If you evern dreamed about planning a self-drive camping safari advanture, you are in the right place. This is the Ultimte Namibia and Botswna itinerary will take you to the must see spetacular parts of both countries – from the tallest dunes in the world in Namibia to the remote safaris of Botswana.
My Namibia and Botswana itinerary covers the best places to see and includes safaris in Etosha National Park in Namibia, and Chobe, Moremi, and the Okavango Delta in Botswana.
Namibia and Botswana are the countries custom-made for self-drive exploration and safari with mostly easily navigable gravel roads, minimal traffic, and an impressively low crime rate.
It took me several months of planning this Namibia and Botswana itinerary, and I finally settled on a road trip route that took me through some of Namibia and Botswana highlights from the capital Windhoek, to the desert sands of Sossusvlei, to the misty Skeleton Coast, to some of the best safaris on the African continent from Etosha, to Chobe to Okavango Delta.
From the desert to the bush and the coast, I was blown away by the variety of sights and scenery on this journey and I list this experience as one of the top road trips on our Planet!
For anyone thinking of the Namibia and Botswana road trip, I have shared my day-by-day itinerary and self-drive route below, with all the information you need to make your adventure the journey of a lifetime.
Namibia and Botswana Itinerary Overview
This Namibia and Botswana itinerary covers some of the most amazing landscapes, a taste of the wildlife, and also a cultural experience with some of the beautiful local people. I have also added alternative routes to give you options while planning your own itinerary.
Please note that I used a combination of campsites in Namibia with some budget accommodations along the way – Here I am also making recommendations for the best options for accommodations.
I have also prepared a Complete guide on 20 Essentials tips on how to self-drive safely in Namibia that I recommend you to read before your trip, and How to Rent a car in Namibia is also a must-read.
|DAY / ACTIVITY
|DAY 1: Arrive in Windhoek, get the rental car, and start driving
|DAY 2: Visit the ghost town of Kolmanshop | Luderitz | Wild horses
|DAY 3: Namib Desert | Sossusvlei
|DAY 4: Watch the sunrise in Deadsvlei and Climb the dunes in Sossusvlei
|DAY 5: Drive to the coastal town in Walvis Bay | Visit Solitare on the way
|DAY 6: Adventure driving in Sandwich Harbour | Visit Swakopmund
|DAY 7: Drive the Skeleton Coast | Visit Cape Coast for the seal colony
|DAY 8: Visit Himba Village and drive to Etosha
|DAY 9: Etosha National Park Self-drive Safari
|Grashoek – Bushman Museum Camp
|DAY 10: Visit Bushman Living Museum
|DAY 11: Road trip from Caprivi Strip to Chobe National Park
|Mwandi View Campsite
|DAY 12: Safari at Chobe National Park
|Mwandi View Campsite
|DAY 13: Safari in Chobe National Park road trip to Savuti
|DAY 14: Safari in Savuti
|DAY 15: Safari in Savuti and road trip to Moremi Game Reserve
|DAY 16: Safari in Moremi Game Reserve & Okavango Delta
|DAY 17: Safari in Moremi Game Reserve & Okavango Delta
|Third Bridge Campsite
|DAY 18: Safari in Okavango Delta
|Third Bridge Campsite
|DAY 19: Safari in Okavango Delta
|DAY 20: On the road to Namibia
|DAY 21: Flight home
Nambia & Botswana Itinerary Map
Namibia and Botswana Itinerary | Day-By-DayNAMIBIA &
ARRIVAL IN WINDHOEK | START YOUR NAMIBIA AND BOTSWANA ITINERARY
If you arrive in the morning, you are ready to start your Namibia and Botswana itinerary today. If your flight arrives in the afternoon or evening, make sure you spend the night in Windhoek before you start driving. Driving at night is too dangerous for you and the animals.
I arrived at the airport in the morning. Between immigration, buying a cell phone SIM card at the airport, and meeting the car rental person that was there to pick me up was less than 1 hour. After arriving at the Zambezi rental car, it took around 1 hour for the explanations about the truck, how to use it, and to sign the contract.
I stopped at the mall in Windhoek for breakfast, grocery shopping, bought towels, sheets for the tent, and bug spray – all in one stop and I was ready to go!
The amazing 3-week self-drive to Namibia and Botswana begins! All packed, supplies in place, both gas tanks completed with fuel, my camera in my hands, and the windows down. While keeping an eye on the road and others on the side road to see if I could spot any animals – yes, you can start to spot animals as soon as you leave the airport. Welcome…you are in Namibia!
DAY 1 OF MY NAMIBIA AND BOTSWANA ITINERARY: DRIVE TO KEETMANSHOOP AND VISIT THE QUIVERTREE FOREST
- TRAVEL: from Windhoek to Keetmanshoop
- DISTANCE: 308 miles | 5 hours
- HIGHLIGHT: Stunning first views of Namibia / Quivertree Forest
- DRIVING: The drive from Windhoek to Keetmanshoop is long but easy. The entire drive is on paved roads with a 120 kph speed limit. On this route, you will pass several towns with good options for gas and basic necessities.
- Best options for accommodations in Keetmanshoop
The first day of your Namibia and Botswana itinerary can be tiring, especially because of the long trip to Namibia, but it is exciting as you start to feel familiar with driving in the desert and see what the landscape looks like.
Arriving in Kepmanshoop I had the chance to watch the sunset from the Quivertree Forest, and this place is stunning – a great introduction to the unique landscape in Namibia. The trees are actually aloe plants and they can grow as high as 10 meters and can be as old as 300 years old.
PRO TIP: I recommend picking up your supplies in Windhoek before you start your Namibia self-drive trip. But don’t worry if you forgot to buy something in Windhoek, as you will have the chance to do a few stops along the way. I had 2 stops for a cold drink and also for fuel. Watch for people wanting to “take care of your car” for some money.
DAY 2: VISIT THE GHOST TOWN OF KOLMANSKOP AND HAVE LUNCH AT THE COASTLINE TOWN OF LUDERITZ
- TRAVEL: from Keetmanshoop to Luderitz | from Luderitz to Helmerighausen
- DISTANCE: 175 miles (3 hours) | 145 miles (2.5 hours)
- HIGHLIGHT: Ghost town of Kolmanskop | Luderitiz coastal town | Wild horses
- DRIVING: The drive to the Luderitz area on B4 (paved roads) is beautiful but at the same time, it can be a little challenging, as strong winds blow and the sand can obscure visibility. Just respect the speed limits and take extra caution while driving if the wind starts blowing the sand across the road. Leaving Luderitz, you will backtrack along B4 before turning north on gravel roads to reach Helmringhausen and NamibRand Nature Reserve. You will slow down a little on the gravel roads and you will also want to decrease the pressure in your tires to avoid getting flats and improve handling.
- Check here for best options for accommodations around Helmeringhausen
Start your second day of your Namibia and Botswana itinerary by visiting the ghost town of Kolmanskop, located in the Forbidden Zone in the Namib Desert – one of the most fascinating things about abandoned places in the absence of life, but the profound sense of curiosity it creates to know what its whole story is.
From diamonds to dust – What one day was a wealthy town, where diamonds could easily be found, because of intensive mining, it depleted the area and by 1956 it was abandoned. Now the dunes fill the rooms of the town with banks of sand creating an intriguing landscape and a paradise for photographers.
After visiting Kolmanskop in the morning, it is only 15 minutes driving to the next destination, Luderitz, a cool and often foggy coastal town where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Namib Desert. It is a great stop for a fresh seafood lunch, and to visit the colorful German architectural building.
In your driving from Luderitz to Aus, you can also see some of the only Wild Horses in Africa. These horses were brought by European colonists, who found a new home in the Namib desert in an area known as the Garub.
I chose to spend the night at Helmeringhausen since it was a good distance to my next destination. This was my first night camping, how exciting!
PRO-TIP: Note that if you are visiting Kolmanskop, the gate closes at 1:00 PM every day, and you will need to reserve at least 2 hours to explore the whole town.
DAY 3: DRIVE TO SOSSUSVLEI AND START EXPLORING THE DESERT (2 OVERNIGHTS)
- TRAVEL: from Helmeringhausen to Sossusvlei
- DISTANCE: 100 miles | 2.5 hours
- HIGHLIGHT: Amazing views of Sesriem Canyon | Sossusvlei | Deadsvlei
- DRIVING: On the third day of this Namibia self-drive itinerary the driving will be on gravel roads on C27. The scenery is an amazing introduction to the drive in the desert, it is desolated and a great opportunity to already start spotting some animals. I saw many ostrich, zebras, oryx, and springbok. While the road is not bad at all, I ended up getting 2 flat tires on my way to Sossusvlei. While it doesn’t require a 4WD to get to Sossusvlei, some skills are required to drive on this road.
Sesriem is the town at the gate of the Namib-Naukluft National Park, and here is a great opportunity to fuel up with gas and shop for any food and water. I arrived mid-afternoon, checked in at my campsite, and went to explore the park and watch the sunset from the dunes.
Once you are inside the park, you can start driving on what one day was a riverbed, and today serves as roads among some of the tallest dunes in the world. Visiting Sossuvlei was the highlight of my trip to Namibia, and it was one of my bucket list places to visit on our planet – and I was right, it didn’t disappoint me as it is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited in my life.
Climb some of the dunes and hike across the desert. I chose to visit the dune adjacent to Dune 45, as there was no one there and offered me spectacular views and a great opportunity for taking stunning pictures.
PRO-TIP: Make sure your tires are between 1.6 and 1.8 bar as it will most likely save you from a flat tire (I learned the hard way). Higher pressure is better gas mileage, but it is also easier for rocks to puncture.
DAY 4 OF MY NAMIBIA AND BOTSWANA ITINERARY: VISIT THE SURREAL DEADVLEI AND CLIMB DUNES IN SOSSUSVLEI
- TRAVEL: From Campsite to Sossusvlei and Deadvlei
- DISTANCE: Your discretion
- HIGHLIGHT: Amazing views of the Dunes | Sossusvlei | Deadvlei
- DRIVING: Driving: Upon entering the park there is a tar road for about 45 minutes, at which point there is a car park for vehicles who can’t/prefer not to make the short 4×4 trip to Deadvlei and Sossusvlei. I did see drivers getting stuck in the deep sands so take care to follow the tracks carefully and avoid any parts which look too deep. If you’re not comfortable driving a 4×4 off-road it may be wise not to attempt the deeper sand and use the shuttle instead. You absolutely need a 4×4 once you reach the end of the gravel road at Sossusvlei/Deadvlei. Here I put my truck in 4-low and drove through the deep sand to a dirt parking lot with a sign that said, “Deadvlei 1.1 km, follow the markers”. I could not find any markers to follow, and with the sand storm, I decided to drive around a little bit and explore the area. The storm died down eventually, and I was able to go back to the Deadvlei parking.
I woke up at 4:30 AM as the park gate opens 5 AM – and drove to Deadvlei for the sunrise. It is very rewarding to watch the shades of the petrified trees grow as the sun rises, and the dunes change shades of orange color. The scenery changes at the same speed I could continue to click the button on my camera.
I left the lodge an hour before sunrise to arrive at the park gate for opening and made a beeline for Deadvlei, the open plain where the isolated and long-dead camel thorn trees stand. The drive from the park gate to Deadvlei is about 50 minutes.
After the spectacular sunrise, I headED back to Dune 45 and climbed it. Climbing a dune is harder than I predicted and for each step, I would take upward, I felt that I would slide 2 steps back…and it started to get hot. December is summer in Africa and the mid-day temperatures can get extremely hot, this is when I realized it was over 100 degrees. I decided to head to the are lodge and have lunch and sip cold water, until the temperature dropped a little so I could continue to explore the desert.
PRO-TIP: If you want to see sunrise or sunset at the dunes note that only visitors who stay within the park are able to access it for sunrise or sunset as the park gates are otherwise closed for outside visitors. It can be very windy so be aware and I recommend having a scarf to cover your face from the sand. Mind your belongings because my hat flew away and I had to run to get it. Also, be aware of your electronic equipment, they really do not like sand.
DAY 5: DRIVE TO THE ATLANTIC COAST AREA OF WALVIS BAY (2 OVERNIGHTS)
- TRAVEL: from Sossusvlei to Walvis Bay
- DISTANCE: 227 miles | 6 hours
- HIGHLIGHT: Solitare for photos | Walvis Bay for flamingos
- DRIVING: It’s a 4-hour drive from the Sossusvlei area to Walvis Bay on a gravel road. A large portion of the drive passes through a long and straight road in the Namib-Naukluft National Park – You will drive in the desert then the landscape starts to change dramatically and you will drive among canyon and rock formations. Approaching Walvis Bay and the Atlantic Coast you start to see the ocean and perhaps some mist.
This is another early morning of your Namibia and Botswana itinerary. Start the day by watching the sunrise in Sossusvlei, and again, another rewarding view. I returned to the Deadvlei again, as it is a popular place to capture the first sunrise of the day while spotting some dunes, including the tallest one, Big Daddy just in front of your eyes.
Time to have some strong coffee, roll out the tent and hit the road again, it’s time to leave the desert and make the journey towards the Atlantic Coast, driving on the very dusty and open roads.
Along the way drive to Solitaire, take some pictures of the old burnt cars, and try the “best apple pie in Namibia” from Moose McGregor’s Desert Bakery.
I was not very impressed with the industrial port town of Walvis Bay, with offshore oil rigs and salt companies marking the horizon, until I started to explore the beauty that this area offers.
One of the highlights is visiting the flamingo colony, where you can spot thousands of guess what? pink and white flamingos, as well as many other birds.
PRO-TIP: Solitaire is home to the only gas station between Sossusvlei and Walvis Bay so fill up if you need to!
DAY 6 OF MY NAMIBIA AND BOTSWANA ITINERARY: ADVENTURE IN SANDWICH HABOUR & EXPLORE SWAKOPMUND
Today was off the beaten track and absolutely one of my favorite things I have done in Namibia ever!
I drove to Sandwich Harbour – it is so amazing that the best description I have is “Where the desert meets the ocean” – I could not even imagine a landscape like existed. Driving over golden dunes nestled beside the Atlantic Ocean. I passed some seals, jackals, and jackals eating seals.
This experience was exhilarating and I highly recommend this excursion. The drive is not for the faint of heart, and there is a high probability of getting stuck in the sand along the beach. If the tide comes in, you could be in trouble. Don’t hesitate to hire a guide for this trek. It will be less stressful and more enjoyable.
In the afternoon I visited Swakopmund, the largest coastal town in the country and the perfect stopover between the desert and the Skeleton Coast. Also here is where the locals go for their vacation, and it makes the perfect stop to eat some good German food and relax while stocking up on supplies!
Swakopmund is an adventure hotspot such as driving on the dunes, quad biking, sandboarding, and skydiving. It is also a very popular destination to fish in the ocean.
PRO-TIP: If you decide to self-drive to Sandwich-Harbor, note that a minimum of preparation is required. Have a proper 4×4, have great driving skills/experience in deep/soft sand, buy your permit to enter, and know the tide table before you go. I recommend booking the tour with a professional local tour company.
DAY 7: DRIVE THE SKELETON COAST AND VISIT THE SEAL COLONY AT CAPE COAST
- TRAVEL: from Walvis Bay to Khorixas
- DISTANCE: 200 miles | 4 hours
- HIGHLIGHT: Swakopmund Town | Seal colony | Damaraland and cave painting
- DRIVING: While along the coast, you will be driving in the mist created by the phenomena of having the heat of the dunes and the cold Atlantic ocean. The gravel roads that traverse the region can be both challenging and slow but are generally suitable for 2WD and 4WD vehicles, and today is the journey into the wilderness. Heading east towards Khorixas, the roads are wide dirt/gravel that can be quite dusty in the dry season. The roads are well maintained though you will want to make sure you are running lower pressure (1.8 bar) in your tires to avoid flats caused by the gravel.
One of the most dreamed destinations in Namibia is Skeleton Coast, named for the whale bones that once littered this stretch of coastline, and spot many of the shipwrecks claimed by rough seas and harsh weather. Drive to Henties Bay, stopping en route to admire the wreck of the Zeila.
Along the Skeleton Coast, it is very misty in the morning, and the temperatures are much lower than in the desert, around 17-20 C. At Henties Bay, the road to Damaraland turns sharply inland. The cold, moisture-laden air of the coast melts away, to be replaced by the hot desert sun.
Then head to Cape Cross to visit the seal colony. You will see thousands of Cape fur seals, what is considered the largest aggregations in the world. Just watching the furry faces, and catching some sun while pups milk from their mom was a very special moment and a great place to visit. Yes, it can smell very strong, but after a few minutes I just got used to the smell and it didn’t bother me any longer.
PRO-TIP: If you desire to visit the shipwrecks, I recommend having the areas marked in advance, as while you are driving on the road, the mist makes it hard to see anything from the road.
DAY 8: IMMERSION AT HIMBA VILLAGE AND DRIVE TO ETOSHA
- TRAVEL: from Khorixas to Etosha National Park
- DISTANCE: 165 miles | 4 hours
- HIGHLIGHT: Visit Himba Village | First day of safari in Etosha
- DRIVING: For the first half of the drive toward Etosha C39 is a wide gravel road. You will then turn north at Outjo on C38 (paved road) to head to the Okaukuejo Gate inside Etosha National Park.
Visiting the Himba Village was one of the highlights of my trip to Namibia!
Between my drive from Khorixas to Etosha, I saw these Himba ladies on the side of the road, and I stopped to make some donations and to check on some local items they were selling. Pow! I end up spending my whole plan for today and skipping one day of safari in Etosha. But hey, I was so happy with this opportunity since I wanted the opportunity to have an ethical encounter with the local tribes, and this was the perfect opportunity.
They took me to their village, dressed me as the “Himba Paula” and shared some of the amazing traditions of the Himba people. I ended up spending an amazing half day with them before I insist they would allow me to leave to continue my journey.
PRO-TIP: If you also want to have a real authentic experience with the Himba people, keep an eye and try to make connections. You will see them around this area and you can ask them if they would accept your visit to their village, and they will charge you a small amount to show you their homes, traditions and amazing hand-made clothes.
The drive to Etosha was 4 hours. I checked in at the hotel outside the gate and headed to the National Park to buy my permit. I did a 3-hour safari since the gates close at 7 pm in the summertime. I had the chance to see many animals in the park, as at the end of the day it is a great time to spot animals. The best ”catch” of the day was to watch the king lion passion right in front of my car without even looking at me.
During dinner time at the lodge, I had the pleasure to watch the first rain of the season…a stunning moment!
DAY 9: ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK SELF-DRIVE SAFARI
- TRAVEL: from Etosha to Grashoek
- DISTANCE: 300 miles | 5 hours
- HIGHLIGHT: Amazing number of animals at Etosha National Park
- DRIVING: Etosha National Park was designed for self-drives to easily navigate the park, and the park has all the structures provided by the government such as campsites, bathrooms, and gas stations. A 4×4 is not required to drive in Etosha.
Etosha is the most renowned wildlife area of Namibia with a salt pan so large it can apparently be seen from space. It is considered one of the best safaris on the planet, and it is very well known for the water holes, which are magnets for wildlife, Etosha is one of the highlights of any destination on a 3-week Namibia and Botswana self-drive itinerary.
Start your day very early, as chances to view the wildlife is best!
If you visit Etosha during the high season, your chances are to see the wildlife just congregated around the waterholes. I visited during the low season, which means there is more water in the park, therefore, the animals are more spread around the park, and not only around the waterholes, which makes it more difficult to spot the animal, but I still saw many animals, including giraffe, elephants, zebras, wildest and I even saw a white rhino.
After 10 hours of self-drive safari, I headed to my next destination and spent the night at the Bushman campsite, and guess what? They are really in the bush and there is no electricity or water at the campsite…but surely I had a lot of excitement to make up for it.
PRO-TIP: If you have the chance, spend at least 2 nights in Etosha, as the wildlife is vast and the landscape is from another planet.
DAY 10: ACTIVE DAY IN THE BUSHES WITH THE BUSHMAN
- TRAVEL: from Grashoek to the Caprivi Strip
- DISTANCE: 290 miles (7 hours)
- HIGHLIGHT: Spend the day with the Bushman
- DRIVING: Be ready as today is a long day driving! You will leave the Living Museum and drive on gravel roads until you get to B8 towards the Caprive Strip. B8 is in great condition. There is also a lot of activity happening along roads – you will pass a lot of villages, see kids playing, people walking to go collect water and just be aware of the animals (goats, cows, donkeys…) they can really cross in front of the car at any moment. Now you are making your way to the Caprivi Strip and Bostwana.
I spent the day with the bushman (San people) at the Living Museum of Ju/’Hoansi-San and it was one of the highlights of my trip to Namibia I highly recommend this activity.
As a big supporter of responsible and ethical traveling, the good news is that the Living Museum is a very ethical and a cultural highlight in Namibia as well as a good example for sustainable development, as the visitors give back to the local community and help to support Preservation of their culture.
Besides social work, we have an opportunity to learn a lot about the traditional culture and the original way of living of the San, and to participate in many activities that can be offered in a visit as short as half-day up to 3 days.
A the end of my activities with the Bushmen, it was time to head back to the road toward the Okavango delta panhandle in the western Caprivi strip.
DAY 11: CAPRIVI STRIP & CROSSING FROM NAMIBIA INTO BOTSWANA ITINERARY
- TRAVEL: from Ngepi Campsite (Namibia) to Kasane (Botswana)
- DISTANCE: 280 Miles / 5 Hours
- HIGHLIGHT: Driving the Caprivi Strip/ Visiting villages along with the road/ Huge number of animals on Chobe River Front
- DRIVING: After driving in the desert, the Caprivi Strip region is an oasis, and you will start to see enormous trees and the high biodiversity of the area. It requires a stop at the Trans Kalahari border control for immigration between Botswana and Namibia. The roads are excellent and the border crossing was quick and painless when we crossed. DO NOT drive at night like cattle, elephants, and other livestock are frequently encountered
- Check here for options for accommodations in Kasane
Today I drove the Caprivi Strip from Namibia to Botswana. First, take a break and look at the location of the Caprivi Strip on the map – It is a 280-mile-long panhandle only 20 miles (32 kilometers) wide, a very interesting place on the map, and of course, to drive.
Keep in mind that if you’re crossing into the country overland and in your own (or rented) car, when you pass through immigration, they will search for fresh meat, fresh fruit, and dairy products, most of which will be confiscated if found. Knowing that I stopped along the road to donate all my food (meat, fruits, and vegetables) that cannot enter from Namibia to Botswana. It is also a great opportunity to get to know some local people, and also, they will appreciate you sharing the food with them. Check here for more information about entry and exit of Botswana.
PRO-TIP: I need to give a shout to the campsite today, as Negepi was the coolest, funniest, and most creative campsite during my whole trip. They even have the world-famous funky ablutions – a selection of very unique outdoor showers and toilets! Plus they offer homemade meals, plenty of activities, and a full bar with free Wi-Fi and a great location if you are heading to Botswana.
DAY 12 NAMIBIA AND BOTSWANA ITINERARY: SAFARI AT CHOBE RIVERFRONT – THE ELEPHANT ENCOUNTER
- TRAVEL: Safari on Chobi Riverfront
- DISTANCE: As many hours/miles as you like
- HIGHLIGHT: Self-drive safari along the river – lots of animals
- DRIVING: A 4WD is required to drive on the Chobe River Front, as some spots have deep sand. Depending on the period you may be able to drive along the riverbed or not. Enter at the Ngoma Gate end and enjoy a leisurely drive to Ihaha Camp, also the best spot to see lions.
- Check here for options for accommodations in Kasane
Chobe River Front was THE BEST SAFARI I ever have done! For all the details about the Best safaris in Botswana, visit this complete article.
I did a 10-hour self-drive safari and saw hundreds of zebras, waterbok, giraffes, springboks, and elephants – at around 1:30 PM I parked at a mud hole close to the Elephant Grave to watch a herd of elephants when suddenly I was surrounded by hundreds of elephants. It was one of the highlights of my whole trip
At sunset, I was back to the camp to watch the sunset from the infinity pool while also watching herds of elephants drink water from the camp water hole. It was the best Christmas Eve!
PRO-TIP: I recommend buying the Chobe National Park tourist map sold at the gate. They have tons of good information about how to self-drive the park, including very detailed maps.
DAY 13: SEARCH FOR THE BIG CATS IN SAVUTI NATIONAL PARK (2 OVERNIGHTS)
- TRAVEL: from Chobe Riverfront to Savuti
- DISTANCE: 75 Miles / 7 Hours
- HIGHLIGHT: Landscape in Savuti/ Wildlife diversity/ Encounter with lions
- DRIVING: This was the only part of driving my 3-week self-drive in Namibia & Botswana trip that I really felt nervous about. It is and fell very isolated, I drove 7 hours without seeing another car. Roads are typically thick sand and very tricky to drive, even with lowered tire pressure it is a very uncomfortable drive and I had a flat tire. The distance is not too long, but you will drive around 15-20 km/h. When it rains, you cannot drive along the marsh roads as the wet black cotton soil becomes completely unnavigable and you will get badly stuck.
- Check luxury options for accommodations in Savuti
Landscape in Savuti/ Wildlife diversity/ Encounter with lions
Savuti National Park is considered one of the best places to spot predators. Lions, cheetahs, wild dogs, hyens, and leopards are the main reason visitors drive to this remote part of Chobe National Park.
Besides the excitement to see a lion eating its kill under the bush from a very close distance, I didn’t spot any other big cat. But I did visit the park as it offers a big variety between the baobab trees, rock painting, and driving on the river channel which remains dry for about 70 years.
Also, Savuti is well known as lions prey on elephants, and I could see signs with so many skeletons on the ground.
DAY 14: SAFARI DAY IN SAVUTI & THE LIONESSES AND THEIR CUBS
I call it a “winner day” when you see 2 lionesses and 9 cubs first thing in the morning. Yes, I sat for over an hour watching a family of lions just living their everyday lives at Savuti.
I also saw many other animals, but no more cats. But it was still one of my favorite safaris during my 3-week self-drive in Namibia & Botswana.
PRO-TIP: Lions are normally active early in the morning or in the evening, during the day they normally hide under bushes and it is almost impossible to spot them.
DAY 15: SAFARI IN KHWAI & ENCOUNTER WITH HIPPOS
- TRAVEL: from Savuti to Khwai
- DISTANCE: 40 Miles / 3.5 Hours
- HIGHLIGHT: Landscape in Savuti/ Wildlife diversity/ Encounter with lions
- DRIVING: The dirt roads are unforgiving and progress is slow, but that is why you are on a safari. Caution and patience are needed to wind your way along the trails, dodging potholes, mud pits, and deep sand.
- Check here for the best accommodation options in Khwai
The drive from Savuti ti Khwai is a safari in itself. After passing through Khwai Gate and paying the entry fee, the landscape changes and it becomes much more evident that you are in the Okavango Delta. This area is known for its abundance of water and the life that it supports.
The Khwai Campsite is located in the area called Dombo Hippo Pools. Hippos are easy to find in the safari drive near the campsite. I also saw herds of zebra and quite a few elephants. I went on a long game drive to explore this region. There are large tracts of Mopane forest with pools and floodplains interspersed.
The area is challenging to drive as there are deep mud pools on many of the trails and some wet areas that make it impossible to pass.
PRO-TIP: If you are going on a self-drive in Botswana, most of the driving will be off-road. I recommend carrying a backpack as it will protect your belongings on bumpy roads. Check here the Review on Top Backpacks on the market today.
DAY 16: SAFARI XAKANAKA & DEAD TREE ISLAND
- TRAVEL: from Khwai to Xakanaka
- DISTANCE: 28 Miles / 2 Hours
- HIGHLIGHT: Landscape in Savuti/ Wildlife diversity/ Encounter with lions
- DRIVING: The dirt roads/trails are quite challenging to drive. Keep one eye on the trail and the other eye open for wildlife. The scenery is amazing and the trails will keep you weaving. Don’t underestimate the fatigue from navigating the truck all day long, and keep hydrated and nourished to maintain your resilience.
- Check here for best accommodation options in Savuti
The drive to Xakanaka took around 2-hours and it was also very challenging. The roads are rutted and winding. During the rains, it is almost impossible to drive, with some very deep waterholes in the road and the journey can take up to 4-hours.
The game reserve in this area is phenomenal – but a day doing a self-driving safari is exhausting – the vegetation is very dense and there are a lot of dead trees on the ground. Also, there are so many holes with water and mud, which makes the driving very challenging if you are trying to spot animals, take pictures, and drive.
Xakanaxa occupies a narrow strip of land surrounded by marshes and lagoons. At night you can easily hear the animals, especially elephants, or be serenaded by hippo grunts.
This area is one of few offering a year-round land and water game-viewing experience, possible to explore by car or powerboats.
On a day of safari in this area, it is easy to spot a large variety of animals such as elephants, buffalo, hyena, giraffe, hippo, wildebeest, kudu, lechwe, and if you are lucky, lion and leopard, among many others.
After a whole day of self-drive safari – with a 1-hour break for a nap under a tree in the middle of the day – time to go back to the camp, cook dinner, and get some rest.
DAY 17: THIRD BRIDGE
- TRAVEL: from Xakanaka to Third Bridge
- DISTANCE: 10 Miles / 1.5 Hours
- HIGHLIGHT: Landscape in Savuti/ Wildlife diversity/ Encounter with lions
- DRIVING: The trails are bad in the good season, and terrible in the rainy season. Driving is extremely rough and slow. You can expect to average ~10-15 MPH while dodging mud holes and potholes. After Second Bridge the sandy trails are very bumpy and difficult to navigate.
- Check here for best accommdoation options
The wildlife in this section of Okavango Delta is incredible for safari, and you feel all the time that you are truly amongst the wildlife.
At lunchtime, I was back at the campsite to skip the mid-day sun and cool down in the shade of the trees, while cooking lunch. When a herd of elephants had the same idea and I had to share my shade with them. It was a magical moment, and one of the highlights of my trip to Botswana.
PRO-TIP: Make sure you pack lots of water, as you will be very isolated in this part of Botswana. I thought I had enough water, but with the hit and humidity, I ran out of water 2 days earlier than I had planned and I had to boil water from the Okavango Delta to drink. It is smart to also pack some portable water filters.
DAY 18: THIRD BRIDGE & WATER SAFARI
The second day of my Third Bridge safari was one of my favorite safaris.
Today I tried a water safari, taking a 2 hour (it turned into a 3) boat from the Third Bridge Camp. I spotted an amazing variety of birds, some baby crocodiles, and the kings of the water in Okavango, lots of hippos!
Our boat engine stopped working when we arrived at the far end of the Second Lagoon, which has around 60 hippos that live there. Being surrounded by the most aggressive animal in nature, during sunset (it means, getting dark) was terrifying. But our guide was very good and managed to call on the radio for help and they sent another boat to rescue us. I survived another adventure at Okavango Delta.
DAY 19: LEAVING OKAVANGO DELTA DRIVE TOWARD NAMIBIA
- TRAVEL: from the Third Bridge to Maun to Ghanzi
- DISTANCE: 90 Miles / 5 Hours | 177 Miles / 3.5 Hours
- HIGHLIGHT: Reaching civilization and being able to refuel and restock – and eat at a restaurant
- DRIVING: Leaving Third Bridge and following the bumpy dirt road out of the Game Reserve, you will then reach a paved road to get to Maun. This is an easy drive and a chance to refuel after your week in the bush. The drive west from Maun to Ghanzi is paved and straight.
- Check here for best accommodations options in Ghanzi
Departing Third Bridge was such sweet sorrow. I was running out of fresh water and my gas tanks were low. The past week had been intense off-road driving and unforgettable animal encounters. It was time to leave Okavango behind and head back to civilization.
On my way out of Third Bridge, I passed a larger herd of zebra. They watched as I drove by as if to say farewell. The trail leaving Third Bridge was well worn and less bumpy than the previous days’ drives. After passing through South Gate, it was a short drive to A3 and on-road driving. It was such an incredible feeling once I hit a paved road again. On the pavement, I made good time to Maun.
Arriving in Maun, I made a stop for lunch at a restaurant and enjoyed my first real sit-down meal in over 1 week. It was a simple meal, but it may as well have been a feast for me. Following lunch, I gassed up the truck and picked up some essentials at a local grocery store. Knowing that I needed to make my way back to Namibia, I did not spend much time in Maun.
Driving east in the early afternoon I made it as far as Ghanzi before nightfall. This was a great mid-way point for my trip back to Windhoek. I spent my first night in a real bed in over 1 week and had a nice meal in the hotel restaurant.
DAY 20: WINDHOEK LODGE & RECOVERY DAY
- TRAVEL: from Ghanzi to Windhoek
- DISTANCE: 350 Miles / 7 Hours
- HIGHLIGHT: Enjoy the scenery along the road and reminisce on the adventures you just had. Relax at the Daan Viljoen Game Park Lodge and enjoy the small game reserve.
- DRIVING: Ghanzi to Windhoek follows the well-paved A2 / B6 Trans Kalahari Highway. The border towns near Namibia are notorious for speed traps and police will not hesitate to stop you for even 1km over the limit. Allow yourself time to pass through customs before crossing back into Namibia.
- Check here for best accommodation options in Windhoek
I very rarely spend money on lodges, but to celebrate the end of this amazing 3 weeks road trip in Namibia & Botswana, and also, it was New Year – Oh boy! It was a great way to recharge from the long drive on bumpy roads and to lay down in a comfortable bed before I start my journey back home.
The Daan Viljoen Game Park is located on the outskirts of Windhoek and makes a great place to stay before heading to the airport for your return flight. The park is 40 square km of wildlife, camping and picnic sites, and a lodge. You can relax by the pool, continue your safari or enjoy a nice meal in one of the restaurants.
I spent this last night of my Namibia and Botswana itinerary with a big smile on my face remembering climbing the dunes in Sossusvlei and seeing so many animals in their natural habitat.
DAY 21 OF MY NAMIBIA AND BOTSWANA ITINERARY: WINDHOEK AND DEPARTURE DAY
And this is the grand finale of my Namibia and Botswana itinerary adventure!
I returned my 4WD and headed to the Hosea Kutato International Airport. Arriving early at the airport I was able to check-in and browse some of the small souvenir shops. I grabbed a coffee and a light meal at the airport restaurant and thumbed through my pictures before getting on the plane, exhausted but exhilarated.
Travel Insurance for your trip
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Namibia and Botswana Itinerary | Trip Resources
RENTING A CAR FOR A NAMIBIA ROAD TRIP
You will need to have a 4×4 vehicle to go on your Namibia road trip. It can be confusing renting a car in Namibia since there are different providers, offering different rental car options.
First of all, you will need to decide if you will rent a 4×4 truck or a 4×4 truck with a tent on top (if you are planning to camp around the country).
You can save on your rental car when you book through this site. I use and recommend Discover Cars because it is the most reliable rental car source, and it allows you to compare the prices of different places.
SELF-DRIVING IN NAMIBIA & BOTSWANA ITINERARY
*Self-drive conditions may vary between wet (November to March) and dry (April to October) seasons. Your self-drive itinerary will need to be tailored respecting the time of the year that you are visiting.
Driving in Namibia is relatively easy. There are only a few roads that are paved and have a speed limit of up to 120 km/h and the majority of the roads have different levels of gravel road, which some are really good and you still can drive at 100 km/h.
Others can be challenging and too bumpy and/or sandy, and driving slowly with extra caution is required. Make sure to go over your rental car company and follow all the instructions they will give you, such as pressure on the tire, speed limit, and what you should do when you get stuck in deep sand.
NOTE: Check here for Everything you need to know about driving in Namibia
If you are driving in the National Parks in Botswana, a 4×4 is essential, since there are both, deep sand and clay.
Especially if you are self-driving in the Okavango Delta region, the best time to visit is during the dry season. The only public roads in this region are the western and eastern sides of the Panhandle and Moremi Game Reserve.
NAMIBIA TAILOR-MADE TOUR
A popular alternative to visiting Namibia is to hire an expert local company. They can incorporate any destination into your travels or even any animal species that you hope to see.
You can create a bespoke itinerary, and design your ultimate safari to match your interest, budget, and travel dates. I highly recommend Wild Wonderful World, as they put together incredible itineraries, and part of the profits are used on amazing conservation efforts in Africa
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MORE TIPS TO SELF-DRIVE IN NAMIBIA & BOTSWANA ITINERARY
- Currency: Namibia uses Namibian Dollar – check here for the current exchange rate. Botswana uses Pula – check here for the current exchange rate. Different from some other countries, you will need to carry the local cash with you, an ATM can be found in the cities.
- Fuel: Since you will be driving long distances, fuel regularly in the major towns as there can be long distances between stations. Credit cards are accepted in the larger stations but many smaller stops were cash only.
- Supplies: Snacks and drinks are available at most of the fuel stops and the bigger towns had a well-stocked Spar.
- Maps/GPS: Our rental car came with a GPS and it worked wonders, even in remote areas. I also kept a paper map in the glove box just in case!
- SIM cards: it’s easy to pick up a pay-as-you-go SIM in the MCT store at the airports as well as local mobile network stores.
- Internet/Wi-Fi: In Namibia, I found it easier to find camping with Wi-Fi available. I didn’t have an internet connection during my trip to Botswana.
My Namibia and Botswana itinerary in Conclusion
This is my very detailed Namibia and Botswana itinerary, and I hope this can help you to plan your adventure trip!
Namibia and Botswana are safe countries to visit and drive to, you just need to make sure you have a good itinerary and a map with you. I also recommend renting a 4×4 truck, as you will be driving off-road, as well as on paved roads.
If you are looking for a tour operator to plan a trip for you, I highly recommend Wild Wonderful World, and part of the profits is used on amazing conservation efforts.
If I forgot to cover something, or if you have any additional questions, please leave your comment below and I will be thrilled to get back to you.
WHAT I WOULD DO THE SAME
I planned my whole trip itinerary months in advance to make sure I would visit the places I absolutely wanted to see. I would recommend a pre-planning if you are going to self-drive in Namibia and Botswana. The area is very remote and the distances can be longer than what the Google Maps shows. Do your research and understand the destinations that will help you to have successful travel.
WHAT I WOULD DO DIFFERENT
It is hard to say because I absolutely love my 3-week self-drive in Namibia & Botswana trip, but of course, there is always something we would change to make the perfect trip, be perfection. If I had the chance to change something, knowing what I learned from this trip, I would spend 2 fewer days in Okavango Delta and dedicate one more day at Etosha and one more day to Chobe Riverfront – as I think these places are highlights for spotting animals, and I didn’t spend enough time on these locations.
I also found myself out of cash and out of water during my Okavango Delta excursion. Towards the end of the safari, I did not have the cash to pay the entry fees at the Game Reserve gates, and they could not accept credit cards. I wound up paying for the entry fee at the government office in Maun, but I wish I had brought more cash with me (including to pay for a boat safari or any other opportunity). I would have also definitely brought more water – more is better. I made do by boiling water from the campsite faucets.
If you are planning a trip to Namibia, make sure you check out my other posts:
- Namibia Road Trip itinerary
- Botswana Road Trip Itinerary
- Best safaris + Camping sites in Botswana
- How to Self-driving in Namibia – 20 Essential tips
- How to rent a car in Namibia
- 15 Must-visit places in Namibia: A photo journey
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