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self drive transport and accommodation

Surrey
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self drive transport and accommodation

Hi we are planning a visit to Namibia for next April. If we stick to fairly established routes we will be OK with a standard 2 wheel drive car? We will be travelling on a budget as our visit will be part of a two month trip to Africa, but we don't want to camp. Can anyone recommend websites / organisations that offer accommodation throughout the country that is not too expensive - quite a lot of accommodation I've looked up is not that cheap. We can't really spend more than a $100 per night for a double room with breakfast included. I'm assuming, that apart from offering the flexibility of planning our own route, it will work out less expensive to make all our own arrangements rather than using a single tour company? It would also be helpful to have an indication of how much we should allow per person for an evening meal with a couple of beers.

Thanks for your help.

Windhoek, Namibia
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1. Re: self drive transport and accommodation

Hi, assuming that we don't have a lot of late rain then a normal sedan car should be fine without deviating from the normal traveller routes. You just need to drive carefully and allow time for detours if there has been a lot of rain in some areas.

Your budget is not very big and there may be areas where you will have to pay a bit more than that, or self-cater for breakfast. Booking things yourself may seem like a cheaper option, but in fact the majority of agents will not charge you any more than the advertised rate for accommodation and quite often less as they receive good commission from the lodges/ B&B's. Agents often offer cheaper car hire than you can find online. Add to that the fact that you will only have to make one or two payments for the whole trip rather than one for each establishment, and it should almost definitely work out cheaper to use an agent (and safer than making lots of different credit card payments). And then you have someone in country to offer good advice, meet you when you arrive, and to contact should anything go wrong while you are travelling.

An evening meal in a lodge or restaurant will cost you Rand/N$70-120 per person for a main meal (around £5 - £9). Drinks are considerably cheaper than in the UK and lodges generally have great South African wine collections! There are some lodges where you can self-cater for dinner too which offers more flexibility. I hope that helps, happy planning.

Charlotte

ATI Holidays

Nashville, Tennessee
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2. Re: self drive transport and accommodation

You will come out much cheaper by using an in-country outfitter. Namibia is different than other locations. When I first started pricing, I priced what I could get and then bid it out to an outfitter. Even with the outfitter fees, I came out more than 10% ahead. That is compared to published rates and compared to cardboard box rates. You will save money and hassle by using an in-country TO.

Add to that: you will have someone to deal with problems and reservation issues. There are frequent reports of individuals having reservations and then arriving at the campsite or lodge and the reservations are lost. Car hire is notoriously poor for individuals in Namibia but very easy for outfitters. You will save money and headache. Finally, most people do not realize the travel times between locations (and judging by your post- you will fall in to that category). A good TO will give you realistic drive times and directions. You will average much slower than expected and the distances much longer than expected. You can not drive after dark or before sunrise. With a 2WD sedan, you will need to be careful with your route (especially in April, you cannot do the quickest route all the time).

Contact one of the 4 regular posters here that are TO or PM me for my list. Have fun and enjoy this great country.

Isle of Man, United...
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3. Re: self drive transport and accommodation

All good advice from two regulars. Using an Agent such as Charlotte or Gemma, the D/E "Discover Namibia" or Chris should make it so much easier to manage 'at a distance'. Rates will or should work out a lot cheaper than quoted Rack Rates. Car Hire also at good rates from reliable Renters such as Avis.

A word on your budget. Prices in Namibia are not expensive. Don't confuse Namibian Dollars with US ones. Knock a nought off. (Use the quoted Rates for South African Rand in your local paper as a good guide.)

Finally I get to most places I want to go, even Damaraland and Caprivi in a standard car such as Avis rent everywhere. Golf, Corolla etc., just make sure it has airconditioning.

The one caveat to that last bit is if it has been raining hard when some gravel roads may be a bit tricky (and river crossings distinctly dodgy.)

Enjoy your first trip to Namibia. It won't be your last.

Surrey
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68 posts
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4. Re: self drive transport and accommodation

Thanks for the helpful replies. Stephen H I would be grateful if you could share your list of outfitters with me to get me started. Much appreciated.

Windhoek, Namibia
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5. Re: self drive transport and accommodation

i never advise people to drive Namibian gravel roads with a sedan, the poor car and driver!

anyway, you can still get a cheap 4x4 for the trip, and although the rental companies do allow their sedans on gravel road, when you do cause damage to the car, they will find a way to make you pay for it, next rainy season will hopefully be a much better one than this year and if so April is a month when we get lots of rain, so the gravel road will be even more in a bad state.

your budget is low, why not consider some nights camping and just have your meals at the lodge?

i don't agree with the 120N$ dinners, its more like 200N$ pp minimum

Isle of Man, United...
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6. Re: self drive transport and accommodation

Chris , You are about to light the blue touch paper. Maybe you should let your clients try a 2WD. It would cut their costs a lot. "Cheap 4x4" is a contradiction in terms.

As I said above, I have used a 2WD regularly right across Namibia with not so much as a puncture let alone body damage. This included Hobatere, Palmwag, Etosha, Huab Lodge, Lianshulu etc. Never been charged a cent extra even when limping back into Avis with a car that looked it had seen off ErwinRommel. Expecting a surcharge for cleaning the guy just said "No worries! You should see the state we get some of them back!"

I have had two punctures in Africa. Both with 4x4 Hi Luxe.

If the OP does not intend to drive the last 4km in Sossusvlei I see no reason they should pay almost double for a 4x4.

Windhoek, Namibia
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7. Re: self drive transport and accommodation

Mfuwe, ask any namibian who lives in the country if they would go on holiday with a sedan, i don't think so.

and i always see these poor tourists sitting on a gravel road, both hands on the steering wheel, driving 50km/h, driving from one side of the road to the other just to find a decent spot to drive on.... imagine how tired they must be from driving each day, poor buggers! :)

not everybody has experience of driving on our gravel roads, most people travelling from Europe has never been on a gravel road,

now, there could be a big difference between a sedan and a 2WD, you also get 2WD pick-ups, nothing has happened to you yet, but believe me sir, if something big happens, we'll talk again. we had a client about 3 years ago, who rented a sedan, close to waterberg he went of the road around a bend, his bill came to 30 000N$ in the end.

off course everybody is free to rent whatever vehicle they want, but i know my clients are safer on our roads with at least a 2WD pick-up, "bakkie" like we say in Namibia.

you can still get a good 4x4 from 600N$ per day, not a bad deal i would say.

Windhoek, Namibia
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324 posts
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8. Re: self drive transport and accommodation

oh and never mention anything about punctures its bad luck and next time you visit you will have many! ;)

Isle of Man, United...
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9. Re: self drive transport and accommodation

By "2WD" I was of course shorthanding for Standard Saloon. (I don't use the foreign term 'Sedan' as it brings forth mental images of two mediaval serfs carrying me in a chair).

Of course most Namibians will use a 4x4. It is what they all have, if they have transport at all. (It is the same in LOndon where they are called "Chelsea Tractors!")

Chris, we are not talking of the back of the moon and red drums but normal daily use of the "fairly established routes" that the OP mentions. On those there is no weaving around necessary and of course folks will still leave the road if cornering too fast. (Just as a 4x4 will roll over given the same hard treatment.)

Good to see you are happy for folks to choose their mode of transport.

But it has to be said that in the wrong hands 4x4 are no safer than 2Wd Saloons.

Remember the old saying "The only difference in getting stuck in a 4x4 means they have to drive further in to the Desert/Swamp to find your remains!

To be totally honest, I think some Tour Operators do their industry a great disservice by 'pushing' 4x4s. It simply moves the price for many would be visitors above their comfort zones with the sad result that they don't come at all. Surely it is better to come and drive a Saloon than miss out on the splendours of Namibia altogether?

That is a good rate by the way. I must speak to Gemma about that.

Edited: 11 May 2013, 10:01
Windhoek, Namibia
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10. Re: self drive transport and accommodation

Mfuwe, we are obviously not going to agree on this! :)

just to give you an idea, the road between Solitaire and walvis Bay is in the worst condition i have ever seen, this piece should not take more than 3.5 hours max, and now it takes twice as long in a Defender, imagine this in a sedan!

allot of Namibians have cars and they, drive 4x4's for a good reason, not for show like in London ;)

sedans are simply not built for these kind of road conditions, if they were, there would not be any 4x4's, would there?

i rest my case.