Everything you need to know about travel to Botswana
The Kalahari Desert, part of the world's largest unbroken expanse of sand, forms the bulk of Botswana. Yet within it lies a jewel: the Okavango Delta is a wondrous wetland that receives its waters from rain falling a thousand kilometres away and sustains a huge diversity of fauna and flora. In the north-east of the country, the Chobe and Linyanti reserves are renowned for their predators and large concentrations of game, while to the south lies the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, one of the biggest protected areas in Africa, its diverse arid-adapted wildlife and starkly scenic landscapes offering an amazing contrast to the rest of the country.
Tipping in Botswana is discretionary, but customary and appreciated if you are satisfied with the service. Ask your travel advisor about tipping guidelines.
Mobile telephone coverage and internet access in urban areas are reliable, but less so outside urban areas. In remote safari areas, mobile phone reception and internet access is very sporadic.
Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted in urban and tourism areas throughout Botswana. It is advisable to notify your credit card issuer you will be using your card internationally prior to your departure to avoid potential card acceptance issues. Travelers should also carry cash in small denominations for incidentals and tipping. Widely accepted currencies are USD, GBP, Euro and Pula – change will be given in the local currency. ATM machines are available in most large towns and cities only. Foreign currency many be changed at banks, bureaux de change, and authorized hotels. Banks hours: Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m, closed Sundays.
It is essential for visitors to remote areas of Botswana (most safari tourism regions) to have a comprehensive medical insurance policy to provide coverage for local treatment of a serious illness or accident, or if required, medical evacuation. Contact your travel advisor about traveler insurance options.
- Garments of neutral colors that blend with the bush and forest are advisable for safaris and game viewing.
- Avoid synthetic materials and black clothing, as they increase perspiration and discomfort.
- Bring a lightweight jacket and/or jersey for unexpected temperature changes or rain.
- Trousers (long or convertible), long-sleeved shirts / blouses are good for all seasons.
- October through March – lightweight, light colored cottons are preferable as it can get quite hot.
- From May-August, night temperatures can be quite chilly, so warm jerseys and jackets are vital, especially on morning and evening game drives.
- Closed, comfortable walking shoes or gym shoes are a must in all seasons.
- Special attention should be given to protection from the sun; wearing a brimmed sunhat is preferable to baseball caps.
Binoculars, camera, small flashlight, insect repellent, lip salve, sunscreen, polarized sunglasses, medications, adapters for electronics, and preferred personal grooming items. Care needs to be taken to comply with international aviation security regulations for items in carry-on luggage and checked baggage restrictions; contact your travel advisor or airline for restrictions.
Most of Botswana is a malarial zone and you should seek medical advice on the appropriate prophylactics to take as a precaution. Visitors arriving from areas infected with Yellow Fever must have a valid Yellow Fever immunization certificate. Otherwise, no other immunizations are required at time of this printing. Check with your doctor or a health-care provider who specializes in Travel Medicine 4-6 weeks prior to your trip.
A passport valid for six months beyond your intended stay and a minimum of two (preferably three) consecutive blank passport visa pages is required. Botswana maintains customs requirements similar to many international destinations.
In the winter/dry season (June-August), daytime temperatures are pleasantly mild, around 23°C/73°F; night-time lows are 5°C/41°F, sometimes lower. From June-October, rain is rare anywhere in the country. In the summer/green season (November-March), temperatures usually range 18-35°C/64-95°F. Expect hot, sunny days and frequent short, abrupt rainstorms which usually clear within hours.
Botswana is a year-round tourism destination; there simply isn’t one “best time” to visit. Peak game viewing in Northern Botswana is July-October, when animals congregate around available water sources and grasses are low. December to March is a superb time to visit for birders, photography buffs, viewing animals with their young anywhere, game viewing in central Botswana, and for people traveling on a budget.
Best Time To Visit Botswana & Victoria Falls
April to September - the days are sunny and warm and game viewing is at its best between June and August. October sees warm weather and the Okavango Delta floods the plains. The rainy season is late October to March when the Victoria Falls are at their most spectacular and huge flocks of birds can be seen migrating south from Europe. Known as the 'green season', the bush in Botswana comes alive with flowers and new life.
Botswana, a tapestry of habitats.
Where land meets water
While some areas of the Okavango are very distinctly either land- or water-dominated, many straddle the cusp and fall into a blend between the two – a mix of dry land and watery habitats that give visitors access to representative parts of the overall Okavango experience. The relative combination of water and land along this cusp varies depending on the time of year and the exact location within the Okavango Delta.
These areas – known informally as ‘combination’ – are in fact an ecotone and lie on the outer fringes of the permanent swamp. As a result, they contain a mix of habitats that range on one side from permanent water, open channels and lagoons, to seasonal floodplains and on the other side, various forms of woodland and scrub. These in turn host a diverse array of mammal and bird species that adapt to the changing conditions, to be seen while on an equally diverse array of activities.
As a biological resource, an aesthetic treasure and an economic engine fuelling Botswana’s tourism industry, there is quite simply nothing like the Okavango Delta anywhere else in the world. Such uniqueness, coupled with the chance to help conserve it and show it to our guests are just some of the reasons that we consider it our origins and roots.
Its crystal-clear waters flow a thousand undammed kilometres from its source in neighbouring Angola before spreading out into one of the largest inland delta systems in the world: an area of 15 000 km2 filled with channels, lagoons, swamps and islands. So crammed with life is it, that apart from its outstanding beauty, it is also considered one of Africa’s most important wildlife sanctuaries and a World Heritage Site. Its huge diversity of fauna and flora includes specialised water-loving creatures, from the sought-after Pel’s fishing-owl to the shy sitatunga, and myriad reed frogs that fill the nights with sound.
At its tranquil, watery heart, one can imagine a world without human impact, and truly appreciate an ecosystem in balance.
The "disappearing river"
Famed as the “stolen river” owing to its periodic vanishing waters, the Savute Channel is an unusually productive ribbon of grassland that serves as a feeding ground for herbivores in their numbers – followed by their predators. When there is a subtle shift in the underlying tectonic plates (which we experienced between 2008 and 2016), the river that disappeared, reappears. Water creeps in from the Channel’s source at the Zibadianja Lagoon, moving towards the distant, long-dry Savute Marsh, creating a deep, clear waterway harbouring hippo, aquatic life and myriad waterbirds.
The Channel is thus a place of refuge and food, an obstacle, a navigational aid, a playground and, for some, a graveyard. Savuti Camp has exciting front row seats to this natural marvel, watching wildlife having to adapt to changing conditions, with both its opportunities and threats.
Various episodes over the past few hundred years suggest this is a regular. albeit unpredictable phenomenon. The question on everyone’s minds is: when will we see the waters begin to trickle our way again? Impossible to say, but for now, our guests have exclusive access to this phenomenon, and to admire the way geology and nature can completely transform a landscape.
Quite simply, Botswana is one of Africa's top wildlife experiences...
"The best part was the game drives. We saw elephants, giraffes, zebra, hyaenas, kudus, impalas, but the highlight was a leopard and her seven-month-old cub!"
Tubu Tree guest, May 2015
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