- Botswana is the oldest democratic state in Africa.
- The border between Botswana and Zambia is only 150 meters (492 feet) long – the shortest border in the world.
- Nearly 40% of Botswana’s land is national parks and wildlife reserve.
- Botswana is home to the world’s biggest concentration of African elephants, most of which are found in Chobe National Park.
- The country’s Jwaneng Diamond Mine, the richest in the world, was reportedly discovered when termites pushed specks of diamond to the surface.
Nestled between South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, and Zambia, the Republic of Botswana is a land of stark beauty and tremendous contrast. Although dominated by the vast Kalahari Desert, the largest stretch of sand on Earth, Botswana is also home to the life-sustaining Okavango Delta. It is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world and, as a result, contains some of the most pristine and uninterrupted wildlife habitat on the continent. Chobe National Park alone encompasses more than 4,200 sq. mi. (11,000 sq. km.) – the size of a small country. This makes it the ideal place for spotting resident elephants and zebras, hippos and rhinos, African wild dogs, meerkats, cheetahs and hyenas, Cape buffalos and blue wildebeest, more, and even black-maned lions and the reclusive leopard.
VISAS, PASSPORTS, AND OTHER ENTRY REQUIREMENTS
You are responsible for obtaining and paying for all entry documents (visas, etc.) and for meeting all health requirements (inoculations, etc.) as required by the laws, regulations, or orders of the countries you will visit. We cannot accept liability if you are refused entry onto any transport or into any country for failure to carry correct documentation.
A visa for your visit to Botswana is not necessary for US citizens. If you hold a passport from another country, check with your local consulate about requirements for travel to Botswana.
All passengers traveling internationally are required to have a passport. Most countries require that the passport be valid for at least six (6) months beyond the conclusion of your trip, so please check the expiration date carefully. It is also recommended you have a minimum of three blank pages in your passport when traveling, as many countries require blank pages. Please carry proper identification (your passport) on you and do not leave it in your suitcase or hotel room. Most countries have laws that require you to carry your passport with you at all times.
It is imperative to find may be required for travel to Southern Africa, and if any other health precautions are recommended (such as anti-malaria pills). For more details, you might also like to consult the internet site of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at http://www.cdc.gov/travel.
Traveling with children
The Botswana government has approved new regulations pertaining to children under the age of 18 visiting the country. All children will be required to produce certified/notarized copies of unabridged birth certificates in addition to their valid passports. In the event that one parent is not travelling with the child, the other parent’s affidavit consenting to such travel should be availed. However, an affidavit will not be required if the father’s name does not appear on the child’s birth certificate. We recommend you contact the Botswana embassy if you have questions.
The country code for Botswana is 267. When calling to Botswana from overseas, dial your international access code (011 from the US/Canada), followed by the country code, area code, and phone number. Phone numbers in Botswana are 8 digits in length. Dialing from the US/Canada: 011 267# ### ####.
As a general guideline, bring a variety of payment means, particularly in the event that you have difficulties with your preferred method of payment.
U.S. Dollars are widely accepted throughout Botswana. Alternatively, if you prefer, you can also exchange
U.S. Dollars into the local currency, the Botswana Pula. For initial convenience we recommend you bring some US dollars with you from home. It is advisable to bring newer US notes that are in good condition as some merchants will not accept those that are tattered and/or old.
ATMs are the most convenient way to obtain money in Botswana, as they are readily available throughout the country and the vast majority of ATMs dispense U.S. Dollars.
1 Botswanan Pula = 100 Thebe
- Banknote denominations: 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 Pula
- Coin denominations: 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 Thebe, and 1, 2, 5 Pula
For the most current exchange rates, please go to our website at Globusjourneys.com/Currency.
Credit cards are accepted in Botswana at all lodges and camps and at most establishments in major city centers. Visa and MasterCard are most accepted. Smaller shops may ask you to pay in cash or may have a minimum amount required to use a credit card.
- Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday: Typically, 9 am–2:30 pm
- Wednesday: 8:15 am–Noon
- Saturday & Sunday: Closed
Budgeting and Shopping
The following budget guidelines are just approximate values or starting values for meals and are per person. Actual prices will vary widely by restaurant and city within a country but below are some averages as provided by our experienced personnel.
- The approximate cost of a soft drink/mineral water/coffee is US$1-$2.
- An average lunch consisting of a salad or sandwich and a soda or water starts at approximately US$5-$10.
- Dinner at a mid-range restaurant with dessert and a non-alcoholic beverage starts at approximately US$40.
Please be warned that if you buy items on tour to be shipped to your home, customs import charges are rarely included in the price. If you use a credit card for your purchase, you will be debited in the local currency, and your bank will establish the rate of exchange on the debit. Sales tax or GST (Goods & Services Tax) is normally already included on price tags; GST refunds, if applicable, are processed at the departing airport relevant country.
Tipping is a common practice in Botswana and usually well received. In restaurants and bars, a tip of 10%-20% is acceptable.
Tip taxi drivers 10% of the fare.
For hotel and room service, a common tip amount is 10-20 Pula per service if warranted (excluding porterage, which is included).
Electricity and Electrical Outlets
At Lodges & Camps
In Botswana, many lo day, however some do shut down the electricity late at night and/or midday to conserve energy. Rest assured, this is a normal practice and part of the safari experience. There is still hot water for showers and enough time to charge batteries/electronic equipment. If you require 24-hour electricity for a breathing device, please let us know prior to departure.
Voltage for outlets is 220-240V. North American voltage is generally 110V. Therefore, you will need a converter for your travels. Adapters will be necessary to adapt your plug into the outlet, but these may not convert the voltage, so both devices are necessary.
Botswana experiences its semi-arid season from April to October, when it tends to be slightly cooler, while heavier rains usually occur from November to March.
To help you plan, below are average low and high temperatures for northern Botswana.
To convert to Celsius, subtract 30, then divide by 2. While not exact, this simple formula will give a close estimation.
A typical day on safari
Below is an outline of a typical day on safari. It is important to note that there is no way to predict 100% what will happen each day as nature is always full of wonderful surprises! Changes may be implemented due to weather or due to a spontaneous and magical safari moment that captures your attention. Game activities vary by itinerary and lodge, so please refer to your itinerary or lodge description for a summary of game activities offered.
All meals are provided while on safari in Botswana.
Morning – Wake up early between 5 am and 5:30 am, for coffee/tea. Although this may seem very early, it is essential to head out early, as this is the time of day many animals are most active. Depart your lodge between 5:30 am and 6 am. The game activity generally lasts around 3 hours; with breakfast is served upon your return to the lodge.
Late morning/Midday – Time to relax at your lodge. Read a book, take a nap, or go for a swim! Lunch is generally served from 12/12:30 pm until 2 pm.
Afternoon – Around 3:30 pm, gather for tea and snacks before embarking on your afternoon game activity. This allows time to see the animals during the daylight, but also to witness a spectacular African sunset! Arrive back at your lodge between 6:30 pm and 7 pm to freshen up for dinner.
Evening – Dinner service starts between 7 pm and 7:30 pm and is normally quite lively as everyone shares stories from an exciting day on safari. Afterward, grab a drink in the bar or proceed to bed…you may have another early day tomorrow!
Botswana boasts excellent fresh produce, a variety of meat including beef, lamb, and chicken, and river fish. Types of dishes served include seswaa or chotlho (salted, mashed, and cooked meat), bogobe (porridge), and matemekwane (dumplings).
Tap water is not safe to drink in Botswana. Water served at your lodge is safe; otherwise, we recommend you drink bottled water, which is generally available on all game activities and in all lodge/camp guestrooms.
Customs and Culture
- African culture is diverse. You will encounter new customs and different lifestyles as soon as you enter the country. Appreciate and enjoy the differences. A majority of the locals speak English and will greet you with a smile.
- In some African countries, a warm smile and a handshake are a perfectly acceptable greeting. If end your hand first. Wait for the other person to do so. Local men do not normally shake hands with women in public. When greeting an elder, it is acceptable to bow your head slightly in place of a handshake.
- Although not necessary, many visitors like to bring gifts for the local children. If you would like to give a gift, we suggest that gifts and donations be made through local schools and orphanages. This gives you the chance to help the local community without reinforcing the culture of begging. If you do choose to give gifts directly to children you encounter, please do not give out candy. Gifts such as school supplies or clothes are much better options. In addition, we do not recommend that anything be given to street beggars and street children encountered in the towns and cities, as it promotes a negative lifestyle.
- Always ask permission before taking a photograph of a local resident.
- Poverty is a fact of life in many African countries. You should be prepared to see it but not be scared by it, as most people are still very happy and friendly. Out of respect, it is best to avoid excessive displays of wealth.
A few words of the local language
Good mor aand, Hi: Haai/Hallo, Goodbye: Totsiens, Please: Asseblief, Thank you: Dankie, Yes: Ja, No: Nee, Do you speak English?: Praat jy Engels, I don’t understand: Ek begryp nie dit nie, How much?: nic, 1 (one): Eeen, 2 (two): Twee, 3 (three): Drie, 4 (four): Vier, 5 (five): Vyf, 6 (six): Ses, 7 (seven): Sewe, 8 (eight): Ag, 9 (nine): Nege, 10 (ten): Tien, Where is … ?: Waar is, WC: Badkamer, Tea: Tee, Coffee: Koffie, Bottled water: Gebottelde water, Cheers!: Gesondheid, Have a nice day!: Lekker dag,
Good morning / day: Dumela, Good evening: Dumela, Hi: Dumela, Goodbye: Sala sentle, Please: Tswee tswee, Thank you: Ke itumetse, Yes: Ee, No: Nnyaa, Do you speak English?: O bua sekhowa, I don’t understand: Ga ke thlaloganye, How much?: Ke bo kae, 1 (one): Ngwe, 2 (two): Pedi, 3 (three): Tharo, 4 (four): Nnee, 5 (five): Tihano, 6 (six): Thataro, 7 (seven): Supa, 8 (eight): Robedi, 9 (nine): Robongwe, 10 (ten): Lesome, Where is … ?: O kae, W : Thoelete, Tea: Tee, Coffee: Kofi, Bottled water: Batla metsi, Cheers!: Have a nice day!: Tlhola sentle.
U.S. Department of State Country Information
Additional country-specific information for US citizens can be found on the US Government’s website www.travel.state.gov. Here, you can find the most up-to-date information about destination descriptions, passports/visas, safety and security, transportation, travel local laws, alerts/warnings, vaccinations, and more. For citizens of other nations, we recommend you consult your local consulate for travel information, regulations, and requirements.