A reason to hit the road
by Marita van Rooyen
Namibia has an excellent road system, making just about every tourist destination in the country accessible for self-drivers wanting to explore off-the-beaten-track destinations. However, the majority of the roads are gravel, and in some of the more remote areas they become tracks, which require careful driving, preferably in 4×4 vehicles.
“There was a big demand for car hire when we started out, especially by camping enthusiasts for 4×4 vehicles,” says Wiebke Nel, who co-owns African Tracks 4×4 Car Hire with husband Johan. The company started out in 1998 with only two cars, but has since reached the point of no return with its full fleet of expertly maintained 4×4 camping vehicles.
With a niche market of mostly European countries, almost 65% of African Tracks clients prefer camping, while the rest are lodge hoppers. As a result, African Tracks provides a wide selection of all the essentials needed for a comfortable bushwhacking experience. Vehicles are available either with full or standard camping equipment, which includes a rooftop tent, camping table, chairs, grill, broom and dustpan, cooler box, axe, spade, petrol funnel, manual air pump, tow rope, water container, petrol canister, and even a road map. A wide range of kitchen utensils is also included in the package.
All African Tracks vehicles are equipped with two spare tyres, a long-distance fuel tank, power steering, manual transmission, radio/CD player, air-conditioning and a basic tool kit with all the necessary tools for emergency situations. Single- and double-cab camper vans are available for hire.
Johan believes the best way to see the country is by camping. “It provides a different kind of atmosphere, something that’s more personal, and gives visitors a first-hand experience that cannot be gained in any other way. The costs involved are considerably less than when you’re lodging and you’re not bound to an itinerary.” African Tracks vehicles are allowed to cross borders into South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia.
The team at African Tracks is on standby to give advice, provide information and do accommodation bookings. When travelling in these remote areas visitors need to bear in mind that, should an unexpected breakdown occur, assistance could be days away. A minimum of two vehicles travelling together is therefore recommended. Fortunately, in the event of an emergency, African Tracks offers a 24-hour backup service. The company runs special offers from December to July.
African Tracks is a member of the Car Rental Association of Namibia (CARAN). Car-rental companies must answer to minimum standards to be accepted as members of the association.
This article appeared in the Feb/March 2011 edition of Travel News Namibia.