Botswana is a country I can highly recommend traveling to. It’s known for its wide range of wildlife and beautiful nature. Beautiful as it is, there are a couple of things to keep in mind when traveling there.
First of all, the best time to go for game viewing is in the dry season and spring: May to August and September to October.
English is an official language in Botswana. So communicating shouldn’t be hard for tourists.
Electricity is supplied at 220/240v. Both the square and round wall plugs are used. Bringing one of those international adapters is a great idea.
Personal safety and laws of Botswana
As in every country, there are a couple of things to keep in mind in regard to the law.
Let’s start with your personal safety in Botswana
The Southern African country is actually considered one of the safest countries in Africa. Although crime still exists, violent attacks (towards tourists) are rare.
It is smart to keep your valuables out of sight though. Don’t leave them visibly behind in a car or your room.
The locals tend to be polite and respectful to female travelers. Sadly, like in all countries, it is still possible you get unwanted attention from a man.
When going into nature, the safety precautions will be explained by your guide. You will be out in free nature. Animals roam around as they please. So listen very carefully to those safety briefings.
Botswana laws to keep in mind
Unfortunetaly homosexuality is still illegal in Botswana and can put you in jail for up to seven years.
Drug use and trafficking are illegal in entire of Botswana. They don’t have the nicest prisons, so just don’t do it.
When you are out in nature, make sure to leave everything behind as it is. It’s illegal to take items and animal trophies with you without a permit. Not even a tusk you may find lying around on the ground.
Diseases in Botswana
As with traveling to many African countries, it is important to keep diseases in mind. STD’s, vaccinations and medicine are important. So check with your doctor before departing on your vacation to Botswana.
Despite having one of the most progressive preventions and management programs for dealing with HIV/AIDS, Botswana still has one of the world’s highest rates. Having (unsafe) sex with locals is not recommended.
Vaccination you have to think about
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Yellow Fever
In some (European) countries some of these vaccines are routine. Others are more of an exception. However, visiting your doctor in time will make sure that you’re getting the right vaccinations without a problem.
Financial and currency
Botswana is a politically stable country and has known economic growth for a long time. Most of the population has a high standard of living. Poverty is still present of course.
In Botswana, you pay with the local currency called ‘Pula’. It’s the local word for rain, because, just like the money, rain is precious and worth a lot to them.
Paying by credit and debit cards is possible in most lodges and stores. However, having a bit of cash on you is a good idea for tipping. And to have some as a souvenir after your trip.
Tips for tipping:
- It’s not required, but it is nice and expected.
- Guides and butlers usually get $10 per day per guest
- Mokoro paddles and trackers get $5 per day per guest
- General staff get $10 per day per guest
- Sometimes it’s already included in the bill
Customs and traveling to Botswana
Traveling to Botswana means you have to cross a border. So let’s get into that part of your trip.
For entering it’s required to have a passport that’s still valid for at least six months.
You are not allowed to import meat and the importation of dairy and eggs is limited.
What you should bring on your Botswana trip:
- Clothes in neutral colors to wear on game safari’s
- Long clothing for during the evening when the mosquitos come out
- Insect repellent is a very good idea
- Sunscreen is your friend during a Botswana trip
- Batteries for your camera’s and other electronic devices
- An international charger
- Plenty of memory cards for your camera
- Water purification can be useful, but most stores sell bottled water
- A headlamp for during the night is very important
- A common first-aid kit can be useful
Ready to go? Read my two-week itinerary for Botswana