For Namibia and Botswana we always recommend a 4WD vehicle for safety and comfort. Self-drive in Namibia is easy. Even better when travelling in a sturdy 4x4 vehicle with better traction. For South Africa a 2WD sedan is adequate.
A 4WD SUV is the most comfortable way to travel around Namibia and Botswana.
Namibia is known for its natural beauty and picturesque landscapes, with so many opportunities to explore this beautiful country. Any good adventure begins with proper planning, and your choice of vehicle is paramount in this instance.
In Namibia it doesn't take long before you're off the paved (tarred) roads and onto the well-graded gravel roads that criss-cross this massive area. While you can get to all the major highlights of Namibia in a 2WD drive sedan, the journey is so much more enjoyable in a sturdy vehicle. It's also safer as you can engage four-wheel drive on the gravel roads to ensure maximum traction. In Botswana, most of the attractions are inaccessible to all but the most experienced off-road drivers.
And seeing as you'll spend many an hour on these gravel roads during your self-drive tour (see driving distances and times here) it makes sense to do it in comfort and safety.
Although most gravel roads in Namibia are in good condition, the gravel can put added stress on the tyres of a smaller vehicle - you will travel more reliably with the stronger tyres on a 4x4.
If you visit Namibia during the rainy season (December to March), when roads can quickly deteriorate, a 4WD provides you with better traction, stability and ground clearance. The road surfaces can become extremely slippery in areas, and even the tarred roads can be prone to flooding.
On gravel roads, be on the lookout for potholes and large rocks and stones - drive slowly and carefully so that you don't have to brake suddenly, or swerve to avoid things, which can cause your vehicle to veer or spin dangerously. Also, keep a safe distance from any vehicles in front of you to stay clear of stones being thrown up by their tyres.
Keep a firm grip on the steering wheel when driving on sand roads, and in dusty conditions it is advisable to drive with your headlights on. You should also deflate your tyres, giving you a larger surface of contact between the vehicle and the sand. If you get stuck in sand, stop your vehicle immediately, and clear the sand from in-front of and behind the wheels. Place rocks or sticks under the wheels if possible, engage four-wheel drive and proceed slowly.
And of course, always be on the lookout for animals wandering onto the roads.
Namibia's mountain passes are beautifully scenic, but are also steep and rocky, and definitely require a 4x4 vehicle. Some of the other Namibian highlights which can only be reached by 4x4 are:
A powerful 4x4 vehicle gives you the freedom and opportunity to explore some of the more remote areas of Namibia, opening up yet more beautiful and scenic attractions to travellers and adventurers. Namibia also offers a number of off-road 4x4 trails, which are veritable playgrounds for the 4x4 enthusiast. Some worth mentioning are:
There are many adventures to be had in Namibia, and even if you are not a 4x4 enthusiast, this is still the safest way to travel through the country.