Planning your own safari in Botswana’s national parks is not for the faint of heart. It’s an adventure that will test your 4X4 driving skills, offer fear and exhilaration, call on your inner reserves and leave you with unforgettable memories. You might churn up dust crossing the Makgadikgadi pans, dodge donkeys on the tar road in Maun, cross rivers in Moremi, bump along deep mud-dried ruts next to the Savuti marsh and slip in sand on the tracks leading to Chobe. Seeing the best of Botswana requires a 4×4 and a sense of humour.
Here, nature takes centre stage and you’ll want a front-row seat.When it comes to tourism, Botswana champions quality over quantity. And while not exactly a budget holiday, doing it yourself like this costs costs less than an organised safari.
Self driving also means you can splurge the money you save on more activities – such as spotting elephant, giraffe and lechwe from a hot-air balloon flight from Kadizora Camp, or on a mokoro trip from Saguni Lodge and feel your adrenaline surge as hippos approach your dug-out while piloting through the narrow river channels. Other options are motoring along the Chobe River in a motorboat safari from Elephant Valley Lodge.
Staying at Elephant Valley Lodge is the perfect location for self drives to explore Chobe National Park, the Forest Reserve and is only an hours travel from both the Zambian and Zimbabwean side of Victoria Falls. With the lodge being positioned in the ‘bush’ i.e. Lesoma Valley, rather then being in Kasane town, travellers will still get the wilderness experience. Wake up to the sounds of Francolin and Woodland Kingfisher and end your day around the camp fire in the traditional ‘Boma’ under the stars. Other benefits including having the wild game ‘come to you’, as the lodge has close views to an active waterhole, popular with Elephant, Lion, Hyena, Buffalo and many other animals. Safari activities can be arranged from the lodge.
Another of the Africa Wild Lodges Group accommodations is positioned in the popular game area of Khwai, on the edge of Moremi Game Reserve. While staying at Saguni Lodge travellers can explore both Khwai (famous for it’s lions and leopard) and Moremi, a unique ecosystem with Africa’s Big 5.
For more information on our lodges and self drive instructions, see www.africawildlodges.com‘
To help you make the best of this adventure, we compiled a list of 10 tips to get you ready and excited for the trip:
- Driving in Botswana
Driving in Botswana is not as easy as you may think. Road conditions can be challenging in many areas and include soft sand, slippery clay or deep water. You can easily get stuck or damage the engine of your vehicle. If you do not have a 4×4, vehicle hire can be aquired from Maun or Kasane.
- Mobile network coverage
As you are prospectively traveling to places where there is no network coverage it is wise to travel with a satellite phone if possible.
- Northern Botswana is a malaria area
There is a risk of malaria in Northern Botswana, including the Okavango Delta, Moremi and Chobe. The risk of malaria is higher in the wet season between November and April. Chloroquine is not effective in Botswana, so take extra precaution with adequate medicine.
- Do not drive off the road
Off-road driving is prohibited in national parks in order to keep wilderness areas in a pristine condition and to protect the wildlife from harm. A broken sump or axle is also the last thing you want in a remote area.
- Do not feed the animals
Never feed wild animals, as this will only encourage them to become less afraid of humans. This is true of any carnivore, such as hyena, but the same goes for other wild animals like monkeys. If you are bitten you will need a tetanus shot and if you are miles away from a clinic, you will have a serious problem.
- Start early
Start your days early, when it’s cooler and there’s more wildlife to be seen.
Take a good map. Yes, we still recommend taking along an traditional paper map! A GPS is also highly recommended. It may prove very useful in finding your way through the multitude of sand tracks in the Moremi Game Reserve and when crossing the Makgadikgadi Pans.
Carry lots of water with you, ensuring you have at least 2 litres per day per person. Always carry enough to make it to your next main town or shop. Botswana can get very hot, especially from November through to March.
- This is Africa
Botswana’s mostly hand-written systems seemed a little archaic, but all serve their purpose. Be patient and go with the flow.
Plan your route based on fuel consumption and your vehicle’s tank size. Most 4×4 rental vehicles have long-range fuel tanks for good reason. Double check your route against available fuel stations. Take jerry cans if necessary.
‘Contact us to stay at Africa Wild Lodges accommodation during your self drive safari: www.africawildlodges.com