For a very personal and flexible Botswana adventure, you can try a self-driving safari. You’ll be your own boss as you drive your sturdy 4 x 4 through the changing scenery, staying in specially chosen campsites, and dining under the stars. It will truly give you a back-to-nature way of enjoying Botswana. The abundant wildlife of the Okavango Delta, huge elephant herds in Chobe, and the vast shimmering expanse of the Makgadikgadi Pans will be combined to make this a heavenly journey through the wilderness.
During this safari, you will stay at some campsites and one of them is Nata Lodge.
The lodge’s campsite is able to accommodate 150 persons and the ablution areas are stylish with semi-open showers offering hot and cold water. The camp site has central electrical power banks for those requiring electricity. Socket is standard RSA 3 pin round plug 240 volts. The lodge itself is equipped with a restaurant, swimming pool, gift shop, bar / lounge area, and Wi-Fi.
On arrival in Maun, you’ll be met by a representative from Botswana Specialists' self-drive partner. There will be a full briefing about the vehicle, a low mileage Toyota 4 × 4 Land Cruiser, camping equipment provided, as well as a thorough explanation of your route. This will take anything between 1 to 2 hours and the representative will be happy to answer any questions you have. You can then head into Maun to stock up on provisions, after which you’ll then drive to the campsite and prepare dinner.
After breakfast, you’ll pack up the camping gear and set off on the journey to Moremi Game Reserve in the eastern Okavango Delta. This will take between 4 and 6 hours, depending on what wildlife you see en route. Moremi is one of the most game-rich areas of the delta and you’ll soon be thrilled by the sight of giraffe, buffalo, and impala, plus, with luck, lion, cheetah, and leopard. You’ll arrive at the campsite in time for a drink before dinner.
You will enjoy a full day in Moremi to enjoy the varied scenery which includes lagoons, islands, floodplains, woodland, and open savannah. Game viewing is good all year. In the dry season you’ll find animals gathered around waterholes, and in the rainy season game thrives on the lush vegetation and offspring are born, whose vulnerability draws predators. Whenever you visit, you’re assured of top quality birdwatching with over 400 species on record.
In the morning, you’ll pack up your camp and be ready for the drive to the Khwai area in the northeast of Moremi. On the way, you have to keep your eyes peeled for plains game which should be present in large numbers. You can stop to watch animal interaction and take a few photos. You’ll reach the campsite after about 4-5 hours, with ample time to put up your tent and relax.
By now, you’re becoming an experienced safari-goer. You’ll probably opt for an early start, so you can see wildlife at its most active before the full intensity of the midday sun. Taking your cue from the animals, you’ll return to the campsite to rest. After lunch and a siesta, you’ll be out in the 4 × 4 in the afternoon as creatures reawaken, for more spine-tingling encounters. No two drives are the same and you’ll never know what you may see next, which is all part of the addictive lure of the safari.
Today, you’ll head for Savuti in the western section of Chobe National Park. It’s a lengthy drive of some 4-6 hours, with plenty of game viewing on the way. You can also vary your day with a stop to view some ancient San bushman rock art. It’s fascinating to think that thousands of years ago humans were living in this region, and you’re standing on the very same spot getting a glimpse into their daily lives.
The Savuti Channel, which commenced flowing again in 2010, supports large numbers of plains game. Viewing is good year round. In the dry season, you can see animals congregating round the available water sources. Lessened vegetation makes for easy sightings. In the rainy season, the grasses grow and it will attract vast numbers of zebra, buffalo, and wildebeest. Whenever you’re here, you’ll enjoy a safari experience par excellence.
After having breakfast and packed up your camp, you’ll begin the journey to Ihaha campsite in the Chobe River area of the national park. The river acts as a magnet for wildlife, especially elephants, but also buffalo, antelope, hippo, and giraffe. and, in their wake, predators such as lion, leopard, hyena, and jackal. Buoyed by some great sightings, you’ll arrive at your campsite ready for a drink and dinner.
It will surely be an exciting day as you drive along the Chobe riverfront, spending time watching animals and birds at close quarters. You’ll never cease to feel awed and honored to be in the presence of wild creatures. It will be an experience that sets a safari apart from any other holiday. After that, you will go back to your camp and enjoy a delicious dinner while listening to elephants by the river.
You will bid farewell to Chobe as you drive the short distance to Kasane. Here, you can stock up on food and drink for the next few days and refuel the vehicle. Your adventure will continue southward, travelling 300 kilometers on a tar road to Nata Lodge. This drive will take about 3-4 hours. You’ll be staying at the lodge’s comfortable campsite tonight.
You will have breakfast at your campsite, maybe chatting to other travelers and swapping experiences. You’ll then set out for Kubu Island. Although the distance is considerably less than yesterday (90 kilometers), it’s off the main road and will take between 4 and 5 hours. Kubu is a land island, a rocky outcrop covered in ancient baobab trees surrounded by the white salt surface of Sowa Pan. The campsite is in a peaceful location near the island.
You’ll have an early start, heading for the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. This area was once covered by a vast lake which evaporated centuries ago leaving what is now one of the largest salt pans in the world. The shimmering surface sometimes produces mirages and this whole region has an almost otherworldly feel. It’s certainly a contrast from the waterways and floodplains of Chobe and the Okavango Delta.
You’ll have all day to explore this intriguing region. In the dry season, you’ll come across wildlife, though not in the concentrations found in Chobe and Moremi. Meanwhile, in the rainy season you’ll spot hundreds of flamingos and water birds plus herds of zebra, wildebeest, and antelope. It’s the scenery as much as the wildlife that makes the pans so special, and your day here will leave you with an abiding impression of their stark majesty.
You will eat your breakfast as you marvel at the sight of the pans in the morning sunlight. Later on, you will drive to the western edge of Makgadikgadi, to Khumaga campsite. You can expect to see wildebeest and elephant in impressive numbers, as well as an array of birdlife.
After breakfast, you’ll pack up your camping gear for the final time. You will then climb aboard your 4 × 4 for the 2-3 hour journey back to Maun, where you’ll drop off your vehicle and embark on your onward travel arrangements.
During this safari, you will drive yourself to Moremi Game Reserve in the eastern Okavango Delta, Savuti Channel in Chobe National Park, Chobe River, Kubu Island, and Makgadikgadi Salt Pans.
Covering about 20% of the Okavango Delta, Moremi Game Reserve is in the heart of this incredible ecosystem. It is an unfenced reserve bounded by river systems, with Chief’s Island in the middle which is generally regarded as one of the best game viewing areas. Moremi has both dry land and swamplands, and of course is surrounded by permanent delta waterways.
The land is grassy plains with mopane forest, tall evergreen trees, and floodplains. Even within the context of the wider delta, the wildlife in Moremi is notably good. It’s a great place for a high chance of seeing rare African wild dogs, and since rhinos were introduced here a few years ago it’s now a Big Five destination. There are over 400 bird species to be found in the reserve.
The Okavango Delta is the world’s largest inland delta, and it is within the world’s largest area of continuous sand, the Kalahari Basin. This huge desert oasis is a vastly rich yet fragile ecosystem which is home to a diverse range of African wildlife. The whole area is affected by annual floods which originate in Angola. These floods arrive in about May, filling the narrow waterways and lagoons before gradually being soaked up by the floodplains and Kalahari sands over the next few months. They are the lifeblood of the area, especially as the high floodwaters coincide with the Okavango’s dry season in terms of rainfall (roughly April to October).
Covering 11,000 square kilometers, Chobe National Park is one of Botswana’s largest reserves. It is strongly connected with elephants. There are literally thousands of them (possibly 70,000), particularly in the dry season of May to October, drawn here by the wide Chobe River which forms the northern border of the park. The Savuti is an area within Chobe but very different from the riverfront area.
The riverfront is the best area in Chobe for wildlife due to the life-bringing waters of the permanent Chobe River. Whilst there is game here all year round, the very best months are in the dry season from about May to October. At this time, elephants frolic in the river and there are good numbers of buffalo and sable antelope. Predators such as lions are never far away, and there is a diverse range of other general wildlife such as hippo, giraffe, zebra, jackal, warthog, and kudu. In about November / December, many animals give birth, and as the rainy season gets going the wildlife disperses more widely throughout the park. Birdlife is especially good in the rainy season and wild flowers flourish.
This area incorporates a multitude of salt pans and vast grass plains dotted by palm islands and forms the Great Makgadikagidi. It comprises the largest area of salt pans in the world covering some 37,000 square kilometers in overall extent. It is the last vestiges of Africa’s largest inland sea and exudes an atmosphere of antiquity and mystery. It’s flat and featureless for the most part, yet this doesn’t really sum it up at all.
In the dry season, the dirty white salt-encrusted land is quite mesmerizing in its nothingness, especially at sunrise and sunset, and even nights are special with nothing to distract you from the full intensity of the starry African skies. Ntwetwe Pan and the smaller Sowa Pan are the two most spectacular salt pans, and most of the region’s camps are on or near Ntwetwe Pan.
Sowa Pan is where you find Kubu Island with its strangely-shaped baobab trees, the many fossils and archaeological remains (which show of), testament to the islands use for very early human habitation including a circular stone wall. It is a magical place to visit but takes several days by quad bike from the camps in Ntwetwe. Over in the far north east of Sowa Pan, is Nata Bird Sanctuary. This is an award-winning community conservation project, and when there is water in the pans, thousands of flamingos, pelicans, ducks, and geese congregate here.
During this safari, you will not be provided with any meals. You can find restaurants and bars in most towns. Although Botswana is not really known for its cuisine, the standard of food in lodges and camps tends to be of a very high standard. Beef is the most popular meat, though lamb and chicken are also widely available. Locally grown vegetables include sweet potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, and spinach. Soft drinks are popular and found across the country. Ginger beer is a popular non-alcoholic drink. Locally brewed beers include Castle and Lion. Most camps and lodges stock a selection of wines to be enjoyed with meals.
If you are coming from the UK, you are recommended getting a flight with a combination of British Airways, Air Botswana, and / or South African Airways via Johannesburg. A rough price guide for flights is 1100 GBP per person.