Elephant sighting on a self-drive sfari in Botswana.

Exploring Botswana's Wild Side: Tips for Self-Driving with your Rental Car

Botswana is possibly Africa’s most spectacular self-drive safari destination. From the elephant-packed riverbanks of Chobe National Park to the lush Okavango Delta and the desolate expanse of the Makgadikgadi salt pans, there’s a whole world of untouched wilderness to explore.

Campsite setup on a 4x4 self-drive safari in Botswana.
Above: Campsite setup on a 4×4 self-drive safari in Botswana

Grab your keys and head out on an incredible journey with our list of Botswana self-driving tips.

Download the Tracks4Africa App

This handy GPS map for Africa works offline on your mobile phone. Even if you buy a local SIM card, you’re not guaranteed a signal, so Tracks4Africa makes it easy to know where you are even if you can’t get a connection.

4x4 Tented Rental in Botswana.
Above: 4×4 Tented rental in Botswana.

It’s a useful backup, even if your rental 4×4 comes fitted with a satellite GPS. Download it here.

Be prepared

A self-drive trip through Botswana is not for the faint of heart. You’ll need to research your trip thoroughly and make sure you’re well-equipped for any eventuality. Speak to a reputable tour operator about the potential pitfalls of a self-drive safari and follow their advice and guidance.

Plan as far in advance as possible

Botswana takes a high-cost, low-volume approach to its tourism. This means that there are relatively few campsites and lodges.

Lion in Botswana.
Above: Lion in Botswana.

Book your accommodations well in advance to avoid disappointment on your road trip. Do some research and find the cheapest 4×4 hire.

Know your route and pack ample supplies  

Pack an excess of everything you can, from food, fuel, and water to medical supplies, spare wheels and spare parts that are easily fixed. You’ll often find yourself in the middle of nowhere and the nearest assistance could be hours away, so it makes sense to always be prepared as far as possible.

Respect the authorities

Unlike in some other African countries, bribery and corruption is frowned upon in Botswana. Be patient and courteous with local authorities and pay your fines without complaint.

Be prepared for getting stuck

No matter how experienced you are, it’s not uncommon to get stuck in sandy or muddy tracks.

Botswana roads in the rainy season.
Above: Botswana roads in the rainy season.

Make sure you’re equipped with the right equipment such as jacks, sand ladders, tow ropes, and a satellite phone.

Don’t panic if you get stuck

A self-drive trip in Botswana takes patience. If you get stuck, don’t go wandering off in search of assistance. Stay with your vehicle and be prepared to wait for help. It’s all part of the adventure!

Be a safe and considerate driver

Keep your eyes on the road and never drive off road in national parks and reserves.

Hippos grazing in Botswana.
Above: Hippos grazing in Botswana.

Don’t drive at night because this is when many animals are active and you don’t want to have a collision with wildlife.

Stay in your vehicle and don’t approach animals on foot

Wildlife is unpredictable and can be dangerous. Keep a respectful distance and never leave your vehicle to get closer to the animals. Keeping these tips in mind will ensure that you have an unforgettable self-drive adventure in the spectacular country that is Botswana. Enjoy your journey!

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