Self-Drive Safari Destinations

Self-Drive Safari Destinations

Drive yourself around one of the many National Parks for a thrilling safari experience.

Self-Drive Safaris

Guide to self drive safaris across Southern and East Africa

The National Parks across Africa offer an unbeatable variety of wildlife and habitats to explore, an excellent infrastructure of roads and accommodation, and a feeling of huge, wide-open spaces – and you can experience all of this from the comfort of your own hire car. 

Self-drive is a wonderful experience - the thrill of driving along a road by yourself and coming across a pride of lions basking under a nearby tree, or waiting at a peaceful waterhole and having a sighting all to yourself is hard to beat.

South Africa

A self-drive safari can be enjoyed at numerous world-class National Parks across South Africa, such as the Kruger National Park, the Addo Elephant Park, Pilanesberg and Hluhluwe.


The Etosha National Park in northern Namibia is one of the undisputed highlights of the country, and is home to 4 of the Big 5 - lion, elephant, rhino and leopard.

driving in the national parks

Inside the Parks, there tends to be a good excellent infrastructure of roads, some of which are tarred, others gravel.  Signposts at road junctions help to make the driving experience easy and enjoyable.  Drivers must remain on the roads at all times, and are NOT allowed to drive off-road or get out of their vehicles, except at designated viewing points. 

Driving times within the Parks are also restricted to daylight hours only, so you can only enter the Park just after sunrise, and you must be off the Park roads by sunset. 

It is not always necessary to go to the expense of hiring a 4x4 hire car, unless you are travelling during one of the rainy seasons, in which case a 4x4 would be useful to splash through puddles without worrying about flooding your engine out. 

However, a 2WD vehicle with a high clearance might be worth the investment, as it gives you a few extra inches over the people in their VW Polos to see over bushes to search for the wildlife!

staying in the national parks

Within the National Parks, there will be accommodation options for self-drive visitors to stay at.  Some will be in the form of rest camps (such as in the Kruger National Park in South Africa), which offer simple, clean, air-conditioned chalets with limited self-catering and a braai/barbecue facility, and which are sold on a Room Only basis.

There is normally a restaurant at these camp as well as a store which sells basic provisions, so you can be totally self-sufficient if you want to be.  Some rest camps will offer package rates that will include breakfast or dinner, and some even offer packages that include a guided game drive too. 

The other accommodation option, such as in the Pilanesberg National Park in South Africa, will be in larger safari hotels or 'resorts'.  Typically here, the resort will have up to (or even more) 100 en-suite hotel rooms, and are sold with meals only included.   The hotel facilities generally include large self-service restaurants, bars, curio shop, swimming pools, some will have a spa room, and some will also have a Business Centre where you can catch up with friends and family on email.

If you are staying at one of the rest camps or safari resorts, there is also the option to go on a shared guided game drive with one of their guides if you wanted a rest from driving yourself – costs tend to be on a per person per drive basis.

ideal for families

Self-drive safaris are also ideal for safari goers with very young families, who want to share the safari experience with their children rather than leave them behind at a private lodge with a babysitter because they are too young to join the adult game drives.

self-driving in botswana, kenya, zambia and tanzania

Although you CAN do a self-drive safari in Botswana, Kenya, Zambia and Tanzania, because of the quality of the roads in these countries, and how bad the road conditions can get during the heavy rainy seasons, Travel Butlers do not wholly recommend this as an option.