Each year the car rental companies in Namibia register numerous accidents, usually the vehicles are rolled over. Inexperienced drivers get too far to the margin of the gravel roads which usually are slightly vaulted in the middle. When the diver then pulls the steering wheel around abruptly, the accident will happen. Particularly light four-wheel-drives (like the Toyota Hilux) react to such driving mistakes by rolling around the longitudinal axis and the car turns over. There is only one way to avoid this: drive slowly.
In general, a four-wheel drive is not necessary for Namibia. Only in the Sossusvlei, in Kaudom Park, Sandwich Harbour, Kaokoland and on sandy terrain at the beaches or in riverbeds, a 4WD is required. For driving through soft sand, you should reduce the pressure on the tyres, until they are soft as balloons.
Driving in Namibia
Although the main routes in Namibia are tarred, every now and then one has to take a gravel or sand road, called "pad" in Namibia. They are usually well maintained, but sometimes one encounters heavily corrugated stretches. The unpleasant, 5 to 10 cm deep grooves develop through too fast driving. The vehicles and the people inside are being thoroughly shaken on corrugated roads. It becomes supportable, if one virtually "flies" over these stretches by driving speedily, so that the wheels don't have to dip into each groove deepening. The optimal speed is usually about 80 km/h.
Top: Typical "pad" in southern Namibia. Below: Soft sand in the Kaudom National Park, manageable only in a four-wheel drive. Left: Gravel road in central Namibia.
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