Botswana has some of the best wilderness and wildlife areas on the African continent. There is 38 percent of its land area devoted to national parks, reserves and wildlife management areas, most of which is unfenced, allowing animals to roam wild and free.
Travelling around many parts of the country has the feeling of journeying through a Wonderland of Nature.
English is widely spoken, although the national language is Setswana.
Botswana is a peaceful country, maintaining economic prosperity since gaining independence. Access to most camps, national parks and reserves is by light aircraft due to the remoteness, although its proximity to Livingstone does make car vehicle access possible within 35 mins.
Botswana is +2 hour time difference to London GMT.
Safety – High Level
Botswana is considered as one of the safest countries in Africa and is politically stable. Travel in major cities as well as at National Parks and game reserves is generally safe during daylight hours. If you are on an organised trip and staying at lodges, safety problems are rare. Security risks increase after dark. Be vigilant, keep all vehicle doors locked and windows closed when driving and remain aware of your surroundings, especially after dark.
TOP TIP – Use a smaller wallet for day to day things, replenish as required; Prying eyes will not then see your main cash. Make photocopies of important documents like tickets, insurance papers, passport, and visa and keep them separate. It is also recommended to scan these documents and email a copy to yourself and somebody at home, along with your flight and other travel details. If you don't have a scanner, you can leave photocopies with somebody at home.
Daily flights in from Johannesburg to Livingstone, followed by a 35 minute onward journey to Chobe. Alternatively flights from London to Lusaka via Nairobi or Dubai, followed by internal flight to Livingstone.
Airport Taxes Both international and domestic airport taxes should be included in your ticket price. Note - for charter flights and seat rate charters these are NOT included
It is a 35 minute journey from Livingstone across the border and into Chobe.
Passport & Visa
You need to ensure you have a valid passport with at least six months remaining between date of departure from the country and the date of expiry, as well as sufficient blank pages for visa and stamps. Most nationalities do not require a Visa to enter Botswana.
Malaria, including cerebral malaria, is common in areas of the country which include most of the good wildlife destinations, particularly during and immediately after the rainy season. We would recommend taking extra precautions of long sleeves, closed toe shoes with socks, plenty of repellent and using mosquito nets when sleeping. You MUST have malaria protection and we would recommend tetanus, yellow fever and the hepatitis vaccinations. A Yellow Fever vaccination certificate is required for all persons arriving from a country with risk of Yellow Fever or who have transited for more than 12 hours through an airport in a country with risk of Yellow Fever.
It is advisable to know your blood group type in case of emergency.
Chemists / Pharmacies - travellers naturally should carry an adequate supply of their prescribed medicines with them. Reasonably priced medical services are available at government clinics and hospitals throughout Botswana. Private medical practitioners are available in the cities and major towns, such as Gaborone, Francistown and Maun. Gaborone Private Hospital is the largest private hospital in Botswana. The hospital requires medical coverage or cash payment in advance where medical coverage is not available.
Medical Insurance - medical insurance should be purchased before you leave your own country and should include emergency air evacuation coverage if you’re spending any time in remote parts of the country. Personal effects insurance is also advisable. Check that your insurance policy will be accepted by service providers in Botswana. Ensure that you are treated by licensed medical personnel to enable you to provide your insurance company with appropriate documentation and receipts.
Tap water throughout the country is safe to drink but in the more remote areas always boil it first, except if you’re staying at a lodge or hotel. Bottled water is readily available but ensure at all times to carry sufficient water when travelling by road.
Cash and Travellers’ cheques are accepted. Credit cards are becoming more widely accepted but not in remote areas and should not be relied on except in major towns. US dollars, sterling and euros are all easily convertible currencies – although it is worth asking for only new US dollar bills - i.e. ones with large heads as some US$ banknotes may not be accepted due to the high levels of counterfeit currency in circulation in Africa.
The currency in Botswana is the Pula. ATM’s accept foreign visa cards but mostly in cities and larger towns.
Botswana is semi-arid. Though it is hot and dry for much of the year, there is a rainy season, which runs through the summer months. Rainfall tends to be erratic, unpredictable and highly regional.
The summer season begins in November and ends in March. It usually brings very high temperatures. However, summer is also the rainy season! The winter season begins in May and ends in August. This is also the dry season. For tourists, the best visiting months are from April through to October - in terms of both weather and game viewing. It is during this period that the wildlife of the great spaces gather around what water there is. For Bird Viewing the wetter weather brings an array of species, giving Botswana a year round appeal.
Local Laws and Customs
The Botswana Authorities do not always inform the British High Commission when British Nationals have been arrested. If you are detained for any reason, we can support you in your right to contact a British Consular Officer.
Avoid taking pictures of sensitive sites including power stations, explosives factories, pumping stations, army barracks, government buildings, mining areas, refineries and airports. If in doubt don’t take a picture.
It is illegal to buy, sell, kill or capture any protected wild animal or trade its parts without a licence. Those caught purchasing or trafficking such goods will be prosecuted and received prison sentences or fines.
Respect the local people – ask before taking any photographs. Do not worry if you do not speak the language as a smile and gesture will be understood.
Homosexuality is illegal in Botswana.
Respect local etiquette – tight fitting or revelling clothes may be insensitive to local feeling and public displays of affection are very inappropriate
Greetings – African society is rarely as rushed as westerners. When you first meet someone you should always greet them leisurely “Good morning/Afternoon, how are you” before embarking on any questions.
Strong insect repellent, high factor sun screen, anti-histamine cream AND tablets, brimmed hat, sun glasses, good walking shoes/boots.
Binoculars and a torch…who wants to pass binoculars on when there is a leopard or elephant to be seen?
Most camps and lodges do regular laundry – don’t over pack!
Glasses (for safety pack two pairs) – safari is a dusty adventure; those with contact lenses may find this a difficulty.