Best kept secret of Botswana 4x4 trails

Botswana Isolation Trail Fascinating caves, flaming Kalahari sunsets and real bush camping under clear canopies of stars await avid 4×4 travellers and passionate bush babies on the Botswana 4×4 Isolation trail. The adventurous trail through the barren bushveld of the Kalahari Desert is a rewarding challenge for the ardent Botswana 4×4 safari Botswana lover. Beginning in Makalambedi, the Botswana self-drive route leads you into the heart of Botswana’s golden Kalahari plains before transporting you up into the lush green waterways of Namibia’s Caprivi Strip at Katima Mulilo. The Isolation trail is testing trail and we at Drive South Africa recommend you have a fully equipped Botswana 4×4 hire car, plenty of 4×4 Botswana safari experience and are prepared for a long and challenging trip before you attempt the epic 3-week adventure. This is remote country, as wild as it is challenging and certainly not for the faint-hearted. A thorough read of the 4×4 forum is strongly recommended. We’ve put together an overview of the route for your perusal.

Central Kalahari Game Reserve

Central Kalahari Game Reserve [photo by Hiasinho

Heading off from the tiny village of Makalambedi, your Botswana self-drive route takes you through the vast open savannahs and sand dunes of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. Explore the fossilized river valleys and sparkling pans on the many Botswana 4×4 trails across the park. Driving through the flat bushveld and Mopane forests is the ideal chance for you to see giraffe, wildebeest as well as the elusive leopard on your Botswana safari.

Deception Valley

As you stand at the top of Deception Valley look out over the sprawling valley floor and flat bushveld of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and breathe in the spirit of the Kalahari, revelling in a unique Botswana tour experience. Follow the Botswana 4×4 tracks along the rim of the valley as it winds through desert dunes and across the park. Keep your eyes peeled for the gemsbok, lion and giraffe lazing in the shelter of the acacia trees before you set up camp around a roaring campfire and enjoy utter solitude.


Leaving the golden plains of the savannah it’s off to Maun to stock up on food and water supplies whilst browsing the local market and shops for some extra spice on your Botswana tour. The gateway to the Okavango Delta, Maun is a fascinating and booming little town. Learn about its history whilst enjoying a cold beer at the Best Western Riley’s Hotel.

Lake Ngami

Once you are rearing to go, follow the Isolation Trail west towards Lake Ngami. The shimmering shallow lake is a stunning fragmented reminder of the ancient Makgadigadi Lake. When the Angola rains have been good the lake bursts into life, teeming with flocks of flamingos and pelicans chasing schools of fish across the shallows. In the drier seasons, follow the Botswana 4×4 trail along the river banks and watch the dry river bed explode in a sea of yellow flowers.

Aha Hills

Aha Hills Sunset (Photo by abi.battachan)

From Lake Ngami the unspoilt, untouched wilderness of the Aha Hills call out to the brave Botswana 4×4 traveller. Ditch the 4×4 and hike across the marble and limestone plateaus in the most remote part of Botswana surrounded by a sea of dunes covered in scrubland. The hills offer a spectacular position for one of the brightest Botswana safari sunsets overlooking uninterrupted Kalahari bushveld views in all directions.

Gchiwihaba (Drotsky) Caves

Head south on your Botswana 4×4 tour and explore the labyrinth of linked passages, bizarre caverns and connected hallways of the Gchiwihaba Cave system. There are fascinating frozen waterfalls, crazy rock formations and echoing hallways for you to see before you emerge at the top entrance of the caves for sunset.

Tsodilo Hills

Tsodilo Hills Rock Art [photo from Wikipedia – Tsodilo]

As your Botswana tour leads you further south on the Isolation Trail, the sheer cliff faces of the Tsodilo Hills will rise majestically out of the flat Kalahari bush before you. Standing in stark contrast to the surrounding savannah and shrouded in superstition the four hills are an ancient and sacred spiritual sight of the Basarwa (San) people. Opt for one of the walking trails or guided tours and climb up and in amongst the sheer quartzite faces. Then stare in wonder at the nearly 3 000-year-old rock paintings depicting the life of the early san before continuing on your Botswana 4×4 adventure.


After nearly three weeks of bush-camping Shakawe offers the chance for hot showers, cold beers and great tiger fishing. Situated on the banks of the Okavango River, Shakawe’s riverine bush is a treat for bird-watchers looking to enjoy the diverse birdlife on their Botswana tour.

Katima Mulilo

Botswana 4x4 Hire (Photo by Noel Feans)

The capital of the lush Caprivi Strip, Katima Mulilo is the end of the isolation trail and your Botswana self-drive safari. From here you can cross the border into Namibia or turn back to Maun for a Botswana safari into the Okavango Delta

Botswana 4×4 hire

A Botswana self-drive holiday through the Kalahari might sound like fun, but this exciting trail is definitely not for sissies. Be prepared to dig your Botswana 4×4 vehicle out of the sand and make sure you have enough supplies to fix your 4×4 if you break down on your 4×4 safari. Botswana is the wildlife mecca, so be careful at all times. For more information on Botswana’s 4×4 routes including the Isolation Trail or to book a fully-equipped 4×4 visit our 4×4 car hire page. Keep Discovering!self drive holidays in africa

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