I am leaving for a three week vacation in Namibia in May (past rain season). A 4x4 car is rented and I plan to bring my own tent (and most other required camping gear). I've been on camping trips all my life, like to sleep in a tent, even on hard ground, and even just in sleeping bags without tent.

The alternatives that come to my mind are

Currently my favourite is a tent on the ground doing without the outer rain protection and just using the inner, meshed fabric, similar to this one Advantages are:

  • Easy to put together, quick to tear down
  • Mosquito protection
  • View to the stars

Neutral is:

  • Little temperature isolation

Disadvantages include:

  • Less protection against some animals (Hyenas)
  • No rain protection

How feasible is this option?

Is any fear of Hyenas exaggerated? In my experience small aggressive animals such as squirrels and other little critters can make life more miserable than bears, but I haven't been exposed to African wildlife yet. Should I be concerned about baboons?

I'm fine with fleeing into the car if rain starts or just pull over the original rain protective outer shell of the tent.

What do you think about the alternative of a sleeping bag in the (partially open) back of the car (4x4 single cab, e.g. Toyota Hilux)?

  • I would advise against sleeping on the top of a rented car, unless you have a really good insurance policy. :)
    – Flimzy
    May 7, 2012 at 15:32
  • 2
    @Flimzy: While I generally and in this case agree with you, lots of self-drive safari rental vehicles come equipped with a roof top tent or two.
    – cfi
    May 7, 2012 at 15:38
  • Ah, interesting.
    – Flimzy
    May 7, 2012 at 15:52
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    The question is: will you sleep in a designated camping area? If you sleep in this kind of places, normally, there is an armed person that keeps out any animal (hyenas or baboons, but surely not smaller ones, like mouses or squirrels). And why not to rent a 4x4 camper and sleep inside?
    – Ivan
    May 8, 2012 at 8:52
  • @Ivan: I've already stated that I've rented a 4x4 car and explicitly listed sleeping in the car as an option. Most likely I'll be sleeping most of the time in designated camping areas - but not all the time
    – cfi
    May 9, 2012 at 7:43

1 Answer 1


I would not sleep on the back of your car. You seem to have a single cab. Then the back should be long enough to sleep on. However, the back will become quite dusty. You will be mainly driving on pads, and dispersed dust will lay down on the back.

In your case I would choose between the rooftop tent and the ground tent. The advantage of the rooftop tent is that you rent on site and you leave it there. If you take your own tent, you will have to fit it into your luggage. Maybe you will have to pay an extra allowance for taking it. Thus, if taking the own tent option seems interesting from a financial point of view, don't forget this point.

The disadvantage of the rooftop tent is that you will have to mount and demount it several times a day: demount it in the morning if you do an excursion, mount it again to have a siesta, demount for the evening drive and mount to sleep.

The camping grounds are guarded and very often also fenced (as e.g. in Etosha). The bigger animals are thus kept out.

I would not be bothered about hyenas. Baboons are much more scary. They are clever, insolent and sometimes even aggressive. They are skilled climbers and a rooftop tent won't deter them. Even smaller monkeys, like the vervet monkey, can be a major annoyance. However, in principle you won't find these smaller ones in Namibia.

  • Good points! The mounting/dismounting certainly is to be considered. But the same holds true for a ground tent. I see no difference there. Siestas are in my case not an option ;-) How long would an experienced tenter need to mount/dismount a rooftop tent?
    – cfi
    May 9, 2012 at 7:46
  • Hm, can I really expect a guard on the premises to keep fast scavengers such as Hyenas out of the campground? Are they patrolling the grounds throughout all of the night? Or how do I have to imagine that guarding to work (especially for the unfenced campgrounds)?
    – cfi
    May 9, 2012 at 7:48
  • Regarding mounting and demounting: A ground tent has only to be mounted and demounted when you change places, i.e. when you move from one camp to another. However, a rooftop tent has to be demounted each time you need the vehicle. That's what I wanted to say.
    – user766
    May 9, 2012 at 10:00
  • In places where there are dangerous predators you can expect a fence and a guard. Just trust your hosts. If they allow sleeping in a tent, that means that you can put your mind on a rest. That's at least the experience I have made in these regions. Note that like anywhere else, a 100% safety does not exist.
    – user766
    May 9, 2012 at 10:07
  • Good answer! I've been there 3 weeks and used the ground tent exclusively. Back of the car gets too dirty quickly. Guards are not always there. Forget about fences keeping predators out. One cheeta in custody on a farm escaped during the night I've slept there in the tent. A ~3m high fence does not keep them in. They're just not interested in hunting humans. So imho, Hyenas and Baboons remain the only practical threat. I've witnessed Baboons in action on campgrounds and I'd advise to take an old tent, and don't keep or prepare any food inside. I always felt safe, even camping in the wild.
    – cfi
    Jul 7, 2012 at 12:15

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