Driving & safety tips

1. GRAVEL ROADS
Namibia's excellent infrastructure includes a major road system of which only 5% are tarred or sealed road surfaces. The rest is made up of excellent gravel roads. Most of the country's attractions can only be reached by gravel road. Gravel roads are made, not like everyone thinks by just scraping the road surface, but in fact by taking a graded strip of road and compacting stones (gravel) onto this surface.

Speed
Experience has taught us that a safe speed on gravel is 60km/h. At this speed, in most cases, you will be able to control any dangerous situation that you could get into. Remember you are on holiday and at this speed you can take in the surrounding countryside and see many things that you might miss at a higher speed. You should plan your daily routing to be no further than 400 km per day, this distance would take you around 8 hours to complete.
As our roads are fairly deserted you may not encounter oncoming traffic for a long time. This fact increases your confidence and quickly causes your speed to increase. Be very aware of this, as this is the number one killer on our roads. The increase in speed is dangerous due to the fact that the road surface can and does change rapidly from a hard surface to soft sand on which it becomes very difficult to control a vehicle that is travelling fast.
Although you may encounter locals who are carrying on their normal day-to-day business life on these roads and are thus travelling at much higher speeds than the recommended speed, don' t get drawn into going faster because they are driving faster than you. Do not assume that local drivers know the safe speed to travel at. Local accidents statistics in Namibia are horrendous (deaths per number of vehicles are well over fifty times higher than European statistics). Please keep in mind when other drivers overtake you: Their driving builds up those statistics. MOST IMPORTANTLY, REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE HERE ON HOLIDAY TO SEE NAMIBIA, you are not on a racetrack to get to your destination.

Stones (Gravel)
The compacting of stones on gravel roads does not last and as a result you will see tracks forming where the vehicles drive. On the edges of these tracks is where you would find stones, which can cause damage to the vehicle's tyre. There are also stones in the tracks, but in most cases these are small and would not cause damage to tyres. They could, however, be thrown up by a car in front of you and damage the windscreen, so keep your distance from the vehicle in front of you. Remember, a stone that is thrown up by a vehicle in front of you could be thrown a distance of up to 100 meters. You will not be able to see these stones being thrown up due to the dust cloud of the vehicle in front of you. Generally good advice would be to stay clear of these dust clouds.

Resistance
Gravel roads offers three times the resistance of other road surface. It is this resistance that causes the vehicle to roll in the event of it starting to spin. If you lose control of the vehicle, hold the steering, but do not try to counteract the spin. Let the vehicle go its course, even if it goes off the road and through a fence. If there are no cliffs or trees the damage to yourself and the vehicle will be a lot less severe than if the vehicle rolls. Do not brake, but take your foot off the accelerator and once the vehicle has slowed sufficiently for you to take control start steering again.

Dust
It is dangerous to travel in a vehicle's dust cloud for various reasons, the most obvious being that you cannot see. The dust cloud could obscure corners, oncoming traffic, animals and a variety of other obstacles.

Snow / Ice
Most Europeans are used to driving on snow and ice and assume driving on gravel / sand roads would be similar to this - nothing could be further from the truth. In snow and ice conditions there are no sharp objects on the road that could damage tyres. On these surfaces if one loses control and gets into a spin as previously mentioned, there is almost no resistance. The vehicle will spin until its inertia has been used up and if it does not strike an obstacle or ditch on the side of the road there is no chance of the vehicle rolling over.

Overtaking
If one needs to overtake a vehicle which is travelling slower, ensure that there is excellent visibility and that there is no oncoming traffic for at least 1 kilometer and you can see a straight road in front of you, before you change lanes and overtake this vehicle. Be alert and ensure that there is no vehicle busy overtaking you. Ensure that you get back onto the left-hand side of the road after having overtaken the other vehicle. If you ever have to overtake another car in Namibia, you are probably going too fast and unknowingly putting yourself and your fellow travellers into a life-risking situation.

Tracks
One must stay in the tracks wherever possible while driving on Sand / Gravel roads to avoid damaging the tyres. As previously mentioned, the stones on the side of the tracks are generally sharp and will damage the sidewalls of the tyres.

Distances
Distances are great and one needs to remember that it does not pay to speed to one's destination as this can expose you to unnecessary danger. Statistics show that most accidents occur between 14h00 and 17h00 in the afternoon, due to people wanting to get to their destination. Watch out for loss of concentration and keep your speed down to 60km/h. Remember, rather get to your destination late than not at all. Do not let the empty roads fool you. At any point while driving in Namibia you are in a much higher risk situation than, say, bungee jumping or parachuting. You do not have to wear a helmet, though. Just remember to lower your speed to our recommended maximum.

When you have been on the road for a while you could be drawn to the right side of the road due to you being on that side of the road. The main cause of you being drawn to the right side of the road is that there is no oncoming traffic and long stretches of straight road were there is not much to see.

2. Tarred Roads
Distances between towns even on tarred roads can be very tedious and tiring especially when driving into the rising or setting sun. It also becomes tedious when you have been on the road for a while so take regular breaks to stay awake and alert. Remember that you could come across an animal or end up in an uncontrollable situation at any moment. The tarred roads are in excellent conditions are very different to most other countries due to the wildlife and vastness of our country.

Speed
As distances are far and traffic is light, drivers are easily tempted to exceed the speed limit. The speed limit on tarred roads in Namibia is 120 km/h, however a speed of 100 km/h is recommended until you are familiar with the tarred roads and local traffic conditions.

3. Animals
Namibia can still be seen as a large game park and you can be assured of seeing wild as well as domestic animals on your journey through Namibia. Most of these animals traverse these roads, crossing from one grazing spot to another. Wildlife is still abundant and is largely unpredictable, so if you see animals, slow down and approach them carefully. Keep a sharp look out, slow down and enjoy the sight of animals in their surroundings, which you are definitely not used to at home. Do not swerve to avoid the animal - a lot of rollovers occur when drivers are trying to avoid animals.

Kudu
A large buck-like animal, which is very shy and is easily frightened. Its skin is of such a consistency that if your headlights shine on it, it does nor reflect and you do not easily see them. The effect of your headlights on them however is different in that the light of the vehicle blinds the Kudu and the shadow that is cast by the light frightens it and it runs unpredictably. They often turn around and run into the road as they get frightened of the shadows cast by other objects next to the road. Due to their shyness they are most prevalent at night, dawn and dusk.

Warthog
On the wild pig family of animals these smaller cousins are very prevalent in our country. Due to their small size, these animals are often hidden by the long grass on the roadside and are therefore only spotted at the last moment. This in itself is scary and can cause you to swerve and create an accident. Be constantly aware of this danger and be prepared to slow down quickly.

Guinea Fowl
These chicken like birds are often found pecking at the roadside and are easily frightened by oncoming traffic. As they are heavy birds they are not nimble and take a while to get airborne or out of the way and thus often cross the roads by flying at low altitude and often end up to hitting windscreens. Locals refer to these animals as flying bricks - so be aware.

Domestic animals
We do have the same problem with domestic animals as in other parts of the world. Their owners often let them wander unattended and they thus become hazards on the roads. Most often these include cows, sheep, goats, horses, dogs and donkeys. They are most prevalent in the rural areas where fences are poorly kept and/or totally absent. Most of these animals are accustomed to vehicles and do not move out of the way. So be alert, slow down and give them a chance to get out of your way.

4. Tyres
We wish to remind you that all tyre damage is for your account so it is up to you to ensure that the tyres you are getting are in a good condition and that you look after them while you are enjoying your holiday. The air pressure of the tyres plays the most important role in the road handling ability of your vehicle as well as the maintenance of the tyre. Please check the recommended air pressure of the tyres and the condition of the tyres regularly. You should be inspecting the following:

Tread wear - ensure that the tyre tread is running off evenly and that the tread has a profile of at least 2 mm.

Bulges and cuts - ensure that there are no bulges or cuts on the sidewalls of the tyre as these substantially weaken the structure of the tyre.

Pressure - ensure that your tyres are inflated to the recommended pressure as per the table hereunder. This is the most important thing you should check before you start driving in the morning or afternoon, even if you have just stopped for a short little rest stop. Be aware that we supply the vehicle to you with the tyres inflated for the normal weight load. (The first table is for normal conditions followed by the table for a heavily loaded vehicle.)

1.1 Recommended normal tyre pressure chart

Vehicle Tyres Size Pressure Front (kPA) Pressure Back (kPA)
VW Citi Golf 155/80 R13 200 180
Toyota Corolla 1.3 155/80 R13 190 180
Toyota Corolla 1. 175/65 R14 190 180
VW Jetta 175/80 R14 220 200
Toyota Camry 195/70 R14 200 180
Mercedes Benz 195/65 R15 210 230
Toyota Condor 185/80 R14 210 210
VW Microbus 205/65 R15 210 230
4x4 Double & Single Cab 30x9.50x15 230 230

1.2 Recommended normal tyre pressure chart if car is heavily laden

Vehicle Tyres Size Pressure Front (kPA) Pressure Back (kPA)
VW Citi Golf 155/80 R13 220 220
Toyota Corolla 1.3 155/80 R13 220 220
Toyota Corolla 1. 175/65 R14 220 220
VW Jetta 175/80 R14 240 240
Toyota Camry 195/70 R14 230 230
Mercedes Benz 195/65 R15 230 260
Toyota Condor 185/80 R14 240 260
VW Microbus 205/65 R15 230 260
4x4 Double & Single Cab 30x9.50x15 230 230

Side walls
As already mentioned, ensure that the sidewalls do not have any cuts or bulges in them. The sidewalls are the weakest part of any tyre, even through they are reinforced to strengthen them. If the tyre is under inflated, more of the sidewall is exposed to the sharp stones on the roads due to the tyre profile bulging out. It is this under inflation that causes tyre damage.

5. Vehicles
The vehicle that will be supplied to you has gone through a rigorous checking process to ensure it is in peak condition for your journey. Ensure that you at least know what fuel it uses (We use unleaded petrol, but due to an occasional shortage of unleaded petrol it is not a problem if you then fill up with leaded petrol). Ensure that you know where the vehicle's fuel filler is situated, that you are fully familiar with the controls of the vehicle and that you know where its spare tyre and tools are kept.

Off Road
Normal sedan type vehicles are not suited to off road conditions so avoid damage by keeping to the roads. Bear in mind that if damage occurs while driving a vehicle in conditions that are not suitable for the vehicle you may be held responsible for the damage so occurred. Gravel roads are suitable for sedan type vehicles, but conditions sometimes change and roads become impassable. You would normally be advised of these at the start of your journey, however, there may be roads which are impassable to your vehicle. Do not attempt to negotiate these roads, you will get stuck and damage the vehicle.

6. Theft
Although Namibia has a relatively low crime rate, tourists are often targeted, as in any part of the world, because of their inexperience or ignorance of the criminal aspects. Do not tempt passersby to steal your belongings by leaving them where they are visible, even small change can cause them to break in. Always secure your belongings by placing them in the trunk or in the cubbyhole. Always lock your vehicle, even while driving. Always keep your travel documents on your person.

SAFETY ADVICES FOR DRIVING IN NAMIBIA: MINI/MICROBUS
Our goal is your safe and trouble-free journey in our country. Please read the below tips, it has been compiled out of personal and other travellers’ experience.
1. Excessive speed is the main cause of accidents on gravel roads. It is highly advisable to keep to a speed limit of 60 - 70 km/h. Lack of concentration is the second cause, due to long driving distances and very little traffic.
2. Pay attention to road traffic signs. Particularly those that indicate a gentle or sharp turn ahead. You should reduce your speed accordingly. Please also note that not all turns are marked.
3. Switch on your headlights in dusty conditions so that other road-users can see you.
4. Reduce speed when passing oncoming traffic and keep to the left side of the road as far as safely possible but please note that due to curved shape of the road driving too far to the edge of the road can lead to overturning.
5. Tyre pressure plays an important role in the road-holding ability of your vehicle. Stick to the recommended pressures at all times. Check your tyres and tyre pressure every day. Please consult owner’s manual for a recommended tyre pressure.
6. Avoid driving at night. It is dangerous due to poor visibility and increasing game movement.
7. In rainy or wet conditions beware of slippery roads, wash-aways, and running or stagnant water. No driving in salt water.
8. Always be on the lookout for wild animals and slow down immediately when you see them. Please note that animals can be on any road in Namibia and also during the day time.
9. Keep both hands on the steering wheel at all times.
10. Not all gravel roads are the same. Please be aware of the road conditions and adjust your driving style accordingly! Please also note that many gravel roads in Namibia are of a very good quality: please do not increase your speed! A sudden turns or animals on the road (even during day time) are possible!
11. Remote control:
Please use alarm slot to deactivate alarm/immobilaser ONLY if battery in your remote control is flat.
12. Use 95 unleaded petrol only and keep the vehicle full.
13. Car is rented with a full tank, please fill up before returning.
14. Please try to avoid vehicles (especially 4WDs) overtaking you: flying stones can damage glass parts of the vehicle.
15. Please keep your vehicle locked at all times when left unattended. Steering wheel lock's usage is compulsory at all times.
Please check side sliding windows: must click when fully locked. Failing to do so may result in theft.
16. Please check oil and water of your car during your tour. If any expenses are incurred please keep all invoices for compensation. VW Microbus note: oil usage is normal (see user’s manual) and a regular oil check is compulsory. Oil expenses are on Elena Travel Services’ account.
Please note that the vehicle must be on a level spot during the check.
PLEASE CHECK THAT PETROL STATIONS ATTENDANTS DO NOT ADD OIL ABOVE “MAX” LEVEL, IT CAN RESULT IN DAMAGE TO THE ENGINE. NORMAL OIL LEVEL MUST BE BETWEEN “MAX” AND “MIN” LEVELS. RENTER WILL BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ENGINE’S DAMAGES IN THIS CASE.
17. Your are supplied with two spare tyres, please keep both in working condition: most petrol stations in Namibia provide repair services. If no extra tyre insurance is taken please buy a new tyre (s) of the same size and preferably of the same make. In case of price disputes an official quotation from authorized tyre dealer in Windhoek is the source of the final settlement price.
18. If an extra tyre insurance is taken please try to avoid buying a new tyre (s) outside of Windhoek if possible due to higher prices. If any expenses are incurred please keep all invoices for compensation.
19. Please do not drive to prohibited areas and/or on unsuitable for sedan vehicle roads: corrugated roads, farm roads, roads with washed-up stones. In all cases please reduces speed accordingly.
20. Please do not leave your vehicle unattended but create a local employment by using services of car guards.
21. Do not carry any cash or valuables with you. Use a safe of your accommodation establishment. If it is necessary rather use a money belt concealed underneath your clothes.
22. Do not leave your valuables in your car where it can be visible (on your seat, dashboard, etc.). Leave it in your hotel or put it out of sight (under your seat, etc.).
23. Please remember that there are no crime - free countries and Namibia, although safe in general, is no exception. Usual precautions should be taken.
24. If accident/breakdown happened on a road without a cellular connection and with a little or no traffic:
Most of the central and southern Namibia's areas are a private farm land: if a fence can be seen along the road (normally everywhere outside of National parks) the area behind it is a private farm/reserve. Try to locate a farmhouse (large trees) and ask for a telephone call. Please let us know where you are and what happened.
25. All accidents/brake-ins must be reported to police. A case number should be taken. Failing to do so will result in all insurances voided.
26. Please consult owner’s manual for jack positioning if tyres must be changed. Please always engage a hand brake.
27. Due to higher gravity center of minibus/microbus vehicle a chance of overturning increase. Please immediately reduce speed of the vehicle of you feel that car is becoming unstable due to increased speed and/or road conditions (especially on sandy roads).
28. In case of accident/damage to the vehicle an official quotation from authorized repair specialist (s) (mechanic, panel beater, glass/tyre dealer) in Windhoek is the source of the final settlement price.
29. All damages and/or missing items must be reported at least 3 working days before the end of the rental period. Failing to do so a decision of Elena Travel Services’ management on costs of repairs/replacement of damages and/or damaged/missed equipment is final and undisputable.
30. Failing to produce expenses’ VAT (Value Added Tax) invoices will result in no compensation.
31. Costs of damages not reported will still be debited to the renter’s credit card even after the end of rental period.
32. All repairs must be confirmed with lessee first.


SAFETY ADVICES FOR DRIVING IN NAMIBIA: SEDAN VEHICLE
Our goal is your safe and trouble-free journey in our country. Please read the below tips, it has been compiled out of personal and other travellers’ experience.
1. Excessive speed is the main cause of accidents on gravel roads. It is highly advisable to keep to a speed limit of 60 - 70 km/h. Lack of concentration is the second cause, due to long driving distances and very little traffic.
2. Pay attention to road traffic signs. Particularly those that indicate a gentle or sharp turn ahead. You should reduce your speed accordingly. Please also note that not all turns are marked.
3. Switch on your headlights in dusty conditions so that other road-users can see you.
4. Reduce speed when passing oncoming traffic and keep to the left side of the road as far as safely possible but please note that due to curved shape of the road driving too far to the edge of the road can lead to overturning.
5. Tyre pressure plays an important role in the road-holding ability of your vehicle. Stick to the recommended pressures at all times. Check your tyres and tyre pressure every day. Please consult owner’s manual for a recommended tyre pressure.
6. Avoid driving at night. It is dangerous due to poor visibility and increasing game movement.
7. In rainy or wet conditions beware of slippery roads, wash-aways, and running or stagnant water. No driving in salt water.
8. Always be on the lookout for wild animals and slow down immediately when you see them. . Please note that animals can be on any road in Namibia and also during the day time.
9. Keep both hands on the steering wheel at all times.
10. Not all gravel roads are the same. Please be aware of the road conditions and adjust your driving style accordingly!
Please also note that many gravel roads in Namibia are of a very good quality: please do not increase your speed! A sudden turns or animals on the road (even during day time) are possible!
11. Boot lock can be difficult to open during driving on gravel roads. Please press from top before opening with a key.
12. Use 95 unleaded petrol only and keep the vehicle full.
13. Car is rented with a full tank, please fill up before returning.
14. Please try to avoid vehicles (especially 4WDs) overtaking you: flying stones can damage glass parts of the vehicle.
15. Please keep your vehicle locked at all times when left unattended. Steering wheel lock's usage is compulsory at all times.
16. Please check oil and water of your car during your tour. If any expenses are incurred please keep all invoices for compensation. Oil expenses are on Elena Travel Services’ account.
Please note that the vehicle must be on a level spot during the check.
PLEASE CHECK THAT PETROL STATIONS ATTENDANTS DO NOT ADD OIL ABOVE “MAX” LEVEL, IT CAN RESULT IN DAMAGE TO THE ENGINE. NORMAL OIL LEVEL MUST BE BETWEEN “MAX” AND “MIN” LEVELS. RENTER WILL BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ENGINE’S DAMAGES IN THIS CASE.
17. Your are supplied with two spare tyres, please keep both in working condition: most petrol stations in Namibia provide repair services. If no extra tyre insurance is taken please buy a new tyre (s) of the same size and preferably of the same make. In case of price disputes an official quotation from authorized tyre dealer in Windhoek is the source of the final settlement price.
18. If an extra tyre insurance is taken please try to avoid buying a new tyre (s) outside of Windhoek if possible due to higher prices. If any expenses are incurred please keep all invoices for compensation.
19. Please do not drive to prohibited areas and/or on unsuitable for sedan vehicle roads: corrugated roads, farm roads, roads with washed-up stones. In all cases please reduces speed accordingly.
20. Please do not leave your vehicle unattended but create a local employment by using services of car guards.
21. Do not carry any cash or valuables with you. Use a safe of your accommodation establishment. If it is necessary rather use a money belt concealed underneath your clothes.
22. Do not leave your valuables in your car where it can be visible (on your seat, dashboard, etc.). Leave it in your hotel or put it out of sight (under your seat, etc.).
23. Please remember that there are no crime - free countries and Namibia, although safe in general, is no exception. Usual precautions should be taken.
24. If accident/breakdown happened on a road without a cellular connection and with a little or no traffic:
Most of the central and southern Namibia's areas are a private farm land: if a fence can be seen along the road (normally everywhere outside of National parks) the area behind it is a private farm/reserve. Try to locate a farmhouse (large trees) and ask for a telephone call. Please let us know where you are and what happened.
25. All accidents/brake-ins must be reported to police. A case number should be taken. Failing to do so will result in all insurances voided.
26. Please consult owner’s manual for jack positioning if tyres must be changed. Please always engage a hand brake.
27. In case of accident/damage to the vehicle an official quotation from authorized repair specialist (s) (mechanic, panel beater, glass/tyre dealer) in Windhoek is the source of the final settlement price.
28. All damages and/or missing items must be reported at least 3 working days before the end of the rental period. Failing to do so a decision of Elena Travel Services’ management on costs of repairs/replacement of damages and/or damaged/missed equipment is final and undisputable.
29. Failing to produce expenses’ VAT (Value Added Tax) invoices will result in no compensation.
30. Costs of damages not reported will still be debited to the renter’s credit card even after the end of rental period.
31. All repairs must be confirmed with Elena Travel Services & Car Hire CC first.
We wish you a safe and memorable journey in Namibia!

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