Botswana

Botswana contains some of the wildest, unspoiled areas of Africa. From the Okavango Delta to the Kalahari Desert, each aspect of Botswana is unlike anything else in the world. The game reserves are literally packed with wildlife, some also as unique as the landscape. Tourist facilities are quality and all-inclusive, and backed by a stable, democratic government.

Country information

ClimateThe Okavango Delta has a dry and semi-arid climate with high temperatures and a pronounced winter dry season. Due to its elevation the climate is more temperate than tropical. It has its annual flood between the months of May and September. During the winter months of June, July and August the nights and early mornings can be cold. December and January are hot, with the wet season between November and March. Rain comes almost exclusively in the form of thunderstorms that occur in the late afternoon and early evening. The average monthly humidity lies between 30% and 70%.

Summer: (November to March) – Frequent rain and thunderstorms; days and nights very hot, but cooling off after rain spells.

Autumn: (April to June) – Days hot and nights cool. This is perhaps the best time to travel in Botswana.

Winter (July to August) – Dry, sunny and hot days, but very cold at night, on early morning game drives and on boating excursions.

Spring (September to November) – The hottest time of the year, with very dry hot days and hot nights.

Botswana’s Wildlife

Okavango
The Okavango’s unique wetland habitat teems with aquatic wildlife. The is home to over 450 bird and plant species and several of the worlds rarest antelope. In parts of the Delta where there is perennial water there are large numbers of hippos, buffalo and nile crocodiles. Other reptile species include leguvaans (of the iguana family) and carnivorous water monitors. The croaks of bell frogs and bull frogs provide lovely evening choruses. Animals like the sitatunga, techwe and Chobe bushbuck have adapted to the conditions of reed and water and live on the islands. The tree islands also provide refuge for wild cats, serval, lion and leopard.

Moremi

Moremi Gamer Reserve is the jewel in Botswana’s crown. It was formed to preserve the Okavangu Delta and surrounding dry-land ecosystems. It covers 1000 square kilometers of grassy flood plains in the north-east corner of the Okavangu. Apart from Savannah, the terrain includes winding waterways with banks of reeds, palm-covered islands, thick forest and lush lily-covered lagoons. The area is teeming with wild life, and is the strong hold of the increasingly rare wild dog as well as leopard.

The many different habitats of the Moremi Wildlife Preserve makes it possible for you to view a wider variety of animals than almost anywhere on earth. Huge herds of impala and tsessebe are always in the area, while in the dry season large herds of buffalo, wildebeast (gnu) and zebra flock from the Kalahari Desert in search of food and water. Lions, cheetahs and packs of wild dogs hunt in the open grass lands.

In addition to all the larger animals, you might be lucky enough to see the shy lechwe (a semi-aquatic antelope listed as an endangered species) or the rare sitatunga (a swamp animal which when frightened submerges like a hippo). The reserve is also home to an immense number of birds.

Chobe
Chobe National Park is the second largest National Park in Botswana covering 10,566 square kilometers. Chobe is world famous for it’s elephant population numbering approximately 70,000. It is not uncommon to encounter herds in excess of one hundred.

A major feature of Chobe is its elephant population. The Chobe elephant comprise part of what is probably the largest surviving continuous elephant population. This population covers most of northern Botswana plus north-western Zimbabwe and is currently estimated at 70,000 in number. For most of the year, the elephants congregate along the shores of the Chobe river mingling with vast herds of buffalo. These, and the ever present plains antelope attract many big cats and other predators to the area.

This population has grown steadily from a few thousand since the early 1900’s and has escaped the massive poaching that has decimated other populations in the 1970’s and 1980’s. The Kalahari elephants, including Chobe, are the largest elephants in the world.

The Chobe river front also offers you an excellent opportunity to observe lion, cheetah, giraffe, zebra and hippos submerging at down and emerging at dusk. Also to be found are most of the indigenous antelopes to Botswana. Bird life is abundant and in great variety.
Game reserves

Language

Although the official language of Botswana is English, most of the population also speak Tswana.

Here are a few common Tswana phrases:

Hello (to woman/man) / Dumêla mma/rra
Hello (to group) / Dumêlang
Goodbye (to person leaving) /Tsamayo sentle
Goodbye (to person staying) / Sala sentle
Yes / Ee
No / Nnyaa
Please /Tsweetswee
Thank you / Kea itumela
How are you? (AM)/ A o tsogile?
How are you? (PM) / O tlhotse jang?
Do you speak English? / A o bua Sekgoa / Seenglish?
Which way is . . .? / Tsela . . . e kae?

Currency

The unit of currency is the Pula. Notes are P5, P10, P20, P50 & P1000. Coins (Thebe) are in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25, 50, P1 & P2. Money can be changed in Maun. All lodges and hotels will accept foreign currency.

Travel information

Packing and preparation

Botswana can be as wildly rustic as you’ve dreamed. As such, preparation should be made to encounter somewhat rough conditions. On the other hand, accommodations and dining can be quite comfortable and casual. Pack neutral colored clothing. Long sleeve shirts (even in summer, they will protect you from the sun and from mosquitoes), t-shirts, shorts or a light skirt, jeans or safari trousers for evenings and cool days, sweater and a warm jacket. A heavy duty, all-weather coat is required for the cold winter months (July to August), but a light, rain coat is better in the summer. Canvas, suede or leather hiking boots that are comfortable is essential. Hats, sunglasses and sun-block lotion are a must for protection against the strong African Sun. Insect repellent is also a good idea. We also recommend good binoculars, a camera with a telephoto lens and plenty of film.

The electrical system is 230 volts, 50hz, so make sure your electrical appliances you bring work with this. Lodges in the more remote areas of Botswana may not have electricity. There may be a generator, but this does not mean there is an electrical outlet in your room.

Consult with your doctor about immunizations required before travel in Africa. Some immunizations require a 6 month program before they become effective. Malaria prophylactics should be taken.

Transportation

On land
Most tour operators makes use of model 110 Land Rovers with V8 and diesel engines and all-wheel drive for the extreme conditions of the Okavango Delta. The vehicle can seat up to six passengers inside and up to six passengers on the roof. These Land Rovers are also equipped with air conditioning, a winch and specially treated mud-track tires to help prevent punctures.

Air
International airlines transport clients from Johannesburg South Africa to Maun. Flights over the Delta can also be arranged with a smaller airline.

Boat
Boat to navigate the vast network of narrow waterways of the Delta, we make use of traditional mokorros (dug-out canoes). These watercraft silently glide through the water allowing you to experience the aquatic wildlife surrounding you. Power boats are available in Moremi and clients can enjoy a sunrise or sunset cruise.

Visa requirements

No visa is required for stays up to 90 days for visitors from the following countries: United States, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, German Federal Republic, Greece, Iceland, Republic of Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Namibia, Netherlands, Norway, Western Samoa, San Marino, Sweden, Switzerland, Uruguay, and all Commonwealth Countries (except nationals of Ghana, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh, who do require a visa).  Please ensure that your papers are in order before joining your Safari. For additional information on entry requirements, travelers may contact the Embassy of the Republic of Botswana, Suite 7M, 3400, International Drive, NW, Washington DC 20008. Telephone: 202-244-4990. Overseas inquiries should be made at the nearest Botswana embassy or consulate.

Accommodation

Tent safari (overlander)
This deluxe tented camping safari offers large walk-in canvas tents, with comfortable camp beds and facilities. You are accompanied by an experienced guide, a cook/hostess to prepare meals, and camp assistant to attend to all camping chores. First class meals are prepared by the book and served in style. All camping equipment is supplied. Laundry service is provided daily to help keep your packing to a minimum.

Lodges
Reservations at various lodges can be made on your behalf and are fully catered. Please contact us for more information.

Make reservations well in advance for your visit to Botswana. Most safari companies can help find and secure reservations, please contact us with your needs.