Namibia: the best road trip country in the world. Is it possible without a car?

I have seen this question posted so many times, can I travel Namibia without a car? Namibia is the best road trip country in the world. It is one of the safest countries in Africa. The country has an amazing road infrastructure, both asphalt and gravel, which is easy to drive and navigate. It has thousands of kilometres of ever changing diverse landscapes worthy of exploration.

In addition, road tripping offers  the excitement of hiring a big 4×4 truck, the exhilaration of hitting the open road into the unknown and offers the delight of discovering new places and people. There is, in my opinion, no better way to explore the country. But if Namibia is the best road trip country in the world, is it possible to explore without a car?

Long distances between towns means it is better to travel Namibia with a car

Do I need a car?

Unfortunately, you will most like do. Except for Swakopmund all major attractions in Namibia are located away from towns and major roads. There are many flights, trains, buses and local taxis that connect towns in Namibia. Some of these options are extremely convenient, reliable and cheap, but this is not the challenge.

The challenge is to get to the attraction usually situated well away from these well-connected towns. You’ll either end up paying for a costly transfer or spend hours alongside the road attempting to hitch a ride. Then when you reach the national park you will not be allowed to enter on foot.

Don’t forget the colossal distances between places in Namibia. Namibians wake up in the morning, drive 150 km to meet a friend for lunch and return home later in the day. This is considered normal. So what are your options?

Make friends and share a ride

If I channel the budget backpacker inside of me I can offer a glimmer of hope. All is not lost and you can get by, however all of it involves reliance on some form of transport. Your first option is to tag along with another group. Scour travel forums prior to arrival and attempt to convince someone to join you or them.

Or once you arrive in Windhoek go around to the various backpackers and actively seek fellow traveler’s out. Many have notice boards, so check those out or post your own notice. The downside being you’ll end up having to fork out for rental and gas and will now have to share an itinerary.

Stopping for a quick break after a long drive. Namibia is difficult without a car

Take an overlanding tour

The other option is to book a local or overland tour. I don’t like making this recommendation. For personal reason I don’t enjoy this type of travel, but many enjoy it and it remains an option. I know that a lot of single female traveler’s prefer this as it means safety in numbers. Have a look at Chameleon Safaris or Safari2Go. Both are reputable service providers that I trust and have used before.

These will get you where you need to be, but I guarantee inflated prices, and you are now bound by the itinerary on offer. You’ll eat when they say you eat, you’ll sleep when they say you sleep. Reminds me too much of my days in boarding school and the military. 

Rent a smaller vehicle

A revelation has been the introduction of the Suzuki Jimny into Namibia2Go’s fleet. This is a nifty little 4×4 that will make exploring Namibia both easy and fun. I hired one for a few days to explore the camps Etosha National Park. It was great fun at a fraction of the cost.

For N$900 (between US$50-55) per day, you can rent what is considered one of the best off-road vehicles available. It does not come with all the bells and whistles, but all you need is a cheap tent and your backpack. For a few extra bucks a day they’ll add a fridge.

A good alternative is renting a smaller car to travel Namibia with

The verdict?

So yes, renting a well-equipped 4×4 off road vehicle is your best option to explore Namibia. Who does not enjoy a good road trip? It is not impossible to get by without one, but extremely difficult and time consuming. I would prefer to spend my time enjoying Namibia and not alongside the road pleading for rides.

Your other options include sharing a vehicle, or a local or overland tour. Then there is the new Jimny option from Namibia2Go, which allows you to rent a capable 4×4 at an extremely affordable price. I consider this a practical solution for those with a backpack and a budget.

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