Useful information for travel in Botswana
The following has been put together to give you a little more information on Botswana as a safari destination. We do our utmost to keep our information up to date, but to be sure, please get in touch with us.
What to Wear
When travelling to foreign destinations it is always respectful to dress modestly and we suggest the emphasis is on comfortable clothing. It is often very warm on the plains during the day, but it can get very cold, especially in the early mornings and evenings for game drives.
For game drives we suggest wearing layered clothing that can be removed as the day heats up. Blankets and hot water bottles are often provided by the lodges for those chilly early morning game drives. Neutral coloured clothing is recommended for game drives, along with good walking shoes for bush walks. Most hotels and lodges have laundry services, so an excessive amount of clothing should be unnecessary. Please note that most hotels and lodges hand wash clothing.
Most of the transfers between the lodges in Botswana are done in light aircraft with a strict baggage limit of 15Kg per person. Luggage must be packed in SOFT bags so that they can easily fit into the undercarriage compartment.
Hand luggage is limited to 5Kg per person.
Upon arrival at your destination, you will be met by our local representative. They will hold a ‘welcome card’ with your name on it. We have provided local contact details in the accompanying information but if you have any problems please call our 24-hour UK telephone number on +44 (0)7887 637 628. If you are arriving into Livingstone Airport, please be aware that, due to airport congestion, all tour operators now have to wait for their guests outside the Waiting Lounge below the stairs, this is essentially outside. This means that drivers and guides may not be visible in the arrivals hall when you first come through.
Hotels, Lodges & Camps
Lodges and camps vary from personally run, privately owned setups, to "company owned" lodges which generally form a circuit throughout Botswana and on occasions Southern Africa. The lodges/camps in Botswana are generally of a very high standard. They are usually small and intimate offering a very personal and high level service. Electricity is usually provided from a generator or by solar power. We do however always attempt to use environmentally friendly lodges who are committed to helping the local communities.
Most lodges are able to offer laundry facilities but please note that the cost is not always included. Check with reception for current prices. Due to natural drying and variable climatic conditions your clothing might not always come back ‘bone dry’. As most laundry is hand washed please avoid handing in delicate clothing. Most lodges won’t wash underwear but will happily provide washing powder to use in your room.
Most of the safari lodges and camps we use in Botswana are in prime wilderness areas where wild animals roam! At dusk some animals such as elephant, buffalo and hippo may come and graze near these camps. It is not unknown for the ‘Big Cats’ to wander through camps as well! Wild animals are dangerous and should not be approached on foot, unless accompanied by a guide. After dark camps and lodges will have night watchmen on duty to escort you to and from your tent or room. Once you have retired for the night please do not leave your tent/room and in the unlikely event that you need to summon assistance there will usually be a whistle beside your bed to alert the night watchman. It is also wise to keep your tent zipped up, as well as doors and window screens closed at all times after dark and also during the day when you are out.
Food & Water
Food varies from destination to destination. Please bear in mind that we try to use lodges/camps that use local produce which supports the local communities. Do not be afraid to try local produce it is part of the experience!
We recommend that you only drink bottled water which is often provided by the lodges.
Mobile phone coverage is excellent in Maun and Kasane but is very limited in some of the more remote places. Most of the communication to and from the lodges is done via radio or in emergencies, satellite phones.
We are not able to provide contact details for individual hotels, lodges or camps, as many do not have the facilities to handle guest calls/communications. We will provide contact details for our ground agents, please see accompanying information.
Botswana is two hours (+2) ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)
Sunrise in Botswana depends on the season, but this ranges from 05.30 to 06.50 and sunset ranges from 17.55 to 18.45.
Outside of the major towns electricity supplies in rural areas are provided by solar cells or generators. As such most lodges are only able to provide lighting/power to guest rooms at set times in the morning and afternoon. Most lodges do not have in room electrical sockets but charging facilities will be available, so please ask at reception. Please bear in mind that solar power is weather dependant and at times insufficient sunshine may mean lighting is limited. In these instances alternative lighting is generally available e.g. storm lanterns or torches.
The electricity supply in Botswana is 220 volts. Plug sockets do vary and we advise visitors to take multi-adaptors to cope with 3 round pin sockets (South Africa) or 3 square pin sockets (UK).
The local currency in Botswana is the Pula (BWP or P) which is divided into 100 thebe. There are money changing facilities in Kasane and Maun, which we recommend you use, as it is more difficult to change money whilst on safari. Most safaris to Botswana are all inclusive and so there is little need to change Dollars, Pounds or Euros into the local currency which will be accepted at most lodges throughout your safari. Credit cards are accepted at some lodges, but should only be used in emergencies.
As mentioned earlier, most safaris to Botswana are done on an all inclusive basis including local drinks, which means the only spending money you will need is for buying souvenirs and tipping your guides etc. and this will depend on each individual client and itinerary and so it is difficult to give you an estimated figure to take with you.
You may wish to take extra funds to make contributions or donations to organisations that we encourage clients to visit. Donations and contributions are entirely voluntary.
It is preferable to travel with cash rather than travellers cheques or credit cards (cards are useful as an emergency back–up); often it is only possible to use these in main cities or some of the larger lodges. US Dollars, British Pounds and Euros are accepted at most lodges throughout Botswana and so there is very little reason to exchange foreign currency into Pula.
Never keep all of your cash in the same place, keep it in different pockets and split it up between different bags.
Please Note: - US Dollars are no longer accepted in Zambia. If you are crossing over to Zambia during you safari you will need to ensure you have enough cash to change at a bureau on arrival or a bank card to withdraw local Kwacha from an ATM. There are money changing facilities in Lusaka and Livingstone which we recommend you use. You will not be able to purchase Zambian Kwacha outside of Zambia.
If you are carrying USD$, please take bills dated 2006 or later as earlier dated bills can be very difficult to change and may not be accepted (as well as torn and dirty bills – the crisper the better!). You will get a better exchange rate for $50 or $100 USD$ bills. A number of low denomination USD$ bills are useful for tipping.
Most of the larger lodges and hotels will accept credit cards, but this should be as a backup or emergency.
A valid passport with a minimum of 6 months validity on arrival is mandatory. Nationals of the following countries do not require a visa to travel to Botswana:
All EC Countries
All Commonwealth Countries (excluding Sri Lanka, India, Ghana, Mauritius & Nigeria)
USA & South Africa
Citizens of the above countries will be granted a one month entry stamp on arrival, all other passport holders should check with the Botswana consulate in their country of residence.
For up to date visa requirements please visit the following website: http://www.gov.bw/en/Visitors/Topics/Before-You-Go/
Please note obtaining the correct entry visas are your responsibility.
In the UK the Botswana Embassy is located at 6 Stratford Place, London, W1C 1AY.
Tel: 020 74 99 00 31
In the USA the Botswana Embassy is located at 1531 – 1533 New Hampshire Ave, NW, Washington DC, 20036.
Tel: (202) 244 4990
All of our local operators conform to local safety regulations. If you at any time feel that this is not the case please do not hesitate to contact us.
Know Before You Go is an ongoing campaign from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office to help Brits stay safe abroad, however in our opinion it has useful information for all nationalities. The campaign was launched in 2001 to promote these key messages:
- Get adequate travel insurance
- Check the FCO’s country travel advise
- Visit your GP as soon as possible before travelling
- Check your passport is in good condition and valid, and you have all necessary visas
- Make copies of important documents and/or store them online using a secure data storage site
- Tell someone where you are going and leave emergency contact details with them
- Take enough money and have access to emergency funds
- We suggest that you go to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website to get up to date information on your specific destination and important travel tips before you travel.
Go to: https://travelaware.campaign.gov.uk/ for relevant and important travel tips to plan your trip abroad.
Botswana is a safe country, but common sense is required when travelling, especially in Kasane and Maun. Do not flaunt money and always use safes when provided at hotels/lodges. If in doubt please ask your guide. Most of the lodges that are used in Botswana are far from any built up areas and so incidents are very rare. The main concern with regards to security is the threat from the wildlife which often roams free within the confines of the lodges and so special care needs to be taken when walking around alone. Do not approach wildlife on your own as they can be dangerous.
For latest travel advice please contact us, at our UK office, or alternatively use the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website.
Health & Medical
Always seek medical advice before travelling; please consult your GP or Doctor who will be able to advise you on required vaccinations and anti-malarial prophylaxis.
In the UK we recommended visiting the ‘Fit for Travel’ website.
In the USA we suggest consulting CDC (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention) - http://www.cdc.gov/
Please bring any personal medication required. Anti-malaria tablets and mosquito repellents are essential. Drink bottled or boiled water only. Travel from some countries requires a Yellow Fever inoculation and certificate. When travelling between South Africa and Zambia a Yellow Fever inoculation and certificate is compulsory, even if just in transit.
Medical services, especially in rural areas, are basic so it is essential you have appropriate travel insurance with adequate medical cover, air repatriation with a 24-hour contact telephone number for emergencies.
It is a condition of booking that all clients must have, and must demonstrate to the company prior to their departure, adequate insurance for the duration of the tour.
Proof of the following items of insurance is required on booking; cancellation or curtailment of your trip, medical expenses, repatriation, loss of luggage, personal injury, adventure activities such as white-water rafting, tracking wild animals, theft of personal belongings.
Please report any theft, trip disruption immediately to your guide during your trip and also in writing to Natural World Safaris immediately on return to your home country. Back to top
There is a smoking ban in Botswana that prohibits smoking in all public places, offices and public service vehicles. We strongly discourage smoking in the National Parks. Botswana is a very dry country and so PLEASE never through a lit cigarette into the bush as this could cause a devastating bush fire.
Travel times can vary considerably in Botswana. Main roads are generally good but travel is much slower than on European or American roads. Most roads in rural areas are often dusty or muddy and bumpy due to poor local maintenance and weather conditions. Wherever necessary we use properly equipped 4x4’s. Transfers between lodges are often done by light aircraft (please see the baggage section regarding restrictions) as this is the easiest way to get around. Departure times and travel times will vary depending on the route and how many stops there are before your drop off point. This is great way to get around as it gives you an aerial perspective of the country.
The weather in Botswana depends on the season, but generally it is warm during the day and can be cold at night and early morning. Botswana is in the southern hemisphere and so experiences its winter between June and August when night time temperatures can drop as low as 6 degrees centigrade. These temperatures are usually experienced in the Kalahari Desert and Okavango Delta and are felt on the early morning game drives. As the sun rises the day time temperature increases to a comfortable mid twenties.
September to April times can be very hot especially during the day and from November to April you can experience afternoon thunder showers that usually last a couple of hours. The main rainy season is between mid November and March.
Please refrain from photography of military personnel, military installations and airports. Always ask for permission when taking photos of local people or alternatively ask your guide for advice. Please bring extra batteries as it may not always be possible to re-charge them at the lodges. In addition it might be useful to bring a car charger (cigarette lighter variety). For photographing wildlife a zoom lens of 300mm or more is highly recommended.
Most lodges in Botswana offer an all inclusive package that includes local drinks, all meals and game activities and so our prices usually include the following: airport transfers, accommodation, meals and drinks as per your itinerary, shared game drives and transfers, most game activities, most park fees
Prices exclude all items of a personal nature: entry visas, international flights, tips, telephone calls, drinks (unless otherwise stated), laundry and airport taxes.
These are just rough guidelines and some may differ depending on the itinerary chosen.
Tips & Gratuities
During your time in Botswana, tipping is entirely at your discretion. There is no obligation to pay a tip to your drivers, hotel staff or your government guides. However, should you wish to tip, the following may be used as a guideline:
Whilst on safari, if your guide has given you exceptional service then a US$5 per person per day is a generous reflection of his/her service. For a mokoro poler a US$3 per day for a good service is also sufficient. If you are going to tip guides and lodge staff please do so at the end of your stay, rather than at the end of each game drive, otherwise guides will only try harder to impress, knowing there is a tip at the end of it. Please ask your lodge manager about the tipping procedure at their lodge as sometimes the tips are shared out amongst all the staff.
Charitable Giving & Community Projects
We recommend as part of our responsible travel policy that you do not give money or gifts directly to local people. We have links with local projects/schools that would appreciate your support. Please ask your guide for further details. If you would like to contribute to these donations of clothing, pens and pencils are greatly appreciated.
When you buy an ATOL protected flight or flight inclusive holiday from us you will receive an ATOL Certificate. This lists the flight, accommodation, car hire and/or other services that are financially protected, where you can get information on what this means for you and who to contact if things go wrong. Company Name: Natural World Safaris Ltd. ATOL Number 9826. For more information please visit their website: http://www.caa.co.uk/atol-protection/
As a member of the Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust Limited (ABTOT), Natural World Safaris Ltd has provided a bond to meet the requirements of the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992.
In the event of insolvency, protection is provided for non-flight packages commencing in and returning to the UK and other non-flight packages excluding pre arranged travel to and from your destination. Please note that packages booked outside the UK are only protected when purchased directly with Natural World Safaris Ltd.
In the above circumstances, if you have not yet travelled you may claim a refund, or if you have already travelled, you may claim repatriation to the starting point of your non-flight package.