Botswana

Population

2.3 million

language

English, Tswana

Currency

Botswana pula (BWP)

Flag

Botswana is an animal lover's dream and might, in fact, be one of the wildest countries featured in our catalogue. It is a country filled with treasures, literally, and is a long way from the staged "safari experience" many tourists complain about. Botswana offers incomparable authentic wildlife experiences and shows its visitors the true nature of the African wilderness.

If you are looking for extreme beauty, larger-than-normal lions, hippos and the last great herds of elephant, then you should visit Botswana. 

 


WHY WE LOVE

BOTSWANA

The magic of Botswana is bigger and encompasses more than the tangible and way more than what we can explain… How can one begin the fascination of this vast, dusty land, whose oldest roads are elephant paths? It is a difficult task, but here goes nothing.

People from all over the world visit Botswana due to its highly diverse areas of wildlife habitat. It is a country with a delta and desert areas, it has grasslands and savannas, and features an impressive array of land animals. Botswana is where you can find anything from the blue wildebeest to an elephant or even a meerkat. It’s climate and landscape also welcomes a plethora of birds, 350 species to be exact, antelopes, and leopards! We also love Botswana because it has one of the few remaining large populations of the endangered African wild dog. Not to mention, it is a country that can boast of its housing of the world's largest concentration of African elephants… there’s even a world-renowned rhino sanctuary!

Botswana offers entrance or at least a peek into the complex world of animal culture. Our lives have become consumed with work, technology, and trying to maintain overall mental and physical health. We barely have time for ourselves these days. Therefore, a trip to a country like Botswana is necessary… more than that, it’s life-changing. Seeing animals interact in their natural habitat not only humbles us and teaches us that we aren’t’ the only species on the planet that have meaningful interactions, it shows us the true beauty of life. The animal kingdom is mystifying yet simple, intriguing yet understandable. Visit Botswana with us and we promise you won’t be sorry.

Botswana is the African country with the lowest rate of wildlife poaching. Their conservation efforts and anti-poaching measures are often considered a model for other African countries.

 

“There is something about safari life that makes you forget all your sorrows and feel as if you had drunk half a bottle of champagne – bubbling over with heartfelt gratitude for being alive” Karen Blixen

Botswana Signature Experiences

Did you know…?

  • ‘Setswana’/Tswana is both the language spoken of the dominant people groups in Botswana as well as the adjective used to describe the rich cultural traditions of Botswana.
  • Botswana is home to the world’s biggest concentration of African elephants!
  • Always 40% of the country’s land is dedicated to national parks, reserves and wildlife management areas. This provides large areas for animals to roam.
  • The Border between Botswana and Zambia only measure about 150 meters making it the shortest border in the world.
  • Botswana has the richest diamond mine by value in the world.
  • Botswana gained independence in 1966, it is also the oldest democratic state in Africa.
  • Botswana is about the size of France but has only 2 million people living in it, compared to France’s population of 67 million.
  • Pula is the name of Botswana’s currency. It is a poetic name considering it means ‘rain’ in Setswana. Rain was scarce in Botswana and therefore seen as tremendously valuable.
  • Kalahari’s Makgadikgadi and Nxai Pan National Parks host South Africa’s second largest mass migration of zebras. This occurs during the wet season with over 25,000 migrating zebras.
  • Kalahari Desert’s native people, San Bushmen, are considered to have the oldest living culture in the world. The Bushman have lived in the Kalahari for approximately 20,000 years.

Botswana travel guide

 

When to go

The best time to visit Botswana is usually from May to September. These months are part of the dry season and winter which allows for more moderate temperatures. Plus, if you’re interested in visiting Okavango Delta, it is important to keep in mind that it is flooded from June to October, these months offer incredible opportunities for wildlife sightings.

How to get there/around

Luckily, there are major airlines that fly to Botswana and although there are no direct flights from Europe and or most other continents, it is easy to find a flight once in Africa. If in Cape Town or Johannesburg, it is possible to catch the Intercape bus which is reliable and affordable when compared to smaller transfer vehicles. Arriving in Botswana is also possible by taking the Kazungula Ferry from Zambia.

Once in Botswana travel occurs by either air or road. It is important to note that although not impossible to get to, some areas are quite remote therefore only accessible by air, while other areas are simple to drive to. Please ask your tour guide or accommodation manager about transfers and transportation.

What to see & do

Botswana is home to some of the World’s most incredible landscapes and wildlife. This country might not be the biggest but it is definitely one of the mightiest due to the wondrous outdoor adventure opportunities it offers. There is so much to see and do in Botswana we’re going to try to keep this section short by only mentioning what we deem are must-sees in the area.

Although most of Botswana looks like it’s right out of the Lion King, the Okavango Delta is particularly special in this regard. This lush natural reserve allows you to sail over waters on small boats, also known as mokoros (local wooden canoe), or camp by the river while being surrounded by Africa’s most incredible wildlife.

There is no way you can travel to Botswana and not visit the Kalahari Desert. It is not only Southern Africa’s most famous desert due to its jaw-dropping beauty and massive size that is worth exploring. Nature and wildlife enthusiasts travel to the desert to visit Kalahari’s Makgadikgadi and Nxai Pan National Parks which host the second largest mass migration of zebras after the Great Migration in Kenya's Masai Mara and Tanzania's Serengeti. This epic experience which occurs in March and April is an absolute must-see, not to mention it occurs near one of the largest salt flats in the world!

If you’re particularly interested in culture then you must visit the small city of Maun. On the western side of the city are a series of traditional African villages that are home to various groups of people who’ve largely maintained a centuries-old culture despite the rest of the city being decidedly modern yet welcoming to travellers. This area is known as the tourism capital of Botswana.

On the cultural level, Botswana’s Kalahari Desert is also home to the oldest people in the world, the San Bushmen, who have lived for at least 20,000 years. Many excursions give you the opportunity to interact with them and learn survival skills in the bush.

What to pack

Long sleeve easy-breathing fabric shirts

Sandals or flip-flops (make sure there are of good quality with solid rubber soles – need to be suitable for walking, also some of Botswana’s trees have thorns that can puncture beach-style flip flops)

Comfortable and sturdy closed walking shoes

Sunscreen

Hat

Rain jacket

Thermal

Fleece sweater

Warm socks

Warm undergarments, for the cold

Sunglasses

Head-torch

Camera

Binoculars

Basic first aid kit

Malaria meds

Directory of Campsites and Accommodations in Botswana

Map

Some travel insights from our experts about Botswana

  • Lower your risk of catching malaria by visiting during the winter months (May to October), wear long sleeves, long pants, use mosquito nets if you sleep outside, that kind of thing.
  • NEVER LEAVE FOOD OUTSIDE YOUR TENT! If you are camping, chances are you will have more than enough opportunities to see wildlife. Do not try to lure animals near your tent by leaving food out, this can be VERY dangerous.
  • Carry a whistle. Some lodges provide a whistle or bell, these noisy tools come in handy when travelling at night and or if you have an unexpected wildlife encounter.
  • Check the water level in Okavango Delta before your mokoro activity. It is important you only use shallow channels, this lessens the likelihood of running into hippos, which can be dangerous, especially if startled.

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DO'S

 

Do: Jump on every opportunity to interact with the locals and see the sights. 

Do: Plan to take at least twice as long as you’d expect to get anywhere. This rule especially applies to places where there are a lot of animals. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself waiting for an animal to decide to move out of the way in order for you to continue your journey.

Do: Check ALL water crossings before charging through, they might be deeper than they appear!

Do: Brush up on local law. Botswanan punishments tend to be more severe than they are in America, Europe, or Oceania.

Do: Remove sunglasses and make eye contact, especially in formal situations such as business meetings or while speaking to officials. This is considered an essential part of building trust.

 

DON'T

 

Don’t: Worry. Botswana has its share of troubles, just like any developed nation, but it’s also considered one of the safest nations in Africa. The State Department has no warnings up, and the country itself is curating a real upscale traveller vibe for good reason: it’s safe, it’s gorgeous, and they have rhinos there. That said, some people do advise caution in the Gaborone Dam area and in the Kgale Hill section of the country’s capital, Gaborone.

Don’t: Get careless around wildlife. Despite guides being adept to keeping curious tourist in line it is important to note that if you or someone you know manages to slip past their watchful eye, remind yourself or them that the animals are in fact WILD and will not hesitate to charge if and when they feel threatened.

Don’t: Talk on your cell phone while walking. Yes, there is some occasional petty crime in this region but it usually involved people snatching cell phones and running off. In order to avoid this issue please make sure to do one thing at a time and not get distracted. Always pay attention to your surroundings (but that’s a general rule of thumb that applies to any country you visit).

Don’t: Assume to understand the international relationship between Botswana and Britain. British rule and interracial marriage might be a difficult topic for some, please make sure to remain respectful and tactful when discussing such matters.

Don’t: Travel at night. Donkeys, cattle, antelope and elephants wander across the roads at night and despite their size, elephants are particularly hard to see with headlights on at night.

 


Cuisine delights: 3 must-try Tswana dishes

 

The cuisine of Botswana is unique but also shares many characteristics with other cuisines of Southern Africa. The country’s national dish is Seswaa which consists of a thick stew-like combination of boiled meat, maize meal, and greens.

Mopane worms are also considered a local delicacy. These beautiful multicoloured caterpillars are usually eaten dry and or dehydrated, like a potato chip aka crisp. Mopane worms can be used as an accompaniment but are usually eaten as a snack.

The main breakfast food is maize or sorghum porridge. The name for this popular breakfast is Bogobe, which is made by pouring sorghum or millet flour into boiling water and cooking it until the mixture becomes a soft paste. The dish can also be eaten without milk and or sugar but replaced with meat and vegetables in order to be served for dinner. Bogobe can be both sweet and savoury.  

 

CHATTING CORNER – SURVIVAL GUIDE - Afrikaans

In Botswana, most of the tribes have different ways that they use to greet one another, but for easy communication and connection use a three-way handshake or one can just greet another by saying "Dumelang".  as a way of saying "hello" without having to use hand-shakes.

Note: Rra (sir) and mma (madam) are used in formal phrases.

  • Hello - Dumela ma/ra (ma = female, ra = male)
  • Thank you - Ke a leboga ma/ra
  • How are you? - "Le kae?" (lay ky)
  • What is your name? - Leina le gago ke mang?
    • My name is …. Leina la me ke ...
  • Where are you from? - Ko gae ke kae? 
    • I am from …. - Ke tswa ko ...
  • How much is it? - E ke bokae?
  • Do you speak English? - A o bua English?
  • Thank you - Ke a leboga or Ke itumetse
  • Please - Tswêê-tswêê
  • Bon appetit -  Itumelele dijo
  • Cheers! - Pholo e ntle!
  • How do you say ... in Tswana? - Wa bo o reng ... ka Setswana?

The Khoisan languages, used notably by San People among others, is characterised by the use of click consonants and do not belong to any other African language family.

 

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