Travel to Botswana

Botswana

With an area of almost 373 000 square miles, Botswana is virtually the same size as Texas. Travelers come to experience the stunning beauty of the world’s largest intact inland Delta – the Okavango; the unimaginable vastness of the world’s second largest game reserve – the Central Kalahari Game Reserve; the isolation and other-worldliness of the Makgadikgadi Pans – uninhabited pans the size of Portugal; and the astoundingly prolific wildlife of the Chobe National Park.

Situated in the center of southern Africa, Botswana is a landlocked country, with Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe as its immediate neighbors. Botswana lies an average of 3,000 feet above sea level and is more than 372 miles from the nearest coast.

Botswana has abandoned mass tourism and focuses on high quality, low volume tourism as the best way to preserve the environment. Your first – and most lasting impressions – will be of vast expanses of uninhabited wilderness stretching from horizon to horizon, the sensation of limitless space, astoundingly rich wildlife and bird viewing, night skies littered with stars and heavenly bodies of an unimaginable brilliance, and stunning sunsets of unearthly beauty.

With more and more cultural tourism options on offer, you will be charmed by the people of Botswana, visiting their villages and experiencing first-hand their rich cultural heritage. But perhaps most of all, Botswana’s greatest gift is its ability to put us in touch with our natural selves. It offers that vital link so keenly felt by inhabitants of the developed world, a pervasive void we feel but often cannot name – our connectedness with Nature and the astonishing diversity of plants and animals to be explored.

Overview

Botswana is one of the touristic jewels of Africa.  In addition to an abundance of natural beauty, shortly after achieving democratic rule from the British in 1966, three of the world’s richest diamond-bearing formations were discovered there. This has led to a high standard of economic stability, education and health care. Despite this, much of the country remains remote - a destination for the intrepid and relatively high end traveler.

People

The term “Batswana” refers to the ethnic group of people who speak the Setswana language and share the Sotho-Tswana culture, while in its common contemporary usage, it refers to all citizens of the Republic of Botswana, regardless of their ethnic background. The singular is “Motswana”: a citizen of the country. “Tswana” is used as an adjective - for example “Tswana state” or “Tswana culture”.

Language

The national language is Setswana however the official language is English.

History

Batswana, a term also used to denote all citizens of Botswana, refers to the country’s major ethnic group (the “Tswana” in South Africa), which came into the area from South Africa during the Zulu wars of the early 1800s. Prior to European contact, the Batswana lived as herders and farmers under tribal rule.

In the 19th century, hostilities broke out between the Batswana and Boer settlers from the Transvaal. After appeals by the Batswana for assistance, the British Government in 1885 put “Bechuanaland” under its protection. The northern territory remained under direct administration and is today’s Botswana, while the southern territory became part of the Cape Colony and is now part of the northwest province of South Africa; the majority of Setswana-speaking people today live in South Africa.

In June 1964, Britain accepted proposals for democratic self-government in Botswana. The seat of government was moved from Mafikeng, in South Africa, to newly-established Gaborone in 1965. The 1965 constitution led to the first general elections and to independence in September 1966. General elections serve to elect members of parliament, and the presidential candidate from the party that wins the most seats in the general election becomes the president. Seretse Khama, a leader in the independence movement and the legitimate claimant to traditional rule of the Bamangwato, became the country’s first president, was re-elected twice, and died in office in 1980. The presidency passed to the sitting vice president, Ketumile Masire, who was elected in his own right in 1984 and re-elected in 1989 and 1994. Masire retired from office in 1998. The presidency passed to the sitting vice president, Festus Mogae, who was elected in his own right in 1999. Mogae won a second term in elections held October 30, 2004 and stepped down in accordance with national term limits on March 31, 2008. On April 1, 2008 former Vice President Ian Khama assumed the presidency. Khama was elected as President in his own right during the general election held on October 16, 2009.

Travel Guide

Currency

The currency in Botswana is the Pula (P) which is made up of 100 Thebe.  Pula means ‘rain’ in Setswana while thebe means ‘shield’ in Setswana.

Time Difference

9 hours ahead of Los Angeles
6 hours ahead of New York

Best Time to Travel

Game viewing is at its peak during the dry winter months of May to October when animals reliably concentrate at year round water sources. In particular, many experts regard the cooler months of June to August as the best time of year for a Botswana safari - the game viewing is consistently excellent, there’s virtually no rain and the weather is comfortable.  Prices are at their highest during these prime months.
Wildlife disperses and becomes harder to locate when the rains begin in January through April. However, several destinations such as Chobe’s Savute region and the Kalahari offer excellent game viewing at this time. One reason is that they lie on the path of migrating animals – such as zebra.
A year-round birding destination, bird watchers will find the migrant-filled summer months of the rainy season the best time to visit Botswana for both numbers and diversity of species.
December is a particularly good month as many antelope give birth then which means more predators come around to hunt.

Weather

Summer is from November to the end of March and usually brings very high temperatures. It is also the rainy season and cloud coverage and rain can cool things down, although only usually for a short period of time.
The winter season begins in May and ends in August. This is also the dry season when virtually no rainfall occurs. Winter days are invariably sunny and cool to warm; however, evening and night temperatures can drop below freezing point in some areas.
The in-between periods - April/early May and September/October - still tend to be dry, but the days are cooler than in summer and the nights are warmer than in winter.
Summers (particularly from December through to February) can become exceptionally hot, and rain may make some roads muddy and impassable.

What to Wear

Layers are best - you will be in open, moving vehicles before sunrise and after sunset, so even in summer it will be cool. Jackets, caps and gloves also recommended year round.

Health Requirements

No vaccinations or medications are currently required for entry to Botswana from the United States.

Africa Answers is unable to give personalized medical advice and requests that travelers contact their travel clinic regarding recommended medications.

Visa Requirements

A passport with at least six months of validity remaining is required. U.S. citizens are permitted stays up to 90 days total within a 12 month period without a visa. Passports must have 2 blank visa pages available.

Starting 1 June, 2017, a tourism levy of $30 US will be collected at all land border points and airports into Botswana by cash, debit or credit card.

Tipping & Porterage

Tipping guidelines will be issued with final documents.

Credit Cards

International Visa and MasterCard are usually accepted throughout Botswana but American Express and Diners Club are often not accepted.

Electrical Appliances

220-240 volts AC, 50Hz.

Water

The country’s tap water is safe to drink. Most supermarkets, shops, camps and lodges also have bottled water available. When road traveling it is recommended to carry sufficient water at all times.

Map

A: Alexandria
B: Amboseli National Park
C: Arusha
D: Aswan
E: Bazaruto Island
F: Benguerra Island
G: Botswana
H: Bwindi Impenetrable NP
I: Cairo
J: Cape Town
K: Cape Winelands
L: Central Kalahari Region
M: Chobe National Park
N: Denis Island
O: Desroches Island
P: Drakensburg
Q: Dubai
R: Dubai Beaches
S: Dubai City Center
T: Dubai Desert
U: Dubai Marina
V: Durban
W: Eastern Cape
X: Eastern Cape Safaris
Y: Egypt
Z: Ethiopia
AA: Etosha National Park
AB: Franschhoek
AC: Garden Route
AD: Greater Kruger National Park
AE: Greater Winelands
AF: Hermanus
AG: Hwange National Park
AH: Johannesburg
AI: Jordan
AJ: Kafue National Park
AK: Kampala
AL: Kariba
AM: Kenya
AN: Kigali
AO: Knysna
AP: Kruger National Park
AQ: Kwazulu Natal
AR: La Digue
AS: Lake Manyara NP
AT: Lake Nakuru
AU: Lewa Wildlife Conservation
AV: Linyanti/Savuti Region
AW: Livingstone
AX: Lower Zambezi National Park
AY: Luxor
AZ: Madagascar
BA: Madikwe Game Reserve
BB: Mahé
BC: Maldives
BD: Mana Pools National Park
BE: Masai Mara
BF: Mauritius
BG: Mombasa
BH: Mozambique
BI: Nairobi
BJ: Namibia
BK: Ngorongoro Conservation Area
BL: North Island
BM: Okavango and Moremi GR
BN: Oman
BO: Oudtshoorn
BP: Plettenberg Bay
BQ: Port Elizabeth
BR: Praslin
BS: Queen Elizabeth National Park
BT: Quirimbas Archipelago
BU: Rwanda
BV: Sabi Sands
BW: Samburu National Park
BX: Selous Game Reserve
BY: Serengeti National Park
BZ: Seychelles
CA: Sharm El Sheik
CB: Sheik Zayed Road
CC: Silhouette Island
CD: Skeleton Coast National Park
CE: Sossusvlei
CF: South Africa
CG: South Luangwa
CH: Stellenbosch
CI: Sun City
CJ: Sun City and Surrounds
CK: Swakopmund & Walvis Bay
CL: Tanzania
CM: Tarangire National Park
CN: Timbavati Region
CO: Uganda
CP: Umhlanga
CQ: Victoria Falls
CR: Vilanculos
CS: Volcanoes National Park
CT: Windhoek
CU: Zambia
CV: Zanzibar and Pemba Island

Destinations

Explore the rest of our Botswana destinations:

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This Destination

Botswana

Related Destinations

Alexandria
Amboseli National Park
Arusha
Aswan
Bazaruto Island
Benguerra Island
Botswana
Bwindi Impenetrable NP
Cairo
Cape Town
Cape Winelands
Central Kalahari Region
Chobe National Park
Denis Island
Desroches Island
Drakensburg
Dubai
Dubai Beaches
Dubai City Center
Dubai Desert
Dubai Marina
Durban
Eastern Cape
Eastern Cape Safaris
Egypt
Ethiopia
Etosha National Park
Franschhoek
Garden Route
Greater Kruger National Park
Greater Winelands
Hermanus
Hwange National Park
Johannesburg
Jordan
Kafue National Park
Kampala
Kariba
Kenya
Kigali
Knysna
Kruger National Park
Kwazulu Natal
La Digue
Lake Manyara NP
Lake Nakuru
Lewa Wildlife Conservation
Linyanti/Savuti Region
Livingstone
Lower Zambezi National Park
Luxor
Madagascar
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Mahé
Maldives
Mana Pools National Park
Masai Mara
Mauritius
Mombasa
Mozambique
Nairobi
Namibia
Ngorongoro Conservation Area
North Island
Okavango and Moremi GR
Oman
Oudtshoorn
Plettenberg Bay
Port Elizabeth
Praslin
Queen Elizabeth National Park
Quirimbas Archipelago
Rwanda
Sabi Sands
Samburu National Park
Selous Game Reserve
Serengeti National Park
Seychelles
Sharm El Sheik
Sheik Zayed Road
Silhouette Island
Skeleton Coast National Park
Sossusvlei
South Africa
South Luangwa
Stellenbosch
Sun City
Sun City and Surrounds
Swakopmund & Walvis Bay
Tanzania
Tarangire National Park
Timbavati Region
Uganda
Umhlanga
Victoria Falls
Vilanculos
Volcanoes National Park
Windhoek
Zambia
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