Self-driving in Botswana

Home to some of the last remaining unspoilt wilderness areas in the world, Botswana is a self-drivers haven. Whether you choose to camp in the unfenced, wildlife rich reserves, or drive from lodge to lodge, the experience of getting so close to nature at your own pace and leisure is like no other. Moremi Game Reserve, Chobe National Park and the Central Kalahari are all highlight destinations for self-drivers where some of the most prolific game viewing in Africa can be seen.

Image: Relaxing fireside after a self-drive safari. Travel Adventures 

Be prepared when self-driving

Self-driving in Botswana is, however, not for the faint hearted. This is not the Kruger National Park with tar roads and clear directions; this involves driving in some of the most remote areas of Botswana, with thick sandy roads and limited signage. To make sure you’re fully prepared, we’ve outlined everything YOU need to know to be prepared for the trip of a lifetime!

  • You will need a 4×4 with good clearance if you plan to drive through the National Parks. We do recommend that guests are confident with 4×4 driving, as you will be driving through thick sand which many guests may not be used to.
  • Breakdown equipment such as spare tyres, a tow-rope, hi-lift jack, and having a basic mechanical knowledge of your vehicle are essential. You will be driving in extremely remote areas.
  • A long range fuel tank is ideal, but if you do not have one of these then be sure to bring sufficient jerry cans of fuel with you. There are no fuel stations within the National Parks. Be sure to take game driving in to consideration when you plan your fuel consumption and remember – better to be safe than sorry!
  • All campsite fees and National Park permits must be booked and paid for in advance. You will not be allowed to enter the parks without your original campsite voucher and permit from DWNP. DWNP offices are located in Maun, Kasane and Gaborone.
  • Ensure to take sufficient food supplies for the duration of your stay in the National Parks. Please note that Botswana has a number of veterinary fences which restrict the movement of meat – please double check the location of these fences to avoid problems.
  • The majority of campsites in the National Parks are unfenced, allowing wildlife to roam freely and adding to the thrill of camping. Be sure to sleep only in designated campsites inside your closed tent, remain vigilant around the campsite and always keep children under supervision.
  • We recommend a satellite phone for emergencies as there is limited/no cell phone reception in the reserves.
  • Plan your route carefully… The time of year, weather conditions and wildlife sightings are all big influences on driving distances. Do not underestimate the time it can take to drive through the parks, and keep in mind that driving after dark is prohibited.
  • If you are driving outside the reserves on tar roads, be sure to take extra special care when driving at night due to the large number of cattle, donkeys and horses that can be on the road. We only recommend driving at night outside the reserves if it is absolutely essential.
  • Respect the wildlife and the wildlife will respect you! Always adhere to speed limits, do not drive off-road, and be sure to keep a safe distance from wildlife.
  • If you will cross a border with your vehicle, be sure to have all the relevant paperwork including the vehicle registration details and insurance details, as well as a sticker indicating the country of origin. Zimbabwe has particularly strict regulations in place for vehicle users, be sure to check the requirements in advance.

If you follow the guidelines in place and ensure you are prepared, then a self-driving safari will leave you with memories to last a lifetime!

Image: Camping by the river. Travel Adventures 

About the Author: Harriet Sobey

Originally from Yorkshire in England, Harriet always had a passion for travel and was lucky enough to visit Africa in her childhood. After several trips to Botswana she made the big move in 2013 and hasn’t looked back. Aside from driving the sales and marketing for Sense of Africa Botswana she can often be found exploring the country in her free time, where bush camping trips are a regular weekend pastime.

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