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Botswana

The Remote Places Photography – Botswana Expedition

    Join us in the Okavango Delta!

     

    Next Expedition: 11-22 October 2018

     

    Come and experience the Big Five up close! Cruise along the Okavango Delta in a canoe, explore the Ntwetwe salt Pan and spend a night under the stars!

    About Botswana

    Geography

    Botswana is landlocked by South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe (and Zambia for about 200 metres/219 yards). The Kalahari Desert forms 70% of Botswana, an area of 900,000 square kilometres (350,000 square miles). The name “Kalahari” is considered to be derived from the Tswana word “kgala”, meaning “the great thirst”, or “kgalagadi”, meaning “a waterless place”.

     

    With only 3.9 inhabitants per square kilometre, Botswana’s population density is one of the lowest on Earth, compared to the United Kingdom (395 people/km2) or Germany (236 people/km2).

     

    Botswana diverse natural landscape is home to a wide variety of animal and plant life. Different species of antelope, such as Lechwe and Wildebeest, can be found in the savannas and wetlands. There are large packs of endangered African wild dog and an abundance of bird species.

    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 Okavango Delta is one of the world’s largest inland deltas, located in the northwest of the Botswana. A huge oasis in the desert, this delta is on the UNESCO World Heritage list. A swampy, green region where the weather is hot and humid in summer (daytime temperatures reaching 40℃/104℉), and winters that are cold and dry. Nights can be surprisingly cold in the delta, particularly when temperatures drop around freezing.

     

    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

    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.

    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.

    Banking Hours

    Banks are usually open between 9.00am and 3.00pm on weekdays, with some branches opening on Saturday mornings.

    Travellers Cheques

    Banks charge a commission when exchanging travellers cheques into the local currency (Pula). Because not all banks accept travellers cheques, it is advisable to change travellers cheques into cash whenever possible.

    Tipping

    Tipping is welcomed everywhere. In lodges, and on guided trips or safaris, it is customary to leave a once-off tip at the end of the stay, or after a specific activity.

     

    Most camps and safari lodges in Botswana have a ‘tip box’, with their own tipping policy. Some camps explain their tipping policy in the information packs left in rooms. If in doubt, ask the manager. In most camps, tips are given directly to guides, trackers, mokoro polers and butlers. Tips can be given in Euro, Pula, South African Rand, British Pound or US Dollar.

    Visas

    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.

    WWW

    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 wo 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.

    Things that bite

    Malaria transmission is known to happen in Botswana, so visitors need to take all the necessary precautions. It is essential to get medical advice before travelling.

     

    During hot summer months, and in bush and river areas, there are lots of biting insects. Bites can be painful, so insect repellent spray or cream is useful.

     

    There are snakes, scorpions and spiders in Botswana, but they prefer to stay far away from you. The Remote Places Photography team will help you if you are bitten. If possible, take a photograph, or try to remember the size and colour of the creature that bit you.

     

    You can avoid mosquito bites by covering your skin with long-sleeved shirts and long trousers, especially after sunset. Exposed skin can be protected with insect repellent and, where necessary and available, there will be a mosquito net for you to sleep under.

    Drinking water

    Drink bottled water. While the water is perfectly safe to drink in most places, drinking bottled water is a sensible precaution for visitors to Botswana.

     

    Remote Places Photography will provide water while you travel by road, and water is available at all our accommodation.

    Sun

    The sun is extremely strong, even in winter when there may be cloud cover. The sun is probably the most dangerous aspect of your adventure. Heat-stroke, heat exhaustion and sunburn can be problems for travellers to Botswana. However, they are easy to prevent.

     

    • Keep yourself hydrated by drinking water throughout the day.
    • Wear thin, light clothing that covers your skin and is not too tight.
    • Cover your head with a hat that also shades and protects your neck, preventing sunburn.
    • Use high factor sunscreen, especially when sunbathing. It is advisable to apply sunblock daily, even when catching a tan, as the sun is very strong.

    Vaccinations

    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

    Communicable diseases

    In 2016, HIV/AIDS in Botswana was estimated at 22% for adults aged 15–49, the third highest in the world.

    Medical Emergency

    A comprehensive first aid kit and basic emergency medications are available on all Remote Places Photography expeditions. The team members have good first aid experience in the bush. If a doctor is needed, we will go to the nearest available medical centre, by air or road, depending on what the situation requires and accessibility.

     

    Most accomodation personnel includes one member of staff who is trained to deal with minor injuries, illnesses or conditions that commonly occur locally. If you need urgent medical treatment, you will be evacuated immediately to a hospital in Gaborone, Maun, Francistown, or possibly South Africa, depending on the severity of the problem.

     

    It is essential your medical insurance covers the cost of air evacuation and private hospital treatment while in Botswana.

    Food

    Some vegetarian options are available at most accommodation and larger hotels. There are limited options for vegans, and it is rare to find Halaal or Kosher options. Catering for those with certain food allergies may be possible. Please let us know well in advance so that we can advise you on what options are available. Alternatives to a typical Western diet are limited in Botswana.

    Safety First

    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.

    Botswana Checklist

    • Camera & lenses, tripod, filters, other essential equipment
    • Carry bag for equipment, protection for equipment (sun and sand)
    • Cash (Botswana Pula)
    • Cards (Visa and MasterCard most widely accepted)
    • Chronic medication, allergy information and medication
    • Comfortable clothing, walking shoes and socks
    • Equipment insurance
    • Hat
    • Identification documents, visa, vaccination certificates, international driver’s license (optional)
    • Insect repellent
    • Medical insurance, including evacuation by air
    • Mobile phone (optional)
    • Pith helmet (optional)
    • Power & USB cables, adaptors
    • Solar power packs, external hard drives
    • Sunglasses (good quality)
    • Sun block & after sun lotion