Botswana

Despite recent and surprisingly rapid modernisation, Botswana’s cities provide little in the way of tourist attractions. However, what the cities lack in excitement, the surrounding wilderness areas more than make up for in outstanding natural beauty. The country’s primary tourist draw card is undoubtedly the vast red expanse of the Kalahari desert and its remarkably beautiful Okavango Delta - the largest inland delta in the world provides a haven for an abundance of African wildlife. Other highlights include the impressive Makgadikgadi salt pans where visitors are privy to massive zebra migrations during the flood season; the Savuti plains which host large prides of lions; and the Tsodilo Hills where 4500 rock paintings form a unique record of human settlement over many millennia.


Entry Requirements

VISA

Visas are not required for entry into Botswana at this point.

Please Note: It is a requirement that you have a validity of 6 months on your passport at the time of travel and at least 4 blank Visa pages in order to gain entry.

TRAVELLING WITH CHILDREN

Passengers travelling with children under the age of 18 years - arriving, transiting and /or departing from Botswana are required to produce an unabridged birth certificate (indicating the biological parents of the minor). In addition, children travelling with one parent will require a letter of consent from the other parent.


Banking and Currency

Personal expenses such as purchases from the camps curio shops can be paid for with Visa and MasterCard or cash. There is no need to have local currencies on hand as US$ are accepted in markets and for tipping (per the suggested guidelines). It is a good idea to have a quantity of smaller denominations of US$ for distribution of tips.

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.

 


Travel, Transport and Getting Around

AIR TRANSFERS

Baggage is limited to 15kg/33 lb per person in soft sided bags including carry-on and camera equipment. PLEASE DO NOT USE HARD SUITCASES OR BAGS WITH WHEELS as bags need to be maneuvered in and out of light aircraft holds.

There is no need at any time for you to drive in Botswana. All transfers are included in your itinerary. 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. There are major airports in Maun, Kasane and Gaborone, while smaller charter flights are used to get to the other top attractions and camps.


Health and Medical Information

Please consult your General Practitioner or nearest Travel Clinic for advice on medical issues relevant to your destination.

For additional information refer to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention website – wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list.htm


Safety Notices

COMMUNICATIONS & SAFETY

All lodges have 24-hour radio contact with their base support headquarters and each game-drive vehicle has radio contact with camp. 

In the event of a medical emergency evacuation will be arranged. The daily lodge tariff includes an amount for emergency evacuation insurance.  This is where your own insurance cover will begin.

CELL PHONES

Quad-band cell phones on global roaming generally work from all major urban centres. They do not, however, work from many of the safari camps due to limited reception.

WI-FI / INTERNET

Internet access is limited throughout Africa and varies from camp to camp. Please refer to the camp information for specific details.

TRAVEL ADVICE & WARNINGS

We strongly recommend you review the current travel advice for your country/countries of destination before booking and ensure you remain up to date with this advice before travelling.

Australia: http://smartraveller.gov.au/countries/Pages/default.aspx

UK: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

USA: https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/alertswarnings.html

REGISTER YOUR TRAVEL

We recommend that you register your travel with your local authority. These services are free and help locate you in case of an emergency. Updates to travel advice are also provided through the subscription service.

Australia - Smart Traveller service - https://orao.dfat.gov.au/pages/

USA - Smart Traveller service - https://step.state.gov/step/


Food, Drink and Cuisine Advice

Meals are international-style cuisine of an extremely high standard, at elegantly set dining tables - sometimes under the stars, sometimes under thatch or canvas. Meal times are geared around the best game viewing times and activities, and vary from season to season. In most camps you start the day with a continental breakfast of juices, tea or coffee, cereal or porridge and toast, prior to the morning activity. This is followed by a large brunch, and high tea is served before the afternoon activity. Dinner is served after the evening activity.

The camps can cater to specific dietary requests. Please advise your special requirements (at time of booking) and we will ensure your needs are met.

In most camps alcoholic beverages are included in the daily tariff. Bottled water is available at all times.

Many people inquire whether they can brush their teeth with the tap water, have ice in their drinks, or eat salads (as ingredients have been washed in water). In the camps we use there are no concerns in this regard.


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

As a rule lightweight, light coloured cottons are preferable. Avoid synthetic materials and black clothing, as they increase perspiration and discomfort. Garments of neutral colours that blend with the bush and forest are advisable for safaris and game viewing particularly if walking.

Suggested packing list:

The following is a guide to clothing and personal items:

  1. Safari:
  • 2/3 pairs of long trousers or shorts, 3 shirts, preferably long sleeved and collared. Clothing should preferably be khaki or neutral colour’s.
  • At least four neat casual clothes for evening wear.  Long-sleeved shirt and trousers (and the female equivalent) are recommended for keeping mosquitoes at bay in the evenings
  • A light fleece for morning and evening game drives.
  • 3 pairs of socks (cotton)
  • A lightweight waterproof jacket (preferably GORETEX or the equivalent) in case of rain
  • Comfortable closed footwear plus a pair of runners/strapped sandals (in case your regular footwear gets wet).
  • 1 pair of flip flops/sandals for the afternoons and evening
  • A wide brimmed hat or cap
  • 2 Pairs of light pants/jeans
  • 2 T-shirts
  • Underwear (sports bras recommended)
  • Swimsuit
  • Fleece and Tracksuit pants for the morning and evening game drives
  • Belt
  • Scarf & beanie

ii.      Sundries

  • Sunglasses and an extra pair of prescription glasses
  • Binoculars and Camera
  • Cash for curios and tips (smaller denomination notes for tipping)
  • Travel Insurance information kept on hand

iii.  Toiletries:

Toiletries as appropriate - soaps, shampoos and body lotion are provided in the camps however some guests like to bring their own.

  • Plenty of max factor sunscreen
  • Lip balm with sunscreen
  • Moisturiser or Vaseline as the air is very dry
  • Shampoo, conditioner and liquid soap of your choice (smaller bottles recommended)
  • Deodorant
  • Toothpaste and toothbrush
  • Wash cloth
  • Gloves/Hand warmers (optional)
  • Razor and Tweezers
  • Hairbrush
  • Hand/body - face lotion
  • Small insect repellent (the camps do have these, but if you want your own)
  • Antihistamine cream and tablets
  • Paracetamol in case of a headache
  • Rehydrate salts
  • Hairbrush
  • Hand/body - face lotion
  • Small insect repellent (the camps do have these, but if you want your own)
  • Antihistamine cream and tablets
  • Paracetamol in case of a headache
  • Rehydrate salts

As a final comment a daily laundry service is provided in most camps (except smalls), and is included in the tariff, so there is no need to pack too much.

 


Internet Availability

Some hotels, lodges and guest houses offer internet access or WiFi (free or paid), and there are internet cafe's in Gaborone and Maun. Internet access in more remote rural areas is often hard to come by.


Electricity and Plug Standards

Most camps have no access to regular electrical power as they are located in such remote areas. Camps are solar powered or have generators on site that produce 220V electricity. These are run for 4-6 hours per day, generally over activity times while guests are not in camp. There is ample electricity for charging batteries for video cameras, iPods etc. and most camps have an array of adaptor plugs.

Travelling to Botswana we recommend you that you have an electrical plug M. Electric plug M is technically known as BS 546 (South African 15 A/250 V). It has been adopted as the standard plug in South Africa. It has 1 large round pin and 2 smaller round pins.


General Guidance

TRAVEL INSURANCE

It is highly recommended that clients obtain comprehensive Travel Insurance cover. Please furnish Epic with a copy of your insurance policy prior to travel.
If you require assistance with travel insurance please click on the following link - Travel Insurance.

  • Hospitalisation and Repatriation
  • Cancellation and Missed flight connections
  • Loss of baggage and loss/breakage of valuables en route
  • Loss/breakage of valuables such as cameras

PHOTOGRAPHY

Digital cameras are the best for wildlife, with a good zoom up to 300mm or more. If you have an SLR it is a good idea to bring a point and shoot as back up. Remember to bring plenty of memory cards, spare batteries and battery chargers (Please check that you have all your chargers for cell phones, iPods, kindles, camera and video batteries).

If you need to or are interested in hiring a lense to take with you, here are a couple of websites for you to take a look at:

In the USA  - https://www.lensrentals.com

In Australia -  https://rentalens.com.au/index.php or http://www.camerahire.com.au/hire/digital-slr

GRATUITIES

Although tipping is not compulsory, if service expectations are exceeded, we recommend the following:

  • Airport/Hotel/ Porters carriers – USD2.00 per porter
  • Professional Guides/Tour Leaders – USD20.00 per group per day
  • Safari Driver/Guides – USD15.00 per group per day. This should be handed to the guide personally
  • General Camp Staff – USD10 .00 per guest per day. This can be placed in a communal tip box or handed to the camp manager.

RECOMMENDED READING LIST

The Safari Companion, A Guide to Watching African Mammals — Richard Estes

Okavango, Africa’s Last Eden — Frans Lanting

The Scramble for Africa — Thomas Pakenham

Lost World of the Kalahari — Laurens van der Post

Cats of Africa, Behaviour, Ecology and Conservation — Gerald Hinde & Luke Hunter

Running Wild, Dispelling the Myths of the African Wild Dog — John McNutt

Cry of the Kalahari, Seven Years in Africa’s Last Great Wilderness — Mark & Delia Owens

My Traitor’s Heart: A South African Exile Returns to Face His Country, His Tribe, and His Conscience — Rian Malan

Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela — Nelson Mandela


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