Take a 10-day road trip to Namibia and Botswana's top parks on this itinerary. You'll drive through landscapes of all varieties as you scope out the wildlife and natural attractions along the way, including the dunes of Sossuvlei, the rock formations of Damaraland, and the expanse of the Okavango Delta.

Highlights

  • Stroll in the sand dunes of Sossuvlei
  • Picnic alongside the Kuiseb Canyon
  • Visit the seal colony at Cape Cross
  • Safari in Etosha and Chobe National Parks

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Windhoek Windhoek
Day 2 Drive to Sossusvlei via Spreetshoogte Pass Sossusvlei
Day 3 Drive to Swakopmund, Visit Solitaire Swakopmund
Day 4 Drive to Damaraland via Cape Cross, Explore Twfylefontein Khorixas
Day 5 Drive to Etosha National Park Etosha National Park
Day 6 Drive to the Caprivi Strip, See the Hoba Meteorite Caprivi
Day 7 Drive to Chobe National Park, Botswana Chobe National Park
Day 8 Drive South to Makgadikgadi Pans Makgadikgadi Pans
Day 9 Drive to Maun, Fly to Camp in Okavango Delta Okavango Delta
Day 10 Fly to Maun & to Windhoek, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Windhoek

Park and garden
Park and garden

Welcome to Windhoek! Arrive at the airport, then pick up your rental car along with all your travel documents. You'll wrap up all paperwork by early afternoon, then spend the rest of the day relaxing and settling in.

In the evening, head into town for dinner at one of Windhoek's cozy restaurants.

Day 2: Drive to Sossusvlei via Spreetshoogte Pass

And down the dunes
And down the dunes

After breakfast, hit the road for the six-hour drive to Sossuvlei (226 mi/ 365 km away.) Along the way, you'll pass by grand scenic passes and the infinitely vast Namib Desert, which stretches along the base of a mountain. Stop for lunch at Spreetshoogte Pass before continuing to Sossuvlei.

Sossuvlei is located in Africa's largest conservation area, the Namib-Naukluft National Park. The area is a large salt and clay pan surrounded by towering red dunes that create striking views in the morning and evening. The dunes here are some of the world's highest, reaching nearly 1,312 feet (400 m), and provide photography enthusiasts with plenty of opportunities for incredible shots. 

Day 3: Drive to Swakopmund, Visit Solitaire

Old jetty
Old jetty

Wake up in time for one last sunrise at the Sossusvlei dunes, then start the drive to Swakopmund, a five-hour drive (250 mi/ 400 km) to the north. As you drive along the coast, the scenery gradually changes from mountains and dunes to rolling grass-covered hills dotted with stands of acacia trees.

Watch for the endemic Hartmann's mountain zebra and other Namibian wildlife on the way. Stop in the town of Solitaire (about halfway) for some homemade bread and an ice-cold drink. Another 1.5-hour drive down the road is the scenic Kuiseb Canyon—stop here for a picnic in the shade and to take in the views. Springbok and ostrich roam the vast gravel plains of the Namib, and welwitschia plants cover the arid ground.

After a beautiful drive, arrive in Swakopmund in the early afternoon. 

Day 4: Drive to Damaraland via Cape Cross, Explore Twfylefontein

Cape Cross seal colony
Cape Cross seal colony

In the morning, drive from Swakopmund to Damaraland, a five-hour (270 mi/ 430 km) drive to the north. The drive along the Skeleton Coast to Damaraland is full of incredible views, from grassy plains and dry riverbeds to coastal panoramas. The route takes you past Cape Cross, home to the world's largest breeding Cape fur seal colony in the world. The sound of 100,000 seals can be deafening, but the sight of the animals is worth the stop.

Continue to Cape Cross Lodge or a picnic spot for lunch, then keep driving north. Other stops along the way include lichen fields and the salt pans—an excellent birding spot. Arrive at Damaraland in the afternoon. Here, wind and rain have spent eons carving enormous granite outcrops and dolerite dikes into incredible formations. Endless open skies and geologic formations add to the region's beauty.

Spend your time in Damaraland enjoying game drives on private reserves in search of the famed desert elephants, black rhinos, giraffes, Hartman's Mountain Zebras, and other herding animals. Explore the region's geologic formations, including the Twfylefontein Rock Paintings, Vingerklip, the Petrified Forest, and the Organ Pipes. For a view of the area, hike up Brandberg Mountain (Damara: Dâures; Otjiherero: Omukuruvaro), Namibia's highest point at 8,442 feet (2,573 m).

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Day 5: Drive to Etosha National Park

Why did the springbok cross the road?
Why did the springbok cross the road?

Head out in the morning for Etosha National Park, located three hours (210 mi/ 340 km) to the north. Drive through scenic Damaraland to reach Etosha's southern gate, reaching the park in the early afternoon. Along the way, stop at the small town of Outjo for a coffee break and the Ugab Terrace for photos.

Arrive at Etosha in time for lunch, then spend the rest of the day relaxing and enjoying the scenery. Spend the day exploring the park. Etosha has a plethora of wildlife, with an estimated 250 lions, 2,500 giraffes, 6,000 zebras, 20,000 springboks, and 2,000 elephants.

Head out for an evening game drive, then fall asleep to the sounds of the African bush at night.

Day 6: Drive to the Caprivi Strip, See the Hoba Meteorite

Elephant herd
Elephant herd

The full-day  (520 miles/ 840 km) drive east to the Zambezi Region requires an early start. The roads there are paved, making for a comfortable and beautiful journey. Along the way, stop to see Otjikoto and Guinas Lakes, Namibia's only two permanent natural lakes created by collapsed karst caves. The Hoba Meteorite, weighing more than 60 tons, lies near Grootfontein. It's the largest known meteorite of its kind in the world.

Stop at Roy's Camp for a coffee break before continuing east. Arrive in the late afternoon in time to relax before dinner. 

Day 7: Drive to Chobe National Park, Botswana

At the watering hole
At the watering hole

Today you transfer to Chobe National Park in neighboring Botswana, a five-hour drive (155 mi/ 250 km) away. Start the day with a drive through the town of Katima, then to Ngoma Bridge, where you enter Botswana and the national park. As you drive, the sub-tropical woodlands give way to lush riverine floodplains where vast herds of grazing animals gather to drink.

Pass through customs and immigration at Ngoma, then drive through the game park to your safari lodge. Check in, then head out for your first game drive around the park.

Day 8: Drive South to Makgadikgadi Pans

Baobabs at sunset  in the Makgadikgadi Pan
Baobabs at sunset in the Makgadikgadi Pan

After breakfast, transfer to the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park, a seven-hour (250 mi/ 400 km) drive south of Chobe National Park. Makgadikgadi Pans is a massive salt pan situated in the dry savanna in the location of what was once Lake Makgadikgadi. It's comprised of many salt pans with sandy deserts in between, which together form the great Makgadikgadi Pans area. Of these, the largest individual pan is about 1,900 square miles (4,921 sq km).

Accommodation in the national park ranges from affordable tent camping to luxury hotels. One excellent option is Planet Baobab, which has been voted as one of the top 10 most extraordinary places to stay in the world by Lonely Planet. 

Day 9: Drive to Maun, Fly to Camp in Okavango Delta

Okavango Delta from above
Okavango Delta from above

Drive three hours (1,320 mi/ 193 km) northwest to Maun, then take a light aircraft flight over the Okavango Delta to your lodge, where you'll stay for the next two nights. Land at camp, then check in for your fully inclusive stay.

Day 10: Fly to Maun & to Windhoek, Depart

Springbok sunset
Springbok sunset

Take a short flight back to Maun, then connect with a flight back to Windhoek. From here, catch your flight home. 

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Map

Map of Namibia & Botswana Safari Road Trip - 10 Days
Map of Namibia & Botswana Safari Road Trip - 10 Days