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Botswana

Botswana Safari InformationSaddling the Tropic of Capricorn, and a little larger than France, the Republic of Botswana is a relatively flat country with hilly areas along its eastern side and isolated groups of hills elsewhere. Botswana is a semi-arid country where evaporation exceeds rainfall in every month of the year. Given its area and relatively small population of about 1.4 million, Botswana has a low population density - but figures can be misleading. More than 70% of the country is covered with Kalahari sands, the remains of a former desert. Although this vast tract is by no means a desert now, it does support a relatively small number of people. About 80% of Botswana’s population is concentrated in the eastern side of the country where population densities are, therefore, quite high. Population growth rate is approximately 3.5% per annum, one of the highest in Africa.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

All visitors require valid passports and return air tickets. Visas are required by nationals of foreign countries excluding the following: All Commonwealth countries, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Republic of Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Namibia, Netherlands, Norway, Samoa (Western), San Marino, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Uruguay and USA. The following countries (although Commonwealth countries) do require a visa: Bangladesh, Ghana, India, Mauritius, Nigeria, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Entry into Botswana is permitted for a maximum duration of 90 days.

Note: Please check with your nearest Botswana Consulate for up to date information for other than US citizens.

CURRENCY

The local currency unit is the Botswana Pula (BWP), which equals 100 thebe. The exchange rate is approximately 5.5 BWP:$1 USD. Botswana banks will only accept US Dollars, Pound Sterling, Euro and South African Rand cash. Therefore, any cash payments to camps for curios, or gratuities to guides or staff, need to be in one of these currencies. Travelers’ checks in any of the above currencies are also acceptable. Travelers will generally not have a need to carry local currency in Botswana. However, travelers can exchange their currency for BWP at Johannesburg International Airport, Gaborone airport and at commercial banks in Maun, Kasane and South Africa. BWP may also be purchased at the Rennie’s and American Express Bureau de Change in South Africa. Banks are open Monday to Friday 9:00am - 2:30pm; Wednesday hours are 8:00am – 12:00am. Visa and MasterCard are usually accepted throughout Botswana but American Express and Diner’s Club are often not accepted. Visitors may import/export a maximum of 500 Pula in bank notes. Foreign currency may be imported and exported without restriction provided it is declared on arrival.

CLIMATE

The climate is generally temperate, tending to become tropical as one travels north.

Summer: November – April

Days are hot and generally sunny in the morning with possible afternoon thunderstorms. Daytime temperatures can rise to 100°F and night temperatures drop to around 68°–77°F. The ‘rainy season’ begins late in October/November and ends in March. The northern areas receive up to 700mm while the Kalahari Desert area averages as low as 225mm.

Winter: May – October

Days are dry, sunny and cool to warm while evening temperatures drop sharply. Daytime temperatures generally reach 68°F and can drop to as low as 41°F at night. Please note that extreme cold spells can occur (although this is the exception rather than the rule) so it is recommended to bring appropriate clothing, just in case!

Temperature (ºF) – These are the average lows and highs

 

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

June

July

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Maun 66/90 66/88 64/88 57/88 48/82 43/77 43/77 48/82 55/91 64/95 66/93 66/90

Rainfall (inches) – This varies according to the year and where you are.

 

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

June

July

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Maun 4.33 3.15 2.75 0.98 0.27 0.11 0 0 0 1.18 1.97 3.74

WATER

Water supplies are safe in urban areas, but not reliable in country regions except in tourist resorts and safari camps. Please remember that water is a precious resource, so please be respectful and try to conserve water wherever possible.

ELECTRICITY

The electricity supply is 220 or 240V AC, 50 Hz. However those camps/lodges situated in remote areas have to generate their own electricity. To do so each camp/lodge has a generator, which runs for about 6 – 7 hours per day (split between morning and afternoon when guests are out on activities). In most camps, these generators then charge a bank of batteries known as an invertor system which then provides 220v power in each tented room for lighting and ceiling fans (please note some camps use paraffin lamps for lighting in the tents). Some camps have 220v plug points in the tents but these can be used for the charging of batteries only. In other camps, batteries which require charging must be given to the camp staff who will charge the batteries in the bar or office areas while you are out on an activity. You should ensure that if you want batteries charged, you bring a spare battery for use while the other is being charged as well as a power converter for 220v, if applicable. It is not possible to use appliances such as hairdryers or electric shavers in the tented rooms at camps that generate their own electricity.

COMMUNICATIONS

Most major towns have post offices open from 8:45am to 4:00pm. A direct international dialing service is available from the major hotels and lodges in Kasane, Maun and Gaborone. For international telephone calls, the country code is +267. -there are no regional country codes. Safari lodges communicate via two-way radio to Maun or Kasane.

TIME ZONE

Greenwich Mean Time + 2 hours during Daylight Savings; Greenwich Mean Time + 1 hour for the remainder of the year.

LANGUAGE

English is the official language and Setswana is the most common local language. The English-speaking visitor to Botswana will have no problems while traveling throughout the country.

CHECK IN/ CHECK OUT TIMES

Hotels in the Zimbabwe cities generally have a check in time of 2:00pm and a check out time of 10:00am.

WHAT TO BUY

Woodcarvings, handcrafted jewelry, woven goods and attractive basketry are available.

DUTY FREE

There is no duty free shopping available at Johannesburg International Airport on a flight to Botswana. Please make sure any duty free purchases of camera film, alcohol, etc. are made before arriving in southern Africa.

EMBASSIES

USA - Badiredi House, off Khama Crescent, PO Box 90, Gaborone -- Telephone: 267 353 982
01 January
New Year’s Day
03 January Public Holiday
25 March Good Friday
26 March
Public Holiday
28 March Easter Monday
01 May Labour Day
05 May Ascension Day
01 July Sir Seretse Khama Day
18 July President’s Day
19 July Public Holiday
30 September Botswana Day
01 October Public Holiday
25 December Christmas Day
26 December Boxing Day
27 December Public Holiday