I am sharing our self-drive 15 days Namibia, Botswana and Vic Falls itinerary a thrilling African adventure that you need to add to your bucket list. I have previously shared posts from my trips to Namibia, Botswana and Victoria Falls in Zambia and Zimbabwe. This is a slightly condensed version of our trip around southern Africa. We spent a little over a month traveling around this part of Africa. This is very much a self-drive road trip itinerary through southern Africa exploring safari parks and African towns Botswana, Namibia and Zambia. So if you have been wanting to explore Africa, this should definitely help with planning your trip to Africa.
The itinerary is packed with adventures, from cruising the Chobe River in time for sunset, enjoying a scenic flight into Okavango Delta to witness the whirlwind adventure. Taking a traditional makoro ride through the watery wilderness of Okavango to dune bashing in Namibian dunes and more. Africa is what bucket list dreams are made of. Below is a Nambia and Botswana itinerary with the addition of a quick stop to see Victoria Falls.
- 1 Livingstone 2 Days (Zambia) And Victoria Falls
- 2 Victoria Falls From The Zimbabwean Side
- 3 Botswana 3 Days Kasane And Maun
- 4 Namibia 8 Days Capital – Etosha & Skeleton Coast
- 4.1 Day 8 – Drive From Maun To Etosha National Park
- 4.2 Day 9 – Etosha National Park
- 4.3 Day 10 – Explore Windhoek
- 4.4 Day 11 – Drive From Windhoek To Swakopmund
- 4.5 Day 12 Explore The Desert Around Swakopmund
- 4.6 Day 13 – Explore Walvis Bay
- 4.7 Day 14 – Explore Sossusvlei and Deadvlei
- 4.8 Day 15 – Back To Windhoek For Flight Back Home
- 5 Planning Your Trip
- 6 Additional Tips For Planning A Zambia Namibia and Botswana Itinerary
Livingstone 2 Days (Zambia) And Victoria Falls
Getting to Livingstone: We arrived in Lusaka and booked a flight with Proflight via Expedia from Lusaka to Livingstone. Depending on where you are coming from you can book flights to Livingstone. There are no direct flights so you will either have to use South African, Namibia, or Zambia as a hub and then take a local flight. Or you can actually start this itinerary from the bottom up. Start with Namibia and work up to Livingstone. The other option which I have done with no issues and I will share a post soon is drive from Lusaka to Victoria Falls. This is a 6 hour drive.
Where to stay in Livingstone: Also for tourists who are eager to witness the beauty of Victoria Falls, you can stay either in Zambia or Zimbabwe side of Victoria Falls. You can still experience both sides of the Victoria Falls; Zambia for a Livingstone Island and Zimbabwe for the incredible views of the Victoria Falls in all their glory. We have stayed at Olga’s Italian, Tongabezi, Maramba River Lodge, Royal Livingstone Hotel but will share more on hotels in Livingstone soon.
Day 1 – Livingstone Town And Victoria Falls
Victoria Falls might not be the tallest waterfall but it is the most beautiful waterfall in the world. It is classified as the largest waterfall for the combination of the tallest and widest waterfall. At times there is so much spray from the waterfall, that you can’t see the water but the “smoke” only. Because of the sound of the water dropping from such a height, you can hear the sound of the water in the surrounding, earning a name Mosi-oa-Tunya, “the smoke that thunders”.
Wonder the craft markets nearby to explore the Zambian souvenirs and pick up some unique items or choose from one of the many optional activities available in Livingstone. Whether it be a visit to the Mukuni Cultural Village, a tour of Livingstone Island, a Safari in Mosi-oa-Tunga National Park which I shared on Instagram, sunset cruises down the Zambezi, diving into the Devil’s Pool, river-boarding, horse riding or helicopter or micro flights over the falls.
When you’re in Livingstone, don’t forget to visit the Livingstone Museum, the oldest and largest of all the national museums in Zambia. This museum is unique as it houses the most comprehensive memorabilia of Dr. Livingstone, including his original maps and personal effects and diaries in the Livingstone section. This museum will provide you an extensive insight into the cultural heritage and the history of Zambia. Next to the Museum just a few meters you have the Livingstone curios market. For more on things to do in Livingstone check out my post.
In the evening, after having an adventurous day out, now is the time to get relax and the best place to do so is to have evening drinks and a lavish dinner at the Waterfront Restaurant. As for the day, we suggest you have a delicious lunch at Olga’s Italian to promptly celebrate the beginning of your adventurous journey.
Pro Tip: Book your Livingstone Island and Devils Pool tour and other tours in advance as they need to arrange hotel pick up the day before also to avoid disappointment. Also note the Devil’s pool is only available for a short period. Check out my post for more details.
Day 2 Livingstone Adventures
Have an amazing start of your day by having breakfast with elephants. Yes, you read it right, at The Elephant Café, you can have a delicious breakfast while enjoying the beauty of majestic elephants to kick start your adventurous day. Do not miss this wonderful experience while in Livingstone as this café is now one of Zambia’s top-rated cafes and it encompasses three wonderful experiences and guaranteed to be a significant highlight of your Livingstone adventure.
After having an energetic breakfast with the wild, you can head back and visit the Victoria Falls, or head to check out the majestic crocodiles at Crocodile Park. This attraction is just to the south of Livingstone and provides the opportunity to see some huge crocs at close quarters – behind the safety of a strong chain-link fence of course. It provides a great photographic point to made memories.
If you booked your Devil’s pool tour, this would be a great day to do it. If the answer is yes, in the dry seasons, the Zambezi River level drops quite significantly and with the help of an experienced guide, you can actually walk on the falls and swim across the Zambezi the river to the Devil’s Pool, where you can behold the beauty of Falls by looking over the Falls to an almost one-kilometer drop below. Feel the real adrenaline rush by experiencing the beauty of Victoria Falls in its earnest. For more details on this read about our experience of the Devil’s Pool and the Livingstone Island Tour.
For the evening entertainment, you can book dinner at the Royal Livingstone Hotel which has a few restaurants and amazing views. I will post more about this soon. There is also Avani as well as a lot more places to eat in the town center of Livingstone.
Victoria Falls From The Zimbabwean Side
Day 3 Victoria Falls On The Zimbabwean side
As 90% of Victoria Falls is in Zambia’s side, the Vic Falls can be a witness its earnest from the Zimbabwean side. So it is a must to see the beauty of mighty Victoria Falls from the Zimbabwean side. After crossing the Zimbabwe border, it is a short drive to the mighty Victoria Falls. The spray from the waterfall creates a natural rainforest so feel this breathtaking natural phenomenon in its fullest.
Feel the wonder in its other form by having an afternoon tea at Victoria Falls hotel, situated at a prime location overlooking Victoria Falls. An Edwardian-style hotel, it provides a unique view of the Falls.
Before having your afternoon tea, if you’re planning to have the adventure of your life, then we suggest you opt for the original and ultimate thrill, the Victoria Falls Bungee jump that takes place in front of the largest curtain of falling water in the world. Having a Bungee jump in “no man’s land” is often voted as one of the top five adrenaline rush experiences.
To avoid moving to a new hotel for day 3 you can still base yourself in Livingstone and just day trip to Zimbabwe for Vic Falls views and afternoon tea.
Pro Tip: Make sure you enter Zambia or Zimbabwe with a multi-entry visa KAZA UNIVISA which costs $50. Bring dollars to make life easier. This saves you having to pay multiple times to travel between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Be sure to also check out my post on the best times to visit Botswana.
Botswana 3 Days Kasane And Maun
From Livingstone, you have the option of doing a day trip to Chobe National Park for safari, but I would recommend heading to Kasane at the end of day 3 so that you start day 4 from Botswana. You can book the safari to start from Kasane as well.
Getting to Kasane: This is a short drive from Livingstone to Kasane via Kazungula Ferry crossing.
Where to stay in Kasane: I have also shared tips on where to stay in Kasane included details of where we stayed.
Day 4 Exploring Chobe National park
After starting your adventure with a bang at Victoria Falls, now is the time to pack your bags and move to another destination, Botswana. If you’re traveling from Zambia to Botswana, you can stay close to Chobe National park which is home to the most diverse and majestic wildlife in Botswana by basing yourself in Kasane. In addition to Chobe, ther are many other tours from Kasane.
Situated on a vast 11,000 square kilometer of diverse wilderness, forests, swamps, and floodplains, Chobe National Park provides you spectacle view of all manners of animals and birdlife. Embark on a Chobe River cruise to get a different perspective of animals, cruise the river on sunset to witness elephants, buffalos, kudu, giraffe, bushback, and hippo along the water’s edge.
The Chobe National Park is divided into four distinctly different eco-systems: Scerondela with its lush plains and dense forests along with the areas of Chobe River, the Savuti Marsh, the Linyanti Swamps and the dry hinterland.
Day 5 Visit Kasane Town And Travel To Maun
Explore Kasane in the morning as it is situated right alongside the National Parks. You’ll get to witness hive of elephant, zebra, and giraffe. Elephants splashing water and drinking from watering holes, zebras and giraffes blinking back at you from the roadside and elephant crossing the road, scenes like these will make your morning unforgettable. When you’re in Kasane, grab your supplies for your long journey to Maun, Botswana’s primary tourism hub. Also note that you are likely to see elephants, baboons, monkeys, and other animals as there is no fencing around Chobe National Park. Please DO NOT feed any of the animals!
Maun – the main gateway to the Okavango Delta – serves as the main tourist attraction. With good accommodation options and a reliable mad mix of bush pilots, campers, volunteers and luxury safari files, it serves as a thrilling base for a day or two. When you enter Maun, you embark on the journey to explore Okavango Delta, one of Africa’s great wildlife habitat and provides refuge to huge concentrations of game. You can read about our experience of the Okavango Delta on the blog.
Pro tip – Take local transport from Kasane to Maun and then rent a car from Maun. This is because there aren’t many rental companies that allow you to pick up from Botswana and drop off in Namibia. Currently, only Avis does this. When we did Nambia, Botswana and Zambia, we used taxis in Livingstone mostly as they are cheap. Also as most tours will also include pick and drop off to hotels, we didn’t feel the need to have a rental car here.
Day 6 The Okavango Delta
The Okavango Delta is a unique pulsing wetland. Covering somewhere between 6,000 to 15,000 square kilometers, the delta has the Kalahari Desert in northern Botswana and owes its existence to the Okavango River which flows through the Angolan highlands, across Namibia’s Caprivi Strip, and into the harsh Kalahari Desert.
Very much at the center of Botswana’s safari industry, the Okavango Delta offers some of Africa’s premier camps and lodges, providing a variety of options to enjoy the superb wildlife, large populations of mammals and excellent birding particularly in the breeding season. Make sure you book your Okavanage tours in advance so that your hotel pick-up can be arranged in advance of your early morning pick-up for the safari.
There are plenty of things to do in Maun, if you have the flexibility to extend your time in Botswana. Another option for chilling out in the evening is to head to The Old Bridge Backpackers for evening drinks by the river. You can see pictures in my post on things to do in Maun.
Where to stay in Maun: There are plenty of options for where to stay in Maun, from hostels like the Old Bridge Backpackers and Motsebe Backpackers to mid-range hotels like Sedia Riverside Hotel and The Waterfront to luxury safari lodges like Thamalakane River Lodge.
Day 7 – Explore Maun And Grab Some Snack For Drive To Namibia
After experiencing the wilderness of Okavango Delta, you can explore Maun and work through the list of things to do in Maun or just chill by the pool as tomorrow you are embarking on a 10-drive to Namibia.
In the evening or early in the morning I would recommend heading into the Maun city center to buy some supplies before starting your journey. The drive from Maun to Namibia is very long! This is 10-hour of drive. Yes, we did this. There were 3 of us so we switched drivers and had several stops along the way. If you want to avoid driving as well as the car rent you can book a flight from Maun to Windhoek. One way is about £300 so works out a lot more expensive if there are a few of you on the trip or travelling as a family. The drive wasn’t bad at all.
Many old timers speak fondly of the old days when all roads leading to Maun, and in the town itself were rutted and sandy. That was a time of a “wild frontier” charm to the city but in recent years, the town has seen almost humongous development. The town has shopping centers abound and luxury goods are easily accessible. The town is now a lot friendlier for self-drive safari-goers, making it a perfect stop to refill your supplies for a long journey ahead. There is a Shoprite, Nandos and many other stores to buy food and supplies for the trip.
Pro Tip: Pick up your rental car from Maun on day 7 to get ready for your drive to Namibia. I have shared tips on driving in Botswana. Will share more tips on driving in Namibia but roads are mostly good in Namibia.
Namibia 8 Days Capital – Etosha & Skeleton Coast
Namibia is such a beautiful country and there so many amazing places to visit in Namibia. At a minimum you should be looking at a 7 day Namibia itinerary or 14 days in Namibia to fully see all that this country has to offer. From safaris to the most stunning coastline you will ever see. You have seen nothing like the Skeleton coastline where deserts meet the ocean. Something to behold. I am still longing to get my arse back to Namibia soon as I write this.
Day 8 – Drive From Maun To Etosha National Park
On the next day, start your journey and set off for Namibia after getting your supplies from Maun. It is advisable to bring all necessities for a self-drive safari because then you’ll be traveling for more or less 10 hours non-stop, with fewer stops for fuel. But if needed, most requirements for a Namibia self-drive safari can be acquired in one of the shops on the way from Maun. Start your drive from Maun as early as possible. I recommend leaving by 5 am!
When driving from Maun to Etosha, I would suggest you book your accommodation in advance as you will most likely be arriving in the evening and will just want to head to bed as soon as you arrive. As to enter Etosha National Park, move right onto the road up towards Shakawe and the Namibian border at Mahengo where after transiting Mahangu NP, you’ll reach Divundu. From there along the Caprivi to reach Etosha. This route is a nice choice to move to Etosha as Mahangu NP provides you with a good half way stop with nice lodges and the chance of wildlife. The road is pretty good as compared to other routes going to Etosha from Maun.
Where to stay in Etosha National Park: There are plenty of lodges to stay within Etosha National Park, many of which offer free breakfast and dinner.
Pro Tip: Stop for fuel as and when you see them because they are few and far between.
Day 9 – Etosha National Park
After entering into Etosha – as from the name “Etosha” meaning “great white area” – you’ll get an impressive sight of the dried pan in the middle of Etosha. It is the biggest salt pan in Africa. Etosha National Park is the gateway to Northern Namibia and Ovamboland, making it a dream stop on any Namibian tour. It is Namibia’s prime wildlife location. Its unique location and landscape provide you with the opportunity to see lion, elephant, leopard, hyena, springbok, giraffe, cheetah, zebra and much more. You can do a self-drive safari in Etosha but if you dont feel comfortable doing that on your own you can book a game drive safari in Etosha.
Explore the Etosha National Park in its earnest on this day. What makes this park unique is floodlit waterholes at all the main camps, making it any photographer or nature lover’s dream. Most of the lodges have private patios o observe the landscape around you. The wildlife can be easily spotted because the park is so vast and the plant life is so sparse. To sum it up, Etosha is a unique landscape that gives you an incredible and unforgettable experience.
In the evening I would suggest making your way from Etosha to Windhoek. The drive from Etosha National Park to Windhoek is just under 4 hours. A pleasant drive.
Day 10 – Explore Windhoek
After having an unforgettable experience in Etosha National Park, explore Windhoek, an urban city in Namibia that is well developed and provides affordable and comfortable accommodation options. Situated in a valley surrounded by the Eros and Auas Mountains, with the Khomas Highland in the west, Windhoek provides some of the spectacle views. Windhoek’s architecture is a blend of both the modern and German colonial era.
Give this ancient city a tour to make some unforgettable memories. There are many interesting sights in the city, amongst them are Palace, Christuskirch, the monumental Supreme Court Building, and the Reiterdenkmal. You can also visit the Old Fort Alte Fest – which is now the National Museum and the National College of the Arts – are some of the oldest buildings. You have the option to do a Windhoek City and Township Cultural Tour, a cooking class and many other tours leaving from Windhoek.
Day 11 – Drive From Windhoek To Swakopmund
On the day 11 of your 15 days Namibia, Botswana and Vic Falls itinerary, its time to head to another one of Namibia’s central city; Swakopmund. This a very popular Namibian seaside resort with pleasant summer temperatures. Swakopmund houses some of the many interesting historic buildings and an ancient lighthouse standing 21 meters high.
Note the drive from Windhoek to Swakopmund is about 4 hours. We set off from the city just after breakfast around 9am and arrived in Swapmund early enough to explore the town in daylight. There are plenty of activities here to keep you busy for a while. You can visit the aquarium, situated along the Namibian coast. You can see sharks and stingrays there. You can enjoy the scenic views by driving along the dune lined coastlines. Welwitschia drive which goes to the Moon Landscape at the Swakop River and further north into the Namib Naukluft Park is a must for self-driving safari-goers. We had dinner on at the pier restaurant
Day 12 Explore The Desert Around Swakopmund
This is the town where the desert meets the ocean. Dunes and crystal clear water invite the visitors to take part in various outdoor activities, like sand-boarding, quad biking or dolphin cruises. The Bavarian-style town is surrounded by sand and a great way to explore the dunes is on a fat bike. Fat bike’s wide tires handle the sand brilliantly and you can have a thrilling adrenaline rush experience by tackling some monster dunes.
Namibia offers incredibly adapted wildlife that only a skilled guide can show you. There is a wide range of tours in Swakopmund to choose from, choose one and discover sand-diving lizards, web-footed geckos, scorpions, spiders, snakes and a variety of strange plants that you’ve never seen before.
Day 13 – Explore Walvis Bay
Only a 30 min drive from Swakopmund, another Namibian central town full of life exist which will enhance your experience of Namibia. Walvis Bay is a harbor town with thriving fishing industry and sea salt production plant. Being a Bay area, it has some of the best restaurants, cafes, and bars and a variety of affordable accommodation options if you wish to stay here.
We stayed in Swakopmund and did a day trip to Walvis Bay. Your planned itinerary in Namibia is incomplete without Walvis or Swakopmund. Spending a day in Walvis is fairly easy as the journey to Walvis Bay from Swakopmund isn’t bad. There a few adventurous activities in Walvis Bay, from watching dolphins and pink flamingo on the bay to a catamaran cruise to see seals and dolphins, to kayaking and many other tours from Walvis Bay. Another attraction worth checking out is the large natural Lagoon where thousands of seabirds, flourish. You can view Flamingos and Pelicans that are joined by at least 200,000 migratory species on the beach.
Another place you can add to your itinerary is Langstrand along the Namibian coast toward Swakopmund. This drive is scenic drives as is the Swakopmund to Walvis Bay drive. Also On the outskirts of the town, the famous Dune 7 is the highest sand dune in the area where you can climb to the top to enjoy a great view.
On the evening of day 13 start your drive to Sossusvlei or you have the option of leaving in the morning of 14 of your Nambia itinerary.
Day 14 – Explore Sossusvlei and Deadvlei
On day 14 Start your day by traveling to the sand dunes of Sossusvlei in the Namib Desert. Head for Dune 45 as early in the day as possible to bit the heat. From Dune 45 drive to Deadvlei. This is a 20-minute drive from Dune 45 to Deadvlei. You cannot travel to Sossusvlei without visiting Deadvlei. There is something eerie and unsettling about how everything looks there, as though it’s from another world or time. Enjoy the unrealistic scenery that you will never find anywhere else, in Deadvlei.
Getting to Sossusvlei: The drive from Swakopmund to Sossusvlei is about 5 hours but you can break up this journey by driving from Swakopmund to Solitaire and staying overnight and then driving to Sossusvlei to explore the Dunes.
Where to stay in Sossusvlei: There arent many places to stay within Namib-Naukluft National Park. The closest are around towns on the edge of the national park, like Solitaire hotels, Sesriem hotels or even Naukluft Mountains.
Day 15 – Back To Windhoek For Flight Back Home
This is the last day of the 15 days Namibia, Botswana and Vic Falls itinerary. We had such an amazing time on this trip. I certainly hope this African itinerary inspires you to visit the continent if you haven’t already done so.
On day 15 you can head back to Windhoek for the flight back to home. The drive from Solitaire to Windhoek is 3 hours and 15 minutes or a little over that depending on how many stops you have.
If you leave in the morning that may give you some time to explore the city or even take a tour to see any of the cultural groups in Namibia.
Planning Your Trip
Namibia was one of our best adventures yet! I am sure you will love your visit. As always, if you have any questions. Comment below and I will be glad to help, otherwise, see more details on how to plan a trip to Africa.
As far as basics go:
- Start saving money!
- Check for flight deals on Expedia or Ebookers. You can start this itinerary from Botswana, Namibia, Zambia or even from South Africa.
- Book your safari lodges in advance on Booking.com, Agoda or Hotels.com. Places like Tongabezi can only be booked via Expedia.
- Check whether there are package tours available the make your first trip to Africa easier. Look at Contiki, GAdventures, and for similar itineraries.
- Book your tours for safaris, river cruises as soon as you nail down your itinerary. You can find tour deals on Viator or Get Your Guide.
- While all three countries are pretty safe to travel to. We didn’t have any issues at all. Make sure you have travel insurance to cover missed flights, accidents and everything in between should the worst happen.
- Estimate your car rental from lots of pickups and drop off points. Depending on your starting point. You can also reserve your car rental via Expedia or directly via Avis.
- Get planning and start your count down to doing your very own self-drive 15 days Nambia, Botswana and Vic Falls itinerary or perhaps even do a longer trip.
Additional Tips For Planning A Zambia Namibia and Botswana Itinerary
- Don’t feel obligated to do safaris in Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Research the animals that can be found in each of the parks and then pick two destinations. For example the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park does not have cats but I still had a safari in there.
- Choose a variety of safaris, we have done a river cruise, safari drives, flight safari. Get a different experience from each country.
- Look at different Zambia, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe tours on offer first and do a list of the ones that appeal to you. That way you are not essentially doing the same or too similar a tour in a different country.
- Vary your accommodation options. We have stated in lodges, chalets, luxury tents, and hotels while doing the Namibia and Botswana self-drive itinerary.
- There are multiple ways to save money on these trips. Some times that might mean doing a tour, sometimes it means doing a self-drive. Calculate how much budget you have for the African safari trip and look at where you can cut costs and still have a fantastic experience.
There you have it, our African adventure! So have you been to Africa, have you been inspired but the 15-day African itinerary? Where else in Africa would you like to visit. Comment below.
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