors should, therefore, never drive along a dry riverbed or camp near the river in the rainy season.

Self-drivers, please take note

  • The Namibian landscape is extremely fragile, so please follow only well-defined tracks and roads. Deviating off existing tracks not only spoils the scenery and enjoyment of others, but also destroys plants and small creatures. In certain areas, such as the gravel plains, a single set of tracks can remain visible for decades.
  • Respect the culture and traditions of those inhabiting the area through which you are travelling. Disrespect causes resentment and ill feeling towards other tourists.
  • Bear in mind that assistance could be days away in the event of an unexpected breakdown. A minimum of two vehicles travelling together is therefore strongly recommended in remote areas.
  • Vehicles must be equipped with at least two spare wheels, basic spares and tools for emergency repairs, jumper cables and recovery equipment such as towing ropes.
  • Engage four-wheel drive and manually lock front hubs (if required) before negotiating difficult terrain such as loose sand, rocky terrain or steep inclines or declines. Inspect the terrain for obstacles and plan your route accordingly. Directly disengage 4WD and hubs if not needed anymore. To long in 4WD causes damage.


Camping spots in Namibia

A camping holiday in Namibia can provide visitors with a great opportunity to enjoy the country's vast unspoilt landscapes, spectacular scenery, fascinating flora and fauna and the experience of meeting rural people and observing their cultures.
The variety of camping places in Namibia is huge. Dedicated sites with full facilities are operated by local communities, Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR) and private tourism concerns, while further opportunities to camp al fresco (with the landowner's permission) abound.
NWR offers the visitor a choice of 22 sites, including must-visit destinations such as the Etosha National Park, Sossusvlei, the Namib-Naukluft Park, Terrace Bay, Ai-Ais, Lüderitz, the Waterberg and, in the north east, Popa Falls. Four other NWR resorts are conveniently close to Windhoek.
All the NWR resorts have purpose-built accommodation and restaurant facilities, while a computerised central reservations system handles all bookings. Visitors are advised to book well in advance.
The private sector presents campers with a vast choice of camping places, ranging from basic natural sites to purpose-built facilities. The Namibia Tourism Board (NTB) will gladly answer all enquiries, while the Namibian Tour and Safari Association (TASA) and the Hospitality Association of Namibia (HAN) both hold copious amounts of information on behalf of their members.
From the Ai-Ais/Richtersveld Trans-frontier Park in the south to the Namib, Damaraland and the Kaokoveld areas in the west, and the Kalahari and Caprivi regions in the east, campers face only one dilemma: how to see as much as possible.

Camping equipment Thorough planning is a vital prerequisite for any camping trip. Imagine erecting your tent and finding you forgot to pack the tent poles, or trying to light a campfire without matches. All visitors wishing to travel independently through the awesome but often isolated Namibian landscapes should ensure that they are fully equipped and self-sufficient.
Most visitors to Namibia will need to hire both a vehicle and all the camping equipment needed for their proposed trip. For those planning to explore more remote areas, a four-wheel-drive vehicle is essential. All Namibian car-hire operators will offer 4x4s, but make your reservation well in advance. Many companies can supply their vehicles fully equipped for camping and are experts in providing everything you'll need.
Firewood should always be purchased in a pre-packed form, never collected loose in the veld. Take along a small hatchet, fire-lighters and matches, two powerful torches and plenty of spare batteries. Vehicle spares should include a spare wheel (preferably two), air compressor or pump, tyre gauge, battery leads, towrope, shovel and basic toolkit. Lastly, remember to take along sensible clothing and footwear, hats, sunblock, anti-malaria/mosquito treatments, toiletries and personal items.
And don't forget binoculars, camera and plenty of film, for the holiday of a lifetime awaits you in Namibia!