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Botswana Self-Drive Safaris & Tours

Considering a self-drive safari in Africa? It can be done, and Botswana is a good choice. There is no shortage of tours available in the country. However, some visitors prefer a more hands-on approach to their holiday. Organizing a self-drive trip requires a lot of planning, which takes time. Ideally, you’d get advice from somebody who knows the country and has done a similar trip. That is where the safari outfitters who specialize in self-drive safaris come in. They will provide a fully equipped 4x4, take care of your bookings and make sure your itinerary is realistic within your time limit. They can also advise you on the road conditions and give support 24/7 while you’re traveling.

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1-5 of 5 self-drive tours, trips and holidays to Botswana

6 Questions About Botswana Self-drive Safaris


6 Questions About Botswana Self-drive Safaris

Answered by Ariadne van Zandbergen

What are the pros and cons of a Botswana self-drive safari?

“There are several pros and cons to take into account when considering a self-drive safari in Botswana. An organized, guided safari is overall the easiest option. It doesn’t really require any planning and you can sit back and relax knowing that a professional team makes sure that everything runs smoothly. If you hit any problems on the road, such as a flat tire, an overbooking in the lodge, or an unexpected roadblock, your driver-guide will sort it out. Your guide is also an enormous asset in the parks and reserves. They are usually excellent spotters and you’ll benefit from their in-depth knowledge of the bush and animal behavior. Despite all the obvious advantages of an organized safari, some people just like the adventure of heading out in unfamiliar territory unguided. Being independent, coming and going as you wish and being able to make impromptu decisions while traveling, are all part of the appeal. Four-wheel-drive enthusiasts often prefer to self-drive as the actual driving is part of the reason they want to do the trip in the first place.”


Where should I go on a Botswana self-drive safari?

“There are a lot of places to explore in Botswana. Ideally combine some of the country’s highlights with a few off-the-beaten-track gems. Most popular is the Okavango Delta. You may have to leave your car at a secure place, as some lodges are accessible by boat only. The main activities here are mokoro canoe trips and walking safaris. For vehicle-based wildlife viewing, Moremi Game Reserve is the jewel in the Okavango. There’s a good chance of spotting the Big Five as well as rare wild dogs. Chobe National Park is another not-to-be-missed destination. Big herds of animals gather on the Chobe River’s floodplains in the Dry season. Take an afternoon boat trip to get super close to elephants drinking and playing in the water. From Chobe you’re only a short drive away from Victoria Falls (Vic Falls) in Zimbabwe or Zambia, a great place to end a safari. The waterfall is a spectacular sight and adrenaline junkies will enjoy trying a few of the exciting activities on offer. There are more remote options too. In the Wet season you can witness the annual zebra migration in Makgadikgadi and Nxai Pans. For a desert adventure, consider a self-drive safari in Central Kalahari Game Reserve. Seeing animals in this stark environment is really special and you’ll also have a chance to meet with some of the world’s last remaining hunter-gatherers, the San. They might even teach you some of their survival skills, including shooting a bow and arrow and how to collect water from plants.”


Is driving through Botswana safe?

“A self-drive trip in Botswana is very safe. Botswana sees very little crime. Carjacking or any other kinds of attacks on visitors are almost unheard of. The country is thinly populated and you’ll mostly be driving on empty roads. It is, however, vital that you travel carefully and responsibly. Therefore, you should plan your trip carefully and you shouldn’t make the common mistake of trying to cram too much into a limited time. Use the outfitter’s suggested routes or run your own itinerary past them. The rough roads make it difficult to cover much distance in a day. Always carry lots of water and some food with you, and keep filling up your fuel tanks. Driving through Botswana after dark is never a good idea, so travel early in the day and leave yourself plenty of time. Wild camping is not recommended. Always plan ahead on where you’ll spend the night.”


What is the best time of the year for a Botswana trip?

“The best time for a 4x4 safari in Botswana is from May to September. During these dry winter months wildlife viewing is excellent and temperatures are most comfortable. However, September can be very hot already and many people find the heat unbearable in October. Chobe NP is particularly seasonal. When all the water dries up in the bush, animals gather on the river bank and on the floodplains. This gets better and better as the Dry season progresses, and by September and October massive herds of zebras, buffalo and elephants are a permanent feature here. Unexpectedly, water levels in the Okavango Delta are highest in the Dry season. Therefore July to October is usually the best time for mokoro canoe trips. Botswana is generally a dry country, but some areas might become inaccessible during the Wet season months from January to March. At this time some lodges might close too.”


Do I need a lot of experience for a 4x4 Botswana safari?

“If you have good driving skills and you avoid the wettest months from January to March, you shouldn’t need a lot of 4x4 driving experience for most popular routes in Botswana. However, a little bit of bush-driving experience will go a long way to boost your confidence on bad roads. If you are planning to visit remote off-the-beaten-track areas, some 4x4 driving experience is advisable. For seriously remote expeditions, it might be better to drive in convoy with another vehicle. Some operators have guided 4x4 tours, where visitors drive themselves in convoy with others and a support vehicle with the guide and crew. If you are unsure about aspects of a self-drive trip, this is a great alternative to heading out alone. The 4x4 outfitter will be able to discuss the routes with you, making recommendations based on your driving skills and experience.”


How much will this safari cost?

“There are many variables that determine the price of self-drive safari packages in Botswana. A 12-day, mostly camping, self-drive safari in Botswana starts at around US$3,400 per person. Many self-drive tours cover several countries. A popular combination is a tour through Namibia, Botswana and Vic Falls in Zimbabwe or Zambia. A mid-range two-week tour covering some highlights of these countries costs around US$4,500 per person. The level of accommodation throughout the trip has the biggest impact on price. Camping is budget-friendly and suitable for self-drive safaris. You can opt to camp throughout your holiday or mix and match. Spend some nights camping inside the parks and spend some nights in lodges too. If camping isn’t your thing, you can stay in lodges all the way, but that will compromise what you can do inside the parks.”


Botswana Reviews

4.8/5 348 Reviews
Mark Eveleigh  –  
United Kingdom UK

Mark is a travel writer who grew up in Africa and has written over 700 titles for Condé Nast Traveller, Travel Africa, BBC Wildlife and others.

Desert and Delta diversity...and leopards galore!

If – as many will feel – leopard sightings are your last great Big 5 aim, then Botswana is leopard country par excellence! I have made 5 visits to Botswana and, by some bizarre coincidence, have seen 6 leopards every time I have been...

Full Review

Emma Gregg  –  
United Kingdom UK

Emma is an award-winning travel writer for Rough Guides, National Geographic Traveller, Travel Africa magazine and The Independent.

Low-impact safaris at their best

As I have a passion for responsible, sustainable wilderness experiences in beautiful natural surroundings, I find Botswana very hard to fault. It’s the quintessential safari destination, home to numerous lodges, tour companies and...

Full Review

Natalia Bondarenko  –  
United States US
Reviewed: Nov 28, 2023
Memories for Life!

Botswana was definitely the highlight of my entire trip. I explored 4 countries in Africa and Botswana took my heart completely! I did bush camping and it was incredible experience. I can’t wait to go back . I got to spend one week in...

Full Review

Noralv Breivik  –  
Norway NO
Reviewed: Nov 2, 2023
Nature and people in harmony

I lived in Botswana 1975-78. The development hasbeen amazing in the capital, and regardingvthe roads . The wildlife is very interesting and impressive. We saw all the «big five» , several lions, lots of buffaloes and elephants, rhinos in...

Full Review

Agne  –  
Estonia EE
Reviewed: Oct 17, 2023
So many birds!

It was really safe trip and the team and the guide made all to make us happy and feel comfortable. You dont need to worry, the team will take you, feed you, carry you and so one. Still you have to be aware, that you are in Africa and in...

Full Review

Michael  –  
United Kingdom UK
Reviewed: Oct 13, 2023
A must see safari destination

This was our first trip to Africa and to Botswana. Words fail to describe the beauty and abundance of wildlife in the Okavango Delta. We stayed in two camps at the beginning of October. There was still plenty of water in the delta and...

Full Review