All of Namibia's tar roads are excellent, and a programme of tarring is gradually extending these. Currently they extend to linking most of Namibia's larger towns. Most are single carriageways (one lane in either direction), and it's an effort to rein back the accelerator to remain within the speed limit of 120km/h.
Remember that even on these you will find hazards like animals crossing. They are not as insulated from the surrounding countryside as the motorways, freeways and autobahns back home. So don't be tempted to speed.
On main roads, regular picnic sites with a shaded table and benches give the opportunity to stop for a break on long journeys.
Very occasionally there are roads where the sealed tar surface is only wide enough for one vehicle. This becomes a problem when you meet another vehicle travelling in the opposite direction...on the same stretch of tar. The local practice is to wait until the last possible moment before you steer left, driving with two wheels on the gravel adjacent to the tar, and two on the tar. Usually, the vehicle coming in the opposite direction will do the same, and after passing each other both vehicles veer back on to the tar. If you are unused to this, then slow right down before you steer on to the gravel.
Most roads in Namibia are gravel, and most of these are very good. Virtually all are fine for 2WD vehicles. They don't normally suffer from potholes, although there may be slight ruts where others have driven before you.
You will occasionally put the car into small skids, and with practice at slower speeds you will learn how to deal with them. Gravel is a less forgiving surface on which to drive than tar. The rules and techniques for driving well are the same for both, but on tar you can get away with sloppy braking and cornering which would prove dangerous on gravel.
The main problem with Namibia's gravel roads is that they are too good. Drivers are lulled into a false sense of security; they believe that it is safe to go faster, and faster. Don't fall for this; it isn't safe at all. A few hints for gravel driving in a 2WD vehicle may be helpful:
• Slowing down
If in any doubt about what lies ahead, always slow down. Road surfaces can vary enormously, so keep a constant lookout for potholes, ruts or patches of soft sand which could put you into an unexpected slide.
• Passing vehicles
When passing other vehicles travelling in the opposite direction, always slow down to minimise both the damage that stone chippings will do to your windscreen, and the danger in driving through the other vehicle's dust cloud. If the dust cloud is thick, don't return to the centre of the road too fast, as there may be another vehicle behind the first.
• Using your gears
In normal driving, a lower gear will give you more control over the car – so keep out of high 'cruising' gears. Rather stick with third or fourth, and accept that your revs will be slightly higher than they might normally be.
• Cornering and braking
Under ideal conditions, the brakes should only be applied when the car is travelling in a straight line. Braking whilst negotiating a corner is dangerous, so it is vital to slow down before you reach corners. Equally, it is better to slow down gradually, using a combination of gears and brakes, than to use the brakes alone. You are less likely to skid.