Self drive Itinerary
The San Bushmen Route
An exploration of Botswana and the namibian Caprivi Strip through various original experiences
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The San Bushmen Route

Taking you to the four corners of northern Botswana and in the Caprivi strip, the San Bushmen route is a real initiation course punctuated by unique activities, combining wildlife safari with cultural and sporting experiences.

In the footsteps of the people (mainly called the San) of the Kalahari to the Okavango Delta, you can drive, fly, sail, gallop, photograph, climb, paddle, fish, jump into the void, soak up the local culture and let yourself be carried away by a whirlwind of unforgettable experiences.

Live a multiform and inspiring adventure promising moving encounters and eternal memories!

Summary

Duration: 14 to 21 days

Departure: Kasane or Maun

Accommodation: Camping and/or lodging

Difficulty level:

Rent a 4×4

Detailed itinerary

KASANE AND THE CHOBE RIVER

Highlight: Have breakfast on a private boat cruise along the Chobe river

The small town of Kasane has a location that is hard to beat, at the junction of 4 countries: Botswana itself, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It is also at the entrance of Chobe National Park, one of the most beautiful in southern Africa.

Kasane is a great starting point for the road of the Sans as it has an international airport with scheduled flights from Johannesburg in South Africa. The city has several supermarkets/shops, cash machines, gas stations which allow a way to refuel before setting off.

Kasane is also a calm and charming town which is good for resting days and has several activities, not forgetting the not to be missed Chobe Cruise which is the best way to have first contact with Botswana’s wildlife.

Experiences that can be included from Kasane:

  • Induction of animal photography: Be part of a lodge that is dedicated to animal photography and gain from professional equipment as well as advice from specialists during boat trips equipped with tripods or safari vehicles.
  • Self-drive safaris in the Chobe Park: Test your off-road driving while discovering the animals of Africa which converge along the Chobe river.
  • Private cruise and breakfast on the Chobe river: Cruising in the Chobe river is a must in Kasane, it is very intimate and successful in the morning where the gentle as well as calm breeze reign in the riverbank.

GWETA AND THE SALT PANS

Highlight: Lay under the stars of Ntwetwe pan

Welcome to the country of the Baobab trees! For the second step, you will explore the large region of salt pans that characterize the east center of Botswana.

This 12 000 km² desert land is a chain of salt bleached basins, one of the worlds largest salt marshes, sand dunes and rocky islands of which the most popular is the Lekhubu Island (or the Kubu island). In the middle of this flat plain stands massive baobab trees of which the most famous are called Greens and Chapmans, south of Gweta as well as the popular Baines baobabs of Nxai pan.

Laying under the beautiful stars in the Ntwetwe pan is probably the greatest atmosphere of the lunar universe. Arranged by Planet baobab and including meeting with meerkats, a night in a 5-star hotel is a simply, magical experience!

Experiences that can be included from Gweta:

  • Ride a quad bike in the pans
  • Guided visit the village of Gweta
  • Visit the historical baobab trees: Chapman, Green and Baines

MAUN AND THE OKAVANGO DELTA

Highlight: Explore the Okavango Delta in a mokoro

The tourist capital of Botswana, Maun is situated at the gateway of the Okavango Delta. It’s the ideal starting point for a 2 days mokoro trip, with overnight camp on the Chiefs Island. The mokoro is a traditional canoe, used in Botswana for navigating in the shallow water of the Delta.

As a true landmark, this peaceful and authentic safari style allows you to explore the meanders of the delta in a perfect symbiosis with nature. The night in the campsite on the Chief’s island completes the 100% nature experience and the long immersive canals lined up with reeds where one sees the varied fauna in complete privacy. Turn off the engine and enjoy the moment in connection with the Delta.

Experiences that can be included from Maun

  • Flyover the Okavango Delta by a helicopter or aircraft: for change of perspective and view the delta in full, understand its amazing geography made up of a multitude of canals forming a permanent or temporary island and see some of its amazing large mammals like giraffes, elephants or rhinos.
  • Horseback riding along the Thamalakane river: if the mokoro will be the most peaceful mode of transport, horseback riding also allows you to live a natural experience, off a beaten trail. Whether you are a newbie or expert, this activity is the opportunity to meet the non-dangerous wild animals on the shore of the Thamalakane river.

GHANZI AND THE KALAHARI

Highlight: Immense yourself in the culture of the San people

After discovering the famous Okavango Delta, leads the way to the Kalahari. The divine desert extends to Namibia and Botswana. It’s the cradle of the bushmen and their most recent habitat.

Joining the Naro bushmen community for a few days on the Dqae Qare ranch allows for a real immersion in the San culture.

An out of time meeting is held while you are traditionally greeted and guided by the elders as an invitation to discover the bushmen’s ancestral way of life, to hear fascinating stories about the community’s history. You learn how to use wild plants or track animals, cook and make tools or handicrafts. It is an intimate and non-intrusive experience that benefits the community.

Here, 30 000 years of history in harmony with nature awaits you and will touch you deeply.

Experiences that can be included from Ghanzi:

  • Music festival and traditional Kuru dance is organized annually to promote San culture
  • Visit the art center where you can admire the paintings produced by local artists. The nature and relationship of human beings is a recurring theme within these vivid and imaginative oil paintings.
  • Shopping at Ghanzi Craft will be an opportunity to acquire/obtain arts and crafts including belts and jewellery made from ostrich eggshell, leather items, traditional sculptures as well musical instruments
  • Self-drive safaris in the central Kalahari reserve over several days.

SHAKAWE AND THE PANHANDLE

Highlight: climb the Tsodilo Hills to search for the cave paintings

Lying on 70km, the panhandle precedes the Okavango delta and forms a deep channel where hippos live happily. Lagoons are covered with water lilies and marshes are covered with papyrus and reeds where birds flit in abundance. It is a nice and relaxing place, suitable to stop for a few days.

The panhandle region is not far from the river and it is home to a wonderful secret known as the “Louvre of the Desert”, the Tsodilo hills is a UNESCO heritage site.

Rising abruptly to the heart of the bush, the rocky walls of Tsodilo hills take a magnificent copper color of the sunset. The magnetic power of the captivating hills and the undeniable spiritualism that emerges immediately strikes the visitor. For the sans, Tsodilo is a sacred and mystical place where the ancestral spirits live.

The site is habitat of more than 4500 rock paintings covering an area of 10km². Their meanings remain a mystery and exalt the imagination. The various hiking trails offered around the site are the Rhino and Lion trail or the Cliff trail. This will be an opportunity to discover the three main hills and some of the well-known paintings, like the zebra, the rhino or the Eland.

It is a magical place, full of history and fascinating to explore and promising pleasant walks.  Being accompanied by a guide from the neighboring village will be an unforgettable encounter and emphasize the experience in the heart of these mysterious hills.

Experiences that can be included from Shakawe:

  • Boat trip along the Okavango river, upstream of the Delta
  • Mokoro trip at Guma lagoon.
  • Go fishing

DIVINDU AND THE OKAVANGO RIVER

Highlight: Challenge the Dikongoro in rafting

Let’s hit the road to Caprivi and the Namibian side of the Okavango! Bordered by the Bwabwata national park, the area is home to the small Mahango Reserve where the safari self-drive is a must. This drive along the river does not require great driving skills and allows one to discover splendid baobab trees, ipphos, lechwe, elephants, roan and a multitude of birds.

On the Bwabwata side, Buffalo core is the region where mammals are the most dense. Large herds of sables antelope and roan gather on the banks of the river. Buffalos and kudus are also well represented, sustaining a notable number of lions. Beware, elephants may be more nervous than in other parts of Caprivi, it is recommended to be vigilant. This may be an opportunity to join a guided game drive to learn more about the history of the reserve and the animals that reside there!

For sporty, rafting and Tiger Fish fishing will be a particularly exciting experience. Meeting with the Hambukushu and Xwe will provide a strong and exciting exchange moment. People of Angolan origin, whose life is centered on agriculture, fishing, hunting, pastoralism and gathering of wild plants, will share their way of life and narrate the legend of the famous Dikongoro. Fans of mythical creatures will be delighted.

Experiences that can be included from Divindu:

  • Rafting on the Okavango river
  • Boat cruise
  • Mokoro trip
  • Fishing
  • Walks in the bush
  • Meet with the Hambukushu and Xwe community

KONGOLA AND THE EAST OF CAPRIVI

Highlight:  Bird watching safari in the Mudumu and Rupara parks.

The Kwando river bordering the Bwabwata park, the Zambezi river and the Linyanti-Chobe river mark the east of Caprivi. On this side, the priority is given to the self-drive safari or guided safari, according to one’s desire. In addition to Bwabwata, two national parks can be explored over several days which are:

Mudumu National Park

Mudumu reserve is located north of the Rupara park and has an environment close to its neighbor. Bordered by the Kwando river to the west, Mudumu has a wide variety of animals with large populations.  In addition to its numerous elephants, it is distinguished of other namibian parks with the presence of rare buffalos, sable and roan antelopes, and especially lechwe cobes and sitatungas.

Rupara National Park

Rupara is the closest Namibian reserve to Botswana, running east along the Linyanti river and west of the Kwando river. It recalls to mind the Okavango delta, by the presence of two large islands (Nkasa and Lupala) surrounded by many channels. The structure forms a beautiful swamp which is less visited by tourists. Here, birds multiply and there are many species attracted to the water such as the elephant, crocodile and hippos. More unexpected, Rupara shelters a stable number of lions, very interested in buffalo herds grazing on the islands.

Experiences that can be included from Kongola or Katima (Zambezi river):

  • Boat cruise on the Kwando river
  • Boat cruise on the Zambezi river
  • Fishing
  • Bird watching and exceptional encounter with a colony of the Carmine bee-eater on the Zambezi river (seasonal)

NGOMA AND THE CHOBE RIVER FRONT

Highlight: Experience a unique self-drive safari surrounded by Africa’s largest mammals

Back to Botswana on the banks of the Chobe river! Known to be one of the most beautiful places in Africa, Chobe National Park has an exceptional fauna that will delight the safari enthusiasts.  The populations of elephants, impala’s, kudus and buffaloes are particularly impressive and attract numerous predators. The area is a must see for bird lovers where nearly 460 species have been recorded.

Listen to the calls of the fish eagle or discover a myriad of herons and colorful bee eaters will remain a highlight, as well as the elephant bathes or  the lazy lions and elusive leopards that populate the Chobe region.

The self-drive safari at Chobe river front is a sensational experience. Apart from the feeling of freedom that the self-drive safari offers, the multitude of encounters and the proximity with the animals in a sumptuous setting will be an unforgettable memory.

LESOMA AND THE ELEPHANT VALLEY

Highlight: Get closer to elephants in a bunker overlooking the water point.

Known as the elephant valley, Lesoma is the perfect place to end your stay near Kasane. If the area does not belong to a national park, it is located near the corridor used daily by elephants and an incredibly diverse fauna : African wild dog, lions, buffaloes, kudus, giraffes and hyenas are regularly seen by the inhabitants of the village as well as the lodges established here.

In the heart of the valley you will find the Senyati bush camp, the water source of which makes the elephants happy. A pontoon allows one to see them coming and going, from one end of the bush to the other, sometimes at a high speed when approaching the source of fresh water.

The bunker offers an impressive perspective and an olfactory observation without comparison. Approaching the pachyderms so closely and discreetly is a unique experience and the photography opportunities are excellent. Without a doubt, your eyes will shine with emotion before the giants of Senyati!

CRUISE ON THE CHOBE RIVER (OPTION)

Chobe National Park can be visited from the land but also from the river. The two ways offer complementary experiences and different points of view. Photo enthusiasts will particularly appreciate the reflections, colors and being face to face with the animals drinking water. The bird lovers will be delighted by the diversity of fauna, all in a relaxing atmosphere.

This extension can be in adventure form or a more classy form.

Boat camping option

Embark on a small private boat, driven by a skipper and equipped with camping equipment as perhaps your 4×4 vehicle! This original adventure formula makes it possible to follow the edges of the Chobe river and camp on the islands facing it. It is a unique experience combining simplicity and immersion with nature. It will lead you to fabulous animal observations.

Houseboat option

A real floating lodge that has remained intimate, the houseboat sails on the waters of Chobe and Zambezi river. It offers a chic and relaxing safari experience. The boat is very comfortable with open cabins on a lush landscape, a swimming pool, bar and a dining area. Small boat trips are offered daily for fishing or to explore the river shores more closely during exceptional water safaris.

VICTORIA FALLS / LIVINGSTONE (OPTION)

What about ending the Sans route with full of adrenaline at Victoria Falls or Livingstone? Known for its majestic falls and sensational activities the region shared between Zambia and Zimbabwe offers a range of sporting experiences in a unusual natural setting. There is something for everyone and all levels of difficulty!

Experiences that can be included from Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe) or Livingstone (Zambia):

  • Bungee Jumping
  • Canyon Swing
  • Zip line
  • Rafting
  • Bathing by the falls (Devils Pool)
  • Microlight
  • Dinner on a historic train
  • Historical tour of the bridge

Some reasons to choose this route

A course that is easy to drive and suitable for all types of accommodation : camping, intermediate establishments or high-end lodges.

In addition to the traditional safari that makes up Botswana’s reputation, priority is given to cultural and sporting experiences for a stay varying the pleasures and mode of discovery!

Expandable steps according to your affinities and desire for adventure!

Good to know!

  • On this route you will regularly find fuel. Shortages are nonetheless possible and it is essential to refuel as soon as the opportunity arises (Kasane, Pandamatenga, Nata, Maun, Shakawe, Divundu, Kongola, Ngoma).

  • Even if a restaurant will usually be available in the accomodation we will offer on this route, it is sometimes necessary to book meals in advance.

  • The main axes of Caprivi and Botswana are tarred but can be heavily damaged by rain. Drive carefully to avoid potholes and stay alert with wild animals that can cross the road suddenly. Do not drive at night.