Botswana is a landlocked country in Southern Africa and known for its diverse scenic landscape and abundance of wildlife. A country of impressive contrasts, Botswana’s natural phenomena include the vast salt pans of the Makgadikgadi, defined by granite outcrops and baobabs, the sandy plains of the Kalahari Desert which span 70% of the country’s land, and the famous Okavango Delta. Each of these natural areas teems with wildlife—making Botswana one of the best safari destinations in Africa. Gaborone is the capital of the country and boasts a busy international airport—Sir Seretse Khama International Airport, which is approximately 15 kilometres from downtown Gaborone. The international airport connects flights to various parts of the country and many international destinations.
The Chobe National Park and Moremi Game Reserve—both found in the Okavango Delta—are major tourist destinations. Both offer an amazing array of activities for the outdoor enthusiast. Among other reserves and national parks are the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Makgadikgadi Pans National Park, and Nxai Pan National Park. For an unrivalled cultural experience, visitors can step back in time as they learn about the San Bushmen in the Tsodilo Hills and admire ancient rock paintings that remain untouched today. Balloon safaris are also popular and provide a stunning way to view the landscape.
Furthermore, visitors can float between reeded channels in a dugout canoe while admiring the antelope wading through crystal clear water. Botswana also offers excellent land-based game viewing—with fantastic self-drive opportunities and guided game drives. The Chobe National Park is home to the world’s largest herds of elephants and offers regular sightings of predators. Star-gazing offers an extraordinary sight in the Kalahari Desert, with little to no light pollution to deter from the natural beauty of the night sky. Additionally, photographers and birdwatchers can expect a front seat show to Botswana’s natural wonders.
Botswana has a subtropical desert climate defined by two seasons throughout the year. The wet season often occurs between November and April, while the dry season is between May and October.
Accommodation options range from luxury safari camps and lodges to self-catering huts and guest houses, as well as basic camping grounds.
Safari-goers to Africa need to make sure about visa requirements for the specific destination in their country of origin. Passports need to be valid for at least six months from the planned date of departure and there should also be enough blank pages for the necessary visas and stamps to be applied.
The World Health Organisation recommends the following vaccinations for Botswana: hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, yellow fever, rabies, meningitis, polio, measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis), chickenpox, shingles, pneumonia and influenza. It is recommended that visitors check with a reputable travel clinic before departure as requirements may change.
Avoid drinking tap water in Botswana as in urban areas it is chlorinated and may not be suitable for consumption by foreign visitors. Stick to bottled water where possible.
Botswana is the perfect destination when planning a family-friendly safari. Kids can be entertained with tailor-made activities while adults are exploring wilderness areas with local guides.
If game viewing from a vehicle is to make up the bulk of the safari outing, then all and any visitors will be able to enjoy. For activities like a walking safari or more adventurous excursions, one should have at least a moderate level of fitness.
It is advisable to make getting travel insurance as part of the planning of any safari. That ensures travellers are covered for unforeseen circumstances leading to the cancellation of the trip, as well as medical cover and repatriation should anything happen while on safari. If adventurous activities, such as hiking, mountain climbing, gorilla trekking, hot air ballooning or white water rafting, are part of the safari, comprehensive travel insurance is a must.
An International Driving Permit allows foreigners to drive in Botswana and must at all times be carried with the visitor’s national drivers license. Driving is on the left hand side of the road. The speed limit in Botswana is 60 km/h in the city and 120 km/h on the highway.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions when traveling in Botswana. It is however better to ask an open-ended question to avoid misunderstandings, for instance “How do I drive to …?”