Self-Drive or Public Transport?

I often get asked the question; can you arrange for public transport? The answer is a resounding ‘No’. But why?

It is a known fact that Namibia has the unsafest roads in the world – per capita that is. Most of these accidents involve Namibia’s biggest source of public transport – Taxis. These are not the Yellow Taxis of New York or the stately cabs of London. These are 16 and 32 seater buses traveling up and down between the north of Namibia and Windhoek and between Windhoek and the coast. These Taxi Buses are often carrying more people than the law allows and are sadly more often than not, not road worthy.

So why are they still allowed on the road? Well, that is a debate for a whole different Blog, but mostly because if you take the Taxis off the road, thousands of people will be stranded. Buses and Trains take too long, though infinitely safer, and planes are too expensive.

Would I take a Taxi? No. Not only do you entrust your life to a driver that may or may not have driver’s license, chances are you will have to share your seat with 2 other people also trying to get to the next stop.

But doesn’t a self-driver use the same roads and are therefor also then unsafe?

Yes and no. By driving your own vehicle, you get to decide what time of the day you want to travel. Early mornings are usually the quietest. Also, self-drivers touring the country will mostly drive the back roads of Namibia – the more scenic gravel roads. These roads do not carry high volumes of traffic and you will be much safer on them. When you do have to drive the B1, alertness is key. And try, if at all possible, to be off the main roads during rush hour (7 – 8am and 16 – 18pm and Sundays). Driving after dark is also not save. Not because of people, but because of the prolific wild life in Namibia.

Considering all of the above, Namibia is a fantastic country to self-drive as long as one remains on the back roads and only use the B1 when absolutely necessary.

Safe drive!

Do I need a 4×4?

We do not have a 4×4? Will we be able to reach you?

This is a simple question with a complex answer.

The straightforward answer is that you do not need a 4×4 to travel the main roads in Namibia. These include the maintained C and D-roads. If you plan to travel deep into Kaokoland (Purros, Marienfluss), then you obviously need not only a 4×4 but also 4×4 skills and experience as these roads are not for beginners. But if you plan on driving to the tourist destinations like Sossusvlei, Swakopmund, Etosha National Park and hopefully Epupa, then technically no. These are all gravel roads that are mostly well-mantained and do not require 4×4.

However, we still recommend a high-clearance vehicle or an SUV. Why? Well firstly, I am a woman and to any other woman out there – it is NOT comfortable to drive in a small car for 300km on a badly corrugated gravel road. Besides comfort, there is also the very technical truth that few people will tell you. A car with smaller tyres will get flats much more often than not. And… after one flat, you might need to buy new tyres… and these small towns charge exorbitant fees for tyres.

So basically the question boils down to this – do you want to save money by renting a small vehicle and pray for 14 days that your wife doesn’t ask for a divorce by the end of the trip (or that you have to change 4 tyres in 3 days and buying a whole new set for the rental company) or do you rather pay the extra bit for a SUV or 4×4 (if you really want to show off), and travel comfortably with no or little hassle and a wife that smiles every time you give her THE look?

The answer is simple lads…

Current Road Conditions

Though Namibia did not receive the strong winds of cyclone Dineo, we did receive plenty of rain over the weekend. The photos below were taken on a farm close to Kalkveld and shows that plenty of rivers, big or small, have come down. Worried about your trip? Well, most rivers, like the one below, are what we call “flash floods” and are down within the hour. Be save at all times and first walk through the river. If you cannot / won’t walk through – don’t drive through – wait it out. The road between Opuwo and Epupa is still in a very good condition while we do not recommend driving the D3700 between Epupa and Ruacana. Any queries – please fee free to contact us at bookings@epupafallslodge.com

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