Looking for the road less travelled on safari? Here are 2 great routes for 4x4 self-drive adventures in Botswana, taking in the beautiful Okavango and magical Tuli Block, for unique experiences in a land of contrasts.
© Driving on what passes for a bridge into Moremi
Maun to Xakanaxa
Maun is the gateway to the Okavango and the best place to stock up on supplies for your journey. You can either fly into Maun and then pick up your 4x4 vehicle rental, or arrange a self-drive safari from Johannesburg or Gaborone and enjoy an extended trip en-route to Maun.
There are 2 gateways to Moremi, South Gate and North Gate with various scenic road routes between them for game drives and visiting different areas. From South Gate you can drive directly to Xakanaxa Camp, or you can travel via Third Bridge to Xakanaxa, and then onto North Gate at Khwai, passing a beautiful area known as Hippo Pools. Near North Gate is a Mopane pole bridge which you will have to cross in order to exit Moremi at this gate.Route suggestion from South Africa:
Johannesburg, Gaborone, Khama Rhino Sanctuary at Serowe, Francistown, Makgadikgadi Pans, MaunCombination Itinerary:
Xakanaxa, Savute, Chobe, Kasane, Victoria Falls, Johannesburg
Xakanaxa is located within the Moremi Game Reserve in the Central Okavango. This is an area of exceptional beauty and features high concentrations of game, especially in the dry winter season. Moremi is home to all of the Big Five animals including recently introduced Rhino.
Xakanaxa Camp overlooks the beautiful Xakanaxa Lagoon and offers uncommon year-round access to water activities as well as game drives. The camp is situated on the banks of the permanently flowing Khwai River so you can watch game from the decks. Enjoy mokoro safaris (traditional canoe trips), motor-boating, game drives and fishing.
Polokwane to the Tuli Block
Polokwane in the Limpopo Province is the South African gateway to the north. You can fly to Polokwane and collect your 4x4 vehicle rental and then self-drive into Botswana, or you can self-drive from Johannesburg or Gaborone and enjoy an extended trip en-route to the Tuli Block. The Northern Tuli Game Reserve is privately run and you can only access it if you are booked into one of the lodges.
Self-drive guests from South Africa can either leave their car at the Pont Drift Border Post in a secure area on the South African side, go through passport control and then take a pre-arranged road transfer to the lodge, or cross the border and self-drive directly to the lodge.
You can only cross the Limpopo River by car during the dry winter season when it is not in flood (check with the lodge in advance), otherwise you have to take a passenger / luggage only cable car across it followed by the lodge transfer. There are 2 other options to cross the Botswana border, Platjan Border Post and Martin's Drift Border Post. Platjan is accessible most of the year via a low level bridge, except after heavy rains, so Martin's Drift would be then be the only option - it is about 4 hours drive onward to the Tuli Block.Route suggestion from South Africa:
Johannesburg, Polokwane, Pont Drift Border Post / Platjan Border Post / Martin's Drift, Northern Tuli Game ReserveCombination Itineraries:
Tuli, Khama Rhino Sanctuary in Serowe, Francistown, Makgadikgadi Pans, Maun, Xakanaxa, Savute, Chobe, Kasane, Victoria Falls // Tuli and the Central Kalahari Game Reserve// Tuli and Mapungubwe National Park plus Kruger National Park in South Africa
The Tuli Block which incorporates the Northern Tuli Game Reserve, is quite different from the rest of Botswana - it's a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. Steeped in history, Tuli features rugged and immense landscapes with unusual landmarks, open grasslands, riverine forests and marshland.
This corner of Africa is formed by the confluence of the Limpopo and Shashe Rivers. You'll see plenty of big game especially Lion and Elephant, Cheetah and even Leopard, Hyena, herds of Eland and many other species plus prolific birdlife on an exciting range of activities.
Mashatu Main Camp is located deep in the bush and built around a central waterhole. Main Camp is well suited to families and also features a Discovery Room filled with interesting finds. You can enjoy game drives, mountain biking, horse riding, walking safaris, specialist activities and cultural visits.
Tuli Safari Lodge is set on the banks of the Limpopo River with a backdrop of sandstone rocks. Listening to the lodge choir is a highlight when visiting this friendly and welcoming lodge. Activities include game drives (also after dinner drives on request), guided bush walks, day trips and excursions plus horse riding nearby.
Driving in Botswana - What You Should Know
Driving in Botswana is an adventure and you can enjoy an expedition to remember, especially with a 4x4 which allows you to discover more rural delights. You will need experience and a fully equipped 4x4 stocked with water, food, fuel and supplies to see you through any situation.
Petrol stations can be found in the main towns but not in the bush. You will have to calculate your petrol requirements well in advance and stock up, as the use of air-con and engaging lower gears will eat into your reserves.
In Botswana you drive on the left-hand side. The main connecting roads are tarred and the speed limit is 120km (74 miles) per hour, with a minimum of 60km (37 miles) per hour in towns and villages. It is advised to travel below 40km (25 miles) per hour in the wilderness for safety.
- Wildlife and domestic animals on the roads
- Driving at night can only be done with caution in the main towns but never in the wilderness as animals often sleep on warm tarred roads or on the verges
- Keep your wits about you when it comes to navigation - GPS is great if you know how to use it otherwise you will have to rely on a comprehensive map and keen observation skills
- Deep sand in dry areas, flooded or muddy conditions near water (especially the floodplains), potholes and rough terrain, grass seeds getting into your engine especially in remote areas where the tracks are not used often
Self-Drive Safari Tour Itineraries
See our Botswana Self-drive Package Tours