U.S. citizens: Passports are required and must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the dates of travel. Visas are not required for U.S. citizens for stays of up to 90 days.
If traveling with children under the age of 18: We have been advised that Botswana Immigration are now enforcing similar regulations to South Africa, applicable to all minors entering and exiting Botswana. These are being newly enforced to support the regional anti-child trafficking efforts. The key difference between South Africa and Botswana is that South Africa requires the unabridged birth certificate while Botswana does not, and Botswana will accept both the original and a certified copy. Botswana Immigration has acknowledged that they have not made this clear enough to date, and are in the process of amending their available documentation and communicating this message to the public.
For most up-to-date visa information, and for non-U.S. citizens, see the Embassy of Botswana website: www.botswanaembassy.org.
For visa and passport assistance services, we recommend Travel Document Systems: www.traveldocs.com.
No immunizations are required to enter Botswana with the exception that proof of yellow fever vaccination is required for all travelers if traveling from, or transiting through, a country with risk of yellow fever transmission.
Always consult a travel clinic at a local university, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, and/or your personal physician for the most up-to-date recommendations and routine vaccinations. Malaria medication, hepatitis, tetanus, typhoid, polio, measles, mumps, and rubella vaccinations are generally recommended for all travelers. For the threat of malaria, you should consult the CDC or your physician for the most current information. Importantly, plan ahead for immunizations because some require administration several months prior to departure. The CDC provides the most current medical requirements and recommendations. Recommendations change frequently, so you must check directly with the CDC, a traveler’s clinic, or other medical authority.
Visit the CDC website at cdc.gov/travel or call 877.394.8747.
Refer to the suggested packing list for comprehensive packing advice, but most importantly do not forget these essentials for:
Sun and heat: wide- brimmed hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen
Mosquito bites: long sleeves, socks, insect repellent, and closed-toe shoes
Botswana uses the pula, which is divided into 100 thebe. For up-to-date exchange rates, see www.oanda.com. Foreign currency (USD, British pound, and South African rand are easiest to exchange) is recommended for use and can be exchanged at banks, exchange offices, and authorized hotels. It is unlikely that you will be able to access cash once outside of Maun and Kasane. ATM machines and credit cards can be used only in larger towns, cities, and some lodgings. Credit cards are accepted only at travel agencies, major lodges, and hotels (for your incidental or personal charges). Please see the “Accommodations Information” for the hotels on your tour that accept credit cards.
Contact your credit card company for details on fees and card use when traveling, especially for availability and restrictions by country. All major credit cards are accepted, but Visa and MasterCard are preferred.
Botswana country code: +267
International access code calling out of Botswana: 00
» Cell-phone coverage throughout Botswana is extensive, but cannot be guaranteed at all times, especially in remote areas.
» Internet access is generally very good in towns and villages, but it is not guaranteed at all accommodations used on the tour. For more details regarding Wi-Fi or computer availability, please see the Accommodations Information.
Botswana is in the Central Africa Time Zone, Eastern Standard Time plus 7 hours.
Alternating current of 220/240v and 50Hz is used in Botswana. Plug types are typically the South African M plug and the British G plug.
Bringing your own hair dryer or other electrical device? You’ll need a converter set, available at most hardware stores.
For laptops or an electronic device with a dual voltage switch, you need the adapter plug but not a converter.
Botswana has a predominantly subtropical climate and is mainly arid to semiarid with average daily temperatures of around 90 degrees F and a minimum of 64 degrees F. The hottest (summer) months are typically December and January, and the coldest (winter) months are June and July.
Rainfall can occur in brief thunderstorms throughout the year, but the driest season is May to August, and the rainiest season from November to March, during which time the Okavango Delta completely floods and can be accessed only by boat travel. Botswana is ideal year-round, with some months standing out for: birding, November-March; botany, December-May; mammals, July-October; diversity, May-June.
The official language of Botswana is English and the national language is Setswana, a Bantu language spoken by around 80 percent of the population.
Local Traditions: Botswana has a predominantly rural population of diverse ethnic groups, each with their unique traditions and customs. A large proportion of the population (around 70 percent) identify themselves as Christian.
While knowledge of the local language is not necessary, learning a few words of greeting and thanks is always welcome when traveling. Your guide(s) will be happy to assist with language tips.
There is no singular native cuisine in Botswana encompassing all ethnic groups, although sorghum comes closest to being the main crop, served porridge style and, for lunch and dinner, accompanied by savory vegetable, meat, or fish stew. African lager-style beers are widely enjoyed and available throughout the country. Local dishes are almost always available at your accommodations for you to try. Menus and meal locations vary greatly by accommodation and venue. You may enjoy a “bush” breakfast, a lodge brunch, occasional picnic lunch, and dinner may be under the stars at your tented camp. Special dietary requests may be accommodated with advance notice. Please note your restrictions on your Guest Questionnaire and return it to our office by 90 days prior to your tour.
Bottled and/or boiled and filtered water is available at all accommodations and is recommended at all times throughout the tour, including for brushing your teeth.
Security: While on tour, guests are entirely in the care of CW Safaris guides and tour accommodations. Please follow guide and lodging staff guidelines about securing valuables and awareness about animal activity at your lodgings and in the countryside. Always exercise precautions for personal safety that apply in many countries and cities worldwide; in addition to being aware of your surroundings, keep your valuables close and hidden while in public (avoid dangling cameras or other “tourist bait”), and avoid walking alone at night. We suggest registering with the U.S. Embassy at step.state.gov.
Tipping is practiced and appreciated in Botswana (but see tipping guidelines for guides and lodging for your safari in your tour details). Specific recommendations: for airport luggage assistance, 4-5 pula per person; in restaurants and bars, around 10 to 15 percent of the bill.
Shopping opportunities are few on this itinerary with exception of gift shops at camp. Bargaining at markets is a generally accepted and even expected practice; once in Botswana, you will develop a sense of a fair price for the item you want, both for yourself and the vendor. It is best practice to purchase an item once a fair price has been reached.
If you see something you like, buy it! You probably won’t find the exact same thing again!
What to look for in Botswana: baskets, woodcarvings, jewelry, pottery, tapestries, fabrics and clothing, glassware, and San crafts.
Some suggested travel guidelines:
» Ask your guide about the most appropriate local crafts or products to purchase.
» Ask your guides about when and where taking photos is appropriate.
» Read packing list for appropriate clothing for both climate and culture.
» Bring used batteries and the like home with you to recycle.
» Remove pieces of the landscape.
» Touch plants or animals, to prevent injury—if you have any doubts, ask your guide.
» Give handouts to street children; donations to nongovernmental organizations can better target a region’s needs.
» Wear shorts (women) in villages for cultural reasons.