Taking on the challenge of a
self-drive can seem daunting at first, but the prospect of exploring vast
areas, some maybe uncharted, others hidden secret gems, trumps any insecurities
you might have about taking on such a task. Namibia is a vast and topographically
dynamic country with numerous touristic gems and spots to visit. It would take
you a while to experience the whole country. From raging ocean waves to the
towering sand dunes of the oldest desert in the world, along with never-ending
savanna plains where the largest population of cheetah on the planet roam as
well as desert horses, there is always something to see and do in Namibia.
Namibia itself is ranked the 2nd
safest country on the continent. Most of the roads are well maintained and the
road network itself is very vast and varied. With the majority of the main
roads top grade tarred roads, hiring a 4x4 is essential for the gravel and sand
roads, as all the major roads have off roads that may be gravel in part or in
whole. The roads are well marked, and adequately signed ensuring you always
know where you are, where you are heading and what maybe around you.
The weather in Namibia makes for
great driving. An average 320 days of sunshine in the year means you are more
likely to drive next to a unicorn running across the plains as opposed to
finding a bad day. It can get a bit warm, and always having water around makes
it easier to manage.
Self-driving tours entail you
taking command of a vehicle and exploring on your own without necessarily being
chauffeured around by a tour guide or operator. A self-drive is exactly that,
drive yourself. Whether in the company of friends, family or alone, a
self-drive challenge tests your resolve, but above all, becomes a memory you
will treasure forever.
Why opt for a self-drive? The
advantages below highlight some of the great aspects of self-drive tours and
safaris, but the best advantages are those that you realise on your own, upon
completion of your tour.
Advantages of Self-Drive Tours
It’s on your terms
Experience great autonomy when you
opt for a self-drive tour. Being in control of the wheel both physically and
proverbially has its advantages. You can move at your own pace, head in the
direction you want to and stop when you feel like stopping. Granted there are
factors such as fatigue that would creep in, a great self-drive tour take such
factors into account and they become part of the experience. Taking your time
and resting more frequently helps lower fatigue.
Explore and discover more
a self-drive tour, you have the ability to discover more than you would with a
guided tour or safari. Guided trips have pre-determined routes, stops and
attractions, which are minimally flexible when it comes to going off the beaten
track. The advantage therefore lies in your ability to take a left turn, or a
right turn to discover an old colonial farmhouse for a photo opportunity or to
spend an extra night in a coastal town so you can take the early morning
catamaran cruise to watch the sun rise over the ocean. All these boil down to
you being able to see more on your adventure across Namibia.
time being the most precious resource we have on the planet, using it
effectively is paramount. One of the few times (minus the pun) when you are
allowed to waste time is when you go on holiday. Sleeping in, and staying out
late, dragging your feet from one point to the other is part of the holiday
experience. With a self-drive holiday, you can afford to do more of this,
without being rushed to breakfast so you can go see the next attraction or move
to the next town or city.
Self-drive tours check out to be
cheaper than guided tours. With the option available to book a vehicle with
sleeping facilities for two or four people, cutting out on lodge expenses where
desired allows your money to stretch the distance. Melbic Car Rentals Tours and Transfers
provides both options with regards to vehicle rental, all in 4WD format.
Camping costs are usually 1/5th the value of a standard room in
specialist lodging. Most campsites around the country that are at the site of a
lodge allow for a special arrangement for you to take your meals at the
restaurant and sleep at the campsite, if self-catering is not on the cards.
Although there are advantages to
self-drive tours and adventures, there are a few things you should always keep
in mind before starting out.
Know that it is a Challenge
that you are about to take on a challenging but thrilling task, and you are
about to join an elite club of individuals. Self-drive tours are special,
memorable and the best way to experience a country and its culture. They are
also tasking and can be exhausting especially if you do not have a relief
driver and push yourself too hard. Your reward lies in the moments you create
at the top of dunes, rocky outcrops, in ocean waves, alongside a seal colony or
feeding horses and oryx and other wild animals at the end of the trip. Maybe in
just one large beer and some sleep.
Choose what type of self-drive
There are usually two types of
The first entails your hiring a
vehicle with us and then getting a tour company to plan an itinerary for you,
where you might share certain points of interest you and you group might want
to take a look at. This removes most of the planning responsibility and allows
you to just pick your vehicle and then drive from point A to B then C, and then
finally D before coming back to D, depending on the itinerary.
The second option is the intense
autonomous option where you decide where you want to go, and how long you want
to be in a specific location. It leaves all the planning responsibility on you
in ensuring that you get to where you want to be when you want to be. It is
essential to share that plan with the safari/rental company so that they can be
able to monitor how you are travelling in case of emergency. Most car rentals
offer unlimited mileage on their vehicles (a true saver, Namibia is huge!).
Picking the vehicle
The majority of vehicles used in
self-drive tours and safaris are Toyota Hilux 4wd vehicles. The vehicle was
perfectly built for the African environment and performs with ease in all
environments. So sand, gravel, tar, streams, the Toyota Hilux is sturdy and
will get you where you need to go. It is considered the most popular 4wd on the
continent. Some come in double or single cab, depending on the number of people
that are travelling. A single cab takes 2 people, whilst a double cab sits 4
comfortably, but you can squeeze in that cousin that doesn’t want to be left
behind, although for long distances it is not advisable.
Self –drive vehicles come with or
without camping equipment attached to the roof of the vehicle. If you are going
to be staying in lodges and specialty lodging such as hotel rooms etc., then
opting for a vehicle without camping facilities is the cheaper option (Although
lodging will be much more expensive than camping). Vehicles that do have the
camping equipment attached are also dependent on the number of individuals.
Some have equipment for two (one tent affixed on top of the vehicle) whilst
other come with equipment for four (also affixed on top of the vehicle). It’s
safer they are on top of the car and not on the ground.
Plan accordingly. Plan your route,
get advice and assistance for people who might have travelled the route or area
before. Know what to expect but prepare for what you do not expect. It is
better to be over prepared than to be under prepared. Also ensure you have all
the supplies you need, some are provided by the rental company, like an extra
mobile device, a gas stove, torch, shovel, pick axe, and usually, two spare
tires. Get lots and lots of water, and snacks along the way. Namibia just has
to be the place where you get the best dried meat. Others call it beef jerky,
we call it biltong.
Your driver’s license is
important, as well as the license of every other individual who might drive on
your trip. Keep your passport on you, which has your visa, in case it is
required at the roadblock. Every rental place usually gives you documentation
on the vehicle for when you drive to present to the relevant authorities, when
Hitting the road
out as early as possible if it’s a long drive so you drive whilst it’s cooler.
Do not drive at night or whilst it is still dark unless extremely necessary,
and when you do, be extremely cautious… Namibia has many animals that bounce,
gallop, scatter, roll, creep or walk freely.