Customs in Namibia
Don’t worry be happy ! Do not be rude at any time with people you meet and talk to, you are in Africa, conditions are always more difficult than in your home country and locals will always do the best for you to have an unforgettable trip but this will often take time.
Many people survive on tips. Please tip car guards and fuel attendants more or less 5 NAD. In restaurants it is expected to tip 10% to 15% of the total bill.
Interacting with locals
In Namibia greetings are very important. It is expected to say hello to every person you meet and ask them how they are, and in turn let them know how you are too. Even if you are in a hurry you should start every conversation in this way or it will be considered very rude.
Please do not take photos of local people before getting permission first. Always ask yourself ‘would I do this in my home country with locals?’. It is not authorized to take photos of any police officials or government buildings.
Namibians are very friendly, do not hesitate to ask people for help if you need it.
In some towns such as Swakopmund, Walvis Bay and Opuwo, some people may try to sell you souvenirs. If you are interested, please feel free to negotiate the price with them while keeping it fair. If you are not interested, please just be firm and walk away but do not become aggressive.
Behaving correctly around animals
Please do not feed any animals anywhere. Food that is not part of their normal diet may make them ill and if they associate humans with a source of food they may become aggressive. The animal will then be considered a threat to humans and will be put down. Please do not contribute to the death of our local wildlife!
Do not get too close to any wild animals. Do not drive too close to elephants and black rhinos! Do not get too close to wild antelopes, even if they walk into your lodge or around your room. They can still be dangerous even if habituated to humans. Remember that many wild animals may have diseases.
National Park Rules
No drones are allowed in National Parks.
You must always pay for park fees. If you go off the main road in the Namib-Naukluft Park you must have a valid permit. This can be bought at Sesriem or Swakopmund.
You must remain inside your vehicle at all times in Etosha National Park. This means no getting out of your vehicle, no sitting on the window ledge, no leaning out the window and no sitting on the roof of your vehicle. Your car doors must always remain closed. The only areas where you may leave your car are the camps and the Etosha pan lookout.
The maximum speed limits in national parks is 60 km/h but may be less in some areas. Please pay attention to road signs and adhere to the rules.
Namibia is a safe country. But so are many countries in Europe and probably your home country, yet you would not leave your car unlocked or valuables in plain sight at home and we ask that you apply the same logic here.
When in large towns carry your bag diagonally across your body.
Park in well lit areas where there is a car/security guard.
Avoid taking short cuts through deserted areas at night.
Do not leave valuables in sight in your car, especially on the back seats of the car. Please take these valuables with you or enclose them in the back of the pick-up.
Always lock your car.
Check your car is locked after pressing on the button on your keys.
Do not get distracted at ATMs and do not accept help from anyone at ATMs.
If someone tries to stop you while you are driving to say they are lost or that you have a problem with your vehicle; Do not stop. Drive to the nearest town and stop and check your car there.
If you are going on a long hike, especially if it is hot, let the reception of your lodge or campsite know where you are going and when you will be back.
Communicating with Namibia Destinations
EMERGENCY NUMBER – 00264-812364980
Please call us on this number if you have any problems. We want all our clients to have the best holiday possible and we will assist you in the event of any problems. However, we can only do so if we are told of the problem.
Before doing any work or modifications to the car or equipment please contact us first.
If you need to go to a garage and have any work done on the car, please call us first and we will tell you where to go. Once any work has been done on the car please make sure that the garage writes out the invoice under the name NAMIBIA DESTINATIONS TOURS AND SAFARIS so that we may reimburse you if necessary.
If you do not think that your message is very urgent, you can simply send us a SMS.
Namibia Destinations does not call foreign numbers. Please keep the cell phone, that we provided you with, on and fully charged, at all times. We will contact you on this number.
To recharge this cell phone you can purchase airtime and data at almost any fuel station and supermarket. Just ask for airtime for MTC. The voucher you will be given will have all the instructions on it to recharge your phone. If you have any problems just ask the person behind the counter and they will assist you. This cell phone is for you to use as much as you would like during your stay in Namibia.
All vehicles must be returned to Namibia Destinations before 16h from Monday to Friday and before 15h on weekends.
Safe driving guidelines
IMPORTANT SPEED LIMITS
120 km/h on Tar roads, although we recommend no more than 100 km/h
80 km/h on Gravel roads.
Please abide by the following rules and safety guideline while on the road:
Please check Oil level, water level and tyre pressure every day – normal pressure should be 1.8KPA. Please also check for cuts in the wheel’s side walls.
Drive on the left side of the road – Driver always closest to the middle of the road.
Keep your lights on at all times (so you can be seen due to the dust).
Always drive closest to the middle of the road instead of the shoulder of the road.
In traffic circles/ roundabouts, vehicles from your right have the right of way.
When crossing a road as a pedestrian check the traffic on your right hand side.
Park in well-lit or guarded areas at night. Support identified car guards who, for a small reward, will keep an eye on your car.
Never leave any valuables in plain sight.
Never pick up strangers or hitchhikers
As distances between towns are considerable, make sure that you don’t run out of fuel and drinking water. Refuel when you can, please note that cash is required for fuel and credit cards are not generally accepted (note that many fuel stations have ATM’s but do not rely on this)
Smoking is not authorized in our vehicles. If you smoke in our vehicles you will receive a fine.
Please do not throw cigarette butts in nature. Burning cigarettes could cause bush fires, which destroy valuable grazing land and hurt our wildlife. Non burning cigarette butts litter our precious land and take years to disintegrate. Please treat our country with respect
Plan your itinerary so that there is no need to rush. Driving on gravel roads can be unpredictable and the major cause of accidents is excessive speed. Do not exceed 80 km per hour on gravel roads!
Do not rely 100% on the GPS if you have booked one, use your map and plan your route the night before, for the next day.
Do not drive at night (nor dawn and dusk) because there is a real danger of stray animals crossing the road. (Arriving at Sesriem for sunrise is an exception but please drive slowly with great caution).
In the case of a tyre burst, DO NOT HIT THE BREAKS, just take your foot of the accelerator and keep the vehicle in a straight line till it gets to a halt, then change the tyre.
It is the customer’s responsibility to check the oil, brake fluid, water and tyre pressure AND TENTS every morning, before departing. Mechanical breakdown due to negligence will be for the customer’s account. (while you drive always keep an eye on your warning lights and temperature gauge)
If you hit an animal make sure there is no water or oil leak before you continue with your journey, also inform Namibia Destinations as soon as is practically possible.
Don’t stop in the middle of the road, park alongside it.
DO NOT over or under inflate the tyres; the customer will pay for any damages whatsoever caused due to over or under inflated tyres – Always keep tyres inflated as per specification stated on the vehicle.
Conditions in Africa can be tough on the vehicles, always check your vehicle when you stop, make sure there are no leaks and roof tents are still fixed properly. Nuts and bolts can become loose due to constant vibrations on bad gravel roads, please keep an eye on them. Should you notice anything, call our emergency number immediately.
If you are not going to arrive at your lodge by 17h then please contact your accommodation to let them know.
Never leave the vehicle keys inside the vehicles, the vehicle will lock automatically after a few minutes. To prevent this you can keep the keys in the ignition
Most of our cars have 2 fuel tanks. When filling the car please make sure that the fuel is put in slowly so that it has the time to go from one tank to the next and there are no air pockets. The car may need to be shaken a bit to help this process. Once the tanks are fill, the indicator will remain at the top, showing ‘full’ until the first tank has been emptied. Only once you reach the second tank will the indicator start to go down. At this point, you will already have one empty tank that can be refilled.
If you are stopped by the police, please stay calm and patient. The authorities in Namibia work at a slow pace. Do not become impatient or aggressive. A smile goes a long way. The police may ask you for your driver’s license and your rental contract that we provide you with. If the police ask you for any other documents then please contact the emergency number.
There is a veterinary line that divides Namibia in to a north and south section. The north has animals that are not contained in farms and more diseases are present in the north. You may not travel from north to south across this line with any meat or dairy products. This line can be found on the following roads:
– C43 at Palmwag
– C35 north of Hobatere
– All exits of Etosha National Park
– B8 between Grootfontein and Rundu
Please pay attention to your speed at all times. If you feel you are driving too fast and the car seems to skid on the gravel road, slow down. 80km/h is the maximum speed at which you may drive. If the road is in a very bad condition, you must adapt your speed for your own security. Adapt your speed to roads that go up and down mountains or around sharp corners. Many roads roll up and down valleys and river beds – keep your speed low so as not to be surprised by a change in the road.
Inside Etosha national park, do not hang out the windows of the vehicle! do not climb out of the vehicle inside park.
All vehicles are backed up by a 24-hour breakdown and assistance service in Namibia. In case of a mechanical breakdown Namibia Destinations tours and safaris will assist you within a maximum time of 24 hours directly or through a local workshop.
AREAS WHERE TECHNICAL BACKUP CANNOT NECESSARILY BE GUARANTEED WITHIN 24 HOURS (DUE TO TERRAIN CONDITIONS):
Namibia: Kaokoland & Bushmanland (HEAVY ROCKY OR HEAVY SANDY-TERRAIN) will be driven at clients own responsibility. Backup or breakdown service including any damages will be on the clients own account)
Botswana: Back up will be provided through local Garages appointed by us for quick assistance, this help may be limited. NTS will then assist from Windhoek per mechanic and/or exchange car. This can take more then 24 hours depending on the location where the car broke down. All Cost or Expenses incurring due to negligent driving /miss use of the car or excessive wear and Tear as well as recklessness will be on the renters account. All Tow in Cost will be on the Renters Account. Botswana National Parks and surrounding areas (e.g. Chobe NP, Moremi NP, Central Kalahari NP, Kgaligadi NP, Nxai Pan NP,Madgadikdagi NP, Khutse GR, etc) will be entered on complete own responsibility.
Zambia: Complete (Driven at clients own responsibility. Backup including any damages will be on the clients own account)
Zimbabwe: Complete (Driven at clients own responsibility. Backup including any damages will be on the clients own account)
Malawi: Complete (Driven at clients own responsibility. Backup including any damages will be on the clients own account)
Dune Driving – (Namib Desert, Lüderitz-Walvis Bay, Skeleton Coast) is strictly not allowed.
Driving the Van Zyl‘s Pass or Namib Naukluft 4×4 Trail is strictly prohibited.
When going over country borders:
You will first have to go through immigration of the country you are currently in then go through the immigration of the country you are entering. In both cases you will need to present the vehicle paperwork that Namibia Destinations will have provided you with.
To enter Botswana: You will need to tell immigration who is the driver give the car information as on the documents we provided you. You will also need to pay the road tax. This tax can be paid in Pula or preferably South African Rand. Namibian Dollars are generally not accepted. Make sure you ask for the Gate Pass.
To enter Zimbabwe from Botswana: Go to the left side of the building to first do the paperwork for the car, then move to the right hand side part of the building to do your own visa. On average this process will take two hours but may be longer during high season. All payments can only be done in USD.
Please follow these rules when engaging in Four Wheel Drive
Never use 4×4 on the tar road
Never drive above 60 km/h in high range because it will damage the gearbox.
Never drive above 30 km/h in low range because it will damage the gearbox.
Always bring the car to a complete stop before engaging or disengaging 4×4.
When disengaging 4×4, if 4×4 light/indicator does not turn off, reverse just a few metres then go forwards once more. Light should turn off.
When driving to deadvlei, stop at the 2×4 car park. Deflate the tyres to 1.2kpa (1.4 for the Ford Rangers). Put the car into low range using the procedures explained at Namibia Destinations’s office.
When you leave Sossusvlei, remember to stop at the 2×4 car park and put the car back into 2×4. Also remember to re-inflate the tyres.
If you are stuck in sand, never spin the wheels. Do not burn out the clutch. Stop, deflate the tyres, use your spade to dig out the tyres then reverse in low range. If other people are nearby ask for help. Should you still get stuck, do not spin the wheels, rather lower your tyre pressures to 0.8KPA and use your shovel to dig tracks, then try again, if you are still stuck call Namibia Destinations for help. If you get stuck at Sossusvlei, just wait for a shuttle or guide to come pass and ask them for help and they will get you out.
Never drive in the dunes of the Namib Desert
Never drive in the dunes along the coast.
Never drive on the Walvis Bay peninsula.
All roads west of Purros and Opuwo are out of bounds.
The 4×4 roads east of Camp Aussicht and west of Etosha are out of bounds.
For extra security you can put the car into high range 4×4 when driving on the Spreethoogte pass, Kuiseb Canyon and Gaub pass.
Fuel and Double Tank System
At fueling stations in Namibia, some-one else does all the work for you although you must make sure the petrol attendant uses the correct fuel for your engine!
The attendant will also happily wash your windows, check your oil & water and inflate your tires. Generally, it is considered good etiquette to tip the attendant before leaving the petrol station.
The network of service stations is very good with most small towns having at least one. Petrol stations will generally have a shop attached.
Please note: Generally, fuel can be paid in cash only!
All the 4×4 Vehicles have to be fuelled with preferably 50ppm Diesel.
All our vehicles have a Double Tank System.
Since you don’t refuel, your vehicle yourself you will have to mention to the Attendant that the vehicle you are travelling with has a Double Tank System.
The fuel tanks are joined and fuelled into the existing (only one) filler pipe.
Once the main tank is full, fuel will start filling the second tank.
The fuel gauge only shows the amount of fuel that is in the main tank.
When both tanks are filled the gauge will show full, until the second tank is empty. Only then the needle on the fuel gauge will start moving towards empty.
Main Tank = 75L / Second Tank = 40 L
Useful stopping points
Bottled water can nearly always be found at fuel stations. You should always travel with plenty of fuel and water. If you are camping make sure you always have wood too.
The towns and fuel stations can be few and far between so plan your trip and stops accordingly.
Main towns to do food shopping:
Small towns to do food shopping – These towns have small supermarkets in which you can find the basics.
Solitaire (very small selection of dried foods)
IMPORTANT: Most fuel stations only accept Cash. An ATM may not be present so please make sure you always travel with enough cash to fill your fuel tank.
The map we provide you with has most fuel stations indicated on it.
Please note that not all fuel stations are always reliable and we suggest that you do not count on those in the list below to fill up. Make sure you always have enough fuel to get to not just the next town, but the one after that.
Unreliable filling stations:
All Etosha camps
Major filling stations:
Windhoek, Swakopmund, Walvis Bay, Rehoboth, Keetmanshoop, Katima Mulilo, Otjiwarongo, Outjo, Opuwo, Canyon Roadhouse, Luderitz, Solitaire, Oshakati, Okahandja, Gobabis, Rundu, Katima Mulilo
Please note that there is no filling station between Kamanjab and Opuwo aswell as in the western section of Etosha
Please make sure you have a full tank when entering into: the Caprivi strip, Etosha, Palmwag
You can change foreign currencies to NAD in Windhoek, Walvis Bay and Swakopmund. Most banks and foreign exchange bureau are closed Saturday afternoons and all day Sundays (and public holidays).
ATMs can be found in all large towns. ATMs are difficult to find in Damaraland and the Caprivi strip. There are no ATMs in Etosha.
We suggest you get enough cash from ATMs and / or foreign exchange at Windhoek and Swakopmund to last your trip.
Before going to any garage please contact Namibia Destinations so that we can tell you which is our preferred garage to work with. Not all garages will charge the same price for a tyre or manual work. Garages can be found in even small towns or villages so even if you think you are far from a garage when you have a problem, please call us and we will let you know where the nearest garage is.
Using the Equipment
All of our GPSs are preloaded with Tracks 4 Africa which has very detailed maps of Namibia and the surrounding countries. Using them is very simple.
1. Press on the Magnifying glass Where to?
2. Type directly into the search bar the name of your lodge or campsite.
3. Press on the small magnifying glass so that the GPS searches for it
4. Press on the appropriate place found. Press Go! The GPS will calculate the route. You should be placed outdoors for it to do so. Often you will see several points for the same lodge, for eg. The reception, the lodge, the campsite. Any of these will be correct and once you arrive at the lodge you can follow the signs to go to the appropriate area of your accommodation.
Do not search for your destination by using the ‘address’ tab, this rarely works for remote destinations.
The GPS can be put into several languages, as can the keyboard, by going into settings -> Language and Keyboard.
We suggest that on your first night in Namibia you search for all the places you will be staying at, that way they will all be in your recent searches and easy to find throughout your tour.
Every evening you should calculate your route for the next day so as to know how many kms you must drive and when you should leave your accommodation.
Calculate the time you will be driving by using an average of 60km/h (divide total amount of kms by 60 to get the amount of hours you will be driving). Always add extra time for lunch, breaks and stops for photos.
Always compare the route suggested by the GPS to the route you have planned on your map.
For the most accurate route, plan ahead with your map, then use your GPS to get to each break point / next town, rather than the final destination.
Looking after your camping equipment
All of the camping equipment is used a lot and is an expensive asset of your tour. Please take care of this equipment as if it was your own. Everything should be placed in a box or compartment so that it does not move around in the back of the vehicle. When leaving your campsite please make sure that you still have all of your camping equipment and nothing is left behind. Remember that none of our insurance packages cover your camping equipment so if anything is broken or missing upon your return you were be liable for all costs.
Turn your telephone on, unfold the antenna if necessary and point upwards. Wait for the phone to find satellites, hold the phone up high in an open area, this may take a few minutes. Dial the number you wish to call and remember to add 00264 at the beginning of the number. All our phones are preloaded with enough call time for you to make emergency calls.
Do not leave your fridge running on the 12V connection on car battery for more than 2 hours. When you are driving put the fridge on a colder temperature, that can then be raised when you a stop. Use the 220V connection whenever it is possible. If necessary, use ice to keep your fridge cold when you have no electricity source. Make sure that the vents of your refrigerator are well ventilated or this may cause damage to the refrigerator.
The cell phone provided is very simple to use. Follow the instructions on the screen to unlock the keypad. Dial in number to be called. Namibia Destinations’s emergency number is pre-programmed into the Contacts list. Please keep this phone fully charged and switched on at all times. The charger is a standard micro USB, the same as the charger for the Satellite phone provided.
1. The tyre pressure of all tyres should be checked every day when the tyres are “cold” (early morning before taking the road). The car should be parked on an even surface.
2. Remove the tyre valve cap and store it so you do not lose it.
3. Check that the pressure gauge is displaying a zero reading. If not, press the side button to release the air.
4. Press firmly the pressure gauge to the valve stem enough so the hiss sound disappears, and your gauge provides a steady reading.
5. The “cold pressure” for your vehicle should be 1.8.
6. Remember to press the side valve to release the pressure before taking a new reading.
7. After checking the tyre pressure, remember to replace the pressure gauge in its protection and replace the valve cap on the tyres.
1. Connect the compressor tube to the compressor as demonstrated at the Namibia Destinations office.
2. Plug the compressor to the 12V socket (car “cigarette lighter”) or straight on to the battery if equipped with clamp pincers (red on positive pole / black on negative pole).
3. Start the engine.
4. Screw the air compressor output tube to the tyre valve.
5. Turn on the compressor using the on/off switch and wait for the air to be pumped in.
6. Turn off the compressor and unscrew the output tube.
7. Check the tyre pressure using the pressure gauge provided.
If the pressure is too low, repeat from step 4 to 7.
If the pressure is too high, use a pointy object (such as the car key) to push the inner of the tyre valve and release the air.
8. Once all the tyres are at the required pressure, turn off the engine, unplug the compressor and store it in its box after you disassemble the tube from it.
Changing a wheel
1. Ensure that the car is park out of the road on an even surface and in a visible area.
2. Pull the handbrake.
If the front of the car is facing upwards, put the first gear.
If the front of the car is facing downwards, put the reverse gear.
3. Wear the yellow jacket and put the warning triangles in front and behind the vehicle. Everybody needs to leave the vehicle.
4. Release the spare tyre, take the jack and the wheel spanner from the car.
5. Place a big rock in front of and behind of the opposite tyre to the one needed to be changed.
6. Unscrew partially the wheel nuts using the wheel spanner until you can do it easily. Do not completely remove the nuts yet.
7. Place the jack under the jacking point of the wheel that you need to change. A wooden plank is provided if you need the jack to be on a more even/harder surface.
8. Use the jack to raise the vehicle off the ground.
o If using a hydraulic jack:
• Turn the valve to its closed position.
• Raise the upper disc of the jack by turning it anti-clockwise until it touches the car body.
• Assemble the handle by combining the two poles.
• Using the handle, pump the jack to raise the vehicle to the desired height.
o If using a mechanical jack:
• Turn the screw until the upper part of the jack touches the car body.
• Assemble the handle by combining the two poles.
• Hook the jack with the handle. Put the other end inside the hole in the wheel spanner.
• Use the wheel spanner as a handle to raise the vehicle to the desired height (turn clockwise).
While using the jack, and until the car has all four wheels touching the ground, no part of your body should be under the vehicle. Check that the jack is in a stable position before removing the damaged tyre.
9. Remove completely the wheel nuts and store them away from dust/dirt.
10. Remove the damaged tyre and replace it by the spare wheel.
If the new tyre does not fit due to lack of space, then deflate the spare tyre before placing it. Remember to put it back to the right pressure, using the air compressor, before starting to drive. In case it is still not enough, you can use the spade provided to dig under the wheel.
11. Screw the nuts back into place.
12. Use the jack to lower the vehicle.
o If using a hydraulic jack:
• Turn the valve to its open position using the handle. The vehicle will lower itself.
• Remove the jack. If you have difficulty to do so, turn the upper disc in a clockwise direction to lower it and free some space.
• Turn the upper disc clockwise to put it back to it lower position. Push on the cylinder to lower it.
• Turn the valve back to its closed position and dissemble the handle before storing the jack.
o If using a mechanical jack:
• Lower the vehicle using the wheel spanner and the handle (turn anti-clockwise).
• Remove the jack and dissemble the handle before storing those tools.
13. Tighten the nuts. Do not stand on the wheel spanner or use your feet to do so.
14. Store the jack, wooden plank, wheel spanner, old wheel and warning triangles back in the car.
15. Remember to remove the stones blocking the tyres and to check the pressure of the new tyre before driving off.
16. Contact Namibia Destinations.
Need to know information concerning campsites
The following campsites do not have electricity:
NamibRand Family Hideout
In the case of no electricity we suggest you buy some ice in advance and fill your fridge with ice (in a sealed plastic bag so it does not melt directly in the fridge around your food). The fridge will still keep your food cold and the next day as you drive the fridge will be back on.
Some campsites do not allow access to the main lodge such as Mowani and Erindi. Ask upon arrival at your campsite if you can have access to the lodge’s restaurant, bar, pool etc.
Many campsites are not fenced, please be aware of the presence of dangerous animals, from elephants to insects and reptiles.
Please leave your campsites completely clean and cleared.
Please use water sparingly.
Please respect other campers and keep noise levels low.
Only make fires in designated areas.
Restaurants recommended by Namibia Destinations
Windhoek: Joe’s Beerhouse, Stellenbosch, Sumi, NICE, The Social
Walvis Bay: The Raft, Anchor’s @ The Jetty
Swakopmund: Ocean Cellar, They Jetty 1905, Brewer’s and Butchers, The Tug, Cosmopolitan, The Wreck
Cafés on the main tourist route that are great stops for Lunch
Windhoek: Klara’s Market, The Craft café
Uis: Cactus & Coffee
When travelling between the coast and Sesriem: Rostock Ritz
Solitaire : Solitaire restaurant and bakery
Swakopmund : Village Café
Kamanjab: Oppi Koppi
Otjiwarongo: Casa Forno
Important Phone Numbers
Namibia Destinations Emergency Number – 00264-812364980
Police – 10111
Fire – 211111
Ambulance – 211111 or 112 (from a mobile/cell phone)
Namibian Tourist Protection Unit (24hrs) – 10 111 & 00264-612092002
In case of emergencies you can call 112 from a mobile phone and you will be connected to the appropriate service.
UK – 00264-61274800
Germany – 00264-61273100
France – 00264-61276700
Switzerland – 00264-61223853
You can contact your lodges by dialing the phone number indicated on your voucher for that lodge.