Elephants in Botswana
Elephants in Botswana

Elephants of Botswana

Botswana has the largest elephant population on the continent due to a number of reasons including tight protection and civil unrest in neighbouring countries. The relative difficulty in accessing the wildlife areas coupled with the military threat to poachers has allowed the elephant population in Botswana to grow.
Photo by Birger Strahl

BOTSWANA

Africa

Botswana Travel Information

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Key facts

Capital:

Gaborone

Location:

Southern Africa, north of South Africa

Currency:

pulas (BWP)

Area:

581,730 sq km

Population:

2,350,667 (July 2021 est.)

Languages:

Setswana 77.3%, Sekalanga 7.4%, Shekgalagadi 3.4%, English (official) 2.8%, Zezuru/Shona 2%, Sesarwa 1.7%, Sembukushu 1.6%, Ndebele 1%, other 2.8% (2011 est.)

Religion:

Christian 79.1%, Badimo 4.1%, other 1.4% (includes Baha'i, Hindu, Muslim, Rastafarian), none 15.2%, unspecified 0.3% (2011 est.)

TimeZone:

UTC+2

Tel Code:

+267

Weather

Climate in Botswana

Botswana has a semi-arid climate, with hot summers and mild winters. The summer months (October to April) are characterized by high temperatures, with average daytime temperatures ranging from around 30°C (86°F) to 35°C (95°F). The winter months (May to September) are cooler, with average daytime temperatures ranging from around 20°C (68°F) to 25°C (77°F). Rainfall is generally low and unpredictable.

Best Time to Visit Botswana

The best time to visit Botswana depends on what you want to experience.

The Dry Season

The dry season, which runs from May to October, is the best time for wildlife viewing, as the animals congregate around water sources and are easier to spot. The vegetation is also less dense, making it easier to see the wildlife. The weather is also cooler and more comfortable for outdoor activities.

The Green Season

The green season, which runs from November to April, is a great time to visit if you want to experience the Okavango Delta at its most lush and green. The water levels are high, and the wildlife is spread out across the delta, making it a great time for boat safaris and mokoro trips. The weather is also warmer, and it's a great time for bird watching as many migratory birds are in the country.

It's worth noting that Botswana is a semi-arid country, and it can be very hot and dry. It's essential to take precautions and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Also, it's recommended to avoid the hottest hours of the day (from 11 am to 3 pm) and wear loose and light-colored clothing.

Transportation

Air travel

Botswana has several international airports, including Sir Seretse Khama International Airport in Gaborone and Maun International Airport, which receive flights from major cities around the world. From there, domestic flights are available to other destinations within Botswana.

Road Transport

Road transportation is widely available in Botswana and is the most common way to travel between cities and towns. Buses and minibuses are the most popular options, and they offer different levels of comfort and amenities. Car rental is also available, and it's a good option for travelers who prefer to have more flexibility and independence during their trip.

Boat

Many safari companies in Botswana offer boat safari options, particularly in the Okavango Delta, which is a great way to explore the delta's channels and lagoons and to spot wildlife. The traditional mokoro (dugout canoe) is also a popular way to explore the delta.

Light aircraft

For those who want to explore more remote areas of Botswana, light aircraft are a great option. These small planes are perfect for accessing remote wilderness areas and for taking in aerial views of the landscapes.

Train

Trains are not widely available in Botswana, and it's not a popular way of transportation.

It's worth noting that many of the destinations in Botswana are remote and may not be accessible by road, so air and boat transportation may be necessary to reach them. Also, it's recommended to check the road conditions before embarking on a road trip, as some roads may be impassable during the rainy season.

Accommodation

Luxury Lodges and Tented Camps

Botswana offers a wide range of luxurious accommodation options, such as five-star lodges and tented camps, which are located in key wildlife destinations such as the Okavango Delta, Chobe National Park, and the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. These lodges and camps offer amenities such as spas, swimming pools, and fine dining restaurants, and are ideal for those looking for a more upscale and comfortable stay.

Mid-range Lodges and Tented Camps

There are also many mid-range lodges and tented camps available in Botswana, which offer comfortable accommodation at more affordable prices. These lodges and camps are located in popular wildlife destinations and offer amenities such as swimming pools and restaurants. They are ideal for those looking for a comfortable stay without breaking the bank.

Budget Accommodation

Botswana also offers a wide range of budget-friendly accommodation options, such as budget lodges and campsites. These accommodation options are basic but offer comfortable and clean rooms or campsites at affordable prices. They are ideal for backpackers and budget-conscious travelers.

Mobile Camping

For those looking for a unique and adventurous way to experience Botswana, mobile camping options are available, particularly in the Okavango Delta. These options offer a chance to experience the natural beauty of the delta and to sleep under the stars, while moving through different campsites to see different parts of the delta. They are ideal for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of Botswana.

Homestays

Another alternative is to experience local hospitality and culture by staying with a local family in their home, known as a homestay. This can be a great way to learn about local customs and traditions, as well as to get a taste of Botswanan home-style cooking. Homestays are available in many rural communities and can be arranged through local tour operators or online platforms.

Money

Money Tips for Travel

  • Research the currency and exchange rates of your destination before you depart.
  • Notify your bank and credit card companies of your travel plans to avoid any potential issues with international transactions.
  • Bring a mix of cash, credit, and debit cards--and possibly a travel money card.
  • Be aware of the fees associated with withdrawing money from ATMs and using credit cards abroad.
  • Make sure to have a backup option for accessing money in case your primary method doesn't work.
  • Consider using a card with no foreign transaction fees.
  • Be aware of the local customs and etiquette when it comes to paying.
  • Keep an eye on the exchange rate throughout your trip and try to make large purchases or withdraw large sums of money when the rate is favorable.
  • NEVER accept currency conversion at ATMs! Always get your home bank to convert at much better rates.
  • Think about getting a Wise or other travel debit card; these can provide much better rates and some free ATM withdrawals.

ATM and Credit Cards

  • Research the availability of ATMs and credit card acceptance at your destination before you depart.
  • Keep your ATM card in a safe place and be mindful of your surroundings when using it.
  • Try to stick to using ATMs that are affiliated with major banks.
  • Keep your credit card information safe and secure, and be aware of potential scams.
  • Make sure your cards have the necessary security features, such as chip and pin.
  • Be aware of the fees associated with withdrawing money from ATMs and using credit cards abroad.

Exchange Rates

  • Research the currency and exchange rates of your destination before you depart.
  • Consider using a card with no foreign transaction fees.
  • Be aware of the local customs and etiquette when it comes to paying.
  • Keep an eye on the exchange rate throughout your trip and try to make large purchases or withdraw large sums of money when the rate is favorable.
  • Be careful of places that may offer to exchange money at rates that seem too good to be true.

Mobile

When traveling, getting mobile access is very important these days. If you are working remotely, wanting to update social media, or need to access your banks SMS authentication messages having a reliable service is a must. At WhereNext we recommend:

eSIM

Services such as those offered by our partner, Airalo, allow you to easily order and install an eSIM for different countries or regions that you are traveling in.

Dual SIM phone

If you have a phone that supports dual SIM's then you can get a SIM on arrival for each country, this is probably better done at a telco store rather than at the airport.

Extend your home plan

Depending on where you live and your mobile service provider you may be able to extend your plan to cover mobile roaming at reasonable rates.

Keep your primary SIM

With the amount of accounts we all have that require two factor authentication via SMS, keeping a constant number for these accounts is a must.

Community

There are several online communities and platforms that you can use to meet people while traveling, both for making new friends or for networking professionally. Some popular options include:

Facebook groups

There are many Facebook groups dedicated to connecting people while traveling, from expat groups and travel communities to groups specific to certain cities or regions of the country. You can search for groups based on your interests or location and connect with others who share similar interests.

Meetup

Meetup is a platform that allows you to find groups of people that share your interests in your local area. There are Meetup groups all around the world, and they cover a wide range of topics, such as language exchange, sports, and cultural activities.

Internations

Internations is a social network for people who live or work abroad. It has a large community of expats and organizes regular events, activities and gatherings that allow members to connect and socialize.

Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing is a platform that connects travelers with local hosts, who offer free accommodation and a chance to experience the local culture. It's a great way to meet locals and make friends!

Reddit

Reddit has a large community, and there are several subreddits dedicated to connecting expats and travelers. You can use it to ask questions, get advice, and connect with others who are also living or traveling in the country.

Linkedin

LinkedIn is primarily a professional network, but you can also use it to connect with people who work in the same industry or have similar backgrounds. It can be useful to connect with people before you arrive and establish a few professional contacts to help you get started.

At WhereNext, we use Nomad List as a global community and then research more local ones for our destination. These are just a few examples of online communities you can use to meet people; please suggest any others that you think are appropriate for this destination.

Insurance

Travel insurance can provide financial protection and peace of mind for travellers in the event of unexpected situations or emergencies. It covers a wide range of needs--even some you might not expect!

Medical Coverage

Travel insurance can provide coverage for medical expenses if you become ill or injured while traveling. This can include coverage for doctor visits, hospital stays, and emergency medical transportation. It's also a good idea to ensure that your travel insurance covers COVID-19 related illness and delays!

Trip Cancellation and Interruption

Travel insurance can provide coverage if you need to cancel or interrupt your trip due to unexpected events such as illness, weather, or travel bans. It can also provide coverage if your trip is delayed or if your travel provider goes out of business.

Lost or Stolen Luggage

Travel insurance can provide coverage for lost or stolen luggage, as well as personal items such as passports and electronic devices.

Emergency Assistance and Evacuation

Many travel insurance plans offer emergency assistance services, such as providing information on local hospitals and doctors, assistance with replacing lost or stolen documents, and help with arranging transportation in the event of an emergency. At WhereNext we have partnered with Global Rescue for evacuation services, which are highly recommended if you are undertaking dangerous activities or are travelling to dangerous parts of the world.

Liability coverage

Travel insurance can also provide liability coverage in case you cause an accident or harm someone while you are traveling.

Travel insurance can provide financial protection and peace of mind for travellers in the event of unexpected situations or emergencies. It can help cover the costs of medical expenses, trip cancellations, lost or stolen luggage, and more. It's always a good idea to review the coverage and compare the different options available before making a decision. At WhereNext we both use and have partnered with Safety Wing for general travel insurance.

Entry Requirements

Here are some general travel tips regarding entry requirements that apply across all countries:

Passport

Make sure that your passport is valid for at least six months from the date of your arrival in the country you are visiting. Some countries will not allow you to enter if your passport is set to expire within a certain period of time.

Visa

Check with the embassy or consulate of the country you are visiting to see if you need a visa. Some countries require a visa for entry, while others do not. Make sure to apply for a visa well in advance of your trip as the process can take several weeks. Check the latest Visa requirements and if necessary get an online Visa with our partner iVisa.

Health Requirements and COVID-19 Rules

Check with the embassy or consulate of the country you are visiting to see if there are any health requirements for entry. Some countries require vaccinations or proof of medical insurance. Check the latest health requirements and if necessary get an online Visa with our partner iVisa.

Travel Insurance

Consider purchasing travel insurance, especially if you are traveling internationally. Travel insurance can cover you in the event of trip cancellation, medical emergencies, and other unexpected events. Our travel insurance partner is SafetyWing. For dangerous activities and/or countries consider a rescue service like those offered by our partner, Global Rescue.

Customs

Be familiar with the customs and laws of the country you are visiting. Some countries have strict laws regarding drug possession, alcohol consumption, and dress codes.

Currency

Check the currency exchange rate and make sure you have enough local currency for your trip. Some countries may not accept credit cards or travelers cheques, so it is always good to have some cash on hand. At WhereNext we recommend use a Wise debit card, which provides low cost currency conversions and ATM withdrawals.

Research the country

Research about the culture, customs and laws of the country you are visiting. It will help you to understand the place more and also prepare you better for the trip.

Contact Information

Make a copy of your passport and keep it in a separate place from your passport. Also, leave a copy of your itinerary and contact information with a friend or family member at home.

COVID Status

I am vaccinated 
Botswana Open
Test
Not required
Quarantine
Not required

Check Visa Requirements

      Things to Do

      Botswana is a land of diverse landscapes, from the vast Kalahari Desert to the lush Okavango Delta. It is home to an abundance of wildlife, including elephants, lions, and wild dogs, and is known for its excellent safari experiences. Here are the top 10 things to do in Botswana:

      1. Explore the Okavango Delta

      The Okavango Delta is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most unique and diverse ecosystems in the world. Take a boat or mokoro (dugout canoe) safari to explore the crystal-clear channels and lagoons, and spot a wide variety of wildlife including elephants, hippos, crocodiles, and many bird species.

      2. Visit the Chobe National Park

      The Chobe National Park is known for its large elephant population and is one of the best places in Africa to see elephants. Take a game drive or boat safari to spot elephants, lions, buffalo, and many other species of wildlife.

      3. Discover the Kalahari Desert

      The Kalahari Desert is a vast, arid landscape that is home to the San people, also known as the Bushmen. Take a guided tour to learn about the traditional way of life of the San people, and explore the desert's unique flora and fauna.

      4. Take a safari in Moremi Game Reserve

      The Moremi Game Reserve is one of the most diverse wildlife reserves in Africa and offers excellent opportunities for game viewing. Spot lions, leopards, cheetahs, and many other species of wildlife on a game drive or a guided walking safari.

      5. Visit the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans

      The Makgadikgadi Salt Pans are the largest salt flats in the world and offer a unique and otherworldly landscape. Take a guided tour to explore the salt pans and spot the diverse bird and mammal species that inhabit the area.

      6. Visit the Tsodilo Hills

      The Tsodilo Hills are a UNESCO World Heritage site and are known for their rich cultural and spiritual significance to the San people. Take a guided tour to explore the hills and discover the many rock art sites and ancient paintings that can be found there.

      7. Go on a boat trip on the Chobe River

      Take a boat trip on the Chobe River to see the diverse wildlife that inhabits the riverbanks, including elephants, hippos, crocodiles, and many bird species.

      8. Visit the Nxai Pan National Park

      The Nxai Pan National Park offers the chance to see large herds of wildebeest, zebras, and springboks, as well as predators such as lions and cheetahs.

      9. Visit the Central Kalahari Game Reserve

      The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is the second largest wildlife reserve in the world and offers the chance to see a wide variety of wildlife, including big cats, elephants, and many bird species.

      10. Visit the Khama Rhino Sanctuary

      The Khama Rhino Sanctuary offers the chance to see the endangered black rhinoceros, as well as other wildlife species such as zebras, giraffes, and many bird species. This sanctuary is committed to the conservation of rhinos, and visitors can take guided tours to learn more about their conservation efforts.

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