This self-drive journey takes you through some of the most beautiful landscapes in Southern Africa. Come in close contact with rare African wild cats on safari and experience the diversity of Nambia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe. Go on a daring adventure, rafting on the Zambezi River, and walk through African deserts and rainforests. You'll experience the mighty Victoria Falls, see the salt pans in Etosha, and set out on a sunset cruise in the wild.


  • Experience the Okavango Delta & Kahali Desert
  • Game Safari in the Mahango National Park & Mahango Game Reserve
  • Climb the Tsodilo Hills and see 20, 000-year old cave tribal paintings
  • Visit Victoria Falls & Raft on the Zambezi River
  • Game viewing in Etosha National Park & African Wild Cat Safari

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Windhoek sightseeing Windhoek
Day 2 Ghanzi - Kalahari Desert - Botswana Ghanzi
Day 3 Okavango Delta - Guma Lagoon - Okavango Panhandle Okavango Delta
Day 4 Okavango Delta - Guma Lagoon - Okavango Panhandle Okavango Delta
Day 5 Okavango Delta - Namibia - Mahango Game Reserve Caprivi
Day 6 Mahango - Katima Mulilo - Botswana - Kasane - Chobe River Front Kasane
Day 7 A'Zambezi River - Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe Victoria Falls
Day 8 Zambezi River - Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe Victoria Falls
Day 9 Zimbabwe, Victoria Falls – Namibia, Caprivi Kwando Area Caprivi
Day 10 Kwando - Rundu Rundu
Day 11 Rundu – East Etosha National Park Namutoni
Day 12 Etosha National Park full day game drive & Etosha salt pans Etosha National Park
Day 13 Etosha Park - Okonjima Nature Reserve & Wild Cat Safari Etosha National Park
Day 14 Otjiwarongo - Greater Windhoek - Na'an Ku se Windhoek
Day 15 Depart Namibia  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Windhoek sightseeing

Street in central Windhoek
Street in central Windhoek

Welcome to Windhoek! Today, you'll arrive at Windhoek International Airport and transfer to Windhoek. Situated in central Namibia, the city serves as the capital of the country. It is described as a place with a “continental" atmosphere due to its architecture with historical buildings dating back to German colonial rule, as well as its cuisine, culture, dress codes, and educational institutions.

The city's colonial legacy is seen in the many German eateries and shops you'll find here, as well as in the widespread of the German language. Public transport consists mainly of taxis, while a bus will take you between Katutura and Khomasdal to Windhoek and its suburbs.
Windhoek has an exciting mix of historical architecture and modern buildings, including the old fort Alte Feste, the 1896 Christuskirche Christ Church, and the more contemporary Supreme Court. You'll find an abundance of restaurants, entertainment venues, shops, and accommodation options and find that Windhoek is clean, safe, and well-organized.

Day 2: Ghanzi - Kalahari Desert - Botswana

Panthera leo male walking in the Kalahari Desert
Panthera leo male walking in the Kalahari Desert

This morning, after breakfast, you'll leave Windhoek and head to Botswana. You'll be taking the Trans-Kalahari-Highway, which is a relatively new road with the invaluable communication link between Namibia, Botswana, and South Africa. Your route will first take you to the small town of Gobabis—one of the leading livestock farming centers of Namibia, and then on to the border. You'll then continue driving to the town of Ghanzi, located in the center of Botswana.

Ghanzi is located in the middle of the Kalahari Desert and was practically unknown before the Trans Kalahari Highway. It is situated 186 miles (300 km) southwest of Maun, and just north of the Trans-Kalahari highway, running from Lobatse in Botswana to Walvis Bay in Namibia, Ghanzi is often referred to as the "Capital of the Kalahari."
The town serves as the administrative center of the Ghanzi district, covering a vast area of cattle farmland and ranches in the west of Botswana. This area has several lodges which focus on cultural tourism as well as wildlife viewing where you can experience the intriguing world of the San community as the San people will tell you how they forage, hunt, and find water in this harsh environment.

As a celebration of San culture, the community delight in sharing their culture and extraordinary knowledge of the Kalahari with guests through bush walks, traditional dancing, fire making, craft making, trapping and storytelling, or experience everything and more, over a full day Bushman Experience.
Driving distance: 320 miles (514km)

Day 3: Okavango Delta - Guma Lagoon - Okavango Panhandle

Two Hippos in the Okavango Delta River
Two Hippos in the Okavango Delta River

Today, get an early start and jump into your car and head to some of the fascinating places in Southern Africa! You'll drive across the linear dunes of the stunning Kalahari while passing through small towns. As you witness the change in vegetation, you'll know that you've arrived on the very western edge of a natural wonder of the world—the Okavango Delta.

Turn north for a few miles and then point your wheels back west to enter the Delta proper. Now, you'll get your first glimpse of the beautiful crystal waters through the lush vegetation, where you can spend your night in one of the cabins on the banks of a pristine African lagoon. 

You will reach the Okavango Panhandle,  which is a stretch of the Okavango River, situated in the northwestern area of the delta. It flows for approximately 43 miles (70 km) before entering the wetland, and this deep channel serves as the primary water source feeding the delta. It offers excellent tiger and bream fishing, while the surrounding woodlands and the river’s shallow waters teem with a myriad of birds.
The Panhandle is the gateway to the scenic Tsodilo Hills, some 25 miles (40 km) west, with various tribal cave paintings, some dating back as far as 20, 000 years. It' s an excellent opportunity for you to experience some real Southern African history. The adventure continues at the Guma Lagoon—a bird watcher's haven, situated in Okavango Panhandle. If you are spin or fly fisherman, Guma offers a large variety of fish, including the Tiger-fish.

Enjoy excellent fishing, first-class birding, boating on the Okavango River, and experience game viewing in the Mahango National Park. Guma offers a lot of exciting activities, such as overnight camping trips into the Okavango Delta on mokoros (dugout canoe) or boats and night exploration on the backwaters. If you want to add to the adventure, you can see the majestic delta from above in an R44 helicopter.

Driving distance: 233 miles (375 km)

Day 4: Okavango Delta - Guma Lagoon - Okavango Panhandle

Sunrise over Guma Lagoon in Okavango Delta
Sunrise over Okavango Delta River

Today, the excitement happens on the water. This morning you'll leave your vehicle behind and travel first by motor-boat and then by traditional mokoro, deep into the Delta. The mokoro will be your main form of transport during the day These fantastic traditional crafts are specially designed for the narrow waterways of the Okavango and allow for you to travel further into the Delta than if you were using more modern forms of transport. 

On your mokoro journey, you'll experience beautiful scenery made up of water lily beds, papyrus, and palm islands. You will have the chance to see large herds of red lechwe bounding through the waters and elephants feeding amongst the lush wetland vegetation. Make a stop at one of the larger islands to have lunch and a guided walk. 
When you're satisfied with today's adventure, head back to your camp in the late afternoon, or evening, to spend another night by the Okavango waters.

Day 5: Okavango Delta - Namibia - Mahango Game Reserve

Two Vervet Monkey in Bwabwata National Park, Mahango
Two Vervet Monkey in Bwabwata National Park, Mahango

Back on the road today, your next destination is Namibia. After passport control, you'll head directly into the Mahango Game Reserve, which is a small but beautiful park right on the edge of the Okavango River. Your game drives your way through Mahango and has the chance to spot unique Namibian species such as the roan antelope and the majestic sable antelope. 

Bordering Botswana, the Mahango Game Park provides a convenient stopover between Katima Mulilo and Rundu. It also forms part of the beautiful Bwabwata National Park. The park's landscape is characterized by woodlands, vast floodplains of the Okavango River basin known as omurambas and the Kavango River.

It is home to over 90 species, including a large number of elephants, lions, leopards, sables, and a variety of antelopes, including roan and the red lechwe. It is an excellent destination for avid bird watchers boasting over 400 species. The park also provides the perfect spot for you to catch a glimpse of the hippo and crocodile in the Kavango River. Some popular activities include night game drives, wildlife safaris, and watching the African sunset over the floodplains.
Driving distance: 83 miles (133 km)

Day 6: Mahango - Katima Mulilo - Botswana - Kasane - Chobe River Front

Safari Giraffe preparing to eat in Chobe National Park
Safari Giraffe preparing to eat in Chobe National Park

Today, you'll depart Mahango and drive towards Katima Mulilo, before crossing back across the border into Botswana on the road that will bring you straight to the world-famous Chobe National Park. Chobe has the world’s largest population of African elephants, and the chance of seeing big games is excellent as you'll transit through from the park to the small town of Kasane.

The Chobe River flows through the northern part of the Chobe National Park and makes a proud statement with its abundant and diverse game viewing opportunities. This part of the park is best known for its dense concentration of wildlife, including elephant and hippo populations. The waters attract a wide range of games, including large packs of buffalo and lions that prey on them.

A visit to this area guarantees you close encounters with an array of African wildlife. You can look forward to some exciting activities such as driving along the game-dotted river banks, spotting rare birdlife, cruising along the river in a motorboat, and for a unique, luxury safari experience, hire a houseboat.

Suggested activities include:
Chobe Safari Game Drive
On a game safari in Chobe, you will have the opportunity to view abundant species of animal life up-close. You'll have a high chance of encountering a large predator during your drive. There are usually three different times during the day for your safari drive, with the evening experience being one of a kind. You can choose either a half or full-day trip with a picnic lunch.

Chobe Safari Boat Cruises
Going on a boat cruise in Chobe is an excellent way to experience the Chobe National Park, and it's common to witness herds of elephants crossing the Chobe river into the island. Other animal species such as crocodiles and hippos can be seen lounging in the sun by the riverside.

There are three main types of boat cruises that offer three different experiences. The standard cruise boards approximately 30-40 people, and the bigger boat features a bar on board for refreshments.
If you are looking for an exciting birdwatching experience, then the smaller boats are perfect for that. Boat cruises usually depart from the town of Kasane at either the morning or afternoon departures. You can also arrange for a private boat cruise.
Driving distance: 278 miles (447 km)
Plan your trip to Namibia
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 7: Zambezi River - Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Victoria Falls right after rainy season, Zimbabwe
Victoria Falls right after the rainy season, Zimbabwe

Today, enjoy a hot drink in the morning, and head on a leisurely game drive to explore the Chobe National Park by road. With the opportunity to view an abundance of elephant and other big game species up close, you'll surely encounter one of the large predators.

Your journey will continue towards Victoria Falls, which rests on the southern brinks of the Zambezi River at the western end of the fall, where you can spend the next two nights and experience everything that this seventh wonder of the world has to offer.
About two-thirds of the falls are visible from the Zimbabwean side, and it is undoubtedly the main attraction here. There are plenty of popular activities you can indulge in, including bungee jumping off the Victoria Falls Bridge, scenic flights over the falls in helicopters or microlights, white-water rafting (seasonal), as well as day trips to Chobe National Park.
The town offers some excellent accommodation and restaurant options as well as a variety of African curios and authentic art sold by warm and friendly Zimbabwean locals, welcoming you joyfully and eager to help you enjoy your stay.
Driving distance: 51 miles (82 km)

Day 8: Zambezi River - Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Aerial view of Victoria Falls from a helicopter
Aerial view of Victoria Falls from a helicopter

This day, you'll have the whole day to explore the area and take part in optional activities. It is an excellent opportunity to either relax after your trip or get active. You can enjoy adventures such as helicopter flights, micro lighting, walking with Lions, and elephant rides.

In the afternoon, visit the majestic Victoria Falls, locally called “Mosi-oa-Tunya”—the smoke that thunders. The falls constitute one of the most spectacular natural wonders of the world.

Suggested activities include:
Wild Horizons Sundowner Cruise The Zambezi River cruise is a great way to relax and enjoy the beauty of the River. You'll see a large variety of games, including hippo, crocodile, and elephant, as well as enjoy the many unique bird species. The Sunset cruise is a popular activity with great photo opportunities against often spectacular African sunsets. Flocks of birds skim the waterline while the sun sets behind the African skyline.

Duration: 2 hours

Wild Horizons Tour of the Falls Zimbabwe
You can enjoy this tour in the morning or afternoon. En route, you'll have the option to stop at the "Big Tree" and take photos. A guide will accompany you through the rainforest, who will give a brief history of the falls and tell you about the flora, fauna, bird & wildlife, as well as other points of interest.

Duration: 2 hours

Wild Horizons White Water Rafting (Low)
Possibly the most untamed white water in the world, rafting on the Zambezi River, is a definite adrenaline rush. The rapids on the Zambezi River are defined as “Grade 5” by the British Canoe Union (Grade 6 being commercially un-runnable), and be should be reasonably fit for this activity.
Expect a steep walk into and out of the Batoka Gorge, as well as the rafting activity itself. The gorge is 328 miles (100 m) deep at the falls and increases to 656 miles (200 m) by the end of a full day raft trip. Despite the rugged terrain, the gorges below the falls are thick with vegetation and incredibly spectacular.
Duration: 7 hours

Wild Horizons Helicopter Flight
The short, but wild horizon helicopter flights depart regularly throughout the day and offer spectacular photographic opportunities. You will b picked up from your hotel and transferred to the Helipad, where you'll be taking off in a helicopter with panoramic views of Victoria Falls. A trip upriver and back over the Zambezi National Park will complete your flight.
Duration: 13 or 28 minutes

Day 9: Zimbabwe, Victoria Falls – Namibia, Caprivi Kwando Area

Red lechwe antelopes running through Kwando River, Namibia
Red lechwe antelopes running through Kwando River, Namibia

Early this morning, depart Zimbabwe and continue to Kwando of Namibia, via Katima Mulilo. The Kwando-Linyanti river system is known for its exotic animal species and luxury safari options. Once you arrive, you'll notice the abundant wildlife which roams freely between the woodland habitats, ancient floodplains, and forests in these unfenced reserves. 

The Kwando River meanders through the spectacular Caprivi Strip in northwest Namibia, and rises from the central Angolan highlands, forming the boundary between Zambia, Namibia, and Angola. The area is known for its protected, national parks, game reserves, and wildlife sanctuaries.
Prepare for excellent game viewing including hippos, large herds of elephants, crocodiles, turtles, zebras, impalas, and over 400 species of birds. Relax in one of the many lodges set on the banks of the river and soak up the spectacular views of wild Africa. You'll find plenty to keep you busy, including game viewing, bird watching, fishing, and camping.
Driving distance: 193 miles (311 km)

Day 10: Kwando - Rundu

Popa Falls in Caprivi North Namibia
Popa Falls in Caprivi North Namibia

Rise and shine! Today, you'll head to the small town of Rundu in northern Namibia. The place is so unspoiled that while you are here, you will experience nature as it was first created. Bordering Angola, in the north of Namibia, the town of Rundu serves as the capital of the eastern Kavango region.

The town is known for its local woodcarvers market as well as the numerous woodcarvers' huts dotting the side of the road. It provides a great stopover to refuel if you're heading to Katima Mulilo, and an excellent base to explore the magnificent surrounding areas.
You'll enjoy the beautiful surroundings in Rundu, with the majestic Popa Falls and the Mahango Game Reserve. Other popular activities include excellent game viewing, bird watching, as well as kayaking on the spectacular Kavango river.

Driving distance: 251 miles (404 km)

Day 11: Rundu – East Etosha National Park

Closeup of a Lilac Breasted Roller in Etosha National Park
Closeup of a Lilac Breasted Roller in Etosha National Park

It's time to rise early once again and drive south towards Etosha National Park. This way, you'll arrive in the early afternoon with enough time to enjoy some game drive activities. Announced as Namibia’s first conservation area in 1907 by the German government at the time, it is one of the most accessible and most significant game reserves in Africa.

Consisting of saline desert, savannah, and woodland, its ultimate feature is the Etosha Pan—a large endorheic salt pan. The pan is a protected sanctuary in the Kalahari Basin lowland in northwestern Namibia, covering over 965 mi2 (2.5 million km² ) land and most of Botswana. 
Here, you'll find open plains scattered with semi-arid savannah grasslands dotted with watering holes and secluded bush camps.The salt pan makes up a large part of the eastern side of the park and is even visible from space.
You'll find that the area is abundant with wildlife, hosting lions, elephants, black rhinos, and giraffes and a vast variety of birdlife featuring flamingos, ostriches, eagles, hornbills, and owls.

Driving distance: 487 miles (463 km)

Day 12: Etosha National Park full day Game Drive & Etosha Salt Pans

Group of animals relaxing in Etosha National Park
Group of animals relaxing in Etosha National Park

Today, a full day’s worth of game driving awaits you. You'll leave early to enjoy the fresh morning air, before making your way to Halali Camp, situated in the middle of the Etosha National Park. By noon, you can enjoy lunch at Halali and visit the surroundings of Halali before continuing driving to the Okaukuejo.

After your evening meal, there are still more chances to see Etosha’s big game at a floodlit waterhole, situated on the boundary of our camp and easily reachable within a minute or two on foot. The waterhole has been described as one of the best game viewing opportunities in Southern Africa and the ideal venue to witness peculiar animal politics. 

Located just south of the boundary of Etosha National Park in northwestern Namibia, Etosha South makes up the southern region of this wild paradise. Ongava Private Game Reserve shares the south border with Etosha National Park and offers an array of luxury lodges overlooking picturesque landscapes dotted with abundant wildlife.

The national park can be accessed via the southern entrance at Andersson’s Gate. Visitors can catch a glimpse of a variety of wildlife, including lion, giraffe, elephant, white and black rhino, and a multitude of plains game. Popular activities include game drives, tracking rhinos on foot, guided nature walks, or watch the sunset over this magnificent landscape.

Years ago, Etosha Pan was the bed of a vast lake; today, what remains is a glittering, silvery-green salt pan that stretches across roughly 1930 mi2 (5000 km2). Etosha is protected by the Etosha Pan National Park, surrounded by savannah plains and woodlands supporting vast herds of elephants.

When dry, the pan sustains little life except for the algae that give it its distinctive color, and migratory birds that use it as a pit stop. With heavy rain, it then becomes a shallow lake where flamingos breed, pelicans wade and feed, and a variety of mammal species come to quench their thirst, including leopards, lions, white rhinos, hunting dogs and antelopes.

Day 13: Etosha Park - Okonjima Nature Reserve & Wild Cat Safari

Close-up of a Cheetah in Okonjima, Namibia
Close-up of a Cheetah in Okonjima, Namibia

It's time for one more morning game drive before you leave Etosha, but this will not be the only one today. After the game drive, head to Okonjima and the well-known Okonjima Nature Reserve for a unique safari experience. The reserve lies midway between Etosha National Park and Windhoek, and you should aim to arrive in the mid-afternoon.

The Okonjima Nature Reserve is home to AfriCAT, a carnivore sanctuary, which gives the captive cats a chance to be released back into the wild and become completely independent hunters in a protected area. It centers its operations around the African Wild Cats, particularly the cheetah.
Enjoy thrilling off-road night drives, cat tracking guided safaris, leopard-spotting, and learn about local San culture along the Bushmen trail. If you want more time for these activities, skip the morning game drive in Etosha and begin your trip after breakfast instead. 

Driving distance: 157 miles (253 km)

Day 14: Okonjima - Greater Windhoek - Na'an Ku se

Wild Lion in N/a’an ku sê Wildlife Sanctuary
Wild Lion in N/a’an Ku sê Wildlife Sanctuary 

It's time for more personal interaction with Africa's Wild Cats. This morning, enjoy a tour where you'll get to meet and get a close-up with some of the cheetahs that are going through the African rehabilitation program. After the tour, return to Windhoek, via Okahandja where you can stopover at the Wooden Craft Market before driving to the N/a’an Ku sê Wildlife Sanctuary located just a twenty-minute drive from Windhoek. 

The landscape of the Greater Windhoek area surrounding this bustling city is characterized by vast valleys, thick scrub, rocky hills, and covered in golden savannah. Explore the dry river beds and mountainous scrublands, as well as enjoy birding, leopard-spotting, and view large quantities of wildlife in the north.
Then, visit the more arid eastern part with its olive, potato, and date plantations, and explore the Khomas Hochland Mountains in the west of the Greater Windhoek area. Soak up the epic views along with several scenic passes leading off the high plateau, including Bosua Pass, Gamsberg Pass, and Spreetshoogte Pass.
Driving distance: 218 miles (351 km)

Day 15: Depart Namibia

Dramatic sunset above Christchurch in Windhoek
Dramatic sunset above Christchurch in Windhoek

Depending on your flight departure time, you can still do some optional activities in the morning. Depart from the lodge and continue to the Airport in time for checking in for your flight back home.

Written by Christine Thirion, updated Feb 18, 2021