Namibia is a vast and beautiful country that is easily accessed via South Africa. It’s also a quiet and calm country – until the sun sets and the party animals come out! (I know – I grew up there!) But before you can enjoy your first sundowner it’s important to get to your destination safely and it’s not always easy to do that without a decent Namibia road map.
“Why not use Google maps?” you may ask? Well – because there is no, to extremely poor, internet coverage for 80% of the country. Data reception is good within the larger towns, however, once you’re 10kms out, it disappears to an unusable level leaving you to rely on preparation over modern convenience.
If you’re staying on the B1 all the way from Cape Town to Windhoek, you mostly won’t go wrong as it’s a straight road. But if you’re taking ANY other turn offs to other locations, it’s best to prepare yourself with a decent road map. Here are our 6 pointers to help you select the best Namibia road map:
Best Namibia Road Map
1. Get an Old School Paper Map
This may seem silly, but the internet reception is patchy in Namibia – to say the least. You will drive for hours and hours without being able to connect to Google maps (nor Spotify!) so having an old school paper map is priceless. (We even had to lend ours to my Dad who lived in Namibia for 20 years!). I recommend getting one in your home city, at the Springbok cafe in Springbok or at your lodge’s curio shop.
2. Don’t Rely on Lodge Internet
Most lodges have wifi for their guests to use, but they tend to be in the general reception or dining area and not in your individual rooms. The amount of data is also heavily limited per day (100mb) and the speed is also nothing to write home about. There are also, often, foreigners trying to Facetime home, which sucks up all the bandwidth, leaving you the most chance of checking the next day’s map after 10pm. Don’t count on this internet unless you have all night to download maps and save screenshots.
3. Be Sure To Buy a Current Map
Any old map of Namibia simply won’t do. The roads frequently change due to land being sold, flash floods, low river bed crossings and walking dunes. Be sure to get a current map that has the most accurate road information before heading out. Petrol stations are few and far between so you need to be prepared to go long distances – in the right direction!
4. Check the Type of Roads
While maps may indicate that a road exists, it may not be usable for a number of reasons. This includes
- Not all roads are accessible to the general public, such as the Sperregebiet.
- Some roads can only be used by highly experienced off-road drivers so you will get all the way there and then have to turn around.
- Many roads are not tarred so you want to know ahead of time how much gravel driving you will need to do (clue: a lot!).
If you are going to visit Namibia in your own car, we suggest taking as many tarred roads as possible, if you are not in a 4×4.
5. Check The Map in Every Town
Be sure to check your map in every town because people (and pitstops) are scarce in Namibia. Be sure to check the roads you believe you’ve taken against the confirmed roads at your next petrol stop. This is so you can evaluate your mileage and plan your petrol costs for the next leg or next day’s journey.
6. Check Your Route with Staff
Relying on local knowledge, once you get to your lodges, can be really helpful. We had an instant where our road of choice was far shorter (according to the map), but when we asked the local guide he said it was an incredibly quiet road.
He recommended another road which, while longer, had more traffic and thus more opportunity for help should we break down. Flat tyres are a real thing in Namibia no matter what car you drive! By asking the lodge staff they were able to share some useful safety advice for our route.
We hope that you have the most amazing road trip to Namibia! If you’re looking for a road map idea, check out our Namibia self-drive tour map. Happy travels and, got the passports?