Due to the erratic nature of Namibia’s rainfall, the rivers in the interior of the country are ephemeral and usually dry.
Runoff occurs only when the intensity of a rainstorm is high or if its duration is long enough to produce runoff.
In terms of driving, all dry riverbeds should be considered as hazardous during the rainy season, especially when clouds are visible on the horizon.
Devastating flash floods can occur in the period between late afternoon and early morning. Visitors should, therefore, never drive along a dry riverbed or camp near the river in the rainy season.
Many of the roads in rural areas are not tarred. Dirt or gravel roads become slippery after rainfall, and such roads may develop potholes.
These become filled with water and could damage tyres. The surfaces or sides of the roads may also be eroded by the runoff, and may cause accidents. When the roads are wet, always drive slowly.
Take care under all circumstances not to drive too fast, especially on gravel roads, however safe and well maintained they look.
Reduce your speed to at least 80 km/h- when travelling along these roads and reduce it even more when approaching a rise or going round a bend. There are often unexpected dips and slippery stretches, and the curbs of these roads can cause your vehicle to skid or overturn.
Beware also of animals on or close to the road, especially kudu. They might suddenly dash across in front of you, especially at night, which can cause fatal accidents.
General safety and security
While Namibia is a relatively safe and crime-free destination and has a well-trained police force, we advise visitors to take the following precautions, especially in larger centres such as Windhoek and Swakopmund:
- Never leave your vehicle unlocked.
- Do not leave valuable items such as cameras or handbags – or any other item that would entice a petty thief – on the seats or any other visible place in your vehicle. Rather lock them in the boot.
- Make use of the official car guards wearing designated jackets at all major shopping areas.
- Do not wear expensive jewellery when you’re out and about.
- Have valuable items placed in the safe of the establishment where you are staying.
- Do not open your wallet, especially if it has a visible wad of notes in it, when you’re in the street.
- Do not wander around on your own late at night, particularly in the more deserted suburbs.