Though all rental agencies should give you a full briefing about the vehicle and check that all equipment is present and in working order, some don’t, especially the international rental agencies when handing over a 2WD in high season and staff are stretched. Ensure that you get fully briefed; stories abound of tourists being given vehicles with no functioning jack, or without being advised not to travel in the dark. Make sure you’re not one of them.

Check the car has a jack and one, or preferably two (which you can pre-book at extra cost), spare wheels in good condition before you start out. Most 4WD rentals should also include a first-aid kit, a shovel to dig yourself out of sand or mud, and a tow rope in case the digging fails. A tyre pressure gauge and pump are also essential if you’re going to remote areas such as the Kaokoveld, or if you’ll be needing to deflate (and then reinflate) your tyres after driving through deep sand.

Also make sure you always travel with plenty of water and snacks, in case of a long wait for the cavalry to arrive should your vehicle break down.

Essentials

Everything you need to know before you set off.

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