Botswana is one of best safari destinations in Africa with its wild and dramatic land characterized not only by its bountiful wildlife, but also by its extraordinary scenery. Nearly half of the country is given over to national parks, reserves and private concessions, which makes for an excellent safari experience with just a population of two million which adds to the sense of wilderness.
220-240 volts AC, 50Hz. Plugs used are British-style with two flat blades and one flat grounding blade, or South African/Indian-style with two circular metal pins above a large circular grounding pin.
Operational hours are 08:30 to 4:30 hours Mondays through to Fridays and 08:15 to 12:00 hours on Saturdays.
Most hotels, restaurants, travel agencies and the bigger shops will take credit cards. Most of the bigger banks will advance local currency against a credit card. Most banks have ATM’s which accept Visa cards for cash. Visa is more readily accepted than MasterCard or American Express.
It’s best to come into the country with either Dollars, Pounds or Euros which can be exchanged at any of the many Bureaus de Change in the main towns. If you are offered an exchange on the black market at the borders, exercise extreme caution as they are notorious for cheating you without you even realizing it.
ATMs are available within major towns in Botswana. Bigger banks have ATMs which accept Visa but not MasterCard.
Travelers’ Cheques are not widely accepted, and not commonly used. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travelers’ are advised to take travelers’ Cheques in US dollars, Euros or Pounds.
Exchange of foreign currency is carried out at authorized banks and bureau de change. There are many bureau at the central shopping areas in the main towns.
Third party insurance must be purchased at the border or airport for a nominal fee.
Medical insurance should be purchased before you leave your own country and should include emergency air evacuation coverage if you’re spending any time in remote parts of the country.
If one is not a citizen of a country that is exempted from having to apply for a visa, then one must obtain a visa either at the port of entry or at a Botswana Mission abroad. Please note that the countries do change and we advise that you visit Botswana Immigration for up to date Visa information.
The Zambia Immigration website contains visa guidelines for different types of visitors. Each visitor to Zambia must declare the main purpose of their visit. This will determine what sort of visa one needs, and where to obtain this visa.
Health and Medical
A yellow fever certificate is mandatory if you are travelling from an infected area. Malaria is virulent in the low lying areas of the country which include most of the good wildlife destinations. Doctors advise taking prophylactics two weeks before arrival and continuing two weeks after leaving. Your chemist or doctor can advise you of the most suitable drug available as certain drugs lose their effectiveness.
Tap water in the major towns is purified but we don’t recommend to drink, drink bottled water within the hotel or in the cooler box available in the car with your guide.
Chemists / Pharmacies
Travelers should carry an adequate supply of their prescribed medicines with them although chemists in the major centers carry a wide range of medicines and first aid accessories. It may be hard to find your very prescribed medicines.
Medical services are underdeveloped. In bigger towns, you can find anything resembling western standards but may not give the best and the clinics in the rural areas usually only have the basics.
Safety and Security
Petty theft is as common as any major city where unemployment is high. Be very vigilant when walking around with your valuables. Never leave your vehicle unlocked and never change money on the streets. However people are very friendly and helpful.
In line with personal safety, you can hitchhike alone throughout the country and you are not likely to get any problem. Theft however is possible in the bigger towns and cities as it is the world over. But always move with your passport, airline tickets and some minimum amounts of cash and keep it hidden.
The attacks on tourists are very rare, but petty and violent crime is increasing particularly in the major towns of Gaborone, Francistown and Maun. Theft from parked cars does occur and thieves target cars waiting at traffic lights to smash and grab handbags, phones or laptops. Keep valuables out of sight and in a safe place. If you are attacked, don’t resist. Use a hotel safe, where practical. Keep copies of important documents, including passports, in a separate place.
When you travel to remote areas plan your trip carefully, make transport and accommodation arrangements in advance and seek local security advice. Game reserves and other tourist areas are generally secure, but be alert to unpredictable behavior by wild animals. Follow park regulations and wardens’ advice. Avoid bathing in rivers and lakes, because of the dangers from both wildlife and water-borne diseases. Take emergency supplies (including water and fuel) and be prepared for off-road driving conditions. In very remote areas travel in convoy or with a satellite phone in case of breakdown.
You can drive using an International Driving Permit for up to 90 days. If you intend to stay longer you should apply for a Botswana driving license.
Botswana has good tarmac roads covering most of the country but you should be careful when driving off-road. The standard of driving is lower than in the UK and USA and many drivers ignore road safety rules. Driving, particularly outside the major urban areas, can be dangerous due to stray wildlife and livestock. This is a particular risk at night, so take extra care if you are driving after dark. In major towns taxis are generally safe to take. You should agree a price before setting off.