Travel Information on Botswana
Luxury Safari Camps in Botswana
Little Mombo Camp
Kings Pool Camp
Vumbura Plains Camp
One of Africa's most stable democracies, Botswana is a land of wild beauty and stunning game reserves: from the subtropical wilderness of the Okavango Delta to Chobe National Park with its vast herds of elephant and the haunting, ethereal splendor of the Kalahari desert. Botswana contains the world's largest inland delta, the Okavango Delta. The Moremi Game Reserve in Botswana is one of the most beautiful wildlife parks in Africa.
Basic facts on travel to Botswana
Full Name: Republic of Botswana
Time: GMT +2 hours
Area: 600 370 km² (585 370 km² land; 15 000 km² water)
Currency: Pula (P)
President: President Festus Mogae (since April 1998)
Communication in Botswana:
Internet facilities are becoming more available in some of the main towns of Botswana.
A direct international dialing service is available from the major hotels and lodges in Kasane, Maun, Gaborone and Francistown. Major hotels and businesses have a fax service.
220/240 volts AC
Official language of Botswana is English, other languages include Tswana.
The Batswana are descendants of iron age immigrants from Central West Africa, the Basarwa are San, indigenous hunter gatherers, pre iron age and the Herero are pastoralists. About 80% of the population of Botswana are rural inhabitants.
Geography and Landscape:
Botswana is a flat, landlocked country, almost entirely covered by the Kalahari Desert. The Okavango River flows into the Okavango Delta. This northern basin is a rich, fertile region. The central and southern regions are arid sandveld and scrub savannah, with several salt pans. In the north-east lies Makgadikgadi, the largest salt pan in the world. The vegetation is generally dry, though seasonal rain greens it up, particularly around Makgadikgadi and the Okavango Delta.
Summer: November to April.
Summer in Botswana has very hot days, generally sunny in the morning with possible afternoon thunderstorms. Daytime temperatures can rise to 100ºF and night temperatures drop to around 68-77ºF. The afternoons can be very humid. Rainy season occurs in late October/November and ends in March. The northern areas receive up to 700mm while the Kalahari Desert area averages as low as 225mm.
Winter: May to October.
During winter, days are dry, sunny and cool while evening temperatures drop sharply. Daytime temperatures generally reach 68ºF and can drop to as low as 41ºF at night. Please note that exceptionally cold spells can occur, so it is important to bring appropriate clothing.
Best time to travel to Botswana:
Botswana is a year-round wildlife destination. However, there are certain seasons for special interest activities:
Best birding months are November to March, when the Okavango Delta is brimming with migratory birds.
Best botanical months are December to May, when the vegetation is lush and green, and also when most plants are in flower.
Peak season is from July to October and middle season is from May to June. Book well in advance.
WHAT TO PACK:
Generally, casual comfortable clothing is suitable throughout the year. The most practical items to pack for safari are:
* Shorts or a light skirt
* Jeans or safari trousers for evenings and cooler days
* Fleece or sweater and a windbreaker for game drives (necessary, even in summer)
* Comfortable walking shoes
* Sun block, sunglasses, hat, insect repellent - essentials!
* Binoculars and a camera are a must
* Tracksuit - good for sleeping in during winter months
* Light, compact raincoat is a good idea for the summer
* Swimsuit, as most hotels/lodges have swimming pools
* Towel, torch and sleeping bag for camping safaris (sleeping bags can be hired from most safari operators)
* Blouses with long sleeves (even in summer; they will protect you from the sun and from mosquitoes
* Layers are most practical for the fluctuating day/night temperatures of Botswana. Dull and/or neutral colors are more suitable for safari, white is not practical. It is best to pack hardy, durable clothing.
IMPORTANT: Packing space is limited on all modes of safari transport so you will need to restrict your baggage to 12-15kg (preferably packed in a soft bag) plus a reasonable amount of camera equipment.
Before entering Botswana, you will have to get malaria prophylactics. When buying them, tell your doctor or pharmacist that you intend visiting Botswana, as certain anti-malarials are tailored to particular areas. If you suffer from side effects, try taking your malaria prophylactics at night, after dinner. Take precautionary measures to prevent contact with mosquitoes, like: sleeping under a bed net or in a room/tent with mosquito proofing (remember to keep the flaps zipped at all times); spraying your accommodation with insecticide; making use of a mosquito-repelling lotion or stick and wearing long-sleeved clothing, long trousers and socks when outside at night.
Any person entering Botswana from or via a yellow fever infected area must be in possession of a valid International Certificate of Vaccination against yellow fever.
It is advisable to obtain medical insurance prior to arrival. Health care standards in Botswana are high, with excellent hospitals in Gaborone and Francistown. All main towns have well-stocked pharmacies, but it is recommended that you bring any medicines you may require with you.
We strongly recommend that you take out travel insurance, which includes curtailment and cancellation cover, as well as medical cover, upon confirming your booking.
Botswana is well-known for beautifully handcrafted baskets, which are both functional and ornamental. These can be purchased directly from the villages or from curio shops. Weavings and textiles are usually quite expensive, but one is guaranteed quality and a unique item. Original San (Bushman) jewelry and leatherwork, including miniature items (like bows and arrows) can be purchased. In the north-west, traditional dolls can be bought from the Herero people. These depict Herero women in the four stages of life (childhood, puberty, adulthood and old age), dressed in their distinctive costume, as well as their traditional clothing worn before European influence.
Photography in Botswana:
Film is available at most game lodges, but stocks are usually small and of the common sizes only. For game and bird photography, a telephoto lens of between 200 and 300mm is strongly recommended. Larger lenses which require a tripod are generally impractical for game photography from vehicles, as are double lens reflex cameras. A lens hood and ultra violet filter are advisable and a dust cover (plastic bag) is essential. Remember to bring spare batteries for your camera, as these are seldom available on safari. Binoculars are invaluable for bird and game viewing.
The unit of currency is the pula (P), which is divided into 100 thebe. Notes are in P5, P10, P20, P50 and P100. Coins are in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 (thebe) and P1 & P2. (Pula also means rain or greeting in Tswana.)
Most visitors will find the exchange rate is in their favor. Generally, you will find that fine cuisine, wine, and entertainment cost a fraction of the tariff charged by equivalent establishments elsewhere in the world.
All major credit cards are accepted at hotels, shops and restaurants. Certain lodges and restaurants do not accept payment by Diners or American Express. VISA is popularly accepted.
Service is not usually included in the bill. It is usual to tip porters, waiters, taxi drivers, room attendants, golf caddies, game rangers, guides and trackers. Generally speaking, gratuities to waiters and taxi drivers should amount to around 10% of the cost of the service. Porterage is usually US$1.50 per bag, golf caddies usually around US$20 a round, and your game ranger/guide US$10 per person per day.
Map of Botswana: