Travelers can visit Botswana the whole year through, however it is good to keep in mind the pro’s and con’s of the four seasons. During the summer period (November – April) temperatures are higher and in general more rainfall can be expected. Rainfall makes the country fresh and greener. Landscapes are beautiful. Spotting wildlife in national parks can be more challenging as the vegetation is denser. Some National Parks such as the Moremi Game Reserve will in general be very wet during this period and hardly accessible.
Autumn (April – May) and Spring (September – October) are weather-wise quite similar. It is dry and temperatures are more moderate. From April onwards the landscape slowly loses its green color. We are heading for the winter (June – August). During this period, wildlife migrates towards rivers and waterholes, which makes it easier to spot animals. Keep in mind that the evenings can be cold, especially in the south.
For Botswana, recommended vaccinations are DTP, and vaccination against hepatitis A. Malaria only occurs in northern Botswana. Ask your local health services for the most updated advice on vaccinations and preventative care.
Most citizens do not need to apply for a visa for Botswana and/or Namibia for a visit of less than 90 days. However, always check your own personal situation and in either case ensure and that you have:
The currency of Botswana is the Pula (BWP – €1 is about 12,30 BWP). For your daily expenses it is always important to have a wallet with smaller bills and keep the rest of your cash separated and out of sight.
Especially when you spend several days in more remote areas, like wild parks, ensure you have enough cash of the local currency (BWP) on you. Foreign exchange services are not easy to find. Furthermore, it is recommended to take a ‘mix’ of means for payment, including cash, a debit card and a credit card (VISA or MasterCard). There are always cases in which you cannot pay with your normal debit card. E.g. you need a credit card to rent your car. Also, we recommend having American Dollars with you for emergencies, which you will also need when crossing the border to Zimbabwe.
There are ATMs (Automated Teller Machines) in the larger destinations of Botswana. Remember that for every transaction you will be charged additional banking fees. Also do not forget to change the security settings of your bankcards to ‘Worldwide’ if necessary – ask your local bank for instructions.
There are many good guidebooks about Botswana, such as the Rough Guide, Lonely Planet and Bradt. For those guides that are specifically about Botswana’s nature you can always visit a local bookstore.
Ensure that you are well prepared to have a secure journey. The chance that something happens to you or your family before or during the trip is small, however, it is important to get the right insurance. It can save you costs and a lot of trouble! We strongly recommend a travel and cancellation insurance, so that any unexpected costs due to illness or accidents, costs of replacing stolen or lost baggage or necessary repatriation are covered.
We advise you to contact your local insurance agent or bank for information about the possibilities. Also, we recommend that you contact your healthcare provider to inform you about the coverage of possible medical expenses.
Botswana guarantees you the most beautiful pictures. For the real hobbyists, a telephoto lens is a must for wildlife-photography. However, keep some rules in mind while taking pictures. If you want to take pictures of people, always ask for their permission first. Especially at places that are popular for tourists, locals may ask for money for a picture. Negotiate friendly and do not secretly take a picture.
Botswana has abolished daylight saving time in 1944. Therefore, during European winter (end of October – end of March), Botswana’s clocks are one hour ahead; whereas in the European summer there will be no difference of central European time to Central Africa Time (CAT). Furthermore, consider that there are fixed opening and closing times at National Parks and borders, so make sure you leave, or rather arrive, on time. Remember that distances to cover are longer than you are used to, and you do not want to drive in the dark.
In restaurants it is usual to give a gratuity of about 10% of your bill. Drivers and guides also appreciate a gratuity as this is often not just an extra, but most often forms part of their salary which a family lives from. In guesthouses and hotels, you will mostly find a ‘tip-box’ for gratuity which is then shared amongst everybody, as also the gardener contributes to you having a comfortable stay. People that do you a favor in public, like cleaning your window or watch your car, would normally receive gratuity too.
Most of the food that is offered in Europe will also be found in Botswana. However, the emphasis here is on meat, especially game (e.g. Oryx, Kudu and Ostrich), beef and lamb. But vegetarians will find suitable alternatives with sufficient choices in supermarkets.
The BBQ is probably the most important social event, which comes with salad, potatoes and a cold beer. ‘Biltong‘ is the most popular snack and is normally found in every car’s glove-box. Biltong is raw dried meat spiced with herbs and salt. Because it stays good for a very long time, it serves as a good snack during your safari. Another main dish is ‘miliepap’, a porridge made from corn flour and eaten with fingers.
Avoid drinking tap water. Rather ensure that you carry enough bottled water with you: 5L water bottles are sold in supermarkets and fuel stations. Of course, South-African wine is sold in abundance and is of high quality. Good beers are more commonly brewed in Botswana.
The voltage in Botswana is 220/240V. You will need a three-pin plug or adaptor, which can be found in every supermarket. A European multi-plug comes in handy if you want to charge more than one device at the same time. Although power failures are unusual, a flashlight or headlamp is very useful at night.
In the more populated areas you will usually have cell phone reception with your foreign SIM-card, but when driving through Botswana this will often not be the case. If you want to be reachable, buy a Botswana ‘pre-paid’ SIM-card. Most accommodations also have (free) Wi-Fi.