The car crash happened so fast. One minute I was deep asleep, the next minute the car was spinning out of control. Next thing I knew we were driving up a sandbank as we crashed at the side of the road. I was sitting at the front passenger seat and Karen was very fearful that I would fly out the windshield. Thankfully, no one was hurt in the car crash.
We exited the car and examined the damages. Now, I was scared because we paid for the rental using my credit card and I will be taking a financial hit. I’ve already been trying to budget carefully because I need my funds to last me one entire year and having to pay for the damages will definitely hurt my travel plans. Mainly because my gut feeling told me that our fellow travellers are not going to be reliable at helping me pay for the damages.
The difficulty of reaching Sossusvlei in Namibia
Travelling around Namibia is difficult because their public transportation system is virtually non-existent. Sure you can take taxis in the capital city of Windhoek and other bigger cities. However, getting to popular tourist spots typically require you to either join a tour group or rent a car.
Joining a tour group is quite expensive costing at least $500 for the cheapest package. Renting a car is much cheaper but you then have to drive through very poor road conditions. Most of the roads in Namibia are unpaved. You will be driving on gravel, sand and rocks. This makes for a very unsafe driving conditions. The probability of getting in a car crash is quite high unless you drive very conservatively.
You must book everything in advanced when travelling in Namibia
After arriving in our hostel, after a brutal 23 hour Intercape bus ride from Livingstone Zambia to Windhoek Namibia, we checked in a hostel called Cardboard Box Backpackers. Upon arriving, we immediately inquired about traveling to Sossusvlei. The option given to us was to join a tour group or rent a vehicle.
Cardboard Box Backpackers
The price of the tour was outside our budget so we had to come up with another solution. We met a Japanese backpacker who wanted to team up to reach Sossusvlei. We decided to rent a car and began our search. It turns out that most cars are fully booked months in advanced. After spending quite a bit of time searching for a car, we finally found one with Europcar. The problem was that it was manual transmission and I don’t know how to drive stick.
The Japanese backpacker said he can drive the car; though, he is rusty from not having driven one for a long time. He also brought in two more Japanese backpacker staying in another hostel so we can further mitigate the cost by splitting it five ways.
So far so good.
Driving on horrible roads
After exploring Sossusvlei, we were on our way back to Windhoek. Our Japanese driver is starting to become confident driving on the crappy roads. I fell asleep during the car ride from sheer exhaustion of lack of sleep and climbing the Big Daddy dunes earlier in the morning.
As the car was driving through the highway, I would occasionally get woken up with fellow passengers getting startled when the car would lose control a little bit. I started feeling a little paranoid and perhaps I should have spoken up and advised the driver to slow down a little.
Before we know it, the car crash happened.
Thankfully the locals were helpful. Complete strangers would drive by and help us get the car off the side of the road and back to the main road. We examined the car damages and it looks to be mostly on the bumper. The plastic tire cover in the front tires has also fallen off and there was some plastic debris at the bottom of the vehicle.
A police officer also drove by us and advised us to go to the police station to file a report.
Thankfully, the car was still operational and we were able to drive the car at a much slower speed towards the police station and ultimately back to Windhoek.
A tough lesson learned thanks to the car crash
I ended up eating a total cost of over $800 for the damages to the car. The other Japanese backpackers have yet to send me the money to this day to help pay for the damages. It’s been quite a nightmare on my end as my funds has been drastically reduced thanks to this car crash. It’s been almost three months since the accident happened and I’m almost losing hope that they will actually help me pay for the damages.
The tough lesson learned here is to never put a car rental under your credit card if you don’t plan on driving the vehicle. Many insurance policies will not reimburse you the damages unless the agreement is under your name stating that you are the driver of the vehicle.
Another tough lesson I learned is that the chances of getting reimbursed by the Japanese backpackers is probably slim and I am out of luck.
In terms of my one year travel, I’ve started to scale down on my plans. Despite having to travel to less countries, I’m still determined to make this one year trip work. It’s not always fun and games and I realize that “bad shit will happen”.
Subscribe to Travel and Live Free’s email list to get the latest blog post and updates!