Camping in Botswana is the best way to experience the remote wilderness of the National Parks. Read on to discover the best sites and how to book.
Map of Campsites in Botswana
Tips for Camping in Botswana
- Make camping reservations as far in advance as possible.
- It can be both very hot in the day and very cold at night (especially in the desert in winter)
- Campsites in Botswana are not fenced – any children must be very closely supervised at all times
- The Tracks4Africa Botswana Map* is the best road map of the country and an essential planning guide
- Make sure to keep a tidy campsite so you don’t attract baboons or hyenas
- You can’t go to the toilet in the middle of the night – reduce liquid consumption in the evening if needed
- While camping you’ll have lots of downtime, so check out the best books to read while in Botswana.
- We went on a 45-day road trip around Botswana which you can read more about in my book*.
Camping in Botswana and driving with your own 4×4 through the parks is an amazing, adventurous way to explore the country. Here we describe what camping in Botswana is like, how to book campsites and the best camping spots in Botswana. We have a separate article about How to Organise your Self-Drive Safari in Botswana, which includes suggested itineraries and safety tips.
We also have articles about all the National Parks in Botswana that you’ll find in the links on this page, an overview article about the National Parks, a general article about Safaris in Botswana, and a list of Gear Needed for a Camping Safari in Botswana. You can also read about our 45-day Road Trip through Botswana.
What are campsites in Botswana like?
There are three main types of campsites in Botswana: 1) Campsites in the Northern Parks, 2) Campsites in the Southern Parks and 3) Campsites outside of Game Parks.
Campsites in the Northern National Parks of Botswana
In the northern parks, the campsites contain ten or so sites that are all quite close together, though often still a bit private. Additionally, the campsites have one or two shared ablution blocks with flush toilets, hot showers and running water. Don’t trust this water for drinking – preferably bring your own, or boil the water before use.
Campsites in the Southern National Parks of Botswana
These include all the sites in Mabuasehube, Khutse, Central Kalahari and the two smaller campsites in Makgadigadi Pans and Nxai Pan. In the southern desert parks the campsites are often individually located, with several hundred metres, or even kilometres, from one site to the next. This can be the case even if the sites have the same name. This makes the sites very private and you often feel like you’re the only one in the park.
Most of these sites also have their own long-drop toilet and bucket shower and in Mabuasehube the campsites have wooden A-frames for shade. There is no water at these individual campsites, and basically no water at all in any of the three big desert parks – Mabuasehube, Khutse and Central Kalahari so you must bring your own.
Campsites outside the National Parks and Game Reserves
Outside of the national parks and game reserves there are also camping options. Most campsites are attached to a lodge and have standard shared ablutions. Campers can normally also make use of the lodge restaurant/bar and pool facilities if available. Many lodges with camping, especially in Maun and Kasane, have WiFi and can organise activities such as Mokoro trips or River Cruises.
How to Book Campsites in Botswana
If you want to book campsites yourself in Botswana there are several steps, most of which need to be done over the phone. You should start the process at least several months if not a year in advance. We ended up booking all our campsites in Botswana via Botswana Footprints. We decided to go to Botswana very last minute, but they were very efficient and professional, their fee was surprisingly low, and it saved us a lot of hassle. As well as booking the campsites they also paid our park conservation fees and made sure we got all the correct vouchers before we left on our trip.
Booking Campsites in Botswana Yourself
- First work out your self-drive schedule including which campsites you want to stay in and when. You can include specific campsite numbers if you have a preference. Write it down.
- Also have an idea of backup campsites if your first preferences are fully booked. If you don’t book far in advance you may have to significantly rearrange your schedule. Write down your alternative campsites too.
- Start ringing the different people that manage the campsites you are interested in. Some companies also have an email address so you can email them with your preferred dates and campsites. Start first with the campsites that might be busiest – these tend to be those in the northern national parks. Savuti in particular is an important campsite because there’s nothing else remotely nearby.
- You may have to ring around several times or email back and forth if your first preferences are booked to check which campsites are free and when.
- When you have provisional bookings that work out at all the campsites you can go ahead and pay for them.
- Work out how many days you are staying in each National Park – if you camp one night that’s two days in the park. Write this down.
- Phone or email DWNP to pay for park fees, telling them how many days you are spending in each National Park.
- Pay your National Park fees.
- You should then receive confirmation back from the campsites you have booked and confirmation from DWNP that you have paid your park fees.
- Almost certainly you’ll need to follow up on the campsite vouchers that you didn’t receive yet.
Contact Details for Campsite Bookings in Botswana National Parks
Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP)
DWNP manage a few sites in Mabuasehube, CKGR and Tree Island in Makgadikgadi. Their sites are the cheapest and there is no difference in facilities with the privately-manged sites. You also have to contact DWNP to pay park fees in advance.
DWNP Contact Details: Botswana Parks and Reserves Reservation Office, +267 397 1405 or +267 318 0774, [email protected] Office hours 07:30-16:3, closed weekends.
Southern Desert Parks
Big Foot Tours manages all the campsites in Khutse and some in CKGR. Intertourism Group manages some campsites in Mabuasehube.
Intertourism Group: +267 715 5 7665 or +267 391 0848 or +267 350 0999 or +267 71 116 090, [email protected] or [email protected] or [email protected] Try contacting them on facebook or their (broken?) website.
Northern Parks & Salt Pans
Xomae Group manages the two campsites in Nxai Pan, Third Bridge and Savuti Campsite. SKL Group manages the Khumaga Campsite in Makgadikgadi, Linyanti and Khwai North Gate. Kwalate Safaris manages Ihaha, Xakanaxa and South Gate Campsites.
Kwalate Safaris: +267 686 5551, +267 686 1448, +267 71 308 283, +267 71 307 435, [email protected] Their location in Maun: Above FNB, New Mall, Maun. Their office hours are 8:00am- 4:30pm Mon-Fri and 8:00am – 2:00pm Sat. Visit their rather basic website.
Khwai Community Concession
Khwai Safari Grounds: Email [email protected], phone +267 73 681 757
Camping Fees in Botswana
Camping fees in Botswana are on top of the Park Entrance Fees. In general children under 8 years are free and 8-16 years are half-price (sometimes only under 12s have reduced rates). In the tables below, all rates are given as per person per night.
Campsite Rates in the Northern Parks
All these sites have shared ablutions with flush toilets and hot showers. They are very popular, especially Third Bridge, Xakanaxa, Ihaha, Savuti and Linyanti, so book far in advance. Last-minute cancellations do occur so it is possible to try your luck at the gates.
|Chobe National Park||No. Sites||Company||Citizen||Resident||SADC||International|
|Ihaha (Chobe Riverfront)||10||Kwalate Safaris||P100||P125||P175||$40|
|Khwai Community Concession||No. Sites||Company||All Nationalities|
|Magotho (Khwai Community Camp)||15||Khwai Trust||P350|
|Khwai Safari Grounds||10||Khwai Safari Grounds||P350|
|Moremi Game Reserve||No. Sites||Company||Citizen||Resident||SADC||International|
|Third Bridge||9||Xomae Group||P80||P190||$30||$50|
|Third Bridge Tented Camp*||4||Xomae Group||P500||P650||$120||$120|
|South Gate||10||Kwalate Safaris||P100||P125||P175||$40|
|Khwai North Gate||10||SKL Camps||P100||P150||P215||$50|
Campsite Rates in the Pans Parks
|Makgadikgadi Pans NP||No. Sites||Company||Citizen||Resident||SADC||International|
|Khumaga Campsite||10||SKL Camps||P100||P150||P250||$50|
|Nxai Pan NP|
|South Camp||10||Xomae Group||P80||P145||$25||$38|
|Baines Baobabs *||3||Xomae Group||P80||P190||$30||$50|
Campsite Rates in the Desert Parks
All these sites are by themselves, with drop toilets and bucket showers (bring your own water). There is no electricity and you must be fully self-sufficient. Some sites are very remote. Sites are either managed by DWNP or by private companies (BigFoot Tours and InterTourism Group). There’s a large price difference but no real difference in facilities between them, though often the privately-managed campsites have better views.
DWNP campsite rates are P15/30/40 for citizens/residents & SADC/ international per person per night
BFT (BigFoot Tours) campsites rates are P88/190/250/350 for citizens/residents/SADC/international per person per night. Half-price for children under 16 and free for children under 8.
ITG (InterTourism Group) campsites rates are P75/180/385 for citizens/residents & SADC/international. Half-price for children under 8-17 and free for children under 8.
Campsites and who owns them
|Central Kalahari GR||No. Sites||Company|
|CKGR South||No. Sites||Company|
* The campsite at Xade Gate has a shared ablutions block with water (if elephants haven’t broken the pump)
|Khutse GR||No. Sites||Company|
** Matopi campsites are mainly used by those driving between Mabuasehube and the South African side of the park
Best Campsites in Botswana
My favourite campsite in Botswana was Mabuasehube 1, a campsite with no facilities but a great view in Mabuasehube. Special mentions go to Kubu Island Campsite for its fantastic location in the hills and rocks, and Tree Island Campsite in Makgadikgadi for its remoteness.
For more details of individual sites, see our articles about each of the National Parks:
Best Campsites in the Northern Parks of Botswana
In Moremi Game Reserve the best campsites are Third Bridge and Xakanaxa, both at the end of Moremi Tongue. These sites feel the wildest and have the most animals wandering through, as well as being near many tracks for game drives. Khwai North Gate is also a nice campsite, especially sites 8-10 by the river’s edge. South Gate feels the least wild and is furthest from the areas of high game concentrations, though there are still a few animals wandering through.
In Khwai there are three good camping options – Magotho Campsites, Khwai Safari Grounds and Mbudi. There’s not much to pick between them, though if you camp at Magotho specify that you want a riverside site to be next to the water.
In Chobe National Park there are only three campsites, each in the separate areas of Savuti, Linyanti and Chobe Riverfront (Ihaha Campsite), so by default these are the best campsites here. At Savuti campsite, the Paradise Site is the best (not sure why it has its own name), followed by the other sites along the (dry) river channel, Sites 1-4. In Chobe Riverfront, all the sites in Ihaha Campsite are along the river so all have nice views, though if you want more privacy Sites 1 and 10 are at either end so a bit quieter.
Best Campsites in the Salt Pans of Botswana
In Makgadikgadi Pans you can stay at Khumaga Campsite by the Boteti River or at Tree Island Campsite. Khumaga has 10 sites close to the river, but without any real views, and a shared ablutions block. Tree Island is much wilder and has just three sites with long-drop toilets and bucket showers. We stayed at Tree Island campsite and were the only people there. It was a lovely, remote and peaceful site and we heard lions roaring in the distance overnight.
In Nxai Pans there’s a similar choice between South Camp, with 10 sites close together and shared ablutions, or Baines Baobabs with three spread-out sites and no water. The best sites at South Camp are perhaps Site 1 because it’s quite private and Site 2 because it’s closest to the pans. There are more animals around South Camp, but the Baines Baobabs sites are very peaceful and remote, in the shadows of the evocative baobab trees.
Kubu Island has a fantastic campsite, one of the best campsites in Botswana, and the journey there is part of the fun. The landscape is unique and the sunsets are amazing, although there aren’t any wild animals. It does mean you can walk around up the small hills and over the rocks.
There are several good lodges with camping around the Salt Pans including Nata Lodge*, Planet Baobab* and Moriti Wa Selemo*. Elephant Sands Lodge*, 55 km north of Nata, is a fantastic place to stay because you camp around a large waterhole visited by elephants.
Best Campsites in the Southern Parks of Botswana
In Mabuasehube the best sites are around Mabuasehube and Mpayathutlwa Pans. We stayed at Mabuasehube 1 which is on top of a little slope so has amazing views over the pan, though it has zero facilities (no toilet, no shower, not even an A-frame). The two Mpayathutlwa Pans sites also have nice views. The sites at Bosobogolo are also nice, with Site 2 having the better view (but unlike Site 1 it has no toilet or shower). All the other sites are nice, the worst one is at the Entrance Gate because it’s not far into the park and you can hear noise from the gate, making it less wild.
In Khutse all the sites are fairly private apart from the 10 at Khutse Pan itself. However, outside the weekend you may be the only people camping there and it’s near the Khutse Pan Waterhole. Molose 1 site is a nice site, and the closest one to the Molose Waterhole, while Moreswe 2 has nice views over Morweswe Pan.
In the Central Kalahari there are many campsites, and some of the most remote camping sites in Botswana, all with their own long-drop toilet and bucket shower. The sites in Deception are closest together, there are six sites and they are all surrounded by bush so you don’t get any views. Site 1 is probably the best of the six for the most privacy. However, this campsite is close to Deception Valley with a high concentration of game. The Kori Campsites are nearby and are better because they’re in more open areas. Site 3 is the best because you get a bit of a view over the pans nearby. The Passarge Valley, Motopi and Piper Pan sites are all wonderfully remote and none of the other campsites are bad either.
Best Camping in Maun and Kasane
In Maun and Kasane the lodges with camping are all slightly similar. The lodges themselves normally have a restaurant, bar, pool and (often intermittent) WiFi, while the camping is located slightly away from the lodge, with its own decent ablutions. Additionally, the lodges can organise many activities nearby.
There are many lodges with camping in Maun, see our Maun article for more details. The best camping in Maun (in my opinion) is at Island Safari Lodge* because you stay on a little private nature reserve and can walk about in the bush, it doesn’t feel like you’re near a town at all. We stayed at Croc Camp* which is close to the centre and has a great bar overlooking the river. The campsites have their own private ablutions but no view, and it’s slightly expensive. The campsites at Sedia Riverside Hotel* are also nice because they’re close to the river and you can see quite a lot of birds.
There are a few lodges with camping in Kasane, see our Chobe National Park guide for more details. One of the best and most popular places to camp in Kasane is Chobe Safari Lodge*. A few of the sites have river views, and the lodge has a nice swimming pool plus two great bars overlooking the river. Additionally, warthog and bushbuck wander around the campsite and the lodge can organise many activities such as a river cruise. if you want more of a wilderness feel, Senyati Safari Camp* is 20 minutes out of town and has a waterhole visited by elephants and many other animals.
Self-Driving and Camping Gear Needed in Botswana
Gear for at the Campsite
- Braai wood – you can buy this at most supermarkets in Botswana and often at some of the biggest campsites.
- Headlamp* – essential for walking around in the dark and keeping your hands free.
- Flashlight* – a strong flashlight is useful for scanning around your campsite and seeing far-off wildlife in the dark. A red light disturbs the animals less. You can either get a flashlight with a red bulb or a white one with a red filter, though the latter are less powerful because they filter out some of the light.
- Camping Lanterns* – great to set out around your vehicle at night to give some bright light. We had two. Get rechargeable ones so you can recharge them during the day using your solar panels (see below).
- Handheld espresso maker* – if you need your coffee fix, you can make a decent espresso at the campsite with a bit of arm work. It works best with finely ground coffee, something available only in the main cities of Botswana (Maun, Kasane, Gaborone, Francistown). To be safe, bring your own finely ground coffee from home.
- Thermos Flask* – we often made a litre of tea, half to drink immediately and half for our thermos that we took with us on our game drives. It was a great idea for the chilly mornings and kept us going throughout the day. A narrow flask is more likely to fit into your car cup holders or side pockets.
- Travel First Aid Kit* – a basic first aid kit is very useful to have in the wild.
- Books set in Botswana – in the middle of the day you will often have time for relaxation back at your accommodation, whether at a campsite or lounging by the pool. Reading books set in Botswana is a great way to pass the time and learn more about the country.
Gear for Charging Items
- Solar Panels* – set these out when you’re back in camp to charge your lanterns, cameras, phones, Kindles, batteries and …
- Power Bank* – useful to charge your cameras or phones if for some reason you can’t set out your solar panels. You can also charge this up when somewhere with real electricity or while you drive along in the car.
- Car Charger* – depending on the age and model of your vehicle, you may need a USB converter to charge from the cigarette lighter.
- Car Power Inverter for Laptop* – with a power inverter you can charge your laptop from the second battery system of your car, either while stopped or while driving along. We used this quite a bit.
- Camera USB Charger* – I had a camera with a battery that charged via a real plug, so I bought a camera battery charger that worked via a USB instead. This meant I could charge via the solar panels or the car. Check carefully that the charger you get is compatible with your specific camera battery.
I hope you enjoyed our guide to Camping in Botswana. If after reading you’ve decided camping isn’t for you, luxury safari tours* are another way to explore the country. If you still want to camp, read more about Self-Drive Routes in Botswana or our 45-day road trip through Botswana, or check out our overall Guide to Botswana.
Guidebooks & Maps to Explore More of Botswana
The Lonely Planet Guidebook* covers all of Botswana, but not in much detail. The Bradt Guide* has a wealth of information and is great for planning a safari around northern Botswana, but doesn’t cover southern Botswana. The Tracks4Africa Map* is an essential item for driving around the country and its national parks. For more information, see our Best Botswana Guidebooks article.
We went on a self-drive safari in Botswana for two months in our trusty Defender. Find out more by reading the travel book I wrote, No Footprints in the Night: On Safari in Botswana*.
FAQS: Camping in Botswana
You are not allowed to camp just anywhere in Botswana, you should book an official camping spot. In National Parks, you definitely can only camp at the designated spots. If you do want to camp on an unofficial spot outside of the parks you should ask permission at the nearest village.