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Botswana Travel Guide

Imagine a place where fertile land sits in contrast with a red desert and where fiery sunsets transform into star-studded nights. Or, where magnificent animals roam in the largest numbers. That land is Botswana, and extraordinary adventures await. In the midst of it are visitors just like you seeking a glimpse of its natural splendour. 

The Highlights

  • Kasane

    Whether you’re looking to squeeze in another safari and planning on crossing the border at Zimbabwe, a stop in Kasane is a good idea. The town serves as the main jumping point for both Chobe National Park in the south and Victoria Falls in the east. A day or two here to feast on Botswana dishes and to drink with locals and fellow travellers is a good way to take a break between adventures.

  • Khama Rhino Sanctuary

    At the edge of the Kalahari is a former hunting area turned animal sanctuary. True to its name, Khama Rhino Sanctuary is now a conservation area that is home to not just the critically endangered white and black rhinos but also zebras, wildebeest, ostriches and giraffes. It’s an essential stop not only to see rhinos but also to learn more about their conservation efforts and how you can help.

  • Chobe National Park

    You mustn’t leave Botswana without visiting Chobe National Park, not because it’s Botswana’s first national park but because it is the most diverse. Herds of elephants gather here in large numbers, some 50,000 strong, and they have a run of the place. Yet rhinoceros, antelopes, wildebeests, warthogs, cheetahs, hippos, kudus, impalas and zebras are also watering hole regulars.

  • Maun

    Set up camp on the outskirts of town, just before or after your Okavango Delta expeditions, and treat yourself to its small luxuries, whether it be having a nice, sit down meal, shopping for some local products to take home or scoring a WiFi connection. Rub elbows with the locals and people watch as they go about their quotidian lives. And even make friends with a donkey or two.

  • Makgadikgadi Pans

    These salt flats in the Kalahari Desert aren’t always dried up. Fed by the Nata River, it grows lush and alive with avian guests in the wetter part of the year. It is, however, at its wildly appealing and most photogenic during the dry months when the pans, the largest of which is Sowa, is dried and crusty. Head for the igneous rock island of Kubu and Kukome for even more spectacular photos ops.

  • Ghanzi

    There’s no denying that Botswana’s appeal is in its wilderness. Yet to really immerse yourself in the local culture, spending a few days in its townships and villages are just the ticket. Make a trip to Ghanzi, nestled in the heart of the Kalahari and learn about the Bushmen people and their culture. Stop by a San shop to purchase some Bushman-made handicrafts and pop into a local supermarket.

The Basics

When to Visit

when to visit
  1. Peak Season

    July to October

    Funny enough, Botswana’s dry season is its winter season, and it’s usually around this time when tourists descend upon the country. Not that you can blame them. The dry months when there’s less foliage and there’s less water available are the best time to spot wildlife, especially around watering holes. This season is best spent in Okavango, Moremi and Chobe if you can forgive the higher rates, the excruciating daytime heat, which gets even worse around October, and the freezing nighttime temperatures. If you’re on a limited budget, it might be best to wait until the crowds have cleared in November when prices have dropped considerably.

  2. Low Season

    December to April

    Also called the Green Season, Botswana’s wettest months are essentially its low season. It’s because most of the parks and reserves are incredibly overgrown and carpeted with flora making it difficult to see the animals. Of course, sometimes rain doesn’t come at all and you’re lucky to enjoy cooler, tolerable temperatures and less obstructed views. But sometimes, you’re better off bird watching or focusing your attention in Nxai Pan National Park and Central Kalahari. The bad news is not all camps and lodges are open. There’s also the downside that you’ll have a higher risk of catching malaria. The good news is that rates are dirt-cheap. 

Botswana Tours

FAQs about Botswana

  • Do you tip in Botswana?

    Tipping isn’t mandatory but it’s very much appreciated, however, it all depends on the quality of service. Tip your safari guide $10 per person per day, your driver $5 per person per day, porters $1 per bag, and the camp/lodge staff $3-5 a day. At restaurants, a 10% tip of the bill is enough.
  • What is the internet access like?

    Internet access is available in the cities and most towns, though most likely at tolerable speeds. WiFi is also available at some cafes and restaurants; however, don’t expect access to all the camps and game lodges.
  • Is the tap water safe to drink?

    Yes. Scotland boasts exceptionally clean water and is safe to drink. Bottled water is readily available.
  • Can I use my credit cards?

    Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted in Botswana but more so in the big cities than in the towns and villages. Cash is still king, and you must carry more than enough with you when exploring the bush.
  • What are the public holidays?

    Along with Christmas, New Year’s Day and the Easter holidays, Botswana also celebrates Labour Day on May 1, President’s Day on 3rd Monday in July, Botswana Day on Sept 30 and Boxing Day on December 26.
  • What are the toilets like?

    Sit down toilets are readily available, though not in rural villages and definitely not in the bush. Public toilet facilities are practically non-existent.
  • Is it safe to travel solo in Botswana?

    Botswana has been named one of the safest countries in Africa, making it ideal for solo travellers especially women. Still, there’s safety in numbers so folks going solo should connect with fellow travellers or join a small group tour and also utilise common sense.
  • What are some do's and dont's travellers should know?

    Respect the local laws; maintain a healthy distance between yourself and the wildlife; leave your expensive belongings at home, and protect yourself at all costs from mosquito bites.