Home to large populations of wildlife, rugged national parks, wetlands alive with birds and one of the world’s largest deltas, Botswana’s bounty of natural treasures is remarkable. With winter sunshine, a temperate climate and golden sunsets, it’s no wonder most locals have beaming smiles - they’re surrounded by some of Mother Nature’s greatest triumphs.
Botswana Tours & Travel
All our Botswana trips
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Articles on Botswana
On the trail of the legendary Kalahari lions
Posted on Thu, 06 Mar 2014 by Sue Elliot
“It’s difficult to describe just how vulnerable you feel when your eyes meet the unwavering stare of a predatory lion.” In the current issue #39 of get lost magazine, Ann [...]Read more
Top 15 wild animal encounters
Posted on Mon, 17 Feb 2014 by Jane Crouch
From sloths hanging out, to whales breathtakingly breeching and lions stalking their prey – when we asked you about your best experiences with animals when travelling, we were inundated with [...]Read more
Intrepid believes half the fun of experiencing a new country is getting there, and getting around once there! Where possible, Intrepid uses local transport options and traditional modes of transport - which usually carry less of an environmental impact, support small local operators and are heaps more fun.
Depending on which trip you're on while in Botswana, you may find yourself travelling by:
Travelling with Intrepid is a little bit different. We endeavour to provide travellers with an authentic experience to remember, so we try to keep accommodation as unique and traditional as possible.
When travelling with us in Botswana you may find yourself staying in a:
At a glance
- Trips Available:
- Capital city:
- Gaborone (population 138,000)
- 2 million
- English, Setswana
- Time zone:
- (GMT+02:00) Windhoek
- Type D (Old British 3-pin) Type G (Irish/British 3-pin) Type M (see D)
- Dialing code:
Best time to visit Botswana
Winter (April through August) is a good time to visit Botswana. The days are usually mild and wildlife is generally quite easy to spot. The summer can bring frequent rain, which can make it difficult to travel around some of the national parks. Wildlife also tends to disperse during the summer rains, making animals a little harder to spot.
Culture and customs
Eating and drinking
Intrepid believes that one of the best ways of experiencing a country is by eating! Whether you're sampling street food, savouring a cheap eat or indulging in a banquet, there are endless options to choose from wherever you are in the world. Food in Botswana is quite basic and usually consists of millet, sorghum, goat or beef, but there are a few highlights.
Things to try in Botswana
This classic dish of shredded beef served with maize meal and cabbage is considered to be Botswana's national dish and can be found in most restaurants and cafes.
2. Bush Tea
Also known as Rooibos, this red-hued tea is drunk widely throughout Southern Africa. Pure, natural, high in antioxidants and void of caffeine, you'll see locals drinking it everywhere from city cafes to village huts.
3. Fresh Fruit
Local produce in Botswana is quite good but their melons are generally the stand out. For a cheap and healthy snack, try watermelon, marula or lerotse, which can be found at markets and street stalls.
Geography and environment
History and government
The land of Botswana and surrounding regions have been inhabited by tribal groups for thousands of years, with tribes migrating into the area, from the lands now known as Zambia and Congo, sometime around 200-500 AD.
In 1885, the region came under British influence and became known as the Bechuanaland Protectorate, mainly as a tactic to avoid being overrun by the Boers who were campaigning in the region. This status continued for decades, until increasing nationalism in the 1950s led to an internal push for independence.
Although never officially colonised, Botswana was granted independence from Britain on September 30th, 1966. Diamonds were discovered in the country in 1967, which provided a steady stream of revenue that continues to this day. Unlike many other African nations, Botswana enjoys peace, prosperity and a relatively high standard of living. Equal rights and freedom of speech are granted to all under the constitution, the economy is stable due to the growth of the mining and tourism industries, and literacy rates are improving rapidly.
Top 10 Animals of Botswana
1. African Elephant
Botswana is home to one of the world's largest populations of African elephants. Nothing beats encountering a herd of these majestic beasts while out on safari. It's an iconic African travel moment to treasure!
2. Cape Vulture
This endangered species is fully protected in Botswana, although the global population has sadly been in decline for years. Playing an important part in the food chain, this imposing bird can be found all throughout Botswana. See them while you can.
3. Chacma Baboon
Botswana's largest primate belongs to the old-world monkey family and can be found in the Okavango Delta region of Botswana. With a distinctive dog-like face and very sharp teeth, they aren't beauty pageant contenders but have a loveable charm of their own.
One of the most curiously beautiful birds in Africa, pink flamingos can be found in the salt pans and wetlands of the north. If you're heading to Botswana, try to catch them in all their blush-pink avian glory.
5. Lesser Bushbaby
The nocturnal bushbaby is a distant relative of the lemur and can be found in the northern parts of Botswana. While they are hard to spot, you can usually hear them crying out from the trees in the night.
Time seems to stand still when a pride of regal lions present themselves. Watch safari-goers and other animals stop in their tracks and collectively hold their breath in respect (and fear) for these beautiful beasts.
7. Kori Bustard
Large populations of the world's heaviest flying bird live in Botswana and are easily spotted due to their large, crested head. Although capable of flight, the kori bustard is usually found on the ground foraging for lizards and insects.
There's no doubt - the national animal of Botswana is one of the most striking in the world. Zebras can be found in the reserves, parks and bush of Botswana and due to their zany black and white coat, they're not hard to spot.
9. Black Mamba Snake
While we hope there are no close encounters with this highly venomous snake, they're worth a mention as the black mamba is abundant in Botswana and known for being one of the most dangerous snakes in the world. Respect!
Botswana has many sanctuaries dedicated to the preservation of endangered animals, and the community-based Khama Rhino Sanctuary is an excellent example of how the decline of a species can be put into reverse. See rare black and white rhinos here and marvel at their strength and enormity.
Botswana has everything from western-style malls to village markets and craft cooperatives. While Botswana’s wildlife and landscapes are undoubtedly the main attractions, there are enough shopping highlights here to fill a backpack.
It's a good idea to check with your local customs officials to ensure that you are able to bring certain items back into your home country. Australia and New Zealand generally have strict quarantine laws.
Things to buy in Botswana
1. Elephant Dung Paper
Yes, you read it correctly, you’ll be able to find recycled paper products made from elephant dung in Botswana. Handmade cards, envelopes and journals make interesting, environmentally aware gifts for friends back home – and don’t worry, they don’t smell.
2. Handmade Baskets
The basket weavers of Botswana are considered among Africa’s best, so pick up a colourful, handwoven basket made using techniques that have been passed down through generations.
Modern and traditional art by talented local artists can be found in sophisticated city galleries and sleepy country markets. Supporting local artisans is a good way to assist the community, empower people and ensure your souvenirs are authentic.
Festivals and Events in Botswana
This annual performing arts festival gifts the city of Gaborone with a carnival of colour. Over nine days, the streets and performance venues are filled with traditional dancing, theatre, music and a whole lot of fun.
This annual celebration of Botswana's independence sees locals indulging in food, beer and music. While not a cultural event, it's a great time to feast and party with locals as displays of happiness and national pride spill out on to the streets.
FAQs on Botswana
Snack = 4.50 BWP
Bottle of beer = 5 BWP
Basic Lunch = 15-20 BWP
Dinner at a restaurant = 55-100 BWP
For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance
Apr 6 Easter
May 1 Labour Day
May 17 Ascension Day
Jul 15 President’s Day
Jul 20 Sir Seretse Khama Day
Sep 30 Botswana Day
Dec 25 Christmas Day
Dec 26 Boxing Day
Please note these dates are for 2012. For a current list of public holidays go to: http://www.worldtravelguide.net/botswana/public-holidays
Citizens of Australia, UK, and the US don't need visas to visit Botswana as a tourist for up to three months. Citizens of other countries, including most EU countries, should check with the relevant consulates as to whether a visa is required.
Entry Requirements :
If you are arriving from a country where yellow fever is endemic, you will be required to present a valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate to be allowed entry into Botswana.
We have received unconfirmed reports from our local operator that as of December 1st, 2012 all foreign tourists under the age of 16yrs will be required to carry a copy of their birth certificate in order to enter Botswana. We recommend that passengers under the age of 16yrs carry a copy of their birth certificate just in case.
Health and Safety
Intrepid takes the health and safety of its travellers seriously, and takes every measure to ensure that trips are safe, fun and enjoyable for everyone. We recommend that all travellers check with their government or national travel advisory organisation for the latest information before departure:
From New Zealand?
Go to: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/
Go to: http://travel.state.gov/
Go to: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/
The World Health Organisation
also provides useful health information:
Go to: http://www.who.int/en/
Botswana Travel Tips
Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.
Top responsible travel tips for Botswana
1. Be considerate of Botswana’s customs, traditions, religion and culture.
2. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water instead.
3. Always dispose of litter thoughtfully, including cigarette butts.
4. When bargaining at markets, stay calm, be reasonable and keep a smile on your face. It's meant to be fun!
5. Learn some local language and don't be afraid to use it - simple greetings will help break the ice.
6. Shop for locally made products. Supporting local artisans helps keep traditional crafts alive.
7. Refrain from supporting businesses that exploit or abuse endangered animals.
8. Please ask and receive permission before taking photos of people, including children.
9. When on community visits or homestays, refrain from giving gifts or money to locals.
10. Refrain from buying ivory or other products harvested from endangered animals.
|The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency||Alexander McCall Smith|
|Whatever You Do, Don't Run||Peter Allison|
|Botswana Time||Will Randall|
|Place of Reeds||Caitlin Davies|
|Far and Beyond||Unity Dow|