Destinations

Botswana

One of the greatest safari destinations, everything about Botswana will take your breath away.

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Botswana

A trip to Botswana is a window into the Africa of old, where wildlife roams the streets of towns and ancient cultural customs are still practised. With 40-plus percent of the country designated as protected game-viewing areas, Botswana's safaris are wild, breathtaking and guaranteed to be jam-packed full of animals. In fact, the conservation-focused government is doing more than any other African country to protect its wildlife heritage. The Okavango Delta, Africa's largest wetland wilderness, is the crown jewel in any safari and teems with animals year-round. Much of the rest of the country is made up of the Kalahari Desert, with the Central Kalahari home to the ancient San people, whose culture is the oldest in the world.


Why you'll love it

Botswana is arguably the most pristine and exclusive safari destination in Africa, famous for the mighty Okavango Delta, with its unique ecosystem, huge numbers of wildlife and landscapes that are mind-bogglingly beautiful.


Off the beaten track

The lunar-like Makgadikgadi salt pans are the definition of isolation. What better place, then, to explore on a quad-bike safari before spending a night under the shimmering sky a million miles from anywhere?


Something to think about

Botswana’s safari camps are exceptional, most of them in huge private concessions that are accessible only by light aircraft – phenomenal, but with a price tag to match.

When to go

January

Season: Wet
  • Weather is characterised by high temperatures, relative humidity and considerable rainfall
  • The birthing season provides high excitement as predators take advantage of the inexperienced newborns
  • The vegetation is lush and green, animals are in pristine condition and birds are in full breeding plumage providing incredible photographic opportunities
  • Make sure you have your insect repellent packed, the wet season is also mosquito season

February

Season: Wet
  • This time of year is the height of the wet season, on average rain falls only a couple of days a week, leaving plenty of time to explore the various wilderness regions
  • Exceptional game viewing with high predator excitement during the birthing season
  • Vegetation is green, wild flowers are in bloom and birds are in their breeding plumage
  • There are more insects and mosquitoes around, luring out a host of unique insectivores in the Central Kalahari

March

Season: Wet
  • March is still relatively hot and considerably drier than January and February, expect sporadic afternoon showers
  • Still good predator excitement with many young antelope learning the harsh lessons of an unforgiving wilderness
  • A great time for land based explorations with water based activities only available at a handful of the Delta camps
  • The Central Kalahari has unique desert flowers, barking gecko's and the chirping rain locust, creating a fascinating change to the more traditional safari
  • Be sure to pack mosquito repellent at this time of year

April

Season: Wet
  • Temperatures start cooling with a handful of rainy days, the water levels begin to rise in the Delta, indicating the start of the flooding period
  • Some of the animals will still be spread out in the Linyanti, however lion, leopard, wild dog and cheetah usually add to safari excitement
  • Birds look to migrate, game starts to make its way back into the Delta and Linyanti regions, as other water sources become scarce
  • Clarity improves for photography, showcasing the breath-taking landscapes of this wonderfully different wilderness
  • Mosquito's are still around but not as prevalent, pack your insect repellent just in case

May

Season: Dry
  • Transition month from wet summer to dry winter, offering moderate temperatures and little to no rain
  • The perfect time for Delta explorations, flooding is approaching its peak providing the perfect conditions for water based activities
  • The "Emerald Season" is coming to an end, vegetation will slowly begin to thin and animals will migrate into the Linyanti and Delta region, following the year round water sources
  • Clarity improves for photography, showcasing the pristine Kalahari landscapes
  • Mornings and Evenings can be a little nippy at this time of year, a couple of extra layers will surface during the month of May

June

Season: Dry
  • Temperatures are comfortable but have dropped considerably at night, with morning frost on occasion, rainfall dry's up
  • Flooding is reaching its peak, creating one of the ideal months to visit the Okavango Delta
  • Wildlife of every shape and size migrate into the delta and Linyanti areas, taking advantage of this constant water source in the dry season
  • This is usually the best time to view the elusive wild dogs of the Linyanti region, as they begin their denning period
  • The night sky is at its most impressive in the Central Kalahari, with shooting stars and the Milky Way taking centre stage
  • Include a warm jacket in your essentials as morning and evening temperatures are chilly

July

Season: Dry
  • Nights are cold and possibly frosty, day temperatures are comfortable with rainfall drying up
  • The height of the water levels are achieved, ensuring a great diversity of activity and wildlife in the Delta region
  • This is usually the best time to view the endangered wild dogs of the Linyanti, during their denning period
  • July offers ideal photographic conditions, low humidity and sparse vegetation means wonderful image clarity and no shortage of picture perfect moments
  • Without a cloud in the sky, stargazing is an absolute treat in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve
  • Pack a warm jacket for the chilly mornings and evenings

August

Season: Dry
  • Experience some of the best wildlife viewing on the planet with incredible variation and big game encounters at both the Linyanti and the Delta
  • The coldest night temperatures have passed, with the daylight hours warming considerably, rain is still very unlikely
  • A wonderful time to visit the Okavango Delta with the flood level still high, leading to great water and land based safari, depending on your preference
  • The air is thin and still, offering the perfect conditions to photograph the unique species and landscapes of the Central Kalahari
  • The lack of ambient light enhances the incredible night sky visible at this time of year
  • Include a warm jacket on your packing list because mornings can be chilly

September

Season: Dry
  • The best time to visit the Delta and Linyanti for land based explorations, with warm daytime weather, low humidity and not a cloud in the sky
  • The Delta is home to the best wildlife viewing in Botswana at this time of year, encounter a myriad of species, all on your doorstep
  • Vegetation is thin due to the lack of rainfall, causing animals to cluster around the remaining water sources and the Savute Channel in the Linyanti Concession
  • Animals are spread out over large areas in the Kalahari but many unique species, not often seen elsewhere in Botswana are present
  • Very few mosquitoes present during this time of year, making for a carefree safari experience

October

Season: Dry
  • The flood levels in the Delta begin to drop, with the temperatures and humidity across Botswana reaching a high, expect some rainfall in the later days of the month
  • Visibility is good with sparse vegetation, making it easier to spot the animals of the Delta and Linyanti regions
  • An interesting month for photography, particularly in the Kalahari, with the landscape at its most extreme before the arrival of the first rains
  • Make sure to drink plenty of water during the day to avoid dehydration in this month

November

Season: Wet
  • Temperatures are still hot and humid with the first true rains of the wet season, it should be noted that in most cases rains are just passing afternoon showers
  • Wildlife will start to disperse with the receding floodwaters, making the delta game viewing exceptionally good, instead of world class
  • As vegetation becomes green wildlife becomes more difficult to spot in the Linyanti and Delta regions, wildlife congregate in the lush Central Kalahari
  • Interesting cloud formations and spectacular electrical storms, illuminating the nights sky, are a common occurrence in this month

December

Season: Wet
  • Temperatures are hot and relatively humid with the rain falling in the form of afternoon showers
  • The "Emerald Season" is now in full swing, foliage is green and plentiful, flowers are in bloom and the migratory birds have returned
  • Animals are spread across the Delta and Linyanti regions but congregate in the Central Kalahari as grasses sprout in the fossilized river beds
  • A great time for photography with December offering the longest day length of the year

Wildlife


Botswana is famed for its diverse eco-systems and abundant wildlife. The Okavango Delta has exceptional sightings of lion and leopard. You can also see cheetah, spotted hyena, large herds of buffalo, elephant, giraffe, prolific birdlife and many other intriguing creatures. If wild dog is your thing then head for the Linyanti swamps which enjoys regular sightings of these endangered hunters. The focus of the Central Kalahari is not on the wildlife although it is home to the black maned lion and cheeky meerkat.

Need to know

Getting there

Botswana has three main airports: Maun (MUB), Gaborone (GBE) and Kasane (BBK). Most safaris begin or end in either Maun or Kasane, and commercial flights to/from those towns route via Johannesburg.
Depending on your arrival time at Johannesburg, you may have to overnight before catching your connecting flight to Botswana the next day (as those leave just once per day via Johannesburg).

International flights
We would recommend booking your flights online in order to get the best rates. If you need any help or advice please let us know.

Domestic flights and transfers
Connecting between all the locations on your trip may necessitate a variety of modes: light aircraft charters, domestic commercial flights and road transfers. Please review the inclusions and exclusions on your specific trip page for details. If you need help understanding the best flights to book, please let us know.

From the moment that you land in Botswana you will be greeted and assisted to your onward connections. You will be looked after from that point on until you are transferred back to the airport in time for your departure flight.

Health

Please consult your personal physician and/or a travel clinic preferably 6 weeks prior to your departure. Vaccine requirements vary based on your country of origin and your travel itinerary and your previous vaccination history. It is best to consult with your physician or the CDC website for guidelines.

Important vaccinations to consider and which may either be required or recommended are: Yellow Fever, Typhoid, Hepatitis A & B and Cholera, among others. Please always carry your "International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP)" (or "Yellow Card") with you.

Malaria
We advise that you consult a medical practitioner at least six weeks prior to travel. Botswana has a high malaria risk in the Central and Northern parts of the country and is low risk in the rest of the country. The highest risk of transmission is during the rainy season from November to June. See websites below for more detailed advice. We suggest taking malaria prophylactics before, during and after your visit if you are visiting a known malarial region. Please consult a medical professional regarding which prophylactics will be suitable for you.

In addition to the recommendations of your travel clinic or physician, you may also consider the following proactive preventative measures:

● Apply insect repellent to exposed skin. Recommended repellents contain 20-35% DEET but it is a very virulent repellent, and should be used cautiously.
● Wear long-sleeved clothing and long pants at dawn and dusk
● Use a mosquito net if your tent or room isn't screened or air-conditioned; and spray insecticide or burn a mosquito coil before going to bed.

If you come down with flu-like symptoms either during or within four to six weeks after your visit to a malaria area, seek a doctor's advice immediately and let him/her know that you have been in a malaria area.

You can also visit www.malaria.org.za for more information.

Yellow Fever
There is no risk of Yellow Fever in Botswana; however, vaccination is required for travellers who are arriving from, or have transited through, countries with risk of Yellow Fever transmission (e.g. Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda or elsewhere worldwide). This requirement can change unexpectedly, therefore, we recommend carrying a Yellow Fever card with you at all times.

Insurance
It is a condition of booking that you carry the correct comprehensive travel and medical insurance to cover yourself, as well as any dependents/travelling companions for the duration of your trip. This insurance should include cover in respect of, but not limited to, the following eventualities:

Compulsory Insurance:
a. Emergency evacuation expenses
b. Medical expenses
c. Repatriation expenses

Recommended Insurance:
a. Cancellation or curtailment of trip
b. Damage/theft/loss of personal luggage, money and goods

Communication
Botswana country code: +267

Calling overseas from Botswana:
From a landline dial 00 followed by the country code plus area code and number.
e.g. USA: 00 1 910 795 1048

When calling from a cell phone dial + prefix followed by the country code plus area code and number. e.g. USA: + 1 910 795 1048

Visas

As a general precaution, we recommend you make several copies of your travel-related documents (passport, traveller’s cheques, credit cards, itinerary, airline tickets, insurance cover, visas, etc). Leave one set at home, and bring another set with you, and place it in a location separate from your originals.

Generally speaking, most nationalities do not require a visa to enter Botswana. Passports MUST be valid for at least six months from your departure from Botswana to home. There must be at least TWO (we recommend four) consecutive blank VISA pages in the passport (not endorsement pages). Botswana’s immigration control is very strict, and is known to deny entry to those not meeting the requirements.

Visa requirements change regularly and it is best to contact your local Botswana embassy regarding the most recent rules. Visa Central is also a good resource.

Travelling with children (under 18)
The new immigration rules relating to travelling with children remain in force and was introduced by Botswana following that of South Africa’s issued in June 2015. Parents travelling with children (under 18) will be asked to show the child’s full unabridged birth certificate. The full unabridged birth certificate should list the child’s details and both parents’ details. The abridged (short) birth certificate which only lists the child’s particulars won’t be accepted. The Government is not accepting uncertified copies of birth certificates or copies of the parents/guardians identification.

There are additional requirements if the child is travelling with only one parent, with neither biological parent, or unaccompanied. See this information sheet, this statement by the South African Department of Home Affairs and this leaflet produced by the South African Department of Home Affairs. School groups should use this consent form in addition to the documents referred to above. This special dispensation applies to all schools registered with the Department of Basic Education and its equivalent abroad.

We recommend referencing the website as requirements change regularly, or contact your nearest South African High Commission if you have any specific questions about your trip.

What to pack

Climate
The weather in Botswana is generally pleasant throughout the year with warm to hot days, and cool to warm nights. During the winter months, however (May to September), it can get really cold at night and in the early morning, particularly when on safari. January & February are the wettest months, characterized by torrential downpours in the afternoon and sometimes continuous rainfall for days. Daytime temperatures are around 32°C/90°F and the humidity is between 50-80%. From March to April, the rainfall decreases and it steadily cools.

Dress Code
Conservative casual clothing is acceptable throughout Botswana, though it is recommended that revealing clothing be avoided. Camouflage clothing is not recommended for travel in southern African countries (camouflage or military-inspired clothing is prohibited when travelling in Zimbabwe).

When on safari, light layers of clothing in neutral safari colours of green, khaki and beige are the best items to bring with you, as well as a warmer jacket or fleece for the colder evenings. A hat is also a must have! Bright and dark colours like yellow, red and purple are discouraged, or sometimes not allowed (on a bush walk) if you are going on safari.

What to Pack
Preparation and packing for any holiday is important but never more so than when you visit remote areas in Africa. Once on safari you will find it very hard to pick up that odd item you thought your partner had packed! What follows is by no means an exhaustive list but is designed to point you in the right direction.

• Layers - long and short sleeve shirts and trousers
• A warm fleece or jumper
• A lightweight waterproof jacket
• Comfortable but sturdy shoes
• Flip-flops
• Swimming costume (Bathing suit)
• Light rain gear for summer months (late November to April)
• A hat or baseball cap
• Sunglasses
• Sunscreen – a must!
• Toiletries – most camps will provide shampoo, shower gel and soap
• A small torch
• Spare batteries, plug adaptors and charging equipment
• A good pair of Binoculars (8x40/8x42 is recommended)
• Books or a fully loaded Kindle / iPad for siesta time

Most camps and lodges will have a small medical and first aid kit, but we recommend bringing your own supply of essentials - cough medicine, plasters, vitamins, aspirin and paracetamol, and anything else you use on a regular basis.

Camera Equipment (for the enthusiasts)
• A telephoto lens (200/300mm)
• Flash and fast film (400 ASA) for night photography
• Lots of film (64,100,200,400 ASA) if you’re still using SLR cameras
• Spare memory cards for digital cameras
• Camera cleaning equipment and a good dust proof bag
• Bring spare batteries as although you may recharge your batteries at the camps, charging capacity can be limited

Luggage
Please check with your airlines for the specific luggage restrictions relevant to your flight schedule. Many international airlines have a baggage allowance of 20kgs or more per person and commercial airlines generally permit two (2) pieces of checked luggage per person. The carry-on bag must be of such dimensions and weight as set by the airlines.

Luggage Restrictions on Internal Flights
Please be advised that on light aircraft flights, luggage is limited to one SOFT duffle bag per person with a maximum weight of 20kg/44lbs. No hardshell bags are permitted.

Money
The currency used in Botswana is the Botswana Pula (BWP). You can withdraw from a bank or ATM, which are widely available in the larger airports and towns. Please check with your bank for charges and advice when using international ATMs. VISA and Mastercard are the most widely accepted credit cards. American Express has limited to no coverage. It is advisable to have some cash in local currency for smaller shops, stalls and gas stations. IMPORTANT: When bringing in foreign currency (e.g. USD, GBP, EUR), be sure to bring the new format with no damage or marks.
Electricity
In Botswana, the standard voltage is 230 V and the frequency is 50 Hz. You can use your electric appliances in Botswana, if the standard voltage in your country is in between 220 - 240 V (as is in the UK, Europe, Australia and most of Asia and Africa). If the standard voltage in your country is in the range of 100 V - 127 V (as is in the US, Canada and most South American countries), you will need a voltage converter in Botswana.

Gratuities
Gratuities are not compulsory or expected; rather it is a reward for excellent service. If you are pleased with the service you receive you are more than welcome to tip your guide or the staff. Tipping is usually done at the end of your stay. You may tip the staff individually, give the tip to the manager to distribute or do both. Tips can be made in Botswana Pula, USD, GBP or EUR.

Gratuities suggestions:
Safari Camp lead guide: $10 - $15 per person per day
Transfer drivers (e.g. in cities or between airport and hotel/lodge): $2 per person per transfer
Porter: $1 per bag
Ranger or any “ancillary” guides on ad-hoc basis for a specific activity: $3 - $5 per person per activity
General Camp staff (put in a central box in each camp’s main area): $7 - $10 per person per day
Waitstaff in a city restaurant: 10%-15% (large group may incur automatic service charge, please check)

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