The expelled Libyan ambassador has left Zimbabwe by car, meeting a 72-hour deadline set for his departure, the southern African's foreign ministry said Friday.
Ministry official Joey Bimha said Ambassador Taher al-Megrahi informed Zimbabwe authorities that he planned to drive from Harare.
A Zimbabwean embassy staff member said Friday that Libyan diplomats left Thursday in a five-car convoy headed for neighboring Botswana, a trip of about 300 miles (480 kilometers).
He said al-Megrahi received a call from his counterpart in Botswana guaranteeing him refuge there.
South African officials said the Libyans had been granted transit permits through the Johannesburg airport but evidently chose not to fly.
Libyan diplomats were ordered to leave after they swore allegiance to the rebel-led National Transitional Council in Libya that Zimbabwe does not recognize.
They are believed to be the first Libyan diplomats to be deported for defecting.
The expulsion has divided the already fragile coalition between longtime ruler President Robert Mugabe and the former opposition of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change has welcomed reforms in North Africa this year while Mugabe has cracked down on public debate on the Arab Spring that toppled longtime rulers. Rights activists have been charged for inciting violence in an Egypt-style uprising and still await trial.
Tsvangirai told reporters in Ivory Coast on Thursday that the Libyan embassy was being closed in Zimbabwe, but he opposed the measure.
"My position is it is not up to Zimbabwe to decide what the sovereign right is of the Libyans. It is up to the Libyans to choose their representatives," he said.
Mugabe once had close ties with Moammar Gadhafi but relations soured over a gasoline deal when the southern African nation faced acute fuel shortages in 2004.
The Libyan leader offered a goodwill shipment of fuel but Zimbabwe was later unable to pay for subsequent deliveries and reportedly owed Gadhafi $360 million.
Last year, Gadhafi's son Saadi visited Zimbabwe promising much needed investment in agriculture, textiles, mining and tourism but little was forthcoming.
In 2002, his father traveled through Zimbabwe and it later emerged Libya took a 14 percent stake, worth about $12 million, in the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe in which the government also owned shares.
Relations between Mugabe and Gadhafi chilled further when Libya restored relations with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Mugabe's harshest Western critics.
But Mugabe last month called the North Atlantic Treaty Organization a "terrorist" group for its air strikes in Libya.
After their defection in Harare, Libyan officials said they planned to investigate the extent of local investments that appeared to benefit only Gadhafi and his family.
High profile Libyan business activities have not been apparent in Zimbabwe for more than a decade.