Botswana Driving Advice and Car Hire Info
Driving In Botswana
Driving in Botswana is on the left. The standard of driving is reasonably good and most roads in the towns, and the major arteries connecting these, are tarred and are usually in good condition..
Away from the main arteries, the roads are simply tracks through the bush made by whatever vehicles have passed that way. They are almost never maintained, and usually require at least a high-clearance vehicle – although often a 4WD is essential. During the wet season some of these tracks can be virtually impassable. Travelling on these bush tracks at any time of year is slow and time consuming . The roads in Chobe National Park are largely sand tracks. In the dry season, its like driving through deep sand dunes and after heavy rain most tracks will be impassable. For some footage of driving in Chobe in the dry season, check out my You Tube page. If you intend to rent a vehicle to drive to Chobe you should tell the rental company where you’re heading to ensure you have the correct equipment. My advice, certainly if travelling alone would be to take a GPS device, and always let your campsite know where you’re heading and roughly when you expect to return.
In Botswana’s National Parks, the game roams freely and should always be given right of way . Elephants present the biggest risk, especially at night when they may roam on unlit roads- even major routes can be affected in the North near Chobe NP. If an elephant or group of elephants approaches you along a road, you should stop, but keep your engine idling. The elephants will generally pass you by at a safe distance, If they get too close, revving your engine slightly may ward them off. If approached by a bull elephant though you should be especially wary. If possible turn the vehicle so you have an escape route if it becomes aggressive.
If you are camping, you will almost certainly have game in and around your campsite since most campsites have no fences. You need to take a number of precautions about moving around the camp especially when going to the loo or having a shower, especially at night. My advice is to avoid the toilet and show blocks after dark and go behind the tent if you need to. Surprising a lion or even a baboon in an enclosed toilet block in the dark is something you’d probably only do once! Animals, especially baboons, can be a nuisance in the camp as they will steal food and any other items left in an open the vehicle so it is necessary to be conscientious about keeping things stowed away at all times.
See my Roadtrip Tales page for a story about driving in Chobe NP, Botswana
Botswana Car Rental –
Hertz, Europcar, Alamo , National , Avis, Budget, have outlets here. Also usually features on Car rental broker sites such as Argus Car rental and Web discount sites such as ebookers.com. or Expedia
Self drive safaris are available from companies such as –
This company can arrange self drive safaris throughout Southern African countries including South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland & Lesotho
This company rent cars from Livingstone in Zambia and when I researched taking a self drive/ roof tent vehicle into Botswana, they were the cheapest option even with a $200 cross border charge.
Botswana Self Driving Rules–
Vehicles can generally be taken to neighbouring countries excluding Angola and Zimbabwe. Europcar charge to take cars to Namibia, Swaziland, Lesotho, Mozambique, & Zambia and also allow one way international rentals. Self Drive safari operators recommend doing some off road/4WD instruction but don’t insist on this.