botswana

Situated in the heart of Southern Africa, Botswana is undoubtedly one of Africa's greatest wildlife destinations. The splendid waterways of the Okavango Delta and the abundance of wildlife roaming through the Chobe National Park make Botswana an extremely appealing destination. Some of the very best safari experiences take place here, with alternative methods of transport including boats, mokoros and walking safaris. A multitude of animals and birds thrive on the lush floodplains and crystal clear streams and lagoons of the Okavango Delta. There are several must visit areas including the Kalahari sand dunes, each offering a different environment.

Ideally located in the north of Botswana, Chobe National Park has one of the greatest concentrations of game found on the continent. The Chobe River, bordering the park, provides ideal game viewing by boat.

Situated directly between Maun and Francistown. Makgadikgadi Pans are the remains of an ancient lake, now glistening with salt as a result of the evaporation of the water. Wildlife can be seen congregating along the river shortly after the rains have arrived.

One of the most popular safari destinations in Botswana, the Okavango Delta is a vast oasis atop the sands of the Kalahari Desert. Its palm islands, lagoons and grass floodplains are home to a vast amount of wildlife.

A two-night safari on the banks of the Chobe River, with a choice of two fantastic lodges.

This 6-night safari is packed full of excitement, beautiful scenery, amazing wildlife and delightful accommodation.

This superb ten-night safari takes you on a journey of discovery of Botswana's northern highlights - Chobe National Park, Savute, Moremi Game Reserve and Makgadikgadi Pans, and includes the magnificent Victoria Falls.

Retrace the footsteps of early European explorers as you rediscover some of the natural wonders of Botswana and witness the mighty Victoria Falls, just as Livingstone did over 150 years ago.

This six-night safari starts at Victoria Falls and ends at Maun airport. It departs on any day of the week and can easily be amended to your exact requirements. It can also be combined with a wide variety of other Southern Africa destinations.

This four-night safari showcases the very best of the Okavango Delta and is available on any day of the week. We have suggested that you visit two separate lodges in the Delta, as the experiences and game opportunities offered are different.

This superb eight-night safari will enchant and delight you. Visit Victoria Falls, where along with the spectacular Falls, there is a host of activities for all to enjoy.

Three rivers which have created spectacular sights and wonderful wildlife experiences.

Map

Mainly temperate. Summer, between October and April, can be very hot, but daytime temperatures typically hover around 30C (86F). The rainy season lasts from January to March. Winter, from May to September, brings cooler weather with an average temperature of 25C (77F); early mornings and evenings may be cold and frosty, particularly in the Kalahari. The average annual rainfall decreases westwards and southwards. Loose, natural fabrics are recommended, with wet-weather gear and warmer clothes according to the season and area visiting.
PassportPassport RequiredVisa RequiredReturn Ticket
Required
British Yes No Yes
Australian Yes No Yes
Canadian Yes No Yes
USA Yes No Yes
Other EU Yes No Yes

To enter Botswana, a passport valid for at least six months is required by all nationals referred to in the chart above. Outgoing travel documents and sufficient funds are also required. Visas are not required by all nationals referred to in the chart above for staysin Botswanaof up to 90 days. Visas are also not required by transit passengers, provided they are continuing their journey by the same or first connecting aircraft, and do not leave the airport. Nationals not referred to in the chart above are advised to contact the high commission/embassy to check visa requirements. Those nationals who do require a visa for Botswana must include a copy of their travel itinerary with their application, along with a letter of support from their intended host and return visa or residence permit from his/her country of residence. Visitor visa: US$107. Up to 90 days. Consulate (or consular section at embassy or high commission). Allow 21 working days for visa processing. If you wish to extend your stay beyond 90 days, you must apply to the regional immigration office at least 14 days before your current 90-day period ends, with a letter stating a valid reason for your request.

Health PrecausionSpecial PrecautionCertificate
Malaria Yes
Rabies Sometimes
Diphtheria Sometimes
Yellow Fever No*
Hepatitis A Yes
Typhoid Yes
Tetanus Yes
The dust and heat may cause problems for some people. Visitors should use sun protection, especially due to Botswana's high altitude. The public health system is good. All main towns have chemists, and pharmaceutical supplies are readily available. Health insurance is essential. * A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from all travellers over one year of age travelling from infected areas.
Country Code: . There are very few public phone boxes. Roaming agreements exist with international mobile phone companies. Coverage is average. Available in large cities and resorts. There are claims that there are government limits on ability to broadcast freely but, overall, Botswana welcomes public debate and freedom of expression, as its constitution dictates. State-run television did not appear until 2000 and radio still has more dominance as a medium. Printed media are mostly limited to major cities and towns. There are post offices in all towns and the larger villages. Airmail service to Europe takes from one to three weeks.

Mon-Fri 0815-1245 and 1400-1600; Sat 0800-1100. The daily newspaper is the Dikgang tsa Gompieno (Daily News), published in Setswana and English.
Other English-language newspapers include The Botswana Gazette (website: www.gazettebw.com), The Botswana Guardian (website: www.botswanaguardian.co.bw), The Midweek Sun (website: www.midweeksun.co.bw) and Mmegi (website: www.mmegi.bw). Radio Botswana (89.9FM) is state run and broadcasts in both English and Setswana; it also operates commercial Radio Botswana 2 (103.0FM).
Gabz FM and Ya Rona FM (106.6FM) are both privately run.
Safari lodges and camps serve international-style cuisine, generally of an extremely high standard, along with local beer and imported wine and spirits. Good restaurants and bars can be found in main towns, often within hotels. Beef and goat are very popular meats. Elsewhere, food is more basic: millet and sorghum porridge are the local staples.

National specialities:

Morama (an underground tuber).
The Kalahari truffle.
Mopane worms (grubs, served boiled, cooked or deep-fried).
Beans such as cow peas, ditloo(jugo beans)and letlhodi (china beans), dried bean leaves, plus nuts like peanuts and groundnuts.
Morogo (wild spinach) is very tasty.

National drinks:

Palm wine (which is extremely strong) and Kgadi (made from distilled sugar or fungus).
Traditional beer such as bojalwa, which tastes a bit like apple cider.
Homemade ginger beer is popular.
Bush tea (or rooibos) is a reddish caffeine-free tea that is soothing and delicious, although something of an acquired taste.

Legal drinking age: 18.

Tipping: A discretionary 5 to 10%. In many places, a service charge is automatically added. It is customary to tip the game guide and lodge staff while on safari. Most people get up early in the morning, and even in the capital, Gaborone, nightlife is not very extensive. It's limited to a few bars and restaurants, a cinema and a cultural centre which stages theatrical productions. Some bars host live music sessions at weekends. Despite its steady tourist traffic, Maun is even sleepier, with just a handful of restaurants, a small cinema and a clutch of places to grab a cold beer. Woodcarvings, handcrafted jewellery, textiles and attractive basketry are recommended. The Okavango Delta villages of Etsha and Shorobe are particularly famous for Ngamiland-style baskets. Modern Bushman art and ostrich-eggshell jewellery can be browsed and purchased at D'Kar, 40km (25 miles) north of Ghanzi. There also occasional exhibitions at the National Museum in Gaborone.

Shopping hours: Mon-Fri 0800-1800, Sat 0830-1300.
Pula (BWP; symbol P) = 100 thebe. Notes are in denominations of P100, 50, 20 and 10. Coins are in denominations of P5, 2 and 1, and 50, 25, 10 and 5 thebe. Money should be exchanged in banks at market rates. The main commercial banks include Bank of Baroda, Barclays Bank of Botswana, First National Bank, Stanbic Bank Botswana and Standard Chartered Bank with branches in major towns and villages. Owing to limited facilities in small villages, it is advisable to change money at the airport or in major towns, where credit card cash advances may also be available. There are also bureaux de changes at major border posts. Safari lodges accept payment in US dollars. American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa are widely accepted. ATMs are available in most larger cities and towns. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers are advised to take traveller's cheques in US Dollars or Pounds Sterling. Traveller's cheques are accepted in large cities but with a high surcharge. There are no restrictions on the import of local or foreign currencies, provided declared on arrival. Export of local currency is limited to P50 and foreign currencies up to the amount declared on arrival. Banks open 0800 and 0900, Mon-Sat, closing between 1615 and 1715 on weekdays and 1045 and 1200 on Saturdays.
1.00 GBP = 14.45 BWP
1.00 USD = 9.22 BWP
1.00 EUR = 11.45 BWP
1.00 CAD = 8.19 BWP
Currency conversion rates as of 26 November 2014
The following goods may be imported into Botswana without incurring customs duty: 200 cigarettes and 20 cigars and 250g of tobacco.
2L of wine and 1L of spirits.
50ml of perfume and 250ml of eau de toilette.
Goods up to the value of R500 (South African Rand) from within the SACU zone (Lesotho, Namibia, South AfricaandSwaziland) and to the value of R3,000 from outside the zone. Prohibited imports include firearms and ammunition, narcotics and pornography. You may bring in small amounts of fresh food, but you require an import licence for larger amounts. Note that the import regulations on importing meat change regularly according to disease outbreaks in different countries.
Below are listed Public Holidays for the January 2014-December 2015 period.
2014
1 Jan New Year's Day
18 Apr Good Friday
21 Apr Easter Monday
1 May Labour Day
29 May Ascension Day
1 Jul Sir Seretse Khama Day
21 Jul President's Day
30 Sep Botswana Day
25 Dec Christmas Day

2015
1 Jan New Year's Day
3 Apr Good Friday
6 Apr Easter Monday
1 May Labour Day
14 May Ascension Day
1 Jul Sir Seretse Khama Day
20 Jul President's Day
30 Sep Botswana Day
25 Dec Christmas Day
Central southern Africa. 581,730 sq km (224,607 sq miles). 2,127,825 (2013). 3.7 per sq km. Gaborone. Parliamentary republic. Independent from the UK since 1966. Botswana is landlocked, bordered to the south and east by South Africa, to the northeast by Zimbabwe and to the north and west by Namibia. It also touches Zambia just west of the Victoria Falls. The tableland of the Kalahari Desert covers the centre and south. The principal wildlife areas are the Okavango Delta to the northwest, the largest inland delta in the world, which includes the Moremi Game Reserve; Chobe National Park in the north, including Savute and the Linyanti Marshes; and Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park in the far southwest, co-managed with South Africa.

The majority of the population lives in the southeast around Gaborone, Serowe and Kanye along the South African border. The vast arid sandveld of the Kalahari occupies much of central and western Botswana. The seasonal rains bring a considerable difference to the vegetation, especially in the Makgadikgadi Pans and the Okavango Delta. English is the official language. Setswana is the national language, with minorities speaking Kalanga and Sekgalagadi. Christianity, Roman Catholic and indigenous beliefs. There are numerous small Zionist and Apostolic churches in rural villages, as well as United Reformed (Congregational and Methodist), Dutch Reformed, Lutheran, Methodist and Anglican churches, and predominantly expatriate Muslim, Quaker, Hindu and Bahai congregations in major towns. GMT + 2. As most people in Botswana follow their traditional pattern of life, visitors should be sensitive to customs which will inevitably be unfamiliar to them. Outside urban areas and safari destinations, people may well not be used to visitors. Casual clothing is acceptable and, in urban centres, normal courtesies should be observed.

Photography: Airports, official residences and defence establishments should not be photographed. Permission should be obtained to photograph local people.
220-240 volts AC, 50Hz. 15- and 13-amp plug sockets are in use. Plugs used are British-style with two flat blades and one flat grounding blade, or South African/Indian-style with two circular metal pins above a large circular grounding pin. President Seretse Khama Ian Khama since 2008. President Seretse Khama Ian Khama since 2008. The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has dominated the country's politics since it gained independence. At the most recent general election, in 2004, Festus Mogae won a new five-year term by a landslide majority. He retired in 2008, handing over to his vice-president, Ian Khama. The main opposition party is the Botswana National Front (BNF).

Botswana has benefited both politically and economically from the advent of democratic government in South Africa. The government's main domestic priority is to tackle the HIV/AIDS pandemic; it also has to deal with thousands of refugees from neighbouring Zimbabwe, and the controversial issue of land rights for indigenous Bushmen.

Top Itineraries

Botswana Focus

This superb eight-night safari will enchant and delight you. Visit Victoria Falls, where along with the spectacular Falls, there is a host of activities for all to enjoy.

Northern Parks Safari

Retrace the footsteps of early European explorers as you rediscover some of the natural wonders of Botswana and witness the mighty Victoria Falls, just as Livingstone did over 150 years ago.

Three Rivers Safari

Three rivers which have created spectacular sights and wonderful wildlife experiences.