Botswana Travel Tips

time

GMT : +2 hours

climate

All areas in Botswana experience dry winter conditions with summer rains falling in the form of thunderstorms. Rainfall in the country is a scarce commodity with higher levels of precipitation in the north and east than in the south and west of the country. Daytime temperatures in summer often exceed 35o and nighttime temperatures in winter often fall below freezing.

Average minimum and maximum temperatures in centigrade are as follows:

okavango delta

Summer: Nov-Mar 19-31
Autumn : Apr-Jun 13-27
Winter: Jul-Aug 05-26
Spring: Sep-Oct 14-33

francistown

Summer: Nov-Mar 17-31
Autumn : Apr-Jun 09-25
Winter: Jul-Aug 06-25
Spring: Sep-Oct 14-32

currency & credit cards

The unit of currency in Botswana is the Pula; which is divided into 100 Thebe. Bank notes currently available are in denominations of P100; P50; P20; P10 and P5. Coins in denominations of P2; P1; 50t; 25t; 10t; 5t; 1t are in circulation.

Most hotels; shops; restaurants and other retail outlets accept valid international credit cards. MasterCard; Visa; American Express and Diners Club are widely accepted for payment.

electricity

The Botswana power grid uses 220/240 volts AC 50 Hertz. Wall sockets (round and square 3 pin) are rated to carry a maximum of 15 amps. It is important to carry a 3 pin round and square adapter; which can be purchased in hardware shops and especially at photographic stores; as most foreign electrical plugs do not fit the Botswana electrical socket. Most hotels have electric shaver plugs and/or adapters available.

public holidays

New Year’s Day 1st January
Good Friday (Easter weekend) April (variable date) Ascension Day 1st June
Botswana Day 30th September & 1st October Boxing Day 26th December
Public Holiday 2nd January
Family Day (Easter weekend) April (variable date) President’s Day 3rd Monday & following day in July Christmas Day 25th December

visas & entry requirements

Valid passports are required by all foreign nationals to enter Botswana. Citizens of the Commonwealth and the following countries do not require visas to enter Botswana: USA; Sweden; Belgium; Finland; Iceland; Denmark; Norway; Luxembourg; France; Italy; Netherlands; Austria; Germany; Greece; Liechtenstein; Yugoslavia; Switzerland; San Marino; Ireland; Uruguay and Japan. Visas are required by nationals of all other countries, which must be purchased before arrival in the country. All air arrivals must be in possession of a valid return ticket and must be able to prove that they have sufficient funds to cover their stay in the country.

Important - If you are entering Botswana from a Yellow Fever Zone, you must have a Yellow Fever Certificate stating that you have been immunized at least 10 days prior to arrival, or be in possession of an exemption certificate (if applicable). This includes (but is not limited to) travelling from Zambia, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda or Kenya. We suggest you consult your GP or nearest travel clinic for the most up-to-the-minute advice. Important: Botswana will deny entry to any travellers who have been in Ebola affected countries (Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria) in the 30 days prior to arrival.

luggage / weight restrictions

When taking light aircraft flights / transfers in Botswana please note that luggage is strictly restricted to 20kgs (44lbs) per person including ALL hand luggage. All luggage has to be packed in the belly pods of the aircraft. Suitcases and luggage with rigid wheel frames do not fit and as a result cause delays and inconvenience for other travellers. The bags which guests can bring have to be small, flexible and soft-sided. Unfortunately large suitcases and rigid, inflexible luggage cannot be transported in the aircraft. Luggage with "pull along" handle frames and wheels are NOT flexible soft bags and do not fit into the aircraft. (These include bags which might have soft sides, however have a solid or rigid "wheely" frame within the base of the bag).

The dimensions of the bag must not exceed 25cm (10in) wide, 30cm (12in) high and 62cm (24in) long. In order to comply with Civil Aviation regulations Africa Collection must also be advised if clients weigh between 110 – 120 kg (17st - 19st). Passengers weighing over 120 kg (18st 12lbs) may be asked to purchase an additional seat.

business hours

Most businesses and shops are open between 08h30 and 17h00 on weekdays and between 09h00 and 13h00 on Saturdays. Many shops close for lunch between 13h00 and 15h00.

drinking & dining

The food of Botswana reflects the agricultural products of the country. Superb meat products including beef and venison feature prominently. Gaborone boasts a wide variety of restaurants featuring most of the prominent cuisine varieties of the world.

Tap water in most urban areas is chemically treated and safe to drink. Bottled mineral water is widely available. Locally brewed beer is of good quality. South African wines of superb quality are available in most restaurants.

medical care

Visitors are responsible for their own medical needs and it is advisable to carry comprehensive medical insurance. There are Public Hospitals in most towns and cities with a reasonable quality of service. Private Hospitals and Clinics in large towns provide good quality medical services. Chemists/Pharmacies; private doctors and other medical practitioners are widely available in most large towns.

Malaria is endemic to the Okavango and Chobe areas of northern Botswana and especially in proximity to water (rivers and swamps). Suitable precautions and the use of Prophylactics are recommended for visitors to these areas. There are a number of excellent mosquito repellents available; which are applied directly to the skin or clothes in the evening. Many hotels and other accommodation establishments have mosquito nets over the beds in their rooms.

HIV/Aids is widespread in Botswana and it is recommended that visitors do not engage in any high-risk sexual or drug-related activities; which may cause exposure to the disease.

postal services

Post Offices are open from 08h15 to 12h45 and 14h00 to 16h00 on weekdays and from 08h30 to 11h30 on Saturdays

telephones

A modern and efficient telephone service is available in almost all parts of the country. Direct national and international dialling is possible in almost all areas. There are no area codes in Botswana. Pay phones operating with coins are widely available; usually in the vicinity of Post Offices. Up-to-date telephone directories are available in all areas.

A cellular telephone operation provides widespread coverage in main towns across the country. Facsimile services are available at most luxury hotels.

tipping

Tipping for service is standard practice in Botswana and usually ranges between 10% and 15% in restaurants and about P4 per item for hotel porters. Cleaners and maids in hotels and other accommodation establishments usually get between P4 and P8 per day.

During your trip it is likely that you will come into contact with tour guides; game rangers and trackers who depend largely on their tips for their income. Tipping in this instance ranges between P25 and P45 per person per day. Tipping is only recommended if you are satisfied with the service you have received and is entirely at your own discretion.

road travel & public transport

The road network is well developed and being improved on an on-going basis. Most major international and a number of local car hire companies are represented in Botswana. Easy access to car hire from major airports and in the main centres is possible and is the preferred mode of transport for international tourists. The developed national and tourist infrastructure within Botswana makes it an easy self-drive destination for the international tourist. It is however preferable to fly into the tourist areas in the north of the country; as the distances from Gaborone and South Africa are very long; despite the good condition of the arterial road network.

Public transport is largely non-existent in Botswana. Taxi services are available in Gaborone. Mini-bus taxis provide long distance and in-town services in Botswana but are poorly maintained and generally un-roadworthy. Trains and luxury inter-city coaches run between Gaborone and Bulawayo in Zimbabwe and Johannesburg and Cape Town in South Africa.

security

Botswana is a relatively crime free country with very low levels of violent crime. Petty crime can impact on the enjoyment of your holiday in the country and in order to avoid this inconvenience visitors should be aware of the following.

  • Avoid lonely and deserted areas; especially after dark.
  • Passports and money should be safely locked away in your hotel.
  • Carry your wallet and other documents you may require in a body belt; preferably under loose clothing.
  • Be aware of what others around you are doing; both when walking and driving.
  • If you are unsure about anything ask your tour guide; hotel staff or a local person with whom you are acquainted.
  • Do not leave valuables in your motor vehicle; which are visible from the outside.
  • Avoid picking up hitchhikers and ensure your car doors are locked; especially at traffic lights.
  • Do not hand your car keys over to anyone other than the car rental staff.
  • The Botswana Police are available at any time to assist in the event of any difficulties.

Africa Collection: Office Hours: 09h00 – 17h30 - Tel: +44 (0) 1403 256655, Fax: +44 (0) 1403 253325

Africa Collection after hours/emergencies: +44 (0) 7785 344648 OR +44 (0) 7904 324368

Last updated – 18 September 2014