Botswana

Botswana is one of the most popular safari destinations in Africa. The vast untamed wilderness of this land-locked country with miles of open space attracts the minds of those who want an exclusive and unmatched safari experience in close quarters with nature. There are few places that offer a similar kind of experience especially if we consider the famous Okavango Delta in the northwest part of the country and the Chobe National Park with the highest density of elephants in Africa. Botswana offers a lot as a country- safaris by vehicle, nature walks, horseback or motorboat game drives, river cruises and so much more! There is plenty of game like buffalo, zebra, hippo, antelope and rhino (recently reintroduced) and the resultant population of predators is therefore good. You might be lucky to see lions, hyenas, leopards and wild dogs. Not only is the wildlife good but also the bird watching is a truly captivating experience.

The most popular safari destination in Botswana is the Okavango Deta, which is an amazing and one of the world's largest natural inland water deltas. The game viewing here is best during the dry season when the place is teeming with wildlife and birds and a variety of different animal life. In addition to this truly spectacular place to go to for wildlife watching, The Moremi Game Reserve (part of the delta), Linyati region and Chobe National Park towards the north are the other truly engaging places to visit. The game-turner is that these places are fed by 4 rivers- Okavango, Kwando, Linyati and Chobe that have turned this region into a rich wetland with an ecosystem most varied and beautiful. The Chobe has a very high density of wildlife and is popular for its proximity to the Victoria Falls.

As you travel towards the south, the landscape changes into a semi-desert Kalahari desert region for miles together only occasioned by a village and a farmland. You can also see the Makgadikgadi salt pans, the 1000th World Heritage Site, stretch south of the delta. Here is where you can experience some exciting quad-biking safaris and the seasonal migration that happens after the rains when scores of zebra, wildebeest and antelope visit to feed on the newly grown grasses. Taking advantage of these thousands of prey are the predators, especially the lions who do not miss any opportunity to feed! This presents some good photo ops for wildlife enthusiasts who in turn make most of these interactions between prey and predators. Also meet with the San for a believably real cultural exchange in the fine desert and also enjoy the Tsodilo Hills, where rock paintings date back thousands of years.

The type of safari that can be booked depends on the requirement of the tourist. Botswana has on offer fine photographic safaris exclusive for eager photographers but can also be a purely exploratory safari experience for the enthusiastic wild lifer. There are also exclusive honeymoon safaris included in few lodges. Botswana safaris are generally quite exclusive and the game lodges are classy and luxurious. Visitor numbers are usually limited. The high standards maintained by the lodges in their service and also the guides are one of the best across the continent. A superb migration takes place in the dry season and the rains also offer some truly exciting opportunities to see the residents, especially birds who breed in this season. Botswana offers best-for-value holidays and hence it is becoming a must-see destination for serious safari enthusiasts.


Visa Regulations and Guidance

Effective from 1 June 2017, all travellers to Botswana (with the exception of residents and citizens of the Southern African Development Community) will have to pay a tourism development levy.According to Botswana Tourism, the objective of the levy is to raise funds for conservation and natural tourism development. The $30 (€27) levy will be payable at all ports of entry, including airports and border posts, through electronic payment machines, cash, and debit and credit cards.After the payment, a unique receipt corresponding to the passport will be automatically generated. The receipt is presented to immigration officials and the passport and the receipt will be stamped and handed back to the traveller. The receipt will be valid for a 30-day period and can be used for multiple entries.


Banking and Currency

Currency

Botswana's currency is Pula (which means 'rain' in Setswana). It is divided into 100 thebe (which means 'shield' in Setswana). Travellers' cheques and foreign currency may be changed at banks, bureaux de change and authorised hotels.

The US dollar, Euros, British Pound and the South African Rand are the most easily convertible currencies (and accepted by some estabishments - but, generally, then an inflated rate of exchange will be applied).

Banking

Seven main commercial banks, as well as a number of foregin exchange bureaux, operate in Botswana. Operating hours are Monday to Friday 08h30 to 15h30 and Saturday 08h30 to 10h45.

Full banking services are available in major towns, although ATMs are sprouting up all over the country. Most credit cards are accepted at hotels and restaurants. Cultural sites and community art and craft outlets usually only accept cash.


Travel, Transport and Getting Around

Public transport in Botswana is geared towards the needs of the local populace and is confined to main roads between major population centres. Although cheap and reliable, it is of little use to the traveller as most of Botswana’s tourist attractions lie off the beaten track.

Driving off the main roads in Botswana is only recommended to expects in 4x4 vehicles, that are equipped correctly. Most lodges offer transfers or they can be arranged. If, however, you will be driving in Botswana: your home driving licence will be accepted (with an official English translation if necessary; driving is on the left side of the road; and the national speed limit is on tarred roads is 120km/h and 60km/h in towns and villages).

Be sure to watch out for wild animals on the roads!

There are major airports in Maun, Kasane and Gaborone, while smaller charter flights are used to get to the other top attractions and camps.


Food, Drink and Cuisine Advice

Tap water is considered safe to drink, although outside main cities and towns, visitors are advised to check first and sterilise water if in any doubt. Bottled water is available in most tourist centres. Filtered water is available at most camps and shops offer bottled water - it is advised to be well stocked of bottled water if you are travelling off the beaten track. Milk is pasteurised, and dairy products, local meat, poultry, seafood, fruit and vegetables are generally safe.

Safari lodges and camps serve international-style cuisine, generally of an extremely high standard, along with local beer and imported wine and spirits. Good restaurants and bars can be found in main towns, often within hotels. Beef and goat are very popular meats. Elsewhere, food is more basic: millet and sorghum porridge are the local staples.

A discretionary 5 to 10% tip is typical for restaurant bills. In many places, a service charge is automatically added. It is customary to tip the game guide and lodge staff while on safari.


Climate and Weather

Botswana's climatic pattern is typical of southern Africa, although its rainfall is less than countries further east. The rains in Botswana come mostly between December and March, when average minimum temperatures are in the low 20°s. Some days will be bright and sunny, some will have afternoon thunderstorms, and some will just be grey.

As with Namibia, April and May in Botswana are generally lovely, with the sky clear and the landscape green. Night temperatures start to drop during these months, especially in the Kalahari. Note that places in and around the Okavango tend to have less extreme, more moderate temperatures than the drier areas of the Kalahari.

From June to August the night-time temperatures in drier areas can be close to freezing, but it warms up rapidly during the day, when the sky is usually clear and blue. It's now very much 'peak season' for most safari areas: the land is dry in most areas so the animals congregate around the few available water sources.

This continues into September and October, when temperatures climb again, drying the landscapes and concentrating the game even more. This is the best time for big game safaris – although October can feel very hot, with maximum temperatures sometimes approaching 40°C.

November is difficult to predict, as it can sometimes be a continuation of October's heat, whilst sometimes it's cooled by the first rains; it's always an interesting month.


Clothing and Dress Recommendations

In summer, lightweight, lightcoloured cottons are preferable. Avoid synthetic materials and black clothing, as they increase perspiration and discomfort. In winter, wear trousers, longsleeved shirts / blouses and jerseys. From May – August, night temperatures can fall below zero degrees celsius, so warm jerseys and jackets are vital, especially on morning and evening game drives. Garments of neutral colours that blend with the bush and forest are advisable for safaris and game viewing. Bring a lightweight jacket and/or jersey for unexpected temperature changes or rain. Closed, comfortable walking shoesor gym shoes are a must in all seasons. Special attention should be given to protection from the sun. Bring a sunhat, good quality sunscreen, sun lotion and polarised sunglasses. Wide brimmed sun hats are essential.


Electricity and Plug Standards

Electrical sockets (outlets) in Botswana are the "Type M " South African SABS1661 ("Large" 15 amp BS-546) sockets. This is actually an old British standard. The "Type M " South African plug and socket is not to be confused with the "Type D " Indian plug and socket. In pictures, they look very similar, but the South African type is much larger than the Indian type, and they are physically incompatible. If your appliance's plug doesn't match the shape of these sockets, you will need a travel plug adapter in order to plug in. Travel plug adapters simply change the shape of your appliance's plug to match whatever type of socket you need to plug into.

Electrical sockets (outlets) in Botswana usually supply electricity at between 220 and 240 volts AC. If you're plugging in an appliance that was built for 220-240 volt electrical input, or an appliance that is compatible with multiple voltages, then an adapter is all you need.

But travel plug adapters do not change the voltage, so the electricity coming through the adapter will still be the same 220-240 volts the socket is supplying. If you need to use appliances that are not compatible with 220-240 volt electrical input, you will need a voltage converter.


General Guidance

Please be advised that the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is not permitted on any flights in Botswana due to the possible fire hazard associated with the device. Many thanks for your co-operation

New Immigration requirement for travelling to Botswana with children under 18 years old:

· Parents travelling to South Africa and Botswana with children under 18 years old are required to produce an unabridged birth certificate (including details of the child’s father as well as mother) for all children travelling in addition to their valid passports.

· In the event that one parent is not travelling with the child, the other parent’s affidavit consenting to such travel should be availed. However, an affidavit will not be required if the father’s name does not appear on the child’s birth certificate.

· Adults travelling with children under 18 years old who are not the parents must produce a signed affidavit from both parents stating that the identified adult has been given their authority to travel with their child, said adult will need unabridged birth certificate of all children in their care.

This new requirement has taken effect on 1st June 2015 for South Africa and on 1st October 2016 for Botswana.


Zimbabwe

Welcome to Zimbabwe! The land of the mighty Victoria falls, that will leave you spellbound with all its magnificence, the land which is home to the Great Zimbabwe ruins and to one of the best-protected populations of black rhino in Southern Africa in the Matobos national park.

Welcome to the country where a huge man-made structure, the Kariba dam has given birth to a new and rich ecosystem teeming with wildlife and birdlife.

Zimbabwe is a not only a wildlife enthusiast's haven but it also surprisingly has in store a number of museum sites and monuments for the culturally sensitive.

Zimbabwe offers unmatched opportunities for adventure travel of all sorts and hence is slowly becoming a popular destination for the discerning traveler.

No traveler leaves Zimbabwe without a visit to the remarkable Victoria falls that Zimbabwe shares with its neighbour Zambia. Once you are done grappling with the grand spectacle of the 1.7 km wide Zambezi crashing down the Batoka gorge 100 m below, you can head for some rush of adrenaline for whitewater rafting, bungee jumping and helicopter flights. For the less brave there are activities like walking safaris, canoe safaris, elephant back safaris and horseback safaris that aren't less thrilling. If you crave for some peace and serenity there are always activities like sunset cruises, hiking and spa experiences that you can opt for.

Experience the magnificent wildlife and well over 400 bird species at close quarters in Hwange National Park. It is Zimbabwe's largest park and home to a staggering number of elephants. Don't miss the King cheetah in Gonarezhou, and the samango monkey in the Eastern Highlands, species only found in limited numbers in other places. Mana Pools National Park consisting of four main pools and many smaller pools is an area of scenic wilderness and abundant birdlife. It is seasonally open but offers unmatched walking-safari and canoe-safari experiences.

Great Zimbabwe National Monument is the largest stone structure in Africa outside of Egypt, from which the country gets its name. Prepare to get fascinated by millions of granite blocks fitted together without mortar forming massive curving walls just around 30km from Masvingo. Smaller but equally fascinating are the Ancient City of Khami ruins around 22km west of Bulawayo. Bulawayo itself has some interesting places to be seen. The second-largest city in Zimbabwe hosts a number of museums of national importance. The Matobo National Park, just outside the city, houses some of the best examples of San rock paintings and a significant wildlife population. It is an area of cultural significance and a great change in the safari-rich itinerary of the traveler. Visitors can also enjoy the beautiful Botanical Gardens in the Vumba Mountains and great trekking or hiking opportunities in the Rhodes Inyanga National Park in the Eastern Highlands.

A totally different aspect of the Zambezi can be seen across the northern border of Zimbabwe. The Lake Kariba which is a result of the Kariba dam built across the Zambezi has given birth to a unexpected spectacular landscape consisting of over 2000 km of shoreline hosting huge numbers of game, creating a popular domestic tourist and fishing destination. The best way to enjoy Kariba is on a houseboat steering through the submerged forest , enjoying the sunset and the variety of water birds that come and pay you a visit.

So come and immerse yourself in this country's beautiful culture and bountiful forests and travel across the stretch of the Zambezi to unfold a story rather unknown. And while you experience this dramatic land, don't forget to do it responsibly. Leave just footprints and take unforgettable memories!


Banking and Currency

Currency

Zimbabwe uses US$ as it's own unit of currency (the Zimbabwe Dollar) is suspended. Rand and Euros are accepted currencies at most places. Euros are accepted at few hotels and at some supermarkets you can still pay in Rand. It is advised to carry small denominations of change with you, however it is best to pay for as much as possible outside of the country.

Banking

Banks in Zimbabwe are open for business Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 08h00 to 15h00, on Wednesdays from 08h00 to 13h00 and Saturdays from 08h00 to 11h30. They are closed on Sundays and Public Holidays.


Travel, Transport and Getting Around

Taxis are safe and reliable, and can be booked through your hotel front desk. Taxis in cities travel within a 40km radius of the city. Always take a taxi at night.

Major airlines fly into Victoria Falls, Harare and Bulawayo. Charter flights are available to most attractions and camps.

Zimbabwe has a good road infrastructure, by African standards, although potholed. Between major towns, there are frequent road blocks. Traffic drives on the left side of the road.

If you are driving yourself around Zimbabwe, be sure to check on fuel availability in advance. If you are covering long distances within the country, ensure you carry extra fuel in 5 or 10lt metal containers in case of emergency. Fuel is generally available, but supply can fluctuate. Fuel is only available for cash.


Food, Drink and Cuisine Advice

Zimbabwe's native cuisine is based on sadza, a cooked porridge made from ground maize which is normally be accompanied by some tasty relish, perhaps made of meat and tomatoes, or dried fish. Safari camps will often prepare sadza if requested, and it is almost always available in small restaurants in the towns.

Camps, hotels and lodges that cater to overseas typically serve a variety international fare, and the quality of food prepared in the most remote bush camps is usually excellent.

If you are driving yourself around and plan to cook, then get most of your supplies in main towns. There are a number of South African shopping chains operating in Zimbabwe which will generally have all that you will need.

Water in the main towns is usually purified.. The locals drink it, and are used to the relatively innocuous bugs that it may harbour. If you are in the country for a long time, then it may be worth acclimatising yourself to it. However, if you are in Zimbabwe for just a short period of time, then try to drink only bottled, boiled, or treated water available in towns and from all camps, lodges and hotels.


Climate and Weather

In Zimbabwe, the rains come principally in December, January,February and March; the further north you are, the earlier the precipitation arrives and the later it leaves. Zimbabwe's higher eastern areas usually receive more rainfall than the lower-lying western ones.

By April and May most of the rain is gone, leaving a verdant setting, which is starting to dry out. Especially in more southerly and higher locations, the night-time temperatures start to drop.

The nights in June, July and August become much cooler, so don't forget to bring some warmer clothes, in case you want to spend an evening outside; the days are still clear and warm. For Zimbabwe, this is the start of the 'peak season'– days are often cloudless and game sightings continually increase.

Into September and October the temperatures rise once again: Zimbabwe's lower-lying rift valley – Mana Pools – can get very hot in October. During this time, you'll see some fantastic game, as the Zimbabwe's wildlife concentrates around the limited water sources.

November is unpredictable; it can be hot and dry, it can also see the season's first rainfalls – and in this respect it's a very interesting month, as on successive days, you can see both weather patterns.


Clothing and Dress Recommendations

When in Zimbabwe the cardinal rule is to wear casual, comfortable clothes during the day as temperatures can get very hot. It is advisable to wear light loose fitting clothing, such as cotton or linen, as they are cool and easy to wash. Warmer clothes are advised for the evenings and rainwear for the wet season.

A brimmed hat and sunglasses are a good idea year round. Long sleeved shirts and long trousers will also guard against the scourching sun rays. It is recommended you wear light shoes, especially if your itinerary entails a lot of walking.

For safaris, please remember to wear appropriate clothing and shoes. Earth colour clothes, such as browns and greens are advisable.


Electricity and Plug Standards

Current is 220/240 volts at 50 cycles per second. Both square and round plugs are used.