Instead of driving for 14 hours a day trying to get through South Africa’s borders to Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, try to break your trip up: experience somewhere new and make it an adventure! There is so much to offer in South Africa and so many new places to explore. After all, it’s the stories of exciting adventures that matter at the end of the day. Here, we have selected some of our favourite destinations to spend a night or two en-route to other Southern African destinations.
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Travelling to or from South Africa to Namibia
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If you are travelling to Namibia, the Kalahari is a great place to overnight for one or two nights. Kalahari Trails offers great value-for-money camping and self-catering accommodation, and is ideally located 35km from the Kgalagadi’s main entrance gate.
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The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is a great place to stop over as travellers can now enter Namibia, Botswana and South Africa through the park, providing they overnight in the park. There are numerous accommodation options, ranging from camping in fenced-in camps to staying in remote, wild, open camps such as Bitterpan and the Kalahari Tented Camp. Typical national park-style self-catering chalets and camping facilities are available in the main camps of Twee Rivieren, Mata Mata and Nossob. With its strong San (Bushmen) connection, the community owned !Xaus Lodge provides fully-catered accommodation in the heart of the park.
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Just around the corner from the Kgalagadi is the majestic Augrabies Falls in the Augrabies Falls National Park, which is a must-see. South Africa’s major river system, the Orange River, tumbles through a narrow gorge, emitting an incredible roar and highlighting nature’s pure raw power.
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Those driving up via the West Coast of South Africa will not be disappointed by the unique /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park and the Great Fish River canyon. This desolate landscape hosts a surprisingly high density of wildlife and plant life adapted to the harsh terrain. There are several quiet campsites within the park as well as guest huts and cottages.
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Travelling to or from South Africa to Botswana
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Mapungubwe National Park lies at the junction of the Shashe and Limpopo Rivers where Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe all meet. A great place to spend anything from a night to a week, it offers fantastic game viewing, brilliant birding and a host of other activities, including cultural tours, a museum, a forest canopy walk, a 4 x 4 trail and the list goes on…
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For those looking to get through the border on day one, just over the Limpopo River lies the Northern Tuli Game Reserve, a conservancy of privately owned game farms. The Tuli Block is accessed through two very quiet and easy border crossings, one of which is the famous Pontdrift, where vehicles are left on the South African side of the border and people are ferried across the Limpopo River via a cable car. The area is famous for its ancient Baobab-silhouetted landscapes, large herds of elephant and superb predator activity. Accommodation here is also well-priced and provides good value for money. Try Wild at Tuli, which offers self-catering and full board accommodation options on a beautiful little rustic island camp in the Limpopo.
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If you’re travelling to Gaborone, the Madikwe Game Reserve is situated very close to the border and within an hour’s drive of Gaborone. There are a number of luxury camps in which one can stay, so if you’re heading up to Gaborone for business or to visit friends, spend a night or two getting pampered and enjoying some top quality game viewing at Madikwe.
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Travelling to or from South Africa to Zimbabwe
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Mapungubwe is located where Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa meet- it is also a great overnight destination for those looking to travel up to Zimbabwe. Avoid the crowds by crossing through the Beitbridge border post early the next morning (which is a picturesque 100km drive away).
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Alternatively, one can overnight in the Marakele National Park, which is located in the Waterberg, only a 3 hours drive from Johannesburg and Pretoria. Although more popular as a weekend destination, Marakele can be used as an early stop over point for those looking to leave Johannesburg or Pretoria in the late afternoon, or for those travelling up to Zimbabwe from the Cape and Kwa-Zulu Natal provinces. First class camping facilities are available at Bontle Campsite. Situated on the water’s edge, the delightful tented self-catering Tlopi Tented Camp can be booked in the park. For those happy to splash out one of our favourite malaria-free luxury safari destinations, Marataba Safari Camp is located on a private concession within the park.
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Travelling to or from South Africa to Mozambique
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If you are planning on travelling to Mozambique to the idyllic palm tree fringed coastal destinations of Inhambane, Tofu, Xai Xai, Pemba, Vilanculos and the Bazaruto Archipelago (link to reserve page – to be created for & Beyond), Mozambique has some of the world’s most pristine beaches and coral reef systems that offer the best in scuba-diving, snorkelling, fishing and boating activities.
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Mozambique via the
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If you’re planning a self-drive trip up to Mozambique, try travelling through the Kruger National Park via the Giriyondo border post in the central Kruger National Park. In order to use this border, you need to overnight either in the Kruger (South African side) or in the Limpopo National Park (Mozambique side). That way you get some bush time along with the beach time. Letaba is the most convenient camp to overnight in, but other camps in the central region of Kruger include Mopani, Olifants and Shingwedzi. If you would like to stay on the Mozambique side of the park, The Limpopo National Park, get in touch with us to find out more.
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Ponta D’Ouro and Ponta Malongane (southern Mozambique) – Heading to Ponta D’Ouro or Ponta Malongane in southern Mozambique? You won’t be disappointed by what’s on offer in the Maputaland region of northern Kwa-Zulu Natal. There are a plethora of safari destinations offering a wide variety of activities. Try a spot of Tiger Fishing and boat based game-viewing in Lake Jozini, or stay over in the Pongola Game Reserve. If you are travelling as a couple, two of the Safari Index’s most romantic destinations are Thonga Beach Lodge, situated on the Maputaland coast, and the intimate Kosi Forest Lodge, tucked away in the Kosi Forest Reserve. Rocktail Bay Beach Camp is great for those travelling with families. There are some great luxury lodges en route from Johannesburg, such as Mkhuze Falls and Amakhosi, both fairly close to Pongola and Hluhluwe.
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Mozambique via the Komatipoort border post – If you are travelling through Komatipoort, either to or via Maputo to Mozambique’s popular beach destinations such as Inhaca Island, Xai Xai, Bilene, Tofu, Barra Lodge or Inhambane, the southern Kruger has some great camps that are easily accessible from the Highway, with great game viewing to be expected. The most easily accessible camps are Crocodile Bridge, Malelane and Berg-en-Dal. The Lower Sabie and Pretoriouskop camps are located a short drive into the park, but are also close enough to the Kruger’s southern border to overnight at. Komati River Chalets is another great stopover destination on this route, providing comfortable, affordable accommodation.
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Safari Index manages bookings in both private reserves and in the South African National Parks, which gives you peace of mind and quality assurance. If you are looking for advice on finding somewhere to stay, what to do and why, then get in touch with one of our safari travel experts by emailing us on bookings@safari-index.com, or use the Drongo © Search tool on the website to find your perfect safari destination.

So get off the main highways and away from all the trucks and traffic, and start exploring those lesser known parts of this amazing continent. Good travels. Good times.