The ultimate Botswana self-drive itinerary (3-4 weeks)
This flexible Botswana self-drive itinerary leads you through Botswana in all of its beauty and variety. This is very similar to the itinerary we followed ourselves with a few improvements we wish we would have made. Botswana has so much more to offer than the delta and the north and this itinerary really gives you an all-around Botswana experience. In most cases, I won’t suggest accommodation, as it’s up to you whether you’d like to camp or stay in a lodge. Almost all destinations have camping spots and lodges available. We did a combination of lodges and camping ourselves, but be aware that lodges are easily 3x plus more expensive than camping. If not specified otherwise, always travel to your next accommodation after your morning game drive.
Read here what a typical day on safari looks like.
Day 1: Johannesburg – Limpopo River
The drive from Johannesburg airport to Limpopo River Lodge takes about 6 hours. If you land in the early morning, it’s no problem to get there before sunset. However, if you land after 9 am you should plan for an overnight stop close to the border.
Day 2: Limpopo River
Spend the day game driving. The area is quiet and beautiful with plenty of wildlife. The predator density is very low which makes it a lovely place to ease into a Botswana Safari.
Day 3: Limpopo – Moremi Gorge
During the drive to Moremi Gorge, you’ll pass beautiful, rural scenery and small villages, that make it seem like you’re time travelling. Moremi Gorge is stunning and perfect for hiking.
Day 4: Moremi Gorge – Khama Rhino Sanctuary
Leave Moremi Gorge after a morning hike through the gorge. The drive to Khama Rhino Sanctuary shouldn’t take longer than 2 hours. The rhino sanctuary is a small but very rewarding game reserve and ideal for game drives.
Day 5: Khama Rhino Sanctuary – Central Kalahari Game Reserve
The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is very, very remote and true wilderness. There’s no access to running water or electricity at any time and the driving conditions can be quite challenging, too. If you’re not comfortable with that I recommend either skipping the CKGR altogether or at least going later, when you have a bit more experience. You could travel to Lekhubu Island, Nxai Pans & Magkadikgadi first and then go to the CKGR.
Day 6-8: Central Kalahari Game Reserve
Spend your day here game driving and enjoy your beautiful surroundings. The reserve is huge and I would recommend switching camps at least once. Kori, Deception and Sunday Pan are popular camps and give you access to slightly different areas.
Day 9: Central Kalahari Game Reserve – Nxai Pan National Park
Nxai Pan is a smaller and quiet park. We had amazing sightings here! I would really recommend staying in South Camp: We had an elephant next to our camp at night and spotted a cheetah barely a few hundred meters from the camp on an evening game drive.
Day 10: Nxai Pan National Park
We had amazing sightings here and would recommend to everybody to include Nxai Pan in their itinerary. The park is less known and every animal you’ll see is just yours! Your’s alone, how amazing is that? Baines’ Baobabs are also worth a visit on the way out of the park. They are a group of huge trees in otherwise treeless surroundings, bordering a salt pan – that salt pan was completely flooded for the first time in decades when we were there!
Day 11: Nxai Pan National Park – Makgadikgadi Pans
Makgadikgadi is just a stone throw away from Nxai Pans. Actually, Nxai Pans and Makgadikgadi (I still can’t pronounce it…) are more or less the same parks, separated by a road. Particularly the Boteti River is amazing for game-drives
Day 12: Makgadikgadi Pans – Maun
Maun is the Safari gateway or the famous northern Botswanan game reserve. There are some beautiful lodges around here but the town itself is pretty (excuse me) boring.
Day 13: Maun
You can also plan an extra day here for a mokoro tour into the Okavango Delta. Mokoros a kind of canoe pushed forward with a stick in the shallow waters. A Mokoro trip is beautiful and definitely worth your while. The scenery is stunning and your chances are high to have close encounters with game crossing the delta.
Day 14: Maun – Moremi Game Reserve
Head-out early for the 2h drive to Moremi, so that you can already make use of the early hours for game drives. There are several lodges and campgrounds in Moremi, but I would recommend staying around Xakanaxa. The area is superb!
Day 15: Moremi Game Reserve
Make the most out of the amazing wildlife in Moremi! If you have more time I would recommend to even spend a third day here.
Day 16: Moremi Game Reserve – Khwai
Khwai Community Concession is just outside of Moremi Game reserve and not officially a game reserve, which makes it an interesting destination. Because it’s not a game reserve nights drives and off-road driving are possible here for guided tours only. Since those perks are for guided tours only I would recommend staying at an all-inclusive lodge here that offers night-drives.
Day 17: Khwai
Wild dog sightings are fairly common in Khwai, so here’s your best chance to see those amazing and uncommon animals.
Day 18: Khwai – Chobe National Park (Savuti)
Savuti is extremely rich in wildlife and the rocky landscape is stunning. Get ready to have elephants and hyenas at your camp at night, if that hasn’t already happened before! If you have more time extend a day or two, the eare is great and even the campsite is exciting!
Day 19: Savuti
Spend your time game driving in Savuti. If you head out early you see the roads covered in paw marks from the night’s activities.
Day 20: Savuti – Kasane
If you leave Savuti in the late morning hours you should get to Kasane in time for an afternoon activity. I would recommend a photo safari/boat tour on the Chobe River. That gives you a completely new perspective on bathing elephants and gets you close to crocodiles and hippos.
Day 21: Kasane (Day Trip to the Victoria Falls)
The Victoria Falls are super easy to reach to from Kasane. There are several tour provider running day trips across the borders. You can read all about visiting the Victoria Falls here:
Day 22: Kasane (Chobe Riverfront area)
The Chobe Riverfront area offers a worthy ending to your Botswana Safari. You might want to consider booking a guided tour since there are some restrictions for self-drivers. Check with your camp or lodge upon arrival, as those things change.
Day 23: The End
Most established 4×4 rental companies have stations in Kasane and will take your car back here. You can then either fly back to Johannesburg or continue your adventure!
Stay tuned for a 6 week Botswana & Namibia itinerary coming your way!
This Botswana self-drive itinerary gives you the flexibility to extend or shorten the trip depending on your needs. Please let me know in the comments below if you have any questions or suggestions. As always I’d love to hear from you.
Before you leave…
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You can read more about Safari in Southern Africa here:
Why we went on a self-drive Safari
15 things to know before going on a self-drive safari in Botswana
Essential Gear for your Self-Drive Safari
Kolmanskop: Namibia’s most deserted ghost town
That one Time on Safari when I got attacked by a Rhino (Part1)
That one Time on Safari when I got attacked by a Rhino (Part2)
30 Photos that will make you want to go to Botswana right now
Photo Diary of a typical day on Safari
25 Photos that will inspire you to visit Namibia
My favourite lodge in Namibia: RiverDance Lodge
Why you should add a visit to a Himba Village to your bucket list