A roadtrip through Botswana offers many chances to explore roads off the beaten path. If you are looking for lonely wilderness, Botswana is the place to discover.
1. Chobe Riverfront Trail
The Chobe Riverfront trail meanders alongside the Chobe River in one of Botswana’s greatest wildlife watching areas. The trail is not very challenging and easy to follow. The diversity of animals, however, is astonishing. In a single day, visitors will view countless elephants, antelopes, crocodiles, pelicans, zebras, hippos and so much more.
2. Kubu Island
While many of the major tourist destinations in Botswana are well-visited, even in the off-season, the journey to Kubu Island in the vast Makgadikgadi Pans is a true adventure into the lonely wilderness. Be ready to venture on remote and extremely dusty trails for more than 100kms, and don’t forget to bring a GPS for navigation.
Visitors will cross scenic grass landscapes and enormous salt pans, before arriving at Kubu Island, a rock refuge and the home of ancient Baobab trees in the middle of nowhere. Instead of taking the same route back, you can cross through the Sua Pan to also visit Greens Baobab before heading back to the highway
3. Moremi Game Reserve
The drive to Moremi Game Reserve starts in the city of Maun, Botswana‘s gateway to the world-famous Okavango Delta. After some time, paved roads give way to sandy trails and tire pressures should be adjusted. Moremi Game Reserve is the only part of the Okavango Delta that can be explored by self-guided travelers. The bumpy journey is more than worth it, as the landscape of Moremi is extremely diversified, including wetlands, forests, and grass plains. The trails are adventurous to drive. Sometimes the entire car is thrown around on the corrugated trails while creeping forward with 10km/h.
Next to the Third Bridge campsite, a fairly deep river crossing combined with an adjacent Mopane tree trunk bridge makes for a memorable off-road experience. Beware of the lions, hyenas, and elephants walking through the unfenced camp at night.
4. Khwai Riverfront
Not far from Moremi, Khwai is a little-known secret. The area offers some of the most beautiful road-accessible wetlands in Botswana, and the trails are easy to follow. The wildlife is bountiful with waterbucks, buffalos, and elephants coming to the river to drink, feed, and frolic in the water.
A close campsite offers you the chance to camp in the wilderness without any amenities (but for a hefty price) and to enjoy the sounds of the African wilderness after dark.
5. Gcwihaba Caves
Western Botswana is even less populated than the rest of the country. Barely any human settlements will be encountered on your way to the Gcwihaba Caves. The trails and landscape are dry and mostly adorned by thorny bushes. At the end of the long journey, visitors arrive at one of the most fascinating sights in Botswana. The Gcwihaba Caves are an underground cave system that can be explored without a guide. As a matter of fact, we did not meet any other human within a radius of 50km.
The caves are inhabited by thousands of bats and completely veiled in darkness. No markers, trails, or ropes can be found. Bring plenty of spare batteries for your lights, enough water (it gets increasingly hot and humid in the cave!), and do not get lost! Help is not near.
6. Central Kalahari Game Reserve
For a journey into the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, you will have to bring plenty of time. The sandy trails often only allow for speeds below 30km/h and the distances are long. Very, very long. Many campsites are spread throughout the park, allowing visitors to spend several nights in different locations. The landscapes mostly consist of low-growth shrubbery with the occasional tree. For a change, you will also find bat-eared foxes chasing each other on the grass plains, and springboks crossing the salt pans.
7. Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
One of our favorite offroad journeys in Botswana was through Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. Situated in the southwest of Botswana, and bordering South Africa, the park is very remote and extremely beautiful. Red-colored trails lead through the park, traversing a large number of sand dunes, crossing salt pans, and shrub landscapes.
Spend several nights in the lonely campsites of the park, listen to the songs of the barking geckos, and marvel at the wondrous passing of the stars. You will never forget your journey to this far-off corner of the country.