Overlanding all-electric through Namibia

4x4electric namibia etosha

Arriving in Namibia was quite a shock to us on many different levels. Read this article to understand why.

Arriving in Namibia was quite a shock for us in so many different ways.

First of all, there were at once so many tourists. We have only met about 20 other travelers in the past 6 months. This same amount we now easily meet in one morning! In addition, the facilities are incredibly luxurious again. In West Africa, we almost saw no campsites as there are not many tourists either. Here in Namibia, we see so many different ones, and one is even nicer than the other. Often a campsite offers a private toilet and shower, a place to braai, a lot of privacy and sometimes even more. Something we were not used to anymore.

This in combination with the fact that everywhere clean water is available, as well as a dustbin (in the past we had to collect our waste for more than a week sometimes, as there was no good facility to process it) and each driving day we pass several supermarkets (while in the past we only saw one in a whole country sometimes!).

This luxury took some getting used to… Gathering food for when no supermarket was available was no longer needed. The same for water in our 50-liter water tank… And another thing: we could easily charge our electric car at each campsite we visited… Did we want that?

And last but not least; We were blown away by her beauty, again! Did you know Namibia was the country where the idea for our expedition was born? We visited this beautiful country 4,5 years ago with a 4×4 car. We loved it so much that we decided we wanted to visit this country again but then in a sustainable way, and here we are! This country is just magnificent; spacious, untouched, remote, and surprising after each corner and hill. There are just no words that do it justice.

Road conditions in Namibia

Looking at the topics we used in each of these articles, Namibia had its own challenges…

There is one tarmac road from the north to the south, but almost all other roads are gravel. This means less range for our electric car. But there was another challenge; the washboard roads. Small bumps, millions behind each other, makes the car shake like it had never done before in all the 22.000km we have driven in Africa. It hurted our hearts to keep driving…

Some people say you just have to drive fast and you’ll feel it less. That might be true, but is that also best for the car? Our braking system did not understood what was happening, therefore the rear brakes braked shortly at each bump, resulting in overheating brakes above 150degrees Celcius. This, in combination with fine dust everywhere, made us decide to change our route and prevent unpaved for now.

When we arrived in the capital Windhoek, we met a man, Jens Denk, who sold second-hand Nissan Leave’s (electric cars). He shared a very valuable website with us: www.namtrack.com. Here you can see how bumpy roads are… And this is the platform that made us decide to give it another try, as we could now skip the worst parts by choosing the most smooth route.

Solar charging in Namibia

Solar charging was also quite different than expected in Namibia. Almost every day we had blue skies, which are just ideal of course. We only had some days clouds; it even rained in the desert, something that happens only a hand full of days a year!

In the end, we did solar charge our expedition car several times in Namibia, however, the yield was not good at all. This was caused by the fact that the ideal angle to the sun was more than 50 degrees to the north. Quite steep, which made it difficult to lay solar panels without them sliding. In addition, the hills in Namibia are often far from smooth. They consist out of small rocks, which can be huge. A flat surface on a hill with the right angle to the sun was therefore almost impossible to find. This resulted often in charging without a hill at all…

We, therefore, in combination with electricity facilities at campsites, resulted in charging on the grid quite often.

Namibia 3

EV’s in Namibia

What was really cool to see, is how electric cars and a charging network is growing faster and faster here in Namibia. Already more than 100 Nissan Leaves are sold. Mercedes Benz sells a full electric model, and more and more car brands will start doing so in the coming years.

In addition, Mercedes Benz is working on a charging network, to make electric cars more interesting to buy. There are now two fast chargers in the capital city of Windhoek (which we both tried of course), and next year this amount will increase fast!

Keep up the good work Namibia, you were our first country to charge with more than 50kW!

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