Botswana self drive ex JNB
Replies: 6 - Last Post: Jul 6, 2012 10:26 AM Last Post By: living
Jun 26, 2012 8:07 PM
Botswana self drive ex JNBHi all,
We are hoping to drive from (outside) JNB to Maun and loop around via Kasane back to JNB.
Any information about safety (2 females), road conditions, ok to do 2WD vehicle, suggested itineraries.
Would prefer not to drive out of JNB as we did this last year and found it a bit overwhelming.
Arr in JNB beginning of August and head back August 17.
Jun 27, 2012 1:22 AM
1It may be a bit difficult to hire outside of JHB - maybe talk to a JHB hire co about a liason point somewhere on the road out in the direction you're going then you get a cab to the pick up point? You'd need to pick a hotel or similar as a meeting point obviously not just a spot by the road.
You can't really do a loop through Maun and Kasane. There are two routes from Maun to Kasane, but one (via Savuti) is very much 4x4 and even in a 4x4 can be pretty challenging (deep sand at that time of year). The only way from Maun to Kasane in 2WD is via Nata.
As I'm sure you know you need a 4x4 to access all Botswana parks.
Jun 27, 2012 2:01 AM
2I took a rental car from JNB up to Gaborone & back, single female, no problem at all. Only gripe was that Hertz told me over the phone that I wouldn't pay a supplement to take it over the border, when I got to JNB - picked it up at the airport & found a 1,000R supplement had to be paid!!
Roads were fine, there's a long stretch of toll road in SA on your way there on the ?N4 (via Groot, Zeerust).
Stopped on the way there & way back at www.stillewaters.co.za which was a fantastic spot & cheap on the edge of Groot Marico
The border was easy enough but get some Pula at the exchange just after the SA border & before you drive up to the Batswanan border to pay for taking the car in.
I'd agree with the above - you'll need a 4x4 to go into the parks.
Jun 27, 2012 2:07 AM
3I'd be curious to know the problems you encountered at the airport last year. I find JNB the easiest place in the country to do things, including hiring a car. Did you get some hassle? If so, I think it must have been a one-off because people usually have no problem there.
If you really, really must avoid renting a car at JNB, you can take a train to Pretoria station and rent car there but, as the above poster says, you may have more difficulties renting the car you want outside JNB. It may also be more expensive in Pretoria.
Yes, you can't loop by going through Chobe. Local people who want to go from Maun to Kasane take the road to Nata and then back north to Kasane. It's 600kms as opposed to 300kms through Chobe but it's the only realistic way of doing it, particularly in a 2-wheel drive. You have to allow 6-7 hours to drive from Maun to Kasane through Nata and ensure that you refuel at Nata. There isn't much between Nata and Kasane - just open land.
In general, you should never drive in Botswana at night. This means being off the road from about 18:30. There are animals all over the road and you are not going to see them until it´s too late. Donkeys, in particular, just stand there and there is a strong risk of hitting them. There are also cows and goats wandering around all the main roads. Between Gaborone and Francistown the risk is lower but I still would be very careful about driving during the hours of darkness. North of Francistown and Nata you get things like elephants wandering around. They are a great sight but they don't reflect the light of the moon or car headlights and you won´t see them until it´s too late for them and, probably, for you as well. There is, apparently, a small risk of lions wanderig around in the nothern part of Botswana (ie towards Kasane). Advice is to be careful where you stop.
Highways in Botswana (eg Gabs to Francistown and FT to Nata) are not up to South African standards. In particular, opposing traffic flows are not separated. You have to keep very alert for bad drivers doing stupid things. In addition, there are many speed restrictions on the main roads. Nothing seems to change topographically but you'll suddenly see 60kms restrictions for several kms. This because the road is passing through a village (although you probably won't see it). Obey these restrictions. The police make extensive use of speed traps and on-the-spot fines are big.
I think if you have the possibility of renting a 4x4 you should do it. Actually, I mean you should rent something bigger than a car - something like a Toyota Hilux (which might not be 4x4, depending on the model) is so much better for Botswanan roads (particular in the construction works which last for 135kms north of Nata).
You may wish to book certain accommodation in Botswana rather than leaving it to chance. Several people have told me of campsites and lodges being completely full in the Summer. It might be a bit risky not to book.
The easiest way from JNB (or Pretoria) to Botswana is via the N1 to Mokopane, chuck a left, then take the road to Grobbler's Bridge/Martin's Drift border. This is an easy and quick border if you are not in a commercial vehicle. From the border, you take the road to Palapye and, as you turn right at the end, you're on the main South-North road, about 180kms south of Francistown. From there you just head in the direction of Nata and it's easy.
Jun 27, 2012 2:21 AM
4Support all that #1 has to say.
Have you thought about flying Joberg to Maun ? It would save a couple of days driving from RSA to Bots and back. Also, the roads around Maun are much quieter for your first few Ks in a 'strange' car. If you fly into Maun you will save on a few days hire if you use a local operator to visit the Delta (which you can't do in any vehicle)/Moremei etc - you could offset the cost of the flight against the reduced car hire !
A 4x4 is not necessary for the roads but essential for all the NP - they won't let you in if you are in a 2x4.
Even in a 4x4, the NP 'roads' are challenging - even for seasoned 4x4 drivers. Even in Chobe River Front there are stretches of soft sand.
There was talk of limiting self-drivers in the River Front to the middle of the day - when game tends to head for the shade.
If you aren't a confident 4x4 driver, you can drive to lodges / towns from which you can organise/buy trips.
Kasane and Maun are both hubs for trips into the surrounding areas - there are plenty of agents who will be willing to help.
The drive between Maun and Kasane is a long one - which you may be doing twice. There are a couple of stop-off points to break the journey and from which you can organise trips into the local pans etc. Have a look at Planet Baobab and Nata Lodge .
Jun 27, 2012 2:19 PM
5I just had another thought about doing a "loop". You could go to Maun (do your safari/mokoro trip/scenic flight etc) then go up the panhandle and cross into Namibia at Mohembo, drive back along the Caprivi strip, then cross back over into Chobe at Ngoma, base yourself in Kasane (safari in Chobe/trip to Vic Falls etc) then back down towards Jo'burg via Nata. Obviously a lot longer distance and would depend on what time you have available - but tar all the way.
Echo what others have said about driving at night. Keep your speed down anyway - livestock on the roads is a real hazard.
Jul 6, 2012 10:26 AM
6We are self driving a 2 wd truck and camper through S Africa, Botswana and Namibia right now. We started in Johannesburg and will end there. Invest in a gps and download the Southern Africa maps. Would not want to do it without those! Particularly in Joburg and Capetown. With the gps it is very easy.
2wd has been fine. You cannot go 4-wding into the parks but you would not want to do that on your own anyway. You can pick up safari drives in the parks. In Maun we got a great last minute trip into the delta - 70% off because we were there and ready to leave in the next week.
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