Between the 1880’s and its independence in the 1960’s, Botswana was a poor and peripheral British protectorate known as Bechuanaland. The country is named after its dominant ethnic group, the Tswana or Batswana, and the national language is called Setswana. Since the 1960’s, Botswana has gained international stature as a peaceful and increasingly prosperous democratic state. Botswana has one of the fastest growing economies in the world based on the mining of diamonds and other minerals, as well as the sale of beef to Europe and the world market. This has ensured an extensive development in educational and health facilities in villages and traditional rural towns.
Bordered by South Africa, Zambia and Namibia, Botswana’s landscape is a study of contrasts – an expanse of savannahs, deserts, wetlands and salt pans stretching from the red desert dunes of the Kalahari, home of the Bushmen, to the lush green of the waterways of the Okavango Delta. The varied landscapes change with the seasons meaning that, in Botswana, every safari is unique. Botswana is home to a vastly diverse wildlife population, including species such as Elephant, various Antelope, Kudu, Giraffe, Cheetah, Ostrich, Leopard, Wild Dog, Lion and more.
Estimated at 1.85 million with a population growth rate of 3.5% per annum.
22 00 S, 24 00 E Area: 600,370 sq km
600,370 sq km
The electricity supply in Botswana is 220 or 240V AC, 50 Hz.Wall sockets (round and square 3 pin) are rated to carry a maximum of 15 amps. It is important to carry a 3 pin round and square adapter, which can be purchased in hardware shops and especially at photographic stores, as most foreign electrical plugs do not fit the Botswana electrical socket. Most hotels have electric shaver plugs and/or adapters available.
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.
Driving is on the left hand side of the road. UK and International driving licences are acceptable in Botswana for up to 90 days. If you intend to stay longer you should apply for a Botswana licence. The general speed limit is 100km/h or 120 km/h on open roads and 60km/h in urban areas. Police are vigilant and speed traps occur so please keep to the speed limits. Livestock on the roads is a big hazard especially at night as herders are not required to stay with the animals and there are no fences along the roads, so please be careful.
* Please note that you need a 4×4 vehicle to visit any of the wildlife parks of Botswana!!!
Flights into Botswana are made on Air Botswana. Most safaris start in Maun, the Gateway to the Okavango delta, and smaller charter flights are taken from Maun to the various lodges throughout Botswana. Scenic flights over the Delta are stunning and well worth taking.
VERY IMPORTANT NOTICE
There is a very strict weight restriction on all light aircraft. The limit is 20kgs per person that MUST be packed into soft bags. This is to make it easy for the luggage to be stowed on the aircraft. Rigid suitcases will be rejected and left behind with a representative.
English is the official language of Botswana. Setswana is the national language and is widely spoken. Other languages spoken in Botswana include Afrikaans in the south and south western part in areas bordering Botswana & South Africa, Kalanga in the North East, Shekgalagari in the South Western areas, Siyeyi in the Okavango Delta areas, as well as many other languages.
The currency in Botswana is Pula and Thebe. Pula in Setswana means ‘rain’. One Pula is made up on 100 Thebe. Coins available are: 5t, 10t, 25t, 50t, P1, P2 and P5. Notes available are: P10, P20, P50, P100, P200.
Botswana is 2 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) all year round.
Industry: Diamonds, Copper, Nickel, Salt, Soda ash, Potash, Livestock processing/Beef, Textiles.
Exports: Diamonds, Copper, Nickel, Soda ash, Beef, Agriculture: Sorghum, Maize, Millet, Livestock.
Visa Requirements for Botswana:
All visitors require a passport, return or onward tickets and sufficient funds to cover their stay in Botswana.
If you need a visa for Botswana, then you must get one before you arrive in country. Contact your local Botswana embassy or high commission – who are the best source to verify that the information here is still current.
Currently visitors holding passports from the following countries do not need a visa:
- All EC (European Community) countries
- USA, South Africa, Scandinavian countries, Uruguay, Western Samoa and countries from the former Yugoslavia
- All Commonwealth countries (except Ghana, India, Sri Lanka, Nigeria and Mauritius – whose citizens do need visas).
Citizens from these countries will be granted a one-month entry permit on arrival.
Passport and visa requirements are liable to change at short notice. Travellers are advised to check their entry requirements with their embassy or consulate, or the following website:
Passing through Customs:
All persons arriving in Botswana are required to unreservedly declare all goods in their possession to a Customs official on duty on a baggage declaration document called, Form J.
Customs has a duty to protect Botswana from illicit goods. To do this, checks may be made on travellers and their baggage.
Customs duties are not charged on the following goods imported as accompanied or un-accompanied passengers’ baggage:
The following articles and consumables (excluding any goods the importation of which is prohibited), declared at the place where the traveller enters Botswana and not imported on behalf of other persons or by way of trade, may be admitted free of duty and, where applicable, Value Add Tax (VAT).
- Wines – 2 litres
- Spirituous and other alcoholic beverages – 1 litre
- Cigarettes – 200
- Cigars – 20
- Cigarette or pipe tobacco – 250 gms
- Perfume – 50 ml
- Toilet water – 250 ml
- Other new or used goods of a total value not exceeding (from outside SACU) – 3000 UA*
- Other new or used goods of a total value not exceeding (from SACU) – 500 UA*.
*UA is equivalent to One South African Rand.
The importation of, among other things, the following goods into Botswana is completely prohibited. It is illegal to be found in possession of prohibited goods and may result in seizure and prosecution. These include:
- Narcotic, habit-forming drugs and related substances in any form
- Military firearms, ammunition and explosives
- Indecent and obscene material such as pornographic books, magazines, films, videos, DVDs and software.
Although there is no restriction on cross-border movement of bank notes in Botswana, there is a need to monitor the movement of money into and out of Botswana for purposes of, among other things, collecting national statistics, monitoring capital flows and balance of payments, and enforcement of anti-money laundering measures.
When you are entering or leaving Botswana, you are required to declare Pula and/or foreign currency bank notes in your possession, the amount of which equals to or exceeds an equivalent of Ten Thousand Pula (P 10 000). You need not declare Travellers cheques and other monetary instruments. Botswana is a destination of rich cultures, beautiful scenery, and is a peaceful and stable country.