Namibia, Botswana and Victoria Falls: Ultimate self drive road trip itinerary and route

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A self drive road trip through Namibia, Botswana and Victoria Falls was high on our travel wish list and, as soon as we had the chance, we jumped at the possibility to explore another part of Africa. After months of planning our road trip itinerary we finally settled on a route which took us from Windhoek in Namibia to the desert sands of Sossusvlei, the Skeleton Coast to the Okavango Delta in Botswana to Victoria Falls with some bonus stops in between! From the desert to the bush to the thunderous Falls we were blown away by the variety of sights and scenery on our journey. For any of you planning a Namibia, Botswana and Victoria Falls road trip we’ve shared our ultimate itinerary below. Enjoy!

Namibia, Botswana and Victoria Falls Self Drive Route

With our international flights arriving in to Windhoek and departing from Johannesburg we picked up our one way rental from Windhoek’s Hosea Kutako International Airport with a Johannesburg drop off and the rental allowed us to drive through multiple countries.

This route is best suited to a three or four week itinerary but can easily be extended if you prefer to travel more slowly and spend longer in a destination.

Namibia, Botswana and Victoria Falls itinerary tip: make sure to inform your car rental company if you are planning on taking the car outside of the country of rental. At the time of rental we were given letter of authority to show at border crossings which allowed us to take the car outside of Namibia.

The Route:

Namibia (pink): arrive by air to Windhoek (1) – Sossusvlei (2) – Walvis Bay (3) – Cape Cross (4) – Damaraland (5) – Etosha National Park (6) – Windhoek (7)

Botswana and Victoria Falls (yellow): Windhoek (7) – Maun (1) – Okavango Delta (2,3) – Maun (1) – Nata (4) – Kasane (5) – Victoria Falls (6) – Kasane (5) – Francistown (7)

Johannesburg (purple): Francistown (7)- Polokwane (1) – depart by air from Johannesburg (2)

namibia botswana victoria falls itinerary route self drive

Navigating this itinerary post:

We’ve split the article between the itinerary and our tips. If you want to switch between the different parts of the article click on the links below:

  1. Daily itinerary
  2. Driving in Namibia and Botswana
  3. Extending the itinerary
  4. Other Namibia and Botswana road trip essentials

Renting a Car

Renting a car is the best way to explore Namibia, Botswana and South Africa, plus driving is relatively easy in each country. Having your own car gives you the flexibility to travel at your own pace see places that are simply not possible on group tours or public transport.

We recommend renting a 4×4 for driving in Namibia and Botswana as it will make your experience much more comfortable and enjoyable.  Due to the variable road and driving conditions, a 4×4 will make the driving much easier and will allow you to easily access some areas, e.g. Sossusvlei. We’ve personally spent over 2 months driving throughout Southern Africa and definitely valued having a 4×4 vehicle.

We’re huge fans of road trips and have driven rental cars in over 40 countries so we have a lot of experience renting cars in foreign countries. Book your car now with, where you will find the best rental car prices

Click here for the best Windhoek rental car prices

Daily itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Windhoek

We arrived in Windhoek after a full day of travel from Dublin, Ireland and opted to catch up on some much needed sleep before starting our journey through Namibia.

Where to stay in Windhoek

  • Hilton Hotel Windhoek: clean and comfortable choice. We woke up refreshed for our drive the next day – check prices here!
  • Hotel Thule: The Hotel Thule, high on a hill above Windhoek, is another good choice for a night in Windhoek – check prices here!

Click here for the best Windhoek hotel prices

Namibia Botswana Victoria Falls Ultimate Road Trip Itinerary

Day 2: Drive to Sossusvlei

Our first stop was Sossusvlei, the heart of the Namibian desert and home to burnt orange sand dunes and endless desert sands. It’s a long and mostly bumpy drive to the entrance to Sossusvlei, the Sesriem Gate of the Namib-Naukluft National Park, so we decided to break the journey with a stopover at the Gondwana Desert Lodge.

Driving:  the drive from Windhoek to the lodge took 4.5 hours without any stops. The first third of the road is tarmac while the rest is gravel which, although manageable, takes some getting used to and requires a slower driving speed.

Where to stay en route to Sossusvlei

  • Solitaire Desert Farm: The Solitaire Desert Farm is the best option in the remote Solitaire – Check prices here!
  • Godwana Desert Lodge: about 1 hour from the park entrance. Food and drinks are fantastic, the swimming pools a welcome break from the searing desert heat and the rooms comfortable – check prices here!

Click here for the best Solitaire hotel prices

The Gondwana Lodge, Sossusvlei
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Namibian gravel roads!

Day 3 and 4: Overnight in Sossusvlei

We left the lodge an hour before sunrise to arrive at the park gate for opening and made a beeline for Deadvlei, the open plain where the isolated and long dead camel thorn trees stand. The drive from the park gate to Deadvlei is another hour with the last part requiring a 4×4 although shuttles are available for visitors who don’t want to drive off road or don’t have a 4×4 vehicle.

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Incredible beauty of Deadvlei

Namibia, Botswana and Victoria Falls itinerary tip: If you want to see sunrise or sunset at the dunes note that only visitors who stay within the park are able to access it for sunrise or sunset as the park gates are otherwise closed for outside visitors.

Driving: the road to the park is gravel but we were comfortable travelling at 80k in our 4×4. Upon entering the park there is a tar road for about 45 minutes, at which point there is a car park for vehicles who can’t/prefer not to make the short 4×4 trip to Deadvlei and Sossosvlei.  We did see drivers getting stuck in the deep sands so take care to follow the tracks carefully and avoid any parts which look too deep. If you’re not comfortable driving a 4×4 off road it may be wise not to attempt the deeper sand and use the shuttle instead.

Where to stay in Sossusvlei

  • Sossusvlei Lodge and Seriem Camping: The luxury Sossusvlei Dune Lodge has sunrise and sunset access as does the more basic and budget friendly Sesriem Camping.
  • Sossusvlei Lodge: If you can’t get into the park the Sossusvlei Lodge, adjacent to the park gates, is a decent option although the sunrise and sunset restriction still applies – check prices here!
  • Godwana Desert Lodge: about 1 hour from the park entrance. Food and drinks were fantastic, the swimming pools a welcome break from the searing desert heat and the rooms comfortable – check prices here!

Click here for the best Sossusvlei hotel prices

Day 5: Sossusvlei to Walvis Bay

Another sunrise start meant we needed a early night before we continued our journey and we returned to the Godwana Desert Lodge for an evening of rest and relaxation. The Solitaire Desert Farm is another good choice and is about 30 minutes closer to tomorrow’s destination of Walvis Bay.

A stop in the solitary desert town of Solitaire between Sossusvlei and Walvis Bay is a must if only to visit the old school convenience store, grab a slice of Apple Pie in Moose McGregor’s Desert Bakery and pose by the colourful car graveyard in the sand. Passing through the Tropic of Capricorn is another highlight of the drive.

Namibia, Botswana and Victoria Falls itinerary tip: Solitaire is home to the only gas station between Sossusvlei and Walvis Bay so fill up if you need to!

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Beautiful petrified sand dunes at the Gondwana Namib Desert Lodge

Where to stay en route to Walvis Bay

  • Solitaire Desert Farm: The Solitaire Desert Farm is the best option in the remote Solitaire – Check prices here!
  • Godwana Desert Lodge: about 1 hour from the park entrance. Food and drinks are fantastic, the swimming pools a welcome break from the searing desert heat and the rooms comfortable – check prices here!

Click here for the best Solitaire hotel prices

Day 6: Walvis Bay

It’s time to leave the desert and make the journey back to city life! We spent the night in the waterfront town of Walvis Bay famous for its huge population of pink flamingos which line the lagoon in the late afternoon.

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Namib-Naukluft National Park

Driving: it’s a 4 hour drive from the Godwana Desert Lodge to the Protea Pelican Bay in Walvis Bay. The drive is beautiful but the roads are bumpy at times so exercise care. A large portion of the drive passes through a long and straight road in the Namib-Naukluft National Park – the vast surroundings can be quite hypnotizing so switch up drivers or take plenty of breaks.

Where to stay in Walvis Bay

  • Protea Pelican Bay: We stayed in the modern Protea Pelican Bay located on the waterfront. It’s only a short walk to the Raft Restaurant which is a dining highlight – Check prices here!
  • Flamingo Villas Boutique Hotel: two minutes walk from the beach and boasts some of the best views in Walvis Bay – Check prices here!

Click here for the best Walvis Bay hotel prices

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Protea Pelican Bay

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Day 7: Swakopmund

A Namibian town with heavy German influences, Swakopmund is the largest coastal town in the country and the perfect stopover between the desert and the Skeleton Coast. The palm tree lined streets and busy seaside promenade are a world away from the isolated desert life of Sossusvlei. It’s a fun stopover and a magnet for Namibian’s on vacation making it the perfect stop to eat, drink and relax while stocking up on supplies!

Namibia, Botswana and Victoria Falls itinerary tip: For a real eyeopener, check out Peter’s Antiques which sells genuine artifacts from the 19th century: politically incorrect can’t even begin to describe the German paraphernalia on the shelves.

Where to stay in Swakopmund

  • Beach Hotel Swakopmund: is a also a great option – check prices here!
  • Namib Guesthouse: clean and comfortable with great breakfast, a quiet guesthouse 10 minutes walk from the beach – check prices here!

Click here for the best Swakopmund hotel prices

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Day 8: Skeleton Coast 

Stories of shipwrecks and seals led us up to the Skeleton Coast where the treacherous coastline has long been a graveyard for unsuspecting ships. It’s possible to explore part of the coast by car and, on a shorter itinerary, Swakopmund to Cape Cross is the ideal introduction. There are shipwrecks on both the land and shore and a 100,000 strong seal colony at Cape Cross.

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Shipwreck on the Skeleton Coast
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Cape Cross Seal Colony

Namibia, Botswana and Victoria Falls itinerary tip: Bring a scarf to Cape Cross, we promise you’ll will need it! 100,000 seals, while adorable, bring an aroma that is hard to describe. To put it bluntly, there was definitely gagging for the first few minutes of our visit but it did ease off a little as we became used to it!

Where to stay on the Skeleton Coast

  • Daureb Isib Campsite and B&B: in the foothills of Brandberg Mountain, the highest in Namibia, Daureb Isib means view the Brandberg. Homely rooms and great views – check prices now!
  • Cape Cross Lodge: beautiful rooms, incredible fish dishes and good location (a safe enough distance from the seals so that your nose will thank you!)

Click here for the best Skeleton Coast hotel prices

Day 9: Skeleton Coast

Day 8 requires an early start to travel to the Messum Crater, the lichen fields endemic of Namibia, 2000 year old Welwitschia plants (the only known fossils dating back to the Jurassic Age) and, if you have time and inclination, the Ugab Gate to the Skeleton Coast Park marked by what else but skeleton images!

Namibia, Botswana and Victoria Falls itinerary tip: today’s drive is a journey into the wilderness and, while the road conditions are fine, it could be a while before help comes along if things do go awry. Stay on the main roads, plan your route accordingly and let your accommodation know your plans. An alternative is to take a tour and sit back and relax while someone else does the driving!

Accommodation: return to day 8 accommodation

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Amazing seafood meal at Cape Cross Lodge

Day 10: Damaraland

Switching coast for safari Etosha is the next stop on our Namibia itinerary and the journey from Cape Cross through Damaraland takes in one of the most scenic areas in Namibia. Damaraland is home to the ancient Twyfelfontein Rock Engravings, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Spitzkoppe and the Petrified Forest are other interesting Damaraland stops depending on how much time you have in the area.

Where to stay Damaraland

  • Madisa Camp: charming and rustic campsite, basic accommodation with outdoor bathrooms under the stars, if you travel via Spitzkoppe then spend a night in Medisa Camp to break up the journey – check prices now!
  • Huab Lodge: the Huab Lodge, with its spacious bungalows and beautiful river views, is a good stopover option en route to Etosha – check prices now!
  • Kaoko Bush Lodge: cosy lodges and good food – check prices now!

Click here for the best Damaraland hotel prices

Days 11 and 12: Etosha National Park

Etosha National Park is the most renowned wildlife area of Namibia with a salt pan so large it can apparently be seen from space. Famed for its watering holes, which are magnets for wildlife, Etosha is a highlight of any Namibia itinerary.

Namibia, Botswana and Victoria Falls itinerary tip: camps with watering hole views are highly sought after in Etosha where the after dark action is amazing to watch from the comfort of your cabin. Book well in advance for the best views!

Where to stay in Etosha National Park

  • Okaukuejo, Halali, Dolmite, Namutoni and Onkoshi are the camps within the park. Okaukuejo Rest Camp, although touristy and busy, has one of the best watering holes in Etosha. Onkoshi and Dolomite are  luxury options with incredible views and exclusive game viewing.
  • Gondwana Etosha Safari Lodge: 10 km from the park entrance good accommodation with easy access to the park – check prices now!
  • AHA Eagle Tented Lodge & Spa: luxury tents 40km/1 hour from Etosha, good choice for one night stay – check prices now!

Click here for the best Etosha hotel prices

Day 13: Windhoek

After leaving Etosha it’s time for a return to Windhoek as a stopover en route to Maun a gateway town for the Okavango Delta.

Where to stay in Windhoek

  • Hilton Hotel Windhoek: clean and comfortable choice. We woke up refreshed for our drive the next day – check prices here!
  • Hotel Thule: The Hotel Thule, high on a hill above Windhoek, is another good choice for a night in Windhoek – check prices here!

Click here for the best Windhoek hotel prices

Day 14: Maun

Windhoek to Maun is a lengthy 8 hour drive and requires a stop at the Trans Kalahari border control for immigration between Botswana and Namibia. The roads are excellent and the border crossing was quick and painless when we crossed.

Where to stay in Maun

Maun is the gateway to the Okavango Delta and accommodation options vary between safari lodges and stopover motels.

  • Cresta Riley’s – we opted for Cresta Riley’s and were pleased with the rooms, the decent wi-fi (a rarity on this road trip!) and the on site restaurant – check prices here!
  •  – a relatively new addition to Maun accommodation, the Cresta Maun has good rooms and is in a quiet area of town check prices here!

Click here for the best Maun hotel prices

Botswana traffic...prepare for lots of animals on the road!
Botswana traffic…be prepared for lots of animals on the road!

Days 15- 17: Okavango Delta

Our obsession with wildlife documentaries propelled the Okavango firmly to the top of our bucket list and we couldn’t wait to explore one of the greatest wildlife areas of the world. We spent 4 nights in the Delta splitting our time between water and land activities – the Okavango is home to the famous Mokoro ride as well as boat trips, fishing and land based game drives. We spotted four of the big five (lions, elephants, buffalo and leopards) as well as a plethora of other bird and wildlife.

Namibia, Botswana and Victoria Falls itinerary tip: If it’s within your budget we recommend opting for a camp that requires an air transfer as, for us, getting into the Delta was as beautiful as our time in it: we hopped on a tiny plane and the views were incredible as we soared over the crystal clear waters and swampy grasslands, passing over the meandering Okavango River and spotting huge herds of elephants that wandered through the plains below.

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Incredible: flying over the Okavango Delta

Accommodation: Wilderness Safaris are an amazing option for an Okavango adventure. We opted to split our stay between a land based camp, Little Vumbura, and a water based camp, Xigera (this is dependent on time of year so be sure to check the best options). The accommodation was stunning, the staff and service rivaled that of luxury hotels across the globe and the company has a strong ethos around the community, conservation and having a minimal impact on the environment. Staying in two camps meant we got to fly over the Delta three times, twice in our own plane, which was an incredible experience in itself.

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Little Vumburu Camp with WIlderness Safaris
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Game drives in the Okavango
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Staring into the eyes of the most beautiful wild cat on the planet

Day 18: Victoria Falls via Nata

Having (very reluctantly!) left the Okavango Delta on a late morning flight we returned to reality after touching down in busy Maun ready to depart for Nata as we made our way to Victoria Falls. Nata is a 3 hour 30 minute drive from Maun so, after picking up supplies in Maun, we arrived just in time for dinner and an early night after our dawn safari exploits.

Namibia, Botswana and Victoria Falls itinerary tip: The drive between Maun and Nata passes through the Nxai Pan National Park. Keep an eye out for wildlife en route: we spotted elephants and giraffe grazing in the bushes and it was a real treat!

Where to stay in Nata

Accommodation options are sparse between Maun and Kasane but there are a few lodges in Nata.

  • Nata Lodge: the cabins were excellent, the food was fine and the bar good fun to wrap up our evening!
  • Pelican Lodge and Camping: air conditioned rooms and an on site restaurant – check prices here!

Click here for the best Nata hotel prices

Our lodge at Nata Lodge
Our lodge at Nata Lodge

Day 19: Drive: Nata to Kasane

Another day another beautiful drive! The road from Nata to Kasane passes through and alongside National Parks and was a hive of elephant, giraffe and zebra activity when we drove it in late December. We saw elephants drinking from watering holes, zebras and giraffes blinking back at us from the road side, elephants crossing the road and, not for the faint hearted, a road kill hyena being devoured by a pack of vultures. Scenes like this made the 4 hour drive pass in a blur!

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One of our many elephant encounters on the Nata to Kasane Road!

Where to stay in Kasane

Although we could have crossed straight over to Victoria Falls we decided to take it easy after the 4 hour drive and spend the night in Kasae.

  • Cresta Mowana Safari Resort: overlooking the Chobe River, we were able to leave our car at the hotel (at our own risk of course) while we popped over to Victoria Falls for a few nights – check prices here!
  • River View Lodge: – on the banks of the Chobe River, the lodge has rooms and chalet accommodation and an outdoor pool – check prices here!

Click here for the best Kasane hotel prices

the huge, 800 year old Baobab at the Cresta
The huge 800 year old Baobab at the Cresta Mowana Safari Lodge

Day 20 and 21: Victoria Falls

Getting to Victoria Falls:

It’s time to hit the road for Zambia and check out the mighty Victoria Falls. To avoid the hassle of taking our rental car across the border  to Zambia (a combination of time and import fees) we took a VIP transfer with Bushtrack safaris who picked us up at our Kasane hotel the Cresta Mowana Safari Resort and dropped us off at the Royal Livingstone Hotel.

Namibia, Botswana and Victoria Falls itinerary tip: check the visa requirements for entering Zambia and Zimbabwe and be sure to pick one up in advance if your country so requires. A UniVisa, which gives 30 day entry to both countries, is available at a discounted rate for eligible passport holders. We couldn’t avail of it as our Irish passports were exempt from a Zambian Visa so our single entry to Zimbabwe cost more than the UniVisa fee.

Transfer: We used Bushtrack Safaris and the VIP transfer was seamless and quick. Air conditioned vans picked us up on either side of the border and our drivers were helpful and pleasant. A private speedboat took us across the Kanzungula River rather and we zipped across in a few minutes.

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At Victoria Falls:

In the words of David Livingstone it’s fair to describe Victoria Falls as ‘scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight.’ With activities like bungy jumping, white water rafting, helicopter flights and paragliding Victoria Falls is an adventure playground and the thundering falls a true icon in its own right.

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Beauty beyond words at Victoria Falls

We decided to test our limits at the Devil’s Pool, an activity that only operates in low waters making a year end visit essential. Devil’s Pool is an iconic rock pool at the top of the Falls reached by a swim across the Zambezi followed by a fearless leap into the Pool whose current carries you over to the edge of the Falls. It is truly terrifying but one of the greatest things we’ve ever done! More about our Devil’s Pool adventures here!

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Posing with our ultra cool guide, Alpha-Omega in Devil’s Pool

During our second day at the Falls we crossed over the Victoria Falls Bridge into Zimbabwe to see the Falls from the Zimbabwe side and explore the Victoria Falls National Park. Our hotel arranged a driver/tour guide and we paid US $20 to drive us there and back which was a necessity in the 40 degree temperatures!

View of the Falls from the Zimbabwe side
View of the Falls from the Zimbabwe side

Where to stay Victoria Falls

Visitors to Victoria Falls can stay on either the Zambia or Zimbabwe side of Victoria Falls. We recommend visiting both sides: Zambia for a Livingstone Island and Devil’s Pool trip and Zimbabwe for the incredible views of the Falls in all their glory.

  • Royal Livingstone, Zambia: we stayed at the Royal Livingstone Hotel, a luxury hotel on the banks of the Zambezi and from where the Devil’s Pool tour leaves. The views, rooms and grounds were incredible and it was one of the best hotels we’ve stayed at on our travels – check latest prices here!
  • The Protea Livingstone, Zambia: great, less expensive alternative on Zambia’s Livingstone Island. Clean and comfortable and close to the Falls – check latest prices here!
  • Victoria Falls Safari Club, Zimbabwe: one of the best hotels on the Zimbabwe side, some rooms overlook the hotel waterhole and the national park and  – check latest prices here!

Click here for the best Victoria Falls hotel prices

On the banks of the Zambezi: The Royal LIvingstone
On the banks of the Zambezi: The Royal Livingstone
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Zebras and giraffes roam the grounds
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Hippo chilling in the Zambezi in front of the Royal Livingstone Hotel

Day 22 and 23: Back to Johannesburg

Home time! Our international flight left from Johannesburg so, after our Bushtracks transfer back to Kasane, we picked up our car at the Cresta Mowana Safari Resort and began the two day journey back to Johannesburg. We crossed the border between Botswana and South Africa at Martin’s Drift and seemed to hit it a busy time: we queued on the South Africa side for over 1 hour and it took us over 2 hours in total to get across into South Africa

Namibia, Botswana and Victoria Falls itinerary tip: we rented our car on a one way rental from Windhoek to Johannesburg. If you want to skip some of the driving flying is an option. Our rental restrictions meant we weren’t able to return the car in Botswana but we would definitely have flown back to Johannesburg from Victoria Falls if it had been possible.

Where to stay on en route to Johannesburg

We spent the first night in Francistown, about 6 hours from Kasane:

  • Cresta Marang Gardens Hotel: on the banks of the Tati River, 10 minutes from Francistown city centre – check prices here!
  • Woodlands Stop Over and Lodge: excellent value for money, the breakfast basket and braai-pack are great additions check prices here!

Click here for the best Francistown hotel prices

We spent the second night in Polokwane, two hours north of Johannesburg:

  • Protea Hotel by Marriott Polokwane Landmark: good rooms, outdoor pool and onsite restaurant – check prices here!
  • Park Inn by Radisson Polokwane: mew hotel with colourful rooms and modern decor –  check prices here!

Click here for the best Polokwane hotel prices

Namibia, Botswana and Victoria Falls: Self Drive Tips

Here’s some tips we picked up during our time in Namibia, Botswana and Victoria Falls that will help with road trip planning!

Driving in Namibia and Botswana

We were given two pieces of advice upon renting the car and they’re crucial for driving in Namibia and Botswana:

  • Always ask locally at your hotel for advice and check the distances and times on Google Maps to ensure that the drive is manageable before setting off. We split the driving between two drivers and are both comfortable and practiced in driving long distances.
  • Do not drive after dark in Namibia and we’d strongly advise against it in most parts of Botswana. The road conditions in Namibia mean that you could easily end crashing while in both countries animals grazing along the road are an after dark challenge.

For the suggested itinerary we would recommend an SUV at a minimum as the gravel roads in Namibia are much easier to navigate in a larger car with bigger wheels. We rented a 4×4 and our journey saw us navigating lots of potholes in both Namibia and Botswana and the larger car really helped to make the journey more comfortable.

Namibia, Botswana and Victoria Falls itinerary tip: make sure to rent a 4×4 if you want you want to drive off road. We drove off road in Sossusvlei and on the Skeleton Coast in Namibia but both off these were optional drives.

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Extending the itinerary

Our detailed itinerary is ideal for a three week or month long trip but there are other Namibia and Botswana highlights which you might wish to include if you have additional time in either country:

  • Namibia: Head south to Keetmanshoop for the Quiver Trees, Fish River Canyon, the wild horses of Aus and the ghost town of Kolmanskoop. Northern Namibia highlights include Kaokoland to explore the Himba culture, the relatively untouched Caprivi for wildlife or travelling further up the Skeleton Coast
  • Botswana: Depending on your time and interests: the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans and Kubu Island, the Central Kalahari, Chobe National Park, Nxai Pan National Park, the Khama Rhino Sanctuary and the rock paintings of Tsodilo Hills.

Other road trip tips

  • Currency: we found it impossible to pick up Namibian Dollars or Botswana Pula in our home country. Both countries widely accepted South African rand so we’d recommend bringing some to cover purchases until you can exchange money or get to an ATM. We picked up Namibian Dollars in Windhoek Airport on arrival Botswana Pula from an ATM in one of the main towns. We used USD in Zimbabwe and Zambia when at Victoria Falls.
  • Fuel: on long drives pick up fuel regularly in the major towns as there can be long distances between stations. Credit cards are accepted in the larger stations but many smaller stops were cash only.
  • Supplies: snack and drinks are available at most of the fuel stops and the bigger towns had a well stocked Spar. We picked up a cool box on arrival to keep our liquids cool.
  • Maps/GPS: we downloaded maps onto our phone which were accessible offline and they worked really well. We kept a paper map in the glove box just in case!
  • SIM cards: it’s easy to pick up a pay as you go SIM in the airports as well as local mobile network stores.
  • Internet: volatile at best and many of the places we stayed had none. When internet was available we were able to do some basic surfing.

59 thoughts on “Namibia, Botswana and Victoria Falls: Ultimate self drive road trip itinerary and route”

  1. Wow, what a journey! Thinking something similar but wish to know more about the costings. How much did it cos you, if ì may be so bold? Comparing to tour group, what do you think?

    • Hi Michael

      We didn’t look into any tours but our main costs were car rental, fuel, accommodation and food – in terms of car rental a 4×4 is probably a minimum if you’re planning a similar route (for example we drove into Sossusvlei and off road on the Skeleton Coast), accommodation and food are flexible depending on your needs – there was lots of options for accommodation from camping to 5* so it’d be a case of pricing it up based on your preferences.

      Hope that helps!

      • Hi, amazing journey. I am planning similar trip this summer, but as asked previously – I am wondering how much did this trip cost? Could you please give us a range? I understand that most of the costs is the car rental, which I have already sorted, so could you give me an estimate without a car?

        Thank you
        Kind regards

        • Hi Jakub, I don’t know the exact costs without going through all our reservations but I can give you a range by country.

          We spent between US $100 and US $200 per night on hotels although some were more expensive – the Royal Livingstone is about US $800 a night and in the Delta Xigera runs at around $650 per person per night and Little Vumbura around $1,000. There’s also flights between camps and in and out of the Delta which are a few hundred dollars each. We spent around US $400/$500 on gas and when we ate out we had a great meal for US $10 to $20 per person. The supermarkets were cheap compared to UK/Ireland where we’re based so water and snacks were relatively inexpensive. Most of our other experiences were free or had small entrance fees.

          There are lots of less expensive accomodation options and lots of more expensive choices too – our picks are mostly 4* or 5*. Both the Delta and Royal Livingstone were magical experiences so if you have the budget we’d most definitely recommend!

          Hope that helps, it’s an awesome trip. We just got back from Namibia last month and loved it just as much!


  2. Hi Elaine,

    Looks a smashing itinerary worth copying. Only concern I have is the distances driven on a daily basis. Isn’t that too heavy and would you recommend to cut out certain elements to cut down on daily transportation ?

    That’s the only piece that scares me somewhat to get going as well :).

    Any advice ?


    • Hi Andy, we had two drivers to split the drive times and we’re big into road trips so often cover long distances! If you’re planning on including Botswana and Victoria Falls, flying from Windhoek to Maun and Maun to Victoria Falls would definitely be options for cutting out a lot of driving. If you’re focusing on Namibia you could budget some extra days or find some hotels midway between destinations. The driving itself was fine, if a little slow on the dirt roads!

      Hope that helps!

    • Hi Marie, no, no safety concerns as long as you take it easy and switch up the driving/don’t drive too far. We would absolutely say no driving after dark with or without kids, there are way too many animals on the road (even during the day) and potholes etc… I’d probably stay longer/ stop more frequently as I’m sure it might be tough for the kids to be in a car for such long periods and I’d definitely look into Maun – Vic Falls flights if you want to go up to Vic Falls. Also you could fly from Windhoek to Maun and Maun to cut out another relatively long drive.


  3. This is an amazing and useful article! Could you please advise the name of the tour company that took you to the Dead Pool? Looking to visit soon

    • Hi Nyan,
      the road from Windhoek to Victoria Falls via Maun in Botswana is possible with a sedan. The road is a reasonably good quality aspalt road. We had a 4×4 as we drove on gravel/sand road in Namibia. Driving in Botswana is an experience though – so many animals on the road.

  4. Hi David,
    I am planning to travel from Windhoek to Kasane by car in December 2017. What are road conditions like? Ill be traveling via Nata to Kasane.

    • Hi Benedict,
      Windoek to Kasane is a relatively good road. The road in Namibia to the Botswana border is very good with very little wildlife on the road. However in Botswana expect a lot of animals (cows, goats etc) on the road which will slow your progress. Windhoek to Maun is around 9 hours not including the border crossing and Kasane is another 7 hours drive. The road to Kasane you will pass a lot of elephants and giraffes on the road which makes the trip exciting.

  5. Hi David/Elaine,

    Did you guys drive your vehicle past the tarmac road to Dead Vlei or did you take the shuttle? Just curious how difficult that last section would be. I assume you would have to lower the tire pressure for the sand. Also where did you purchase your Sossusvlei park permits? Is there any other “must do” things in Sossusvlei?


    • Hi Troy

      We drove ourselves, well Dave did rather than me! It does get difficult and we saw some people getting stuck and having to be bailed out but we got through fine – we didn’t have a lot of weight in the car so didn’t change the tire pressure. We purchased the permit at the entrance on the day and they note the passengers on the white board in the office – presumably to ensure you leave again before the park closes! For must do things – climb some of the Dunes – Dune 45 and Big Daddy are most popular, there’s a really cool UNESCO sign on the way in and also check out Sossusvlei, Deadvlei and Hiddenvlei.

      Have a great trip!

  6. Hi

    Great travel description. I was wondering about the whole trip, what did it cost you guys? As I’m planning a trip to Namibia for my 40 th birthday with a stopover in Okavango delta. I can see the prices are very high for trips in the delta often US$1000 for one night pr person. Are there no cheaper options for the delta, since a 4 day stay there is very expensive?

    • Hi Kenneth

      We went with Wilderness Safaris – I know they have a range of price points on their camps so maybe would have some camps that would work? It’s an absolute bucket list trip but with flights into the Delta and the small camps it does get expensive – for us, it was worth it and a truly magical experience.

      Namibia is incredible and one of my favourites, hope you have an fab birthday trip!


  7. But still the cost of your stay i calculated to be about US$ 10000 for the 4 days. Is that totally wrong? Because that alot over my pricerange :S Or am I simply reading their webpage wrong?

    • From what I remember Xigera ran at around $650 per person per night and Little Vumbura around $1,000 – I know there are some camps like Pelo which are around $450 per person per night if that works. The Delta is low volume/low impact so the camps are all relatively small. You could also look at two nights in the Delta and a few nights in Etosha or Chobe? We love mixing it up between all the parks!

  8. Hi there. Wow what a trip. Can i ask you or you can email me how much would the full thing cost without air fare for a family of 3. two adults and a 11 year old boy. Also will the 11 year old get bored or he will enjoy himself.


    • Hi, I’ve given some details on cost in my comment above. In addition we paid around US $1,500 for the rental car which included a one way fee for picking up in Windhoek and dropping off in Johannesburg.

      We saw lots of families during the trip and they seemed to enjoy – you might want to consider flying to Vic Falls rather than drive as it’s quite a long journey and might be tough for a kid.

      Hope that helps.


  9. Hi Elaine

    We’ve planned a near identical trip in September. We were wondering whether or not to drive into Victoria falls – you mention that the visa cost of getting the car to Zambia stopped you from doing so – is it worth then just leaving the car in Kasane? We are flying home from Kasane so this would be the end of our trip so happy to give up the car earlier if it made sense. Thanks very much, very helpful article.

    • Hi Katrina
      We researched a lot about taking our rental car into Zambia and in the end it proved very complicated and too expensive. The proposed bridge in Kasane linking Zambia wasn’t built when we visited (due to be completed in 2019)so the only option with a car was to take the ferry. This can have multiple hour queues and plus you’ll need to deal with customs and immigration of a vehicle. Added to this your rental car company may not allow entry to Zambia (Avis didn’t let us!). The only reason we parked our car in Kasane was for our return drive to South Africa. Our advice would be to drop the car off earlier and take transport into Zambia with a company like Bushtrack Safaris. The cost may seem expensive but the transfer was seamless and it turned out cheaper/less stress than doing it ourselves. They guide you each step of the way and hand over to different staff to speed up the border crossing! Have fun!

  10. Hi, thanks for this! My husband and I are wanting to do this trip next year January. We are from South Africa but have never really ventured out to explore our own country. The beginning of this year we did a tour from Kenya, Uganda, to Tanzania and Zanzibar, which in all honesty was probably the safest and easiest way to do it. Did you find it quite safe – besides driving at night, which we wouldn’t, and also did you have any car problems? silly question, but just an idea…

    Thank you for taking time to reply.

  11. WOW!
    Thank you for sharing all of this – I am planning a solo trip of Namibia and Botswana so this will be most helpful!

  12. where did you leave your car once you started your Okavango safari? do lodges provide some safe places for that? We are thinking about making same kind of trip but we are asking ourselves – what about car?

    • If you’re taking a flight into the Okavango you can park at one of the airports. You might also be able to leave your car at the offices of your safari provider – we flew from Maun in Botswana and we left our rental at our safari company offices which were beside the airport terminal.

      Hope that helps, have a great trip!

  13. Hi, wow what a trip, now my husband and I are scrambling to book a very similar trip for this May. Do you mind if I ask a couple of questions, a lot of blogs say to have a tyre compressor as you need to adjust according to the different road conditions however our rental company (hertz at this stage) do not offer 1 (even to rent) Did you have 1? The only difference in our route is we are doing the Caprivi Strip after Etosha then from Kasane to Maun (via Nata) and back to Windhoek. Also I wanted to ask, from Maun, did you leave your car in Maun when you went into the Okavanga Delta? If so where did you leave it? Would you recommend not self-driving there? We have so much to research and little time but your blog has been amazing so thank you. I know you are getting many questions and I really appreciate any help.
    Kind Regards
    Sharne and Jeff from New Zealand

    • Hi Sharne – we didn’t have one. We stopped at garages when we came from areas where we’d reduced the pressure but I guess it depends how far off the grid you intend to go. We did get a flat tyre when we were travelling to Fish River so I wouldn’t rent without a proper sized spare wheel – some of the 4x4s come with 2 spares.

      In Maun we left our car at the offices of the safari company in the airport so you could check with whoever you’re travelling with about airport parking. We considered driving in to the Okavango but then we decided that we wanted to fly into the heart of it. Flying over the Delta was one of the most magical things I’ve ever experienced – it’s true wilderness. I would do it again in a heartbeat!

      The drive from Nata to Kasane is also incredible. We saw wildlife everywhere – elephants, giraffes, vultures feasting!

      Hope that helps and you have an amazing trip!


  14. Hi,

    We plan a trip from Johannesburg to victoria falls and from victoria falls to cape town is it doable and do you have any advice on the trip?

  15. Can you get from windhoek to victoria falls and back via a tour or plane? Also what is the best place for a safari near windhoek if you know. Thanks

  16. Hey guys! Really helpful information. Me and my husband are also going to Namibia in July. We plan on spending 18 days in Namibia, Botswana and Victoria Falls. Do you think it is doable? Should we drive or do you recommend flights as well? We are running out of time so any advice is more than welcome! Elaine, did you also consider Caprivi Strip? Or would have it been too exhausting? Many thanks!

    • Hi Viorela

      For 18 days I’d probably spend at least a week in Namibia, 3 nights in Vic Falls and the rest in Botswana. We skipped the Caprivi Strip due to time but, yep, I really did want to include it! Drive in Namibia for sure – from Windhoek you could fly to Maun (if you’re only planning Okavango) and then from Maun to Vic Falls – we drove, but that would definitely save time and energy!

      Hope that helps, have a great trip


  17. Thank you for such detailed information! Are there any issues with taking a rental vehicle across the Namibia-Botswana border?

    • Hi Adrienne

      We needed a letter of permission which we got when we rented the car. Tell the rental car company where you’re going when you pick it up and they’ll give you the paperwork to cross the border.


  18. Hi there!

    We’re a couple from Canada and we just finished our one month self-drive from South Africa, Namibia and Botswana.

    We’d like to reach out and ask you guys if your rental company ever told you to have a ‘letter of authorization’ to cross the borders, and whether you guys were told to have a country sticker on your car as well.

    We ran into trouble one time in Namibia and almost got a ticket for not having a ZA sticker, however our rental company did not let us know that. Thankfully the police officer was very understanding.

    Any thoughts?

    • Hi Cates

      We knew about the letter of authorisation before we travelled and asked for it when we were renting. W always mention to the rental company that we’re going to other countries in case something like this is a requirement. I did notice that it wasn’t as standard when we picked up our rental in Cape Town and were going up to Namibia – we had to return the next day to the rental office or wait hours for them to prepare. It only took 5 minutes to get one on all of our Johannesburg rentals but I guess maybe more renters cross the border when they’re picking up in Johannesburg.

      For the sticker, I’ve never heard of having to have one. We didn’t have any issue but maybe we had one and I didn’t notice.


    • Hi there,
      We are a couple from canada thinking of doing a similar type of trip in March 2020. We have contacted a travel agent, but it seems like the pricing using the agent is quite high. Did you use an agency, or did you do all the planning on your own?

      • Hi Helaine

        We did everything ourselves with the exception of the trip into the Okavango where we went through Wilderness Safaris (they are amazing!). We booked our own car, hotels etc and all worked out amazing!


  19. Dear Elaine , which airline flies from Mane to Victoria falls? Skyscanner doesn’t offer me the direct flights.We plan to copy your route with three kids. Thank you for your advise , Katya

    • Hi Kayta

      I was certain Air Botswana did but I can’t find it online. Other option is to fly to Kasane and cross over from there by boat – they were building a bridge when we visited but I don’t think it is in operation yet. If you’re flying into the Okavango you can ask your safari operator to fly to Kasane to the way out or book a flight with Air Botswana.

      Hope that helps! We crossed by private speedboat with Bushtrack Safaris and it was a fab transfer


  20. Dear Elaine: Coming from Etosha, Namibia – what is the closest I can get to Victoria Falls – and then leave the car. Would probably drive from Etosha to the closest place- stay overnight – maybe take a cruise on the river? – but in any event = go on into Victoria Falls at some time for at least a day – if not overnight.

    Another Q please: is it worth it to splurge and stay at the Victoria Falls Hotel – or just stay in another place in town?


    Tom and Libby Schiff in San Diego CA

    • Hi Tom

      We drove as far as Kasane in Botswana and took a boat over. It’s quite a big drive so I think you would need to make an overnight in Maun or Nata. I think Bushtrack (who we used to transfer over to the Victoria Falls Hotel, might offer day trips. We stayed in the Royal Livingstone (not sure if you saw this post from our stay) and had a great stay – it’s a splurge but the setting and the hotel itself are incredible.

      Hope that helps


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