At a glance …
Botswana is a true wilderness champion, with some 45% of the entire country being protected land.
Despite these vast tracts of wilderness, the tourism infrastructure is relatively limited. This is by design, ensuring that Botswana remains one of the foremost wildlife destinations on the planet. This means that, usually, your chosen lodge or camp in Botswana will have a very large, exclusive traversing area. This exclusivity comes at a price, Botswana is regarded as one of the most expensive destinations in Africa. Although, there are some hidden gems, allowing you to experience the magic of Botswana, without breaking the bank.
For most people, Botswana is synonymous with the Okavango Delta, and rightly so. This immense inland delta lies at the centre of the country’s wildlife heritage.
The waters of the delta bring life to what would otherwise be a largely barren landscape. The actual Okavango ecosystem spreads over a vast area, and with tributaries covers a large part of the north east of the country.
Beyond the wetlands of the delta things dry up. The vast plains of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve dominate the heart of Botswana. This parched land extends all around the delta, and is well worth exploring. The predator rich Savute of southern Chobe. The famous zebra migration of the Kalahari. Sleep outs on the great flat salt pans of the Makgadikgadi, where you can actually see the curvature of the earth. Vast rock art sites in the Tsodilo Hills. The country really is more than the Okavango Delta.
Chobe National Park and Savute
Linyanti and Kwando River systems
Central Kalahari Game Reserve
Tourism to Botswana is dominated by safari, and has limited appeal beyond, with a couple of notable exceptions.
Tsodilo Hills rock art
Traditional Bushman Culture
Hot Air ballooning over the Okavango Delta
Quad biking on great salt pans
Safaris in traditional mokoro, dugout canoes
Travel info …
However, for the majority of visitors it is not worth getting a local sim card. Coverage is basically restricted to the populated areas and mostly does not cover the wilderness areas.
Unless you are doing a self-drive tour in Botswana (see driving section below) you will likely be flying from lodge to lodge. For the short periods that you may have mobile reception it is not worth getting a local sim.
Some lodges and camps have limited internet facilities. However, Botswana is about the wilderness experience, embrace this, and let go of connectivity for a while. It is good for the soul!
Lodges and camps are in permanent contact with the outside world via radio links and satellite phones. You are never entirely cut off. We are able to arrange for satellite phone hire if you absolutely have to be reachable during your time in country.
In line with the International Health Regulations (2005), Botswana requires a valid yellow fever certificate from all citizens and non-citizens (over one year of age) travelling from a yellow fever risk country. Vaccination certificates are routinely checked at the Botswana ports of entry for travellers arriving from countries designated as high risk for yellow fever transmission. For full details please click here. Please note that if you are coming from a yellow fever risk country that you need to carry your yellow fever certificate with you!
Generally speaking, the northern half of Botswana is prone to malaria. Within this zone, the further north you go, the higher this risk. Most of the safari areas fall within the northern half of the country. We recommend you consult your doctor re malaria precautions prior to travel to Botswana.
For the majority of visitors to Botswana there is little risk of any safety concerns caused by fellow man.
If there are to be safety issues they will likely be more with wildlife encounters (extremely rare) or transport (extremely rare).
For the most up-to-date advice we recommend you check the British Foreign Office website here or the US State Department here.
Visa and Mastercard credit cards are widely accepted in larger shops, petrol stations, hotels and main restaurants. We do not recommend American Express and Diners.
ATM/cash point machines are available in most larger towns, and some of the smaller towns. Exchange facilities are available at all major airports as well as most large bank branches, although exchange rates from ATM/cash point machines are generally more favourable.
For many visitors on fly-in safaris you will not even need local currency. Almost all the lodges will accept payment by credit card and in US$ cash. Tips at lodges and main tourist services can also be made in US$. We strongly advise though, that you carry small denomination US$ and avoid $50 and $100 notes.
All visitors to Botswana require a valid passport. Valid for at least 6 months from the date of entry into Botswana.
PLEASE note that if you intend travelling to South Africa and Botswana please ensure you have at least 3 blank pages in your passport.
Holders of full United Kingdom, United States, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, most EU and most Commonwealth passports do not require a visa to visit Botswana for tourism purposes up for stays up to 90 days.
Botswana has recently launched an e-visa service which simplifies the application process – here you can also check if your nationality needs a visa by typing it in where it says “Do I Need A Visa?” – the e-visa page can be accessed here
Like with South Africa the Botswana government has introduced new immigration rules. From 1 October 2016. Children (under 18 years of age) who are travelling into or through Botswana must provide a certified copy of their full unabridged birth certificate as well as a valid passport (an abridged (short) birth certificate won’t be accepted).
If the child is travelling with one parent, with another adult or unaccompanied, the parent or parents who aren’t present will need to provide an affidavit giving their consent for the child to travel.
NOTE: We do NOT recommend self-drive tours in Botswana, unless you are an experienced 4×4 driver.
We are able to arrange fully equipped 4×4 vehicles for self-drive journeys through the country. However, we repeat, unless you are experienced at 4×4 driving in difficult conditions we do NOT recommend self-driving in Botswana. This is especially so in the wet season.
The standard plug in Botswana is a three round pinned plug as show above – often referred to as a type M. However, you will also find in many places the British type G plug points. We suggest travelling with an adaptor – although most hotels and lodges will be able to assist (a deposit may be required).
Spring: September – November
Summer: December – February
Autumn: March – May
Winter: June – August
More accurately there is a dry cooler season, from around April until September. The days are warm and at night the temperatures plummet. Clear skies predominate and there is usually no rain. Note that in the drier southern areas, the nighttime temperatures in winter can drop below freezing.
From October the temperatures start climbing (and regularly reach the 40°s in October) and cloud cover increases. The day time temperatures become hot and the evenings remain warm. By late November the first rains have usually arrived. The rainy season then lasts until late March.
As a very general rule the further south you go the drier it gets. The vast majority of the south of Botswana receives very little rain annually.
As with most areas of the world, Botswana is experiencing a changing weather pattern, with more extremes.