Prepare for your Namib Experience
FAQs: Your Vehicle/ Dune Driving
The desert may seem a place of mystery to you right now, as might the technicalities of desert dune driving. Please go through the question and answer section below to learn more about the Namib Desert, desert camping, dune driving and the Faces of the Namib tour infrastructure and logistics.
Q: Can I take my off-road trailer on the trip?
A: No. Desert tours cannot and should not be attempted with off-road extras including trailers, caravans etc.
Q: Do I need previous dune-driving experience?
A: No. While previous experience is recommended, many participants manage the tour without having driven on dunes before. Sometimes we even host clients who have never driven a 4x4 vehicle before (though this is the exception to the rule).
Enjoying this tour has a lot to do with the skill-level of each driver and how comfortable an individual is behind the wheel of his/ her vehicle. All our guides are well-trained and highly experienced. They are capable of guiding even inexperienced drivers through the desert. They will also recommend when a driver should not attempt a certain manoeuvre and offer alternative routes. The rule is to LISTEN to EXACTLY what your guide tells you to do and obey them to the letter. This rule applies to everyone equally. Ignore the guide, and you may end up damaging your vehicle and sustaining injuries.
The Faces of the Namib tour has also been designed so that dune driving becomes more challenging very gradually. The first two days will suffice to put everyone at ease and instill enough confidence so that drivers evolve to manage trickier and more challenging dunes.
Q: I have a long-range fuel tank. Should I take along extra fuel?
A: This depends entirely on the capacity of one’s fuel tank. In the desert petrol engines (it varies from make to make) use one litre of fuel to travel 2.5 to 4 kilometres. Diesel-driven vehicles manage 4-5 km per litre. Though the desert-crossing section of the tour (550km) is designed to be managed on one full tank of fuel, the rule of thumb is “better safe than sorry” so bring along a few extra litres in the event of an unforeseen event or emergency.
Q: Is it possible to do the trip with a vehicle that only has diff lock?
A: Absolutely not. Only 4x4 vehicles with high and low range gear functions can manage the desert terrain. Please do not attempt a tour if your vehicle only has a diff lock!
Q: Must I invest in a hi-lift jack?
A: No. It is not necessary to have your own hi-lift jack for the purposes of the tour since guides will have one available. It is however ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL that your vehicle have an anchoring point for the jack, so check on this before departure.
Q: What are the best tyres to have on my vehicle?
A: You do not need specialist tyres to do the tour. Most of the standard tyres which 4x4’s come equipped with are perfectly suitable for desert/ dune terrain. Tyres known informally as old “Marie Biscuit” tyres are too narrow and will not do well.
Q: What happens if my vehicle breaks down in the desert?
A: Guides are very well trained as “bush mechanics” and chances are good that they can fix minor problems themselves. If this proves difficult, they will aid you in arranging towing services from Lüderitz or Walvis Bay. The cost of this “recovery” procedure must be covered by you and is not included in tour coverage.
Q: What type of vehicle is best suited to the trip?
A: Any 4x4 vehicle with high and low range gear functions.
Modern so-called “soft roaders” may struggle.
New vehicles with too many technical gadgets may also be problematic. In this instance, simpler is better, mostly because sand has the tendency to get into nooks and crannies and potentially jam sensitive mechanisms. Vehicles with a high clearance are highly recommended.
Q: Will a roof-top tent make the vehicle too top-heavy?
A: It’s always sensible not to carry too much extra weight along with you on your desert tour, especially not on your roof rack. However, roof-top tents are relatively light and on their own should not pose a problem or hindrance. This depends, of course, on each vehicle’s capabilities and also the driver’s experience.
Q: Will we come across poisonous desert snakes?
A: Guides will inform everyone about dangerous or poisonous animals. Some scorpions and the well-known sidewinder-snake are found in the Namib, but none of these are deadly. Just keep your torch handy at night and count yourself lucky to observe a rare species in its natural habitat! Animals seldom strike or bite unless antagonised.