10 Tips For Your Self-Drive in Botswana
The dramatic experience of driving through the pristine wilderness of Botswana’s national parks and countryside can be awe-inspiring for you. Botswana has numerous wildlife species, and its stunning landscape can be alluring to all who love nature. One of the ways to enjoy these views by taking a self-drive road trip. Self-drive safaris come with their fair share of challenges, and you ought to be prepared well enough to make your road trip worthy.
Here are 10 things that you need to consider
Ensure that you carry enough supplies
Most game parks lack refueling points. Therefore, it’s prudent to ensure that you have more fuel than you need. The extra fuel can be helpful if you run into emergencies. Also, take sufficient amounts of clean water for drinking, cooking, and washing. If you’ll need to camp and make some campfire, make sure that you buy firewood before getting into the park because tourists are not allowed to collect wood in the parks. Finally, stock up on all essential food items, car repair tools, and a first aid kit.
Pick an all-weather vehicle for your road trip
The first thing you have to be aware of when on Botswana roads is that all vehicles are right-hand driven. Secondly, most countryside and park roads in the Northern part of Botswana are sandy, muddy, and in bad condition, especially during the rainy seasons. These roads often have deep pools of water, slippery clay, and soft sand that could get your vehicle easily stuck. It is always advisable to use a 4x4-wheel-drive for your self-drive tours in Botswana.
Always keep on the designated roads and don’t veer off
Veering off from designated roads in the parks may lead you into dirt roads (which are often impassable), and you may get stuck. Since such roads are least used, it may become challenging for the park rangers to find you if you get lost. In fact, off-road driving is not allowed in all of Botswana’s national parks. This measure is meant to preserve some parts of the park’s ecosystem by keeping them pristine.
Carry a Map and a GPS gadget
Remember that you are on a self-drive trip, and you may not be in the company of a tour guide or a park ranger. This implies that you will need a map and if possible, a GPS gadget that will help you in navigating through the park since most of the roads within the parks lack signposts to direct you.
Try off-season trips for cheaper rates
Are you hard-pressed on cash, but you want to make your road trip a success? One of the ingenious ways to have a cheap road trip is by travelling during the off-season. During these periods, there are few tourists, and this implies that lodge rates and other travel expenses are lower than the normal high-season rates.
Northern Botswana is a malaria-prone area
There is a relatively high risk of getting malaria in the Northern parts of Botswana. The risk is even higher in the wet season, which occurs between November and April. Visitors are encouraged to use mosquito repellants, long-sleeved clothes, and mosquito nets while camping. Additionally, carry some anti-malarial tablets such as Malarone, Doxycycline, and atovaquone.
Carry a satellite phone if possible
Two-way radios are not allowed in the parks, and traditional mobile phones may fail to work when you’re out in the park because of poor network reception. As such, it’s advisable to carry a satellite phone for better communication.
Avoid walking alone in the park
Visitors are not allowed to wander away or walk in the park without the company of a ranger or tour guide. If you’re camping, don’t leave the vicinity of your camp. If on a driving trip, don’t leave your car, and always ensure that your doors and windows are well-secured. This is particularly important in the early mornings and in the evening when most animals are actively hunting.
Don’t carry prohibited items on your trip
The prevalence of conditions such as the foot-and-mouth disease, which affects wild animals, has led to the ban of items or products from animals, which may carry similar disease-causing pathogens. Some of the banned items include fresh milk, game skins, and trophies as well as meat and meat products from hoofed animals. Try to check the latest updates on such park regulations because there are many other banned items, which may include drones and other electronic devices.
Don’t give any food to the wild animals
Feeding wild animals makes them fond of humans, and driving away their natural fear may entice them to come closer to you. This poses a threat to you because the animals can inflict harm on you if they get irritated or feel threatened in any way. Also, don’t keep foodstuffs in your tent. Wild animals have a strong sense of smell, which may draw them into your tent. Instead, let all your food supplies remain in your vehicle. Most travellers opt for 4x4 hire Botswana to accommodate their travel plans.