The Great African Road Trip 1: Namibia and Botswana Grand Tour

You’ll fall in love with the vast landscapes of Namibia and the wildness of Botswana on this circular road trip. Our suggested route takes in the top attractions of each country and can be completed in 21 days.

This three-week overland tour, excerpted from our Namibia and Botswana Guide Books, is a roundup of highlights from Namibia and Botswana. The circuit begins in Windhoek, but you could just as easily start in Maun (day 19), which is recommended if you’re travelling from Johannesburg.

Day 1: Arrive in Windhoek

(50 km – 45 min)

It is important to stay the first night in Windhoek. Whether you’ve flown in or driven to Windhoek, the chances are good that you’ll be tired. On your arrival, there’s still quite a lot to do. Stock up on provisions and fill up your tanks. If you’ve still got time, take in a city tour and end off the day with dinner at the famous Joe’s Beerhouse.

Also read: Best bush pubs

Day 2: Waterberg Plateau National Park

(290 km – 3 hrs)

Beneath the Waterberg’s red sandstone cliffs you’ll pitch your camp. Stretch your legs on one of the nine trails found around the base of the plateau.

Day 3: Etosha National Park

(280 km – 3 hrs)

Etosha is one of Namibia’s most popular game parks, a place where you can expect to see small and large animal species. Six camps in the park offer camping and lodging, and you can explore the park on a good gravel road.

Mopane tree at Etosha National Park. Photo: Frank Höppener.

Day 4: Etosha National Park

(70 km – 2 hrs, game drive 100 km – 3 hrs)

Spend some time bird watching. There are 46 raptors to be found within Etosha, including the Egyptian vulture. If you’re visiting after heavy rains, you’ll see the pan covered by a thin layer of water.

Day 5: Etosha National Park

(70 km – 2 hrs, game drive 100 km – 3 hrs)

Even though you’ve got your own vehicle, consider signing up for a guided game drive. This will give you the benefit of a knowledgeable guide who’s sure to point out things you’d miss on your own. Also, consider a night game drive where you’ll get to see animals not often seen in the daylight hours. Okaukuejo camp is famous for its floodlit waterholes, a great way to spend your last evening at Etosha.

Day 6: Okavango River

(430 km – 4 hrs 30 min)

Head northeast for the Kavango River and find a place to stay on the riverbanks. In Botswana, this same river is called the Okavango. A visit to the MBunza Living Museum, some 15 km from Rundu, is well worth your time.

Hakusembe River Lodge near Rundu. Photo: Frank Höppener.

Day 7: Divundu

(200 km – 2 hrs, game drive 100 km – 3 hrs)

Heading due east now, your next stop is the small village of Divundu, just into the old Caprivi strip. Nearby, you’ll find Popa Falls, which are most impressive in the dry season. Or you could choose to explore the Mahango Game Reserve.

Day 8: Buffalo Core Area

(150 km – 6 hrs, 4WD required)

Take a day trip and sign up for a boat trip or spend some time relaxing at the river, watching the game. See if you can find the old South African army base. The tracks in this area are best traversed in an off-road vehicle with an experienced person at the wheel.

Day 9: Kongola

(200 km – 2 hrs, game drive 100 km – 3 hrs)

You’re continuing east along the Caprivi corridor to the town of Kongola. Visit the Horse Shoe, an oxbow lake on the Kwando River, or the Mafwe Living Museum. Places to stay include Nambwa, Mavunje, Namushusha or Mazambala. Be prepared for stretches of very deep sand, lowering your tyre pressures is a must.

Day 10: Kasane

(230 km – 2 hrs 30 min)

It’s time to cross over into Botswana where you’ll be spending three nights in the Kasane Area. (Allow one hour for the border crossing.) A three-hour boat cruise in the Chobe National Park is a visit to elephant central and one of the best ways to get close to the game.

Day 11: Victoria Falls

(Full day)

Take a day trip to Victoria Falls in nearby Zimbabwe. The border post is more easily negotiated if you leave your vehicle behind and take a taxi or shuttle – the drivers typically know how to organise formalities. Otherwise, allow anything from one to three hours for the border post. Once at the falls, take your time, the walk to the various viewpoints is well worth it. If you have the funds, a helicopter flip over the falls will give you a memorable perspective.

Day 12: Chobe Waterfront

(Game drive 150 km – 6 hours, 4WD required)

No four-wheel drive? Take a guided game drive to Chobe National Park with one of the lodges.

Day 13: Savuti

(170 km – 3 hrs; game drive 50 km – 2 hrs, 4WD required)

If you’re not in a 4×4, drive south to Elephant Sands on the A33. The lodge offers a range of off-road day trips in their vehicles.

Day 14: Savuti Game Drive

(150 km – 6 hours, 4WD required)

Non-4×4 option: continue south to Nata and then west on the A3 to Planet Baobab, a lodge which offers various trips and activities. You can happily spend several days here before continuing to Maun to pick up the rest of the original route from Day 19 onwards.

Day 15: Khwai

(110 km – 3 hrs; game drive 50 km – 2 hrs, 4WD required)

Make your way south to the Khwai region and stay at one of the community campsites here (advance bookings required) or in the Moremi Game Reserve. You are now on the easternmost tip of the Okavango Delta, which is one of Africa’s most celebrated game reserves.

Crossing the beautiful Khwai River. Photo: Mietsie Visser.

Day 16: Khwai

You can choose to make this a lazy day in the camp or organise a bushwalk via the Khwai Development Trust. Remember, this is one of the few places you can explore the Delta on foot. Whatever route you decide to go, you can always end your day with a memorable two-hour sunset cruise.

Day 17: Moremi Game Reserve

(50 km – 2 hrs; game drive 100 km – 3 hrs, 4WD required)

Stay at a camp in the Moremi Game Reserve such as Xakanaxa or Third Bridge Campsites. Take a game drive in the reserve.

Day 18: Moremi Game Drive / Boat Trip

(Game drive 150 km – 6 hrs; boat trip, FWD required)

No trip to Moremi is complete without a mokoro trip. These hollowed-out tree trunks (or modern replicas) are poled by experienced local guides who’ll take you deep into the Delta’s papyrus-fringed channels. This is a side of the Delta you’ll never forget, so splash out! Bookings are recommended.

Day 19: Maun

(160 km – 3 hrs 30 min)

Drive to Maun and once settled in, take an hour’s flight over the Okavango Delta. An aerial view of the waters you’ve just visited will round off your perspective of this amazing place. If you still have time, check out the other activities and attractions including basket-weaving classes, museums, restaurants and bars Maun has to offer.

Day 20: Namibia

(500 km – 5 hrs)

Drive back to Namibia, overnighting along the road. Stay at Zelda Game & Guestfarm, Kalahari Bush Breaks or East Gate Rest Camp, not far from the border crossing.

Day 21: Windhoek

(300 km – 3 hrs)

Drive back to Windhoek, spend one last night or dash to the airport to start the journey home.

Map of the entire route.

Before embarking on this wonderful trip, don’t forget to purchase our GPS Maps on SD Card for Garmin GPS Systems, the latest Namibia and Botswana Self-Drive Guide Books Combo, and because we believe your safety is a priority, Namibia and Botswana Traveler’s Paper Map (just in case you experience any technical glitches along the way).

One thought on “The Great African Road Trip 1: Namibia and Botswana Grand Tour”

  1. Last month we were in Okaukuejo in Etosha. There was no hot water, and last day no water, and after a while all toilets are full. I`ve never been on a so bad Campsite. Nerver again!!
    Uli from germany

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