4x4 Self-Drive Safari: Botswana and Zimbabwe


Start Date

April 16, 2021

End Date

April 25, 2021




In September 2020, Bolt returns to Southern Africa for our a 4x4 safari across Botswana, with an additional visit to Zimbabwe and Victoria Falls. We’ll travel in a caravan of 4x4-equipped, rooftop-tented trucks. The vehicles will be self-driven (ie. you can drive some of the way) over rugged trails. The majority of time will be spent in Botswana, a country marked by incredible biodiversity and dramatic landscapes, from the vast Kalahari desert to the Okavango river delta and Chobe National Park, home to Africa’s largest concentration of elephants.

At the start of the trip, we’ll take a small propeller plane over the Delta for a birds eye view. Back on the ground, we’ll drive our 4x4 vehicles across challenging terrain, keeping keen eyes out for all of the Big 5: lions, elephants, rhinos and much more. A highly experienced guide will lead our group, unlocking the complex, interwoven web underlying these ecosystems. On this trip, the journey truly is the destination, because at any moment during our adventure you might experience the wildlife encounter of a lifetime.

This trip consists primarily of rooftop tent camping in the bush and at established campsites, with a couple of nights of lodge accommodation mixed in. Note that it is an adventurous trip, with creature comforts built in along the way. It is not luxury. We’ll gather in camp around a fire, enjoying delicious dinner before climbing into rooftop tents to fall asleep to lions roaring and elephants trumpeting. It’s important to understand this trip is different from a typical safari, as most days we’ll travel through reserves, camping amongst the Big 5. Conditions will vary as we make our away across Botswana.

This trip is fully participatory; you’ll be expected to help around dry wilderness campsites, which can include: setting up tents, building fire, assisting in the preparation, cooking, and cleanup of meals. There may be some aspects of camp life you can’t participate in, such as pitching rooftop tents; if that’s the case, it makes for a great opportunity to find other places to assist. Think of this aspect of the trip as team-building; your fellow members come together as a cohesive unit to make the adventure a success. 

One country, many landscapes

Almost 40% of Botswana is permanently preserved as National Park, Reserve, or wildlife management area, and much of it is unfenced, allowing the populations of wildlife unfettered trespass across massive ranges roaming wild and free. Throughout the country, one enjoys the feeling of moving through a nature wonderland.

In the bush, water is life, and the spots where H20 converges make for the most epic of wildlife encounters. Our expert guide will lead us to hidden locations, sharing his deep knowledge of flora and fauna. There are no calendar invites in Botswana but expect plenty of impromptu meetings with the Big 5 and much, much more, both as we drive through the various landscapes and from our campsite each evening.

Into the Wilds, How Wild They Are

From the Kalahari Desert’s vast expanse of sand in the west, to the eastern border with Zimbabwe and the Zambezi River’s cascading crash over Victoria Falls, the largest waterfall in the world, Botswana is filled with natural wonders we’ll camp in wilderness and established sites across the country. 

A 4x4 Adventure Means We’ll Be Off Road

Led by an expert guide piloting his own vehicle, Bolt members will drive trucks across varied landscapes (or hang back in the passenger seat, if you prefer). In some spots, distances will be short but the roads will be rugged, and we’ll stop to assess the situation frequently before proceeding. This is a perfect opportunity to learn the ins and outs of offroad driving, and you’ll have plenty of chances to drive through challenging terrain.

Wilderness Camping Across Botswana

For several nights, we’ll camp wild in the bush, unpacking and assembling the rooftop tents and equipment for a night in the wild. The area around camp is ripe for exploration, so stretch your legs and head out on a hike. Upon your return, it’s time to eat delicious food, listen to a bit of music, discuss the day’s sightings, and enjoy the unique connections that build over a week of exploring somewhere new with an intimate group of fellow travelers. Please note these are dry campsites and we’ll practice water conservation and wilderness travel best practices. Solar showers and dry bathrooms (read: a shaded, covered, private sit-on-top toilet perched over a hole dug in the ground) are available. If you have more questions here - just ask!

Sleeping Under the Stars

Each night after a hot meal and connections with fellow members, climb up into a rooftop tent atop one of our vehicles for a sleep session that could very well include the trumpeting of elephants, howling of a jackal, or even the roar of a lion in the distance. This is a uniquely intimate way to experience safari in Africa.

Exploring the Okavango: A Combination of African Ecosystems

A vast, totally unique stretch of Africa, the Okavango Delta is a meeting point of dramatic landscapes, created by seasonal flooding. Officially the 1000th site added to UNESCO’s World Heritage list in 2014, the Okavango is often called Africa’s last Eden. Grass plains and woodland forests intersect with lagoons and shallow water pans, creating a predator-rich environment where you can expect to see a truly diverse range of animals, from lion, elephant, cheetah and buffalo to wild dog, giraffe, hippo and much more. We’ll see it from above in a prop plane, then come back down to Earth for more in-depth discovery

The Savuti: A Taste of Wild Africa

The Savuti Game Reserve is set in an ancient lake bed. Millions of years of geologic activity have been at play here: where water once flowed openly from permanent rivers, tectonic activity cut access, and the area is now fed erratically by the Savuti Channel, which drops just 18 meters over 100 kilometers, and historically has remained dry for periods of up to 70 years. This fascinating region is home to a massively diverse range of animals.

A Trip into Zimbabwe and Victoria Falls

Midway through our trip we’ll cross the border into Zimbabwe for a visit to Victoria Falls, known to the indigenous Losi people as Mosi-oa-Tunya, or “the Smoke that Thunders.” This is the world’s largest waterfall, with it’s dramatic height and width combining to create the world’s most massive sheet of falling water. The Zambezi River is a sight to behold and we’ll have ample time to take in it’s majesty.

Sua Pan, Sunday Pan, and the Central Kalahari’s Deception Valley

In the beginning of the hot summer months before the rain, water is scarce, and animals are concentrated into the limited areas with opportunity for life-giving hydration. For our purposes, that means we know just where to go to find the more elusive game. This is a harsh, unforgiving climate, but one rewarded with views that extend as far as the eye can see, plus a night sky filled with a galaxy full of stars. This will be one of the most remote sections of camping on our trip and you will truly feel the solitude of Africa.

Activity Level:

Note the pace of this trip will be mixed, with quick starts and stops, time devoted to relaxation, extended driving (at times), and early starts to make the most of the day. Driving times per day will range from 2-5 hours in more extreme conditions, and our route and points mentioned above could change due to circumstance, road conditions, and weather. We’ll travel in a caravan, keeping the vehicles together at all times, staying in touch via radio comms and satellite phone.

Note: The trucks are manual (stick shift) transmissions and you’ll have to know how to drive a manual. Of course, everyone is welcome to ride along!

This 10 day Experience showcases the best of Botswana. Most flights to Maun transit through South Africa, and you’re encouraged to visit the Rainbow Nation if times allows, with beaches just coming into the summer months.

What’s Included:

  • your spot in one of our 4x4 vehicles - you’re welcome to drive some of the way, or ride along and enjoy the scenery.
  • Accommodation (double occupancy, ie, you’ll share a rooftop tent or chalet room with another Bolt member)
  • All food, including a mix of cooking off the grid, and stops in local restaurants along the way
  • All vehicle costs: gasoline, insurance, tolls, etc
  • Awesome free gear from our partners, for you to test and take home

Not included:

  • alcohol and soft drinks at restaurants or for camping
  • visas (to enter Botswana or Zimbabwe). US and EU citizens receive a visa to both countries upon entry, without prior paperwork needed.
  • accommodation in Maun before or after the official start of the safari

Getting There

This 10 day Experience showcases the best of Botswana. Most flights to Maun transit through South Africa, and you’re encouraged to visit the Rainbow Nation if times allows, with beaches just coming into the summer months.

Sample roundtrip flights to Maun, Botswana for ~$1,000:  NYC, LON, SF, LA.

Bolt's trips are only available to members of the community who have gone through our Discovery Process and invested in our community. Learn more:

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