Self-drive safari holidays in Botswana are not for the faint-hearted and they certainly provide testing conditions, but the freedom and excitement on the different routes makes for the ultimate personal adventure safari.
by Leigh Kemp
Maun to Xaxanaka
The first section of this road out of Maun is tarmac and passes through villages and subsistence farms before arriving at the veterinary fence where officials may check what you are carrying in the form of food. You are not allowed to take meat and dairy products across the boundary.
From the veterinary fence, the road passes through Mopani woodland, other forested areas and dry floodplains before reaching Moremi Game Reserve’s Southgate where your permits will be checked. From Southgate there is a direct route to Xaxanaka through Mopani forests until a few kilometres from Xaxanaka, where the area opens up into open floodplains and riverine woodland.
Xaxanaka to Northgate – along the Khwai River
This is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful roads in Africa, as it wends its way through forests and floodplains. This is certainly the road that gives Moremi its reputation as a place of incredible beauty. With names like Paradise pools and Hippo pools, the area certainly lives up to its reputation. The wildlife en route is spectacular.
Please note that this route may be closed during the flood season, as the road is underwater. This cannot be predicted, and may happen at any time. Whether the route is open can only be learnt close to the time of departure.
If this particular road is closed due to the floods, the alternative route is to go back via Southgate before heading north through Mopane scrub to Northgate.
Khwai to Savute
The first section of this route takes you along the Khwai River before heading into a stretch of Mopane woodland and across a major sand ridge into the flat scrub of the Mababe Depression. An alternative route is to travel via Mababe Village into the Madabe Depression.
The Depression is a vast area of flat scrub and as you approach Savute all you can see are some mountains in the distance. The Savute Marsh will appear some kilometres before reaching your destination.
Savute to Kasane
The route from Savute to Kasane takes in a mixture of scrub and woodland before reaching the villages and the tar road linking Kasane with Namibia. This route is known to have a lot of sandy areas, so caution is advised when travelling. During the rainy season the water covers a lot of the holes in the road which could lead to incidents.