This Botswana Safari Requirements information is designed to assist Safari Guru clients in understanding their travel destination prior to departure, as well as planning for the local conditions. Please take your time to read and ensure you fully understand any local customs, political agendas and the history of your chosen destination. Please note that Africa is in a constant state of change and development; therefore, the information provided should be treated as guidance only and could change by the time of travel.
Botswana COVID-19 Travel Entry Requirements – 28 September 2022
As of 28th September 2022, Botswana dropped all Covid protocols including the wearing of masks in public places and the need for a PCR test at point of entry
As of 28th September 2022, travellers entering Botswana no longer need to be vaccinated or show proof of vaccination for entry
More information on Covid and Frequently Asked Questions available in the Botswana Safari Pre-Departure Information Document link below.
Considered one of the greatest safari destinations in Africa, Botswana is a wild and dramatic land distinguished not only by its bountiful wildlife but also by its remarkable scenery: from shimmering salt pans and diamond-rich deserts to tranquil rivers and fertile floodplains, the landscape here offers something for everyone.
Nearly half of the country is dedicated to national parks, reserves and private concessions, which makes for an excellent safari experience. Botswana’s policy of favouring low-impact luxury tourism ensures that even the most famous game-viewing areas rarely feel crowded, whilst its population of just two million adds to the sense of expansive wilderness.
The north of Botswana, in particular, offers superb wildlife. It is home to the World-Heritage Listed Okavango Delta – the largest inland delta of the world – where shimmering lagoons and fertile waterways are crammed with more than 400 species of bird. Away from the water zebras and giraffes amble across grass flats and floodplains, keeping an eye out for the numerous big predators that also call this home.
Northeast of Okavango is another jewel in Botswana’s crown: Chobe National Park, which has one of the largest concentrations of wildlife anywhere in Africa. The reserve is particularly well known for its vast elephant numbers, some 60,000+ strong, which share this wild land with the likes of lions, cheetahs, hippos and many more.
It’s not only in conservation that Botswana is an African success story. Since gaining independence in 1966, it has achieved steady economic growth through good use of its agricultural potential and enviable diamond reserves.
It has not entirely escaped controversy – the HIV/AIDS pandemic and alleged maltreatment of the Kalahari Bushmen have caused international concern – but it remains a peaceful and stable nation of remarkable natural beauty and its developed infrastructure makes it much more accessible than some of its neighbours.
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT BOTSWANA:
|Area||581,730 sq km (224,607 sq miles)|
|Population||2,291,661 (Estimate 2017)|
|Population Density||3.8 per sq km|
|Head of Government||President Mokgweetsi Masisi since 2018|
|Language||English is the official language. Setswana is the national language, with minorities speaking Kalanga and Sekgalagadi.|
SOCIAL CONVENTIONS IN BOTSWANA
As most people in Botswana follow their traditional pattern of life, visitors should be sensitive to customs, which will inevitably be unfamiliar to them. Outside urban areas and safari destinations, people may well not be used to visitors. Casual clothing is acceptable and, in urban centres, normal courtesies should be observed.
Smoking is uncommon, and it is prohibited on public transport and in most public buildings.
Christianity, Roman Catholic and indigenous beliefs. There are numerous small Zionist and Apostolic churches in rural villages, as well as United Reformed (Congregational and Methodist), Dutch Reformed, Lutheran, Methodist and Anglican churches, and predominantly expatriate Muslim, Quaker, Hindu and Bahai congregations in major towns.
HISTORY OF BOTSWANA
The first people to settle in Botswana were the San Bushmen, nomadic hunter-gatherers whose territories are also thought to have spanned present-day Namibia, Angola, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Their influence is still evident in southern Africa, where these indigenous inhabitants eke out traditional lives as hunter-gatherer. Examples of their early rock art are also still visible across the region.
From the 17th century, the San Bushmen started to come under pressure from migrating Bantu tribes, who had emigrated from sub-Saharan Africa. A further series of migrations followed, and by the 18th century these migrants were firmly established in the southern part of Botswana and had established a powerful military state controlling hunting, cattle-breeding and copper mining.
The 19th century brought another period of upheaval, as inhabitants from the north of the continent, dislocated by slavery and the collapse of their local economies, moved to new territories.
British colonialists and Boer settlers then came along and vied the control of Botswana; the local rulers allied themselves with the British against the Boers, and Botswana was eventually brought under British protectorate control in 1890, remaining so until independence in 1966.
Popular Seretse Khama became the country’s first president – a position held until his death in 1980 – and subsequent elections have remained peaceful and democratic.
In the late 1960s, diamonds were discovered in Botswana and became the primary driving factor for the country’s economic growth and independence. These riches have, unlike in other parts of Africa, helped the country become a veritable African success story.
During the 1980s and 1990s, Botswana was an important player in South Africa’s apartheid struggle, providing refuge for a number of guerrilla fighters and political exiles. Today, Botswana’s key domestic priority is to tackle the AIDS pandemic. Botswana’s infection rate, estimated at 25 per cent of the total population, is among the worlds highest.
Botswana continues to be a shining light of peaceful, non-racial, multi-party democracy on the African continent.
Passports & Visas
Your passport should be valid for at least six months after the date of your intended departure date from Africa. It is the travellers responsibility to ensure adequate passport pages, obtain any visas and satisfy any entry requirements.
PASSPORT PAGES – At least three blank “visa” (not “endorsement”) pages are required.
At this time, Australian, American, French and British tourists do not need a pre-arranged visa to enter Botswana for short-term tourism purposes – up to 90 days. It is advisable to carry proof of onward travel from Botswana, such as departure flight ticketing.
All other foreigners who require visas to enter Botswana as tourists are eligible for this service, which are available on Botswana’s Visa Application – Tourism Visa page.
Medical, Immunisations & Safety
When visiting Botswana, if you have arrived from, transited through, a country with the risk of yellow fever; such as such as those in East Africa, you are required to present a certificate of yellow fever vaccination upon arrival.
For immunisations, please consult your medical practitioner or a travel medical centre for advice on medical issues related to your destination. The following websites may be helpful to you: http://smartraveller.gov.au and http:// wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel. Please note that many immunisations require administration some weeks prior to travel in order to be effective. During your trip, should emergency assistance be required, each game-drive vehicle has radio contact with the camp and each camp has 24 hour radio contact with their base support headquarters. Medical emergency evacuation will be arranged if necessary.
Take enough legal prescription medicine with you to last for the duration of your stay so you remain in good health. Carry copies of your prescription and a dated letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, how much you’ll take and that it’s for personal use only. It is advisable to check if your medication is legal in each country you’re travelling to.
Malaria can occur throughout Botswana and is widespread in the north of the country, especially during the rainy season (November to March). You should consider taking malaria prevention medication, and seek medical advice if you have a fever, muscle pain, rash or severe headache.
Other mosquito-borne diseases (including filariasis) also occur.
Protect yourself against insect-borne diseases, by using insect repellent and wearing long, loose fitting, light coloured clothing.
It is a pre–requisite of travel that all clients obtain comprehensive travel insurance cover at their own expense. it is always advisable to furnish your booking agent with your travel policy details – if applicable.
Your Health (Food & Water)
In Botswana, local tap water is not potable.
Sealed bottled water is safe to drink and reputable brands can be purchased in hotels, restaurants, and grocery stores. You will be supplied with water at your camp, which has been filtered through a reverse osmosis process.
It is essential that you drink plenty of water each day (a minimum of 2–3 litres). The dryness and heat will dehydrate you very quickly. If you are feeling lethargic or have a headache, there is a good chance it is simply dehydration, so make sure you increase your water intake.
It is a good idea in the warmer months to travel with spare rehydrate sachets. The water used for washing salads and making ice has also been filtered.
Cash and Credit Cards, Tipping & Other
The country’s currency is the Pula (BWP) and is used to purchase items locally, although USD are accepted for tipping. Please anticipate no access to ATMs whilst in Botswana. (The ATM across the road from Maun airport only provides pula). Credit cards are not widely accepted. Exchange services for foreign currency and travellers cheques are available in Maun if needed. US dollars are accepted in most markets and for tipping.
Personal expenses in the camps, such as souvenirs from the camp shop, can generally be paid with Visa or MasterCard, in USD, or in the local currency. A surcharge may be levied on credit card transactions. Be sure to contact your bank prior to departure if you plan to use your credit card in Africa. When carrying USD cash, it is a good idea to carry small denominations as it is often difficult to get change. As a general rule, check that USD notes are 2010 or newer and not damaged or marked.
Please consider carrying USD cash for tipping; most importantly for luggage porterage, road transfers, lodge staff and guides.
Gratuities are not compulsory, but do make up a significant portion of income for local staff.
|Camp Staff||There will generally be a communal staff tip box at all the camps, or if not, the manager will inform you how best to offer any gratuity. The usual gratuity for camp staff is USD10 per guest per day.|
|Specialist Staff||Safari Guides and Butlers, it is USD8–15 per person per day, given directly to the person at the end your stay at each camp.|
|USD5 per person (their tip box is usually in the common area).|
|Massage Therapists||We recommend about USD2 – USD3 per treatment.|
|Hotel Stays||Baggage porterage is usually tipped (about USD2 – USD3 per guest per movement, depending on how much luggage). Tips for housekeeping are generally not expected unless significant services have been provided.|
|Non–Safari Transfers||E.G. airport–hotel: We recommend around USD2 – USD3 per guest per movement, minimum USD5 total.|
We would like to emphasise that tipping is definitely not a requirement and should be undertaken only by choice, dependent on the service received. Brown envelopes are handy to share gratuities between individuals.
Climate, Clothing and Luggage
The landlocked Botswana is semi-arid and has two main seasons: wet and dry.
The dry season is from May to October. This is peak season for wildlife safari as animals are much easier to spot because the vegetation is less dense, and animals tend to congregate around waterholes. Temperatures are around 25°C (77°F), but they are at least 10 degrees cooler in the south. The Kalahari Desert, in the southwest, may experience cold and frosty early mornings and evenings too.
The wet season is from November to April. November can be very hot and humid, whilst January and February are the wettest months.
Loose, natural fabrics are recommended, with wet-weather gear and warmer clothes according to the season and area visiting.
Soft bags with a rigid structure at the base – including wheels and/or a collapsible handle – will be accepted. Alternatively, standard soft duffel/tog type bags are also fine.
The maximum dimensions of ALL bags which can be accommodated are as follows: 30 cm (11.8 inches) wide x 35 cm (13.8 inches) high and 70 cm (27.5 inches) long.
The maximum permissible luggage allowance when travelling on a seat rate basis, including carry-on, is strictly 20 kg (44 lb) per person.
Cell Phones, Power, Photography and drones
Tri–band cell phones on global roaming generally work in all major urban centres, however they do not work in the majority of safari camps.
Camps are powered by regular electrical power, solar power or generators. Voltage is 220–240V. There is usually ample electricity to charge batteries for digital and video cameras, iPods etc., but not for use of hair dryers and electric shavers etc. In some camps, the facilities for charging batteries are in the main camp area rather than in a room. Many camps have an array of adaptor plugs.
In South Africa and Botswana, the South African Socket is used. The voltage (220–240V) is similar to Australia and a voltage converter will generally not be required to use appliances designed for Australia. A socket adaptor is usually all that is needed.
Airports, official residences and defence establishments should not be photographed. Permission should be obtained to photograph local people.
Serious digital photographers may wish to bring a mobile device for the
downloading of images. you are advised to bring a spare battery for use while the other one is being charged, a power converter/adaptor if applicable, cables for computers or cameras and additional flashcards.
Drones without proper government authorisation are not permitted in Botswana.
Drone laws are continually changing, and if you are interested in bringing a drone on your trip, we recommend double-checking the rules for each country you will be travelling through immediately before departure.
Safari Guru’s Botswana Safari Requirements and a Packing List
Understand more about Packing for an African Safari, with a checklist of packing items, or download Safari Guru’s Botswana Safari Pre-Departure Information Document.
PDF Download – Botswana Safari Pre-Departure Information Document
DISCLAIMER: Please note that whilst we take every care to ensure the information contained herein is accurate, we cannot in any manner or form guarantee the accuracy and correctness thereof. The information is taken directly from relevant country government sources and the IATA travel centre, and can change at any time and without notice. You are therefore advised that any information contained herein should not be construed as a representation made by Safari Guru or its network of suppliers and ground handlers and it remains a travellers sole and absolute duty to double-check current information at the time of undertaking any travel.