I shared my Botswana travel advice in my recent post on the best time to visit Botswana. Today we are going to talk about driving in Botswana. As you may have already read, we had an amazing African adventure passing through Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia. With amazing game parks like Okavango Delta, Moremi Game park, Chobe National Park and many others I mentioned in the above post, make Botswana an amazing destination for safaris.
Much of our trip involved driving in Namibia, Zambia and the Road trip in Botswana. My family have also done many a trip driving to Botswana from South Africa as well between Zambia and surrounding countries in Southern Africa.
Below I will go into more detail regarding road conditions, safety, things to know when driving in Botswana as well as things to look out for. Especially if you are considering a Botswana self-drive itinerary or looking for details on road conditions, driving at night and all that good stuff.
Driving In Botswana
There are plenty of fun things to do in Botswana some of which I mentioned in my linked post. Many of these are better reached if you have the freedom to move around at your own paces and with your own transportation. With that in mind, it’s better to be well informed or have information on driving in Botswana before setting off. I have set out some details below to help you prepare for your road trip to Botswana or in and around the country.
Conditions Of Roads In Botswana
Majority of roads in Botswana are well paved, especially when it comes to intercity or major access routes in and out of the country. Also major roads in the towns centers are also paved. As soon as you leave those you do notice the road conditions change somewhat. Many have potholes as well as gravel roads.
If you are visiting during the dry season in Botswana, this is not so bad. Its when you are visiting during the rainy season that you do notice just how bad things can be as you have to weave in and out of traffic to avoid the rain-filled potholes in the roads. Its also during the rainy season that you really have to pay close attention to the type of car you are driving in Moremi, Chobe, Makgadikgadi national parks as many routes into the parks will be flooded and therefore require a 4×4 car for your own safety, especially when exploring in national parks. The last thing you want to for your car to break down in the middle of a national park.
Tip: Always inquire about road conditions for your destination when leaving your hotel or lodges where ever you are staying in Botswana. Nothing beats local knowledge.
Wild Animals On The Roads | Driving In Botswana At Night
As I have said my family have been driving around South and East Africa most of my life hence why for part of our journey from Botswana to Namibia we drove late into the night. Although for the most part our drive in Botswana when was mainly during the day. I wish I had take more pictures of the travels around Botswana to show you, driving in Botswana during the day means there are chances of seeing animals by the roadside. From Ostriches to Elephants and Monkeys, click here for a guide to all the safari animals you may encounter in Botswana. Remember that parks in Botswana are unfenced which means wildlife wander around.
Majority of lions and wide cuts like to stay near water so not normally found close to roadsides. With that in mind, it’s still worth noting that its best to do the majority of your driving during the day as the animal roaming isn’t restricted to just day time. The last thing you want is hitting an animal at night and getting stranded in the middle of nowhere. While the chances of that happening are rather narrow its still worth pointing out that the risk is there.
Tip: NEVER EVER swim in rivers in the north of Botswana as there is a high likelihood of you becoming lunch to very happy and well appreciative crocodiles. Don’t attempt to swim in an of the rivers in the Okavango Delta region.
Botswana safety When Driving & Things To Know Before Driving
Driving side in Botswana: Left side of the road
The speed limit for roads in Botswana: Majority of the roads are 60km/h in towns and villages and 80km/h on intersections and 120km outside of urban areas.
Is Botswana safe as a country? Yes! But just like any other country out there always watch your valuables when travelling. Don’t leave valuables in the car, even when camping! Takes your prized possessions with you. Just in case your car gets broken into. In large crowds watch your pockets. Other than that, Botswana is a friendly nation and people are welcoming.
When it comes to safety in Botswana, this is not something that was even on my mind. In saying that, I still don’t advice fellow women or guys to be roaming the streets alone at night. Most places are not well lite, you may need to be more worried about the animals than the people!
Road conditions and types of roads in Botswana: Botswana has varying terrains. There are thick sand roads that are better suited to 4×4 cars. Muddy roads and unpaved roads. Rural areas are mostly unpaved and those in and leading to national parks. These get even harder to drive in during the rainy season. Then there is the rough terrain that combines all the crazy conditions in the form or sand and grass patches. Again these require a 4WD car. Always check the terrain of the areas you are visiting and seek local knowledge before setting off. If you are doing Chobe and mostly urban exploring you will likely be fine with a normal car/sedan type of car.
Fuel/Gas: The tips for this part of driving in Botswana are similar to the advice I would give for anyone driving in Iceland. A good rule of thumb is to fill up the car every time you see a petrol station as you never know when you will see another one again.
Random stops and police checkpoints in Botswana: Expect to have a random police check. For the majority of our drive in Botswana and the trip driving from Botswana to Namibia, the only check we had was at the border control. Note there is the possibility of more random checks. Also, another thing we had to go through an animal control points where the car tyres have to go through a bit of a dip in the road with a chemical that is meant to reduce foot and mouth disease. You are also asked to step out of the car and step into the liquid too to rid your shoes of any foot and mouth germs that may be passed through the region. We had this when entering Botswana at Kazungula Ferry point from Zambia as well as when leaving Botswana and entering Namibia.
Car Rental In Botswana And Cars Required | Normal Car Vs 4X4
As I have mentioned above if you are going to in Botswana national parks, I would strongly advise you to really look at the car you are renting for the activity and when you are using it. Due to the terrain of some areas 4×4 cars are usually better. That’s not to say that you cannot use or you won’t find normal cars in Botswana. Majority of the people driving those cars are locals and don’t really do the same journeys as tourists who are coming for the national parks that are within complicate terrains. Also, remember that Botswana has a huge desert in the middle of the country and the edges you can a mix of desert-grassy-gravel road terrain. It is always a good idea to do a little research on the area you are going to be exploring and your itinerary for your trip in Botswana. I hope I am not scaremongering but it just pays to be prepared.
Game Park Driving: Chobe National Park Self Drive And Okavango Delta
If you are planning a Botswana self-drive itinerary or have the intention of exploring parks in Botswana on your own with your own car, I would strongly advise your to make sure you have a suitable car. While we choose to use a safari company for our safari in Okavango Delta, we did spot some smaller cars doing a self-drive in Okavango Delta.
During our visit, it was hot and the roads were mainly dry. Any other time I would not recommend it. Some have also done self-drive in Chobe national park. Again always check season before planning, check the weather before setting off and ask locals at the hotel or lodge for any tips. Also, make sure your car is well suited for the journey you are taking on. For example, it is also recommended to have a fire extinguisher in the car when driving in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. This is because grass collects underneath the car and around the exhaust pipe which can cause the car to catch fire, as the exhaust temperatures increase considerably. Always worth making a few stops every couple of miles to check when driving through this national park.
Tip: Never leave your car in the national parks, no matter how cute the animals are. Also never climb the trees in the national parks like we saw a couple of doing. Away from their car too! Lions, leopards are also tree climbing animals not to mention the possibility of finding snakes in the trees. Always have safety at the forefront. This is the animal’s territory. Remember that!
Getting Ready For Your Drive | Botswana Road Trip Essentials
- Always make sure your car is road worthy.
- Make sure you have road insurance.
- Make sure you have water and food for the journey.
- Consider using a guided tour where possible or where your car and driving capabilities go beyond what the journey requires.
- Also, consider where you are staying as part of your driving journey plans and ease of case with your car.
- While you can certainly travel in Botswana solo, its always better to have someone when driving so you can take turns driving as the majority of the attractions in Botswana, especially when doing a self-drive itinerary in Botswana require a lot of driving. I was lucky that my brother and husband switch driving between themselves so I didn’t have to. 😀
Driving From Botswana To Namibia/ Zambia
As I have mentioned several times about our road trip adventure driving to Botswana from Zambia and driving from Namibia to Botswana by road as well as driving through Botswana. All these things are possible and can be done easily and safely too. There is really nothing to fear. While I have found roads in Namibia much better than those in Botswana but all three countries, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia were easy to do just keep in mind some of the things to know when it comes to driving in Botswana which is mostly applicable even when driving from South Africa to Botswana and vice versa.
Top Tips For Driving In Botswana
- Always make sure you have the correct paperwork for driving around the country or crossing borders. Also, have this to hand for random and frequent police check in and around the country.
- Have your passport to hand when requested at check points.
- Never drive at night unless you really have to.
- Always be on the lookout for stray animals whether driving in the morning, day time or evening.
- Always check your car is in good running condition and you have spare tyres and pressure of tyres is in good condition.
- Always have water in the car especially during the hot season not just for you but cars can sometimes overheat.
- Always make sure your car is suitable for the journey and season. If doing a safari in the rainy season or for some national parks, rent a 4×4 or opt for local guided safari.
- Always make sure your phones are charged before setting off should you need help.
- Always make sure you are carrying some cash with you as not all petrol stations accept card payments.
- Also check out these tips for planning a self-drive safari.
There you have it my tips for driving in Botswana. So have you been to Botswana, or been driving in Africa before? What was your experience? Comment below.
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