Botswana

About Botswana

Botswana is landlocked by South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe. The Kalahari Desert forms 70% of Botswana, an area of 900,000 square kilometres.

The name “Kalahari” is considered to be derived from the Tswana word “kgalagadi”, meaning “a water-less place”. With only 3.9 inhabitants per square kilometre, Botswana’s population density is one of the lowest on Earth.

Botswana diverse natural landscape is home to a wide variety of animal and plant life. 

People of Botswana

The original inhabitants of Botswana were the San and Khoi peoples. Currently the Tswana make up the majority ethnic group in Botswana (79% of the population) while people of English, German and Indian origin constitute about 3% of the population. While English is the official language, Setswana is widely spoken.

Weather Overview

There is sunshine all year in Botswana, with the winter months (May to August) being the sunniest. This semi-arid country experiences a short rainy season. The colder months are the driest. The relatively high altitude and geographical position result in a subtropical climate.  Summer temperatures average around 26℃ (79℉) and winter around 14℃ (57℉).

Attractions

The Okavango Delta

The Okavango River, the country’s only permanent river, flows into a delta that is extremely rich in wildlife. Here you can find the “big five” (elephant, buffalo, lion, rhinoceros and leopard), as well as numerous species of fish and reptiles.

The Makgadikgadi Pans

The Makgadikgadi Pans are composed of several large salt pans situated in the north-east of Botswana. The pans are surrounded by the Kalahari Desert and are some of the biggest salt flats in the world.

Travel Information

Cards vs Cash

Credit cards are accepted at most supermarkets, restaurants and accommodation establishments in urban Botswana. Visa and Mastercard are more widely accepted than American Express and Diners Club. In rural areas, it is generally only possible to make cash payments for purchases.

ATMs

Credit cards can be used to get cash from ATMs or banks. Visa and MasterCard are the most widely accepted, as indicated by signs displayed on ATMs. Most banks in Botswana have ATMs.

Currency

The currency used in Botswana is the Pula. It is best to arrange some currency with your bank before travelling. Most campsites, small shops and tour operators, as well as National Parks and the Department of Wildlife only accept cash. 

Citizens of Commonwealth countries do not require a visa (for a maximum 90 day stay), except those from the following countries:

Bangladesh
Cameroon
Ghana
India
Nigeria
Pakistan
Sri Lanka

 Citizens from countries which have signed the Visa Abolition Agreement with Botswana are also not required to apply for a visa. U.S. citizens are can stay a maximum of 90 days, in a 12 month period, without a visa.

To find out if you need a tourist visa, visit here and select your country of origin.

In many of the remote areas where we will be travelling, connectivity cannot be guaranteed. Expect very unreliable, or no connection in these places.

It is possible to connect to Botwana’s mobile network in urban areas and on main roads. Expect intermittent connectivity when traveling between towns and in remote areas.

Remote Places Photography will provide you with your own Botswana SIM card upon arrival.

Maun and Kasane, the two towns that serve as the main gateways into the Okavango Delta, have lodges and hotels offering internet connections. However, this is uncommon in Botswana, and the majority of remote locations and accommodation do not WiFi available for guests. Most wilderness regions have no mobile network coverage, including most areas in the Moremi Game Reserve and the Chobe National Park.

Crime

Although not extensive, there is some crime in the urban areas of Gaborone, Maun and Francistown. Please check with your accommodation regarding safety in these areas. In remote areas, leaving the lodge or camp alone at night is not permitted. There are many wild animals and the terrain can be extremely dangerous.

In remote areas, you will need to travel with the RPP team to get from place to place. If you prefer to make your own way to a particular destination, then you will need to hire a qualified guide. This is to ensure your safety and is required by Botswana regulations. The cost for hiring a qualified guide is not included in the expedition rate.

Vaccines

A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for travellers arriving from countries where there is a risk of yellow fever transmission. A cholera vaccination is particularly important given the recent outbreaks in regions near the Zimbabwean border.

The World Health Organisation recommends the following vaccines for Botswana:
Typhoid
Hepatitis A
Hepatitis B
Cholera
Yellow fever
Rabies

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