Perhaps the most common route from South Africa to Botswana is northwest from Johannesburg and across the Limpopo River. The Limpopo forms a 400km border between the two countries, starting near Gaborone and running up towards the Tuli Block. There are a number of border posts to choose from and it’s generally quick and easy to cross. Those up near Tuli are particularly special because once through you’re in wild country immediately, and right away it feels like the safari has started. The Tuli region also has a few campsites to break the journey. Limpopo River Lodge is a good option for self-drivers.

Zebra in Botswana

A dazzle of Zebra| Image by Matt Artz

Highlights

The Limpopo is one of Southern Africa’s most famous rivers and the second largest in East Africa, after the Zambezi. It runs for over 1,700km before emptying into the Indian Ocean, although the upper reaches that form the South Africa-Botswana border are seasonal and flow mainly in summer. It’s still a very wild river, especially up around the Tuli region, where crocodiles are common in the deeper pools. Elephant, giraffe and zebra also frequent the north banks, and there’s the outside chance of spotting a leopard too.

Practical advice

It’s about a five-hour drive from Johannesburg to the border, depending on which border post you use. There are plenty of options, but the ones towards Tuli tend to be quieter. Border times vary, with the earliest closing at 4 pm and the latest at 6 pm. South Africans, North Americans, and most Europeans can get a free, single-entry visa at the border, but you’ll need about P150/R200 for Botswanan road taxes and mandatory insurance. On the north bank, the road through the Tuli region is rough and bumpy and not recommended for low-clearance vehicles.

If you would like to inquire about our 4×4 hire Botswana options, one of our consultants will readily assist with any questions you may have.