Road trip through Southern Africa: Exploring wild Botswana

Charlen Raymond
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 SAFARI CAPITAL: Botswana is one of the best countries for a safari getaway. ~ iStock

Cape Town - The safari capital of the world surely has to be Botswana.

The country is filled with amazing wildlife and should be on your bucketlist of places to explore. Botswana is one several African countries where wild animals roaming national roads is common place.

Like South Africa, Botswana has major national parks for its wildlife but the country also allows it animals to roam free.

Home of safaris

The country is perhaps best-known for the Kalahari desert and Okavango Delta, the latter, during the rainy seasons, becomes a majestic habitat for the animals that live there.

The country's capital, Gabarone, is situated in the south and is close to SA for import/export purposes.

READ: Road trip in Southern Africa: Exploring tranquil Namibia

Speaking of, Botswana's currency, the Pula (P) is equivalent to R1.30 (at the time of print). Fortunately, South Africans can do purchases in their own currency and withdraw money from familiar banks' ATMs. To enter the country will cost around R250 per vehicle.

Tourists visiting Botswana from SA do not require a visa, but a valid passport is required. However, if visitors have an emergency passport or any documentation that is NOT your original passport, a visa is required.

Due to the harsh road conditions in the country, every vehicle crossing the border would need insurance cover.

READ: Border Crossing into Botswana – everything you need to know

Image: Traveller24

Sticking to the national roads, take the N4 from Gauteng to Skilpadshek border control. The distance is about 300km.

An alternative is the R380 from Kuruman in the Northern Cape to McCarthy's Rust. The distance is about 190km.

Car, bakkie or SUV?

It is highly advisable that South Africans road-tripping through Botswana do so via a 4x4 or SUV. Many of the roads are in disrepair and large patches of sand are often the main roadway. There are a few tarred roads but the majority of its routes will require off-road prowess.

Bakkies and SUVs with high-ground clearance, 4x4 function, or for the least a diff-lock, are required to transverse Botswana's very unpredictable sandpits.

Here are a number of helpful tips:

  • Beware of animals crossing roads.

  • Stick to speed limits, especially in the national parks.

  • Do wary of travelling in the dark as animals and road hazards are harder to spot at night. 

  • Many parts of Botswana are only accessible in 4x4s due to poor road conditions.

  • Pack extra petrol, even if you have a backup tank. Fuel stations can be few and far between.

  • Take at least 100-liters of clean water with you.

READ: 10 reasons why you should go on a Botswana safari right now

  • Carry a satellite phone in case you run into any trouble or emergency.

  • Take a GPS and maps. The roads are often not sign-posted so a map is a definite necessity.

  • You should carry an extra spare tyre, and a high lift jack as well as an ordinary jack.

  • Carry a basic set of tools with spanners and screw drivers.

  • A spade is also an essential item for digging out stuck vehicles.

  • Take a medical aid kit. In the heat and humidity even small cuts can get infected quickly.

Read more on driving through Botswana by clicking here.

Duty-free items

The following articles and consumables may be admitted free of duty and, where applicable:

  • 2 litres wine

  • 1 litre spirituous and other alcoholic beverages

  • 200 cigarettes 

  • 20 cigars

  • 250g cigarette or pipe tobacco 

  • 50ml perfume 

  • 250ml deodorant

Attractions

  • Makgadikgado Salt Pan (Makgadikgado Pans National Park)

  • Khama Rhino Sanctuary (Serowe)

  • Kubu Isalnd (Makgadikgado Pans National Park)

  • Three Chiefs' statues (Gabarone)

  • Okovango Delta (Maun)

A photo posted by Wild Fact (@wildfactcom) on

  • Tsodilo Hills (Shakawe)

  • Lion Park Resort (Gabarone)

  • Nata Bird Sanctuary (nata)

  • Caracal Biodiversity center (Kusane)

  • Kwai River Bridge (Okovango Delta)

A photo posted by @nowaday.s on