skip to Main Content
This Rhino Had The Longest Horn We'd Ever Seen - Kharna Rhino Sanctuary, Serowe, Botswana

Botswana: A Fifteen Day Tour

When looking to plan our visit to Botswana we decided to go with a self-drive option rather than a standard tour. The thought was that this would give us the independence to do things at our own pace, even though we had a relatively fixed schedule. The road conditions in Botswana are variable, to say the least, and whilst the main roads between the larger population centres are tarmacked to enjoy the wilderness areas and do your own game drives you will need to have a good 4×4 vehicle. We booked our tour through Onjamba Safaris, a Namibia-based tour company, that was amazing to deal with. This was our first visit to Africa and we didn’t know quite what to expect, so we ended up using a company to plan our trip. But having done this trip you could easily book your itinerary directly and have the ultimate freedom of choice. The local outfitter company that Onjamba used in Botswana to provide us with our vehicle was Chobe 4×4. They were very professional to work with and their vehicles are 2-door and 4-door Toyota Land Cruisers, which are ideal for the off-road conditions in Botswana. When they delivered the car to us, they gave a very detailed briefing which is just what we needed as newbies to this type of touring.

Botswana is a large country and is sparsely populated, and you can end up travelling many miles without passing a town. So, it is essential to do your research if you are planning your own schedule to know where you can pick up provisions and most importantly petrol. Most large towns have supermarkets, such as Spar and Chobbies, where you will find everything you might need. Once you leave the main roads and enter the parks and game reserves, which are huge, you will not find shops or petrol stations (except at some of the higher-end resorts). It is critical your fuel tanks are full when you enter these parks, and advisable that you carry extra petrol in large jerry cans.

You can start your Botswana adventure from several places. We were on a larger tour of Africa and were coming from Zimbabwe. Our journey started with us crossing the border near Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and starting our Botswana road trip in Kasane. This is the area where four countries meet; Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Zambia, so is a great transition point between these countries. We had a rental vehicle in Zimbabwe, and decided to change vehicles with countries as taking a vehicle across a border in Africa is a lot harder than elsewhere in the world.

You can also reach Kasane by air. It has its own airport or you could fly to Livingstone in Zambia and Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe which are more broadly served by International airlines. Transfers from these airports to Botswana are relatively easy. 

Another option is to fly to Maun in Botswana, the gateway to the Okavango Delta, and start your tour from there.

In terms of accommodation, there are plenty of options. We had a roof tent on our 4×4 and could have easily camped every night but we opted for a mix of lodges and campsites. One night we even slept under the stars in Makgadikgadi Salt Pan! In the itinerary below there are links to more detailed blog posts on most locations with suggestions of places to stay and how to book them.


We spent our first two nights in Kasane on the Chobe River at the River View Lodge.

The city of Kasane borders Chobe National Park which was Botswana’s first national park, and also the most biologically diverse. Located in the north of the country, it is Botswana’s third largest park, after Central Kalahari Game Reserve and Gemsbok National Park, and has one of the greatest concentrations of game in all of Africa. It is home to the largest herd of elephants on the continent. 

We arrived at lunchtime, and in the afternoon we were taken on a cruise on the Chobe River, which is included in the boundaries of the National Park. Here we saw a large amount of wildlife on the banks of the river and on its islands, including cape buffalo, hippos, crocodiles, antelope and of course elephants (lots of them) and there was also an incredible amount of birdlife.

Stay overnight at River View Lodge in Kasane.

For a full review of Kasane/Chobe National Park see our Blog Post.

An elephant chilling out on an island in the Chobe River - Chobe National Park, Kasane, Botswana


Rise early for a 6 am dawn game drive. This is the best time to see wildlife in the Chobe National Park as the animals are more active in the cooler hours of the early morning.

After the game drive return to the lodge for breakfast. 

An afternoon game drive is optional or simply relax! We had our 4×4 vehicle delivered on our second day and received a 2-hour briefing on how to use the onboard features and what we might encounter on the road.

Stay overnight at River View Lodge in Kasane.

For a full review of Kasane/Chobe National Park see our Blog Post.

A giraffe in the early morning sun on the Chobe River - Chobe National Park, Kasane
A giraffe in the early morning sun on the Chobe River


Today, it is time to hit the road and drive south the 310km to the small town of Nata, which will take about 3 1/2 hours. If you set off after breakfast you will arrive around lunchtime. This is also a good place to refuel.

The road to Nata is tarmacked and not in bad condition. There is not much to see and do along the way, but there are pull-ins if you need to take a rest. 

On arrival check-in at the Nata Lodge and grab some lunch. In the afternoon you can go and visit the Nata Bird Sanctuary which is close by.

The Nata Bird Sanctuary is a reserve which covers an area of 230 km². It is situated on the northeastern fringe of the Sowa Pan, 20 km south of the town of Nata. Nata Bird Sanctuary was founded in 1992 with the goal to preserve wildlife, especially bird species. It is one of only three nesting places for flamingos in Africa.

Stay overnight at the Nata Lodge.

For a full review of Nata Bird Sanctuary see our Blog Post.


It is a long journey today, 421km in total which will take about 5 1/2 hours. Along the way, you will pass through Botswana’s second-largest city, Francistown. The road between Nata and Francistown is not the best, with crumbling sides to the road and potholes. You’ll also be sharing the road with large trucks that seem to have their own rules. Francistown is a good place to top up with fuel and provisions.

About 170km from Francistown you will enter Palapye, a large town. Another good place to refuel. This is the last large town you will see for a few days. It is only another 70km to Kharma Rhino Sanctuary.

If you set off from Nata early you should reach Kharma Rhino Sanctuary in time to do a quick check-in and then a late afternoon self-drive around the park. The roads in the park are rutted and there is a lot of sand, so you will definitely be able to test out the 4-wheel drive of your vehicle for the first time!

Khama Rhino Sanctuary is a community-based wildlife project in Botswana. The animal shelter was established in 1992 to assist in saving the vanishing rhinoceros and restore the historic wildlife populations. Covering approximately 8585 hectares of Kalahari Sandveld, the sanctuary provides prime habitat for white and black rhinos as well as over 30 other animal species and more than 230 species of birds.

Camp or stay in one of the chalets at the Kharma Rhino Sanctuary.

See our full blog post on visiting the Kharma Rhino Sanctuary

A large male rhino resting after a long day - Kharma Rhino Sanctuary, Serowe, Botawana
A large male rhino resting after a long day


Spend a second day at the Kharma Rhino Sanctuary. Plan to do an early morning and late afternoon self-drive game excursion around the sanctuary. These are the best times to see the wildlife at their most active.

See our full blog post on visiting the Kharma Rhino Sanctuary

A face only a mother could love - Kharma Rhino Sanctuary, Serowe, Botswana
A face only a mother could love


This will be a long driving day. We snuck in a last early morning game drive around the Kharma Rhino Sanctuary.

Next head north on the A14, which is a good road. After about two hours (165km) you will reach the mining town of Lethkane, which has a brand new shopping mall 410 km 8 1/2 hours. (309 km – 3 hrs 15 mins). This a good place to stop as it is the last big town.

Another 70km is the tiny village of Rakops. Stop here to refuel before heading into the Central Kalahari. 

From Rakops take the road into the Game Reserve. So far you’ll have completed about 310km, which will have taken 3 1/2 hours.

To get to the Matswere Gate of the Game Reserve is about 48 km, but the roads are really bad. It took us about 2 1/2 hours to get to Matswere. To get to our camp, Sunday Pan, was another 60km which took us another 3 hours. A long day.

It was a long journey, but the experience of travelling through a wilderness and barely seeing another human being was amazing. The place is vast. There is also plenty of wildlife, but it is spread out, and the waterholes (pans) attract the animals.

From our campsite, we had great views and were a long way from any other visitor. It felt like we had the whole Kalahari to ourselves. For us though was the night sky. We have never seen so many stars before, and the Milky Way was so clear.

See our full blog post on visiting the Central Kalahari Game Reserve


You could spend a second night at your campsite or move to a different site somewhere else in the Central Kalahari.

See our full blog post on visiting the Central Kalahari Game Reserve

Gathering at Leopard Pan - Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Botswana
Gathering at Leopard Pan


It is now time to move on from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and move to the Makgadikgadi National Park.

The day starts with returning through the Matswere Gate and back towards Rakops. This part of the journey is likely to be around 100km but could take up to 6 hours and then it is another 55km back to the main road. Again this could take up to 2 hours. 

Fill up with fuel in Rakops and then take the A14 north to Xhumaga, which is about 70km and will only take about 45 minutes on the tarmacked road.

Spend the night a the Boteti River Camp.

See our full blog post on visiting the Mkgadikgadi National Park

A flock of white pelicans on a sandbank on the Boteti River - Makgadikgadi National Park, Botswana


To Planet Baobab, the next stop, it is only 100km. If you take the main road it will only take 1.5 hours. Alternatively, you could drive on the tracks through the National Park. Yes, more sand. To get into the park you have to cross the Boteti River. In the rainy season, the river is too wild to drive across, so you’ll have to take the small local ferry. An experience in itself. We went in the dry season, so we were able to drive across the river at a ford.

Just across the river is the Khumaga Gate of the MakgadiKgadi National Park. We followed the tracks along the Boteti River and found a place where we could drive down onto the beach. 

Depending on how many stops you make, it could take three hours or more to reach Planet Baobab.

Planet Baobab is a very nice resort. There are campsites here, but we chose to stay in one of their rondavels. Around the resort, there are several large baobab trees. 

The resort offers several activities including a nature walk.

See our full blog post on visiting the Mkgadikgadi National Park


You can spend the morning at leisure at Planet Baobab, perhaps taking a walk, using the swimming pool or having a massage.

The biggest reason we had chosen to come to Planet Baobab as they offer an overnight sleepout under the stars in the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. It turned out to be our favourite thing we did in Botswana.

We had opted for an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) ride across the saltpans. Our adventure started with a ride in a 4×4 game drive vehicle from Planet Baobab across the tracks through the National Park. After about an hour in the car, we stopped to track a family of meerkats, which was an incredible experience. Next, we drove a short distance to a small farm, that runs an ATV rental business. From here we headed out on the saltpans, driving the ATVs for about an hour to where we would be camping. This was not tent camping, but literally lying in a bivvy bag in the open. Once the sun had gone down we had the most incredible display of stars and a clear view of the Milky Way. In our opinion, if you can afford this tour, do it!

See our full blog post on visiting the Mkgadikgadi National Park


Have a very early morning light breakfast on the saltpans, before returning to Planet Baobab for a shower and some more breakfast.

Late morning/early afternoon drive the 200 km to Maun, which is all on the tarmacked road and should only take around 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Spend the night in Maun.


From Maun head towards the Moremi Game Reserve, which is part of the UNESCO-listed Okavango Delta eco-system. It is about 125 km, which will be partially tarmac roads and some gravel tracks. Moremi offers some of the best game viewing in Africa.

There are campsites inside the park and several lodges outside. We stopped at the Khwai Conservancy and the Khwai Guesthouse. This guesthouse has several comfortable chalets. They also offer game drives if you would prefer to explore Moremi with an experienced guide. We would recommend this option as navigating the reserve, especially in the rainy season can be challenging.

See our full blog post on visiting the Moremi Game Reserve


Spend a second full day exploring Moremi and possibly the Khwai Conservancy.

Spend a second night at your campsite or lodge.

See our full blog post on visiting the Moremi Game Reserve


Time to head north again. You could opt to have a long day of driving to Kasane, along some difficult tracks, which will be sandy in place, or spend a night in the Savuti area, which lies within the borders Chobe National Park.

The Savuti area is known for its excellent game and offers good sightings throughout the year. The Savuti Campsite lies on the banks of the dry Savuti channel with each campsite peering out from amongst the beauty of gnarled camel thorn trees.

The Savuti channel has a bizarre history of drying up during good rains and having flood levels at other times. The beauty of this area, was created by the silhouettes of the many dead trees which relied on sustenance from the water supply of past years.

The are some expensive lodges you could stay at or simply camp at one of the basic sites at the Savuti Campsite. If you do stay expect to visited at some point by a herd of elephants.


From Savuti it is around 161 km to Kasane. The first 100km will be on sandy tracks and will take around 3 hours. The last 60km is back to tarmac roads, which will be around a 45-minute ride.


Best time to visit Botswana

overcast clouds
few clouds
scattered clouds

Botswana’s climatic pattern is typical of southern Africa, although its rainfall is less than countries further east. The rains in Botswana come mostly between December and March when average minimum temperatures are in the low 20°s. Some days will be bright and sunny, some will have afternoon thunderstorms, and some will just be grey.

As with Namibia, April and May in Botswana are generally lovely, with the sky clear and the landscape green. Night temperatures start to drop during these months, especially in the Kalahari. Note that places in and around the Okavango tend to have less extreme, more moderate temperatures than the drier areas of the Kalahari.

From June to August the night-time temperatures in drier areas can be close to freezing, but it warms up rapidly during the day when the sky is usually clear and blue. It’s now very much ‘peak season’ for most safari areas: the land is dry in most areas so the animals congregate around the few available water sources.

This continues into September and October, when temperatures climb again, drying the landscapes and concentrating the game even more. This is the best time for big game safaris – although October can feel very hot, with maximum temperatures sometimes approaching 40°C.

November is difficult to predict, as it can sometimes be a continuation of October’s heat, whilst sometimes it’s cooled by the first rains; it’s always an interesting month.

Botswana – Month-by-Month

Visiting Botswana in January

January is hot, with long sunny spells punctuated by short, tempestuous thunderstorms when it can be a good idea to settle back under canvas with a drink to watch the lightning illuminate the sky. This time of year sees migratory birds breeding and the young of the grazers growing quickly on the lush grass, giving predators the runaround.

Visiting Visiting Botswana in February

The mercury can soar, with continued sunshine and dramatic storms that make for photogenic skies. The Central Kalahari starts to come to life, with the grasslands enticing plains game. Ripening fruit sees many different species congregate around the trees in search of a sweet meal.

Visiting Botswana in March

The rains start to ease off, and very hot, drier days and nights are the rule in March.

Visiting Botswana in April

While days continue to be hot and sunny, the nights start to get cooler in April, making sleeping more comfortable while still allowing plenty of scope for sitting outside in the evenings with a sundowner. Breeding season for antelope is underway, and the males are busy butting heads and strutting around as they strive to impress the females.

Visiting Botswana in May

The end of the rains sees the mercury start to fall, and days are no longer quite as furnace-like. Evenings can be cool, so it’s a good idea to pack a jacket for night safaris.

Visiting Botswana in June

Midwinter in Botswana is nothing like it might be in the higher latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, so you can expect beautifully warm days without being sweltering, and only the nights approach anything close to freezing. The shrinking waterholes are the focus for both prey and predators alike, making game easy to spot.

Visiting Botswana in July

Warmer days abound, although early mornings and evenings are still chilly. Despite it now being the dry season, the floodwaters begin to rise as the water filters through from the central uplands of Angola. This is a rewarding time to get out on the water in a mokoro as the channels fill up and you can reach further day-by-day.

Visiting Botswana in August

Botswana starts to heat up again and it is unusual to experience a night-time frost at this time of year, while days can be very hot.

Visiting Botswana in September

You can expect sparkling blue skies, bright sunshine and hot temperatures during the day, with the evenings becoming balmy. The ground is dusty as the rains recede into distant memory, and the plains game face a constant battle for survival as they are harried by predators.

Visiting Botswana in October

The heat increases in October, and activities are timed to avoid the middle part of the day when the thermometer can show above 40°C. The annual catfish run sees countless numbers of them migrating upstream to avoid falling water levels, devouring smaller fish as they go.

Visiting Botswana in November

It is hot around the clock, and for the first part of the month the land is usually dry and dusty, until the rains come to soak up the dust and bring greenery back to the landscape. Plenty of young are born in this period, and are consequently picked off by the attendant predators.

Visiting Botswana in December

Thunderstorms return to Botswana and bursts of rain nourish the grass, which in turn allow the newborns to gain weight quickly and stand a fighting chance against the predators.

Back To Top
PHP Code Snippets Powered By :