Namibia's currency is the Namibian Dollar (N$), and does not float on the currency markets, but is tied to the South African Rand (R) at a rate of 1:1. The Rand is widely accepted throughout the country, and even if you pay using all Namibian notes you will often get a mixture of N$ and Rand in your change. Namibian bank notes come in N$10, N$20, N$50, N$100 and N$200 denominations. There are 100 cents to N$1. Coin values are 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, N$1 and N$5.
International Visa and MasterCard credit cards are generally accepted throughout Namibia. Holders of other cards are advised to clarify with a commercial bank whether their card is acceptable in Namibia. Please note, however, that many properties are unable to accept American Express or Diners cards. Credit cards are not accepted at some fuel filling stations.
The Namibian power is 220 volts, 15 amps, which is delivered through either a 2 or 3 pin round socket. Although the socket is 3 pin, it is not the same as a UK socket, so an adaptor will be needed. Most airport shops sell adapters for foreign plugs, or they can be bought in selected hardware shops in larger towns. Electricity supply is reliable in cities and towns, but you may experience problems in more remote areas, especially during heavy thunderstorms, and you should be prepared for a sudden power failure!
It is relatively easy to travel around Namibia by car, however, you need to be aware that the distances between destinations in this country are vast. In many cases, you may find that you do not pass a single person or car, let alone a town or village, for a couple of hours at a time.
Namibians drive on the left, and all signposts are written in English. Seat belts must be worn at all times, and it is prohibited to use a mobile phone whilst driving. Traffic lights are referred to as 'robots', and the 4 way stop is certainly a traffic control to master quickly if you want to avoid having a collision at a stop junction. The general speed limit is a comfortable 120 km/h on the tar roads outside of towns and 100 km/h on gravel roads. In built up areas the speed limit is normally 60 km/h.
The major roads are tarred, well signposted, and relatively well maintained, so it is possible to cover long distances along them in relative comfort. However, the majority of roads in Namibia are gravel, and more often than not during your driving holiday you will find yourself on one for a long time. The gravel roads range from well maintained straight roads that can safely be travelled at 70-80 km/h (the official speed of 100 km/h on gravel roads is not advisable), to bumpy tracks that are difficult to distinguish from the rock-strewn landscape.
All drivers must be in possession of a VALID driving licence from their country of residence. If the driving licence is not in English, then an International Drivers Licence is required. The licence must also contain a photograph of the holder and be valid beyond the point of returning the vehicle. UK citizens do NOT need to request a unique code from Gov.UK or the DVLA as you do not need confirmation of any penalty points to hire a car in Namibia. Please note that the various car hire companies have different regulations regarding the length of time you need to have held a driving licence, so it is advisable to check with your hire car company about their requirements. Most hire car companies also insist that you leave a credit card number as a security deposit when you pick up your car. The credit card HAS TO belong to the named driver - a person who is not the named driver cannot supply the credit card.
It is imperative to ensure that, before you set off on any trip, you have sufficient petrol in your tank. Even if you have ¾ of a tank, it is always worth filling up completely while you have the opportunity - it is not uncommon to find the nearest petrol station in the direction you are heading is a heartbreaking 400 km away! Investing in a non-plastic jerry can, and carrying an emergency supply of petrol - just enough to get you a further 100 km to the next petrol station - is strongly recommended, and also ensure that you have a good road map with petrol stations marked on it. None of the petrol stations in Namibia are self-service, and generally credit cards are not accepted as a method of payment. Many of the larger petrol stations do have ATMs on site so that you can take cash out, but in the more remote places, ATMs may not be present (or the machine may be out of service), so you should always ensure that you have sufficient cash whenever you pull in to fill up with petrol. When you pull into the petrol station, you will generally be waved to a free petrol pump by an enthusiastic attendant, complete with a beaming welcoming smile. Make sure that he waves you to the correct pump, however, and does not try to put petrol into your diesel car by mistake. It is customary to tip around N$5 once they have filled up your car, and funnily enough, you will often find that the total amount of petrol they put in the car means you will get enough loose change back for a tip!
We would also recommend travelling with 2 spare tyres. Most 4WD vehicles come with a second spare tyre as a matter of course, and it is usually possible to hire a second spare tyre for other types of vehicle from your car hire company for a nominal charge. Punctures are a common problem, especially on the gravel roads, and you may have to cover an extremely long distances before reaching the next town, where you can get the puncture fixed. The chances of getting a second puncture are quite high, and quite simply it is not worth the risk or worry of driving with no other form of emergency back up. Most garages will repair a puncture for a small fee, and whilst they generally do a good job (lots of practice!), we recommend that you should still take the repaired tyre to your car hire company when you get the opportunity to get it professionally fixed or replaced. change back for a tip!
If you are planning on taking your hire car across from Namibia into a neighbouring country, do remember to clear this with your hire car company beforehand - many companies will need to issue you with a Letter of Authority to show at the border post.