Botswana Roads and Driving
Map showing tar roads connecting main areas of Botswana
Driving in Botswana
Wherever you are driving please respect wildlife, the environment and
Remember most accidents are a result of too much speed!
You are meant to be enjoying a fun relaxing holiday so take your time,
enjoy the journey and come home safely to tell us about your wonderful
trip to Botswana.
This section is constantly being updated as we travel the routes and
get more information, if you have recently travelled any of these areas
please let me know current conditions, also any photographs of road conditions
are welcome. Thank you, Simon - Madbookings crazy driver
The roads shown on the map above are all tar roads passable all year in
a 2wd vehicle, generally they are kept in good condition throughout the
country with only a few potholes, traffic is light and distances between
fuel stations and toilet stops can be long so careful planning is required.
Also bear in mind these areas are hot all year round so pay attention
to tyre pressures – especially on well laden vehicles, if you’re
vehicle is full of people and baggage tyre pressure and condition becomes
much more important, then travelling long distances on hot roads can lead
to tyre blowouts, so check your tyre pressure is correct, and take regularly
stops along the journey for the tyres, passengers and driver !
Driving at night
Not recommended at all in Botswana (any part of the country) due to animals
Wild animals, cows, goats, chickens, dogs and even people are attracted
to the road as night falls and often sleep on the road, many collisions
occur with vehicles causing serious injury, so if at all possible arrive
at your destination before sunset and if you set out before dawn, keep
your speed down and keep a sharp eye out for objects on the road.
I have never driven anywhere in Botswana without
encountered animals on the road
Police are very vigilant about speeding the speed limit is:
120km/h out side city limits
100km/h on approach to towns village
60km/h passing towns and villages
30km/h in built up areas
Fines for speeding are instantly payable and in Pula cash only (police
will escort you to nearest cash exchange if required)
Corruption and bribery is severely frowned upon as is drink driving in
Driving off road in Botswana
When you leave the tar roads in Botswana you will mostly be going on to
sandy tracks of varying quality, none are to be taken lightly and in all
cases the condition of the road can change in a very short distance, so
always proceed slowly.
After rains flooding of many off road routes is common with many ‘roads’
through parks and remote areas having water on them for much of the year.
Pans can look dry but often there is water just beneath the surface, even
walking on them does not show this, but when a vehicles weight is applied
it can sink quickly, a vehicle stuck in this way can be very difficult
Gravel roads around the country are usually dotted with sand patches so
do not speed however good the surface may seem.
It is advisable never to cross a waterlogged section if you are travelling
in a single vehicle, if you get stuck there is noone to help, if with
another vehicle then one vehicle at a time crosses, when the first has
made it to the other side then the next vehicle proceeds.
Also check the water depth and solidness of the ground by walking across
first – but beware in all game parks (and in some areas outside
reserves) there are wild animals including crocodiles, hippos, lions,
hyenas so walking is not always safe!
Driving on Pans
Maun – roads
All the roads in Maun are tar.
Getting to Maun
To the south the road is tar and goes to Ghanzi.
To the west the road is tar and goes to Gweta and Nata (via the turnings
for Nxai Pan and the Makgadigadi pans)
To the North the road starts as tar until Shorobe where it turns into
a graded gravel road then at the Buffalo gate it gets sandy (shallow but
slippy in the rains), from this point northwards it is recommended only
for four wheel drive vehicles.
The road forks a few kilometres after the buffalo gate, to the west heads
into Moremi Park and to the east/north goes to Chobe, the road up to both
park entrances is gravely and usually in quite good condition (rains permitting)
with no need for low range 4wd but good ground clearance and occasional
sandy patches. After entering either Moremi or Chobe park the roads can
get very sandy/wet/clay see Moremi/chobe sections for more details.
Western Okavango ‘Panhandle’
This is a tarred road all the way from the turning at Sehitwa in the south
to Shakawe in the north, there are several places to stay along this route
but some are only accessible by 4wd, some by boat (needs pre-arranging)
You can get to the Namibian border just north of Shakawe on tar road all
year, but when you cross into Namibia the road is graded gravel for 45km
until you reach the Caprivi highway which is a tar road running from Rundu
to Katima Mulilo.
The gravel section in Namibia can get flooded after heavy rains between
Jan and April but is normally passable with a high clearance vehicle for
the rest of the year and even 2wd cars between June and Oct (or first
rains) with care.
Central Okavango Delta
There are no roads into the main delta, access to all the areas is by
plane and boat.
Moremi Game Reserve
All the roads in Moremi require a 4wd vehicle, the roads throughout the
park are a combination of sand, clay, woodland, swamp and more sand.
When it has rained or the water is at a high level (often caused by rain
further north not rain in Botswana) the roads get very tricky and travelling
with two 4wd vehicles is recommended.
There is a camp site just inside the South gate which is accessible all
year from where you can explore the road conditions deeper into the park,
but the game viewing is not so good here (of course that would be too
The route from South gate to Third bridge 50km (most western track) goes
through Mopane woodland and gets very muddy in the rainy season and holds
water for several weeks after rains and from December to May has standing
water to cross, after the water recedes it becomes thick sand in some
patches (there is a couple of long stretches of muddy woodland through
mopane forests) as a guide it takes 2 hours in the dry and 3.5 hours in
The road through to Xakanaxa 43km (often referred to as the central route)
is very clay/sticky mud in the wet season but the best route in the dry
with minimal deep sandy stretches as a guide it takes 2 hours in the dry
5 to 6 in the wet.
South gate to the North gate 30km is fine in the dry with some deep sandy
patches in the wet gets very sticky. Dry season 50 mins rainy 2 hours.
Other roads around the park
The park has many twisting tracks skirting large amounts of water, areas
of woodland (mostly Mopane) some savannah areas and flat pans, all offer
various challenges in all seasons, take care on all drives, don’t
cross water if you cant tell how deep it is (my father told me to wait
until someone else crosses the follow if they make it, good advice but
in Chobe traffic can be light, I have spent three days once without ever
meeting another vehicle. Don’t drive beyond your abilities, and
Chobe National Park and surrounding areas
Getting to Chobe
From Moremi it is 40km from North gate (Moremi) to Mababe gate into the
south west of Chobe the road goes through Mopane woodland and a sand dune
area - both awkward in the rainy season, but if you have made it through
from south gate of Mormei to north gate you should be used to the conditions.
From Ngoma (Namibia border) there is a T-junction turn left and about
half a kilometre along the tar road you will come to the Chobe entrance
From Maun there are two routes:
1/ The shortest is the same route out of Maun towards Moremi but at the
fork in the road after the buffalo gate head north to a village called
Mogogelo then on to Mababe gate.
141km from Maun to the gate but only the first 40km is tar the next 45km
is graded gravel the rest is semi graded sandy gravel. The last section
up to the gate has some very muddy/slippy patches in the wet, keep your
speed down. Through to Kasane is a total of 369km excluding any game drives
2/ Take the tar road east out of Maun to Gweta, on to Nata where you turn
north to Kasane a much longer route (600km) but tar all the way and goes
via the Nxai pans and Makgadigadi.
Driving in Chobe National Park
The roads around the park are not always easy, despite being kept clear
of fallen trees (an elephant issue) and busy in comparison to Moremi.
In the wet season the heavy clayey soil can quickly bog down vehicles
while in the dry season deep sand can cause equally difficult conditions.
From the tar road that runs along the western panhandle there is a turning
32km south of Shakawe the condition of the roade varies greatly the first
section is graded gravel and normally not to bad further on it can get
corrugated, passable but very bumpy and there are a few sandy patches,
when you get to the Tsodilo Hills however all the roads around the hills
are deep sand and require a 4wd, in the rainy season it is sticky deep
sand…… all the bush camping sites are beautifully located
around the hills but are through deep sand.