What you need to know before you leave…
South Africa is GMT +2.
Many nationalities do not require a visa prior to arrival: French, Belgian, Swiss, American, Canadian etc. However, please check the list on the official consulate website (http://www.saembassy.org/), as it may be updated at any time. The passport must be valid for at least 30 days after departure from South Africa and a return air ticket must be supplied. It is imperative that there be at least two blank pages in the passport for the visa stamp. A tourist visa is issued by South African customs at the airport or border post upon arrival, for a three month period.
IMPORTANT CHANGES TO YELLOW FEVER REGULATIONS IN BOTSWANA
All travellers from or through the countries which have been declared yellow fever infected areas must provide an international health certificate of vaccination for yellow fever upon arrival into Botswana.
Yellow fever declared countries in Africa are:
Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of the Congo, Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia.
Yellow fever declared countries in South America & Central America are:
Argentina – Misiones Province, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador excluding Galapagos Islands, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela.
– Honorary Consulate of Botswana : 88, avenue d’Iéna, 75116 Paris. Tél. : 01-47-20-08-23 ou 35-49. Courriel : firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Embassy of Botswana : 169, avenue de Tervuren, 1150 Bruxelles. Tél. : 2-739-11-20, 20-70 ou 61-10. Courriel : email@example.com.
– Embassy of Botswana : Chancellerie, 5th Floor, 80 rue de Lausanne, 1202 Genève. Tél. : (022) 906-10-60. Courriel : firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Embassy of Botswana in the USA : 1531-1533 New Hampshire Avenue N.W., Washington, D.C., District of Columbia, 20036, États-Unis. Tél. : (202) 244-4990.
No obligatory vaccination. The vaccine against yellow fever is not required unless you are travelling from an infected area. In this case, when passing through customs, your vaccination certificate will be required. You can be vaccinated only in approved centres.
It is essential to follow an anti-malarial treatment in Botswana. We also recommend that you bring mosquito repellent ointment and/or spray (Malaria is transmitted by mosquito bite).
We advise you to consult your doctor or an approved centre who will indicate the most appropriate prophylaxis to take. This is a zone 3. Your vaccinations against diphtheria, polio and tetanus should be kept updated. We encourage you to get inoculated against yellow fever, typhoid and hepatitis A and B. This recommendation applies to all destinations worldwide.
The tsetse fly is present in the Chobe area mainly however the risk of contracting sleeping sickness is very slight. Be attentive to your diet and do not drink tap water!
The currency is the Pula and it is divided into 100 Thebes.
– 1 Euro = about 11.40 Pula.
– Notes are 10, 50, 100, 200 Pula.
– Coins are 5, 10, 25, 50 Thebes.
– If you bring in foreign currency it must be declared. It’s easy to exchange euros, dollars and South African rand in the foreign exchange offices.
– Most hotels, restaurants and safari companies accept payment by credit card (Visa, MasterCard, but not American Express)
– Payment by traveller’s check is possible only occasionally.
– Entrance fees for the National parks and tourist sites only accept cash payments.
– From 8.30am to 4pm during the week.
– Some offices are open on Saturdays from 8am to 11am.
– Branches are open in international airports (Gaborone), days a week from 6am to 8.15pm.
– There are banks and ATMs in all major towns.
Cost of living
Unlike most other African countries, the cost of living is high. In order to protect the unique and fragile ecosystem in Botswana and its people, the tourism policy is financially selective. Game reserves offer exceptional fauna and flora whilst lodges offer outstanding professionalism and remarkable service which are reserved for high end budgets.
After your safari, it’s customary to give a tip to your guide and the staff at the camps and lodges. The amount varies depending on the quality of the guides and staff service. On average U.S. $20 per day per person (U.S. $10 for the guide, U.S. $5 for the tracker or Mokoro guide, U.S. $5 for the staff at the lodge / camp). Tip boxes are available in the camps and the tips are generally shared equally between the staff. You can also use your bank card to leave a tip if you don’t have cash.
Elsewhere in Botswana it’s customary to tip 10% – 15% of the bill for meals and beverages.
Official Language: English (the majority of the population speaks English which is taught in schools)
Other languages: Sekalanga ou Setswana.
The standard is 220 volts. British type plugs: adapter required.
As a precaution, make sure you have an adapter for your electrical appliances before leaving home. Remote lodges are not connected to the national grid and electricity is produced by generators or solar panels.
Botswana’s country code is 267 and the international dialling code is 00
To call abroad from Botswana: 00 + country code (32 for Belgium, 33 for France, 41 for Switzerland, 1 for Canada) + phone number without 0.
In case of an emergency, the easiest way is to contact a person travelling is to call the Go Tourism emergency number: +27 (0)83 254 5813
Botswana has a good telecommunications network (land and mobile phones), but most camps (safari lodges) are located outside the network coverage area. The camp managers communicate with the outside world by radio in case if an emergency. Internet is more often than not impossible in the lodges.
1 January: New Year’s Day
April: Good Friday
April: Easter Monday (Family Day)
1 May: Labour Day
1 July, Sir Seretse Khama Day.
3rd Monday in July: President’s Day.
30 September, Botswana Day
25 December: Christmas Day
26 December: Day of Goodwill
Botswana implements a policy of environmental protection that is vital to the country and its people. The number of accommodation possibilities is very controlled and the lodges generally have a small carrying capacity. The tented camps we prefer to use are luxurious with a reduced capacity of between 12 and 16 people.
The camps are energy self-sufficient and environment friendly. Water is drinkable and automatically recycled. Electricity is provided by solar panels that allow for hot water and light throughout the day and night. Foodstuffs and supplies are transported into the camps by air or road. The camps are not separated from the surrounding bush by barriers. All this contributes to the comfort and well-being of life in the bush.
Climate and Temperatures
Botswana is located in the southern hemisphere, straddling the Tropic of Capricorn, far from oceanic influences. It has a low rainfall, high temperatures and a mostly temperate climate.
Safari season begins in April and ends in late November. The rainy season is from December to late February. During the rainy season, animals are difficult to observe as they are dispersed throughout the country.
June, July and August are the winter months marked by dry, sometimes cloudy days and average temperatures. The nights and early mornings are cold.
September and October can be compared to spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Intermittent rains may occur in late October. Safaris in this season are particularly good with many animal sightings.
November to March are summer months and this is the rainy season. High temperatures and thunderstorms are frequent.
April and May are two months which are particularly favourable to discover Botswana because the temperatures are mild. These months are comparable to September and October.
What to pack
Warning: It is extremely important to respect luggage weight restrictions
On international flights, the maximum weight of checked baggage is on average 20 kilograms per person. On regional routes, it is not uncommon that the weight is limited to 12kgs per person maximum (cameras and hand luggage included) Please check with your consultant before you start packing.
It is essential to respect the following baggage restrictions: SOFT sided FLEXIBLE travel bag with a MAXIMUM height of 25 cm. A suitcase on wheels is not recommended for this kind of trip.
It is strongly recommended to avoid bulky clothing in your suitcase. Pack instead practical, lightweight clothes. If you are going on safari, bright colours are not recommended as it alerts and frightens the animals away. Opt instead for khaki, beige, brown or dark neutral colours and a pair of good walking shoes. White is to be avoided for the same reasons as above but also because the dust gets in everywhere. Simple and casual attire is the norm; however some hotels, restaurants and lodges require slightly more formal attire.
Dress according to the region and the season and bring at least one warm sweater and a wind breaker for cool/cold mornings and evenings. In winter (June to September), the nights can be extremely cold. Even in summer, wear long sleeved T-shirts to protect yourself from mosquitoes in the evenings. Do not forget your Swimsuit as most hotels and lodges have swimming pools.The dress code in the luxury lodges remains fairly casual.
-Hat or bob
-Cotton shirts, T-shirts and shorts
-Pull-over for early chilly mornings and evenings
-Trousers or long skirts for the evening
-Raincoat or poncho
-Anorak, fleece, gloves, scarves, hat. (Dry winter season)
Pair of walking shoes
Pair of lightweight shoes for day or evening wear.
Pair of sandals
Luggage and Accessories
A soft sided sports bag
A small backpack (day pack)
A cap or sunhat
A pair of good quality sunglasses
A pair of binoculars
A thermos flask / water bottle
A double adapter
A flashlight with extra batteries
A penknife (Swiss Army knife or Leatherman)
Toiletries and First Aid Kit
Although there are very good hospitals and highly trained medical personnel in the main towns, we advise you to travel with your own personal first aid kit.
– Anti-mosquito products (spray, cream)
– Cream for insect stings
– Dressings, Aspirin, anti-diarrheal, lip balm, eye drops (for dust).
– If you wear contact lenses, we recommend that you take your pair of glasses too.
– High factor sunscreen
It’s essential to use a UV filter on your camera and/or video recorder. A brush and a waterproof cover are necessary to protect your camera from dust which gets in everywhere. Plastic zip-lock bags are a great protection. It’s possible to recharge the batteries of your camera in most of the hotels, lodges and rental cars (Don’t forget the necessary cables).
We recommend you bring a zoom lens of 200 mm / 300 mm minimum on safari. You will need to practice speed, silence and patience in order to get good photographs of animals and birds.
A typical day on safari
The word “safari” comes from the Arabic word “safari” which means “journey.” In English, the word also translates into “game drive” or “game walk”, which signifies going out into the bush (savannah) in a 4×4 vehicle or by foot to track and observe animals.
During a full day’s safari, there are two ideal times to go out for the best animal viewing opportunities: first thing in the morning as the sun comes up (departing before breakfast and returning to camp mid-morning) and second: towards dusk and into the early evening.
It’s during these moments that animals are most mobile, moving about to find water and to hunt for food. The light is a photographer’s dream!
Cars drive on the left hand side of the road in Botswana. In the cities and large town roads are generally in good condition but in the country and rural areas driving can be dangerous.
You won’t have any trouble finding petrol stations in the towns but due to the large distances in between, it’s advisable to refuel whenever the opportunity arises. Travel within the country should be carefully planned and well prepared. Sound advice and precautionary measures to adhere to are most valuable coming from the locals (although some recent guides are pretty accurate too). Vehicles must be suitable for all sorts of rough and difficult terrain. In remote areas, it is advisable to travel with a minimum of two 4×4 vehicles.
If you take heed of the basic precautions it’s generally considered safe to travel anywhere in Botswana. The country is safe in general with a stable government, however vigilance is recommended in the big cities and towns.