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.

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Botswana travel highlights

Transport in Botswana

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:


Admire waterbirds, hippos, crocodiles and classic African landscapes while on a boat cruise along the stunning Chobe River.

Experience Southern Africa

Okavango & Beyond


Navigate the famed waterways of Botswana’s Okavango Delta aboard a motorised canoe, known locally as a mokoro.

Experience Southern Africa

Botswana Highlights
Botswana Adventure

Accommodation in Botswana

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:


For a softer safari experience, put your feet up at the end of a day of adventuring and rest in a comfortable lodge.

Botswana Highlights

Botswana Adventure

Botswana holiday information

At a glance
At a glance

Capital city: Gaborone (population 138,000)
Population: 2 million
Language: English, Setswana
Currency: BWP
Time zone: (GMT+02:00) Windhoek
Electricity: Type D (Old British 3-pin) Type G (Irish/British 3-pin) Type M (see D)
Dialing code: +267

Culture and customs
Culture and customs

Botswana has quite a diverse culture, with many different tribal influences coexisting with European influences, which were brought to the country more recently. The tribal (or ethnic) groups within Botswana (Tswana, Kalanga, Basarwa and Kgalagadi) have different languages, traditional dances and clothing, and live a vastly different lifestyle to city-dwellers. Overall though, good manners will go a long way in Botswana, as formal greetings, respect for others and politeness are valued by most in society. Travellers will find most locals to be kind and welcoming, with offers of hospitality commonplace.

Geography and environment
Geography and environment

Landlocked Botswana sits in Southern Africa and is bordered by NamibiaSouth Africa and Zimbabwe. Most of Botswana is relatively flat, although some mountainous areas can be found. Botswana’s topography is an interesting mix of desert, wetland and tableland, with the Kalahari Desert accounting for up to 80% of the country. Most of Botswana’s population choose to live in the eastern part of the country due to the central and southwest regions being dominated by the Kalahari Desert. Much of Botswana’s north and west is taken up by the expansive Okavango Delta, which comprises more than 16,000 sq km of channels and islands.

Top 10 Animals of Botswana
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.

4. Flamingo

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.

6. Lion

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.

8. Zebra

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!

10. Rhino

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.

Festivals and Events in Botswana
Festivals and Events in Botswana

Maitisong Festival

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.

Botswana Day

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.

Further reading
Further reading

Title Author
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

Best time to visit Botswana
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.

Eating and drinking
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

1. Seswaa

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.

History and government
History and government

Early History

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.

Recent History

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.


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.

3. Art

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.

Health and safety
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 Australia?

Go to: http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/

From New Zealand?

Go to: http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/

From Canada?

Go to: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/

From US?

Go to: http://travel.state.gov/

From UK?

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 FAQs

Do I need a visa to travel to Botswana?

Australia: No visa required
Belgium: No visa required
Canada: No visa required
Germany: No visa required
Ireland: Yes – visa required
Netherlands: No visa required
New Zealand: No visa required
South Africa: No visa required
Switzerland: No visa required
United Kingdom: No visa required
USA: No visa required

Citizens of countries not listed above, including most EU countries, should check with the relevant consulates as to whether a visa is required. For passengers requiring a visa to Botswana, application forms can be downloaded from http://www.gov.bw/en/ as well as instructions for applying.

Entry Requirements – Yellow Fever Certificate:
A valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate is required for all passengers over one year of age who arrive or are transiting through Botswana, from a country or region listed by the World Health Organization as infected by yellow fever. Travellers unable to present a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate issued at least 10 days before arrival will be refused entry. There is no option for travellers without a vaccination certificate to be vaccinated on arrival. Please note this also includes transiting through an infected country or region.

Children travelling to Botswana:
Please note that if you’re travelling to Botswana with a person under the age of 18 then you need to provide a certified copy of the child’s full unabridged birth certificate in order to enter the country (the one listing the child’s details and both parents’ details. – the short birth certificate which only lists the child’s details won’t be accepted).

Additionally, if the child is travelling with only one parent, with neither biological parent, or is unaccompanied, then they must provide an affidavit of consent of the parent(s) that are not travelling, to prove that the trip is made with both parents’ consent. Please contact your nearest Botswanan Embassy if you have further questions regarding this.

Is tipping customary in Botswana?

Although tipping isn’t mandatory in Botswana, a little generosity will be positively received by locals. Setting aside a small amount for porters, guides and drivers is wise, as is leaving spare change or rounding up the bill at restaurants. Restaurants and cafes in urban areas may expect a further 10% added to the bill.

What is the internet access like in Botswana?

Travellers will have access to internet cafes in Botswana’s larger cities, but limited to no access should be expected in rural areas and national parks.

Can I use my mobile/cell phone while in Botswana?

Mobile phone coverage is good in Botswana’s larger cities and towns but less so in rural areas. Ensure you have global roaming activated before leaving home if you wish to use your mobile phone.

What are the toilets like in Botswana?

Botswana has a combination of modern flushable toilets and squat/pit toilets, depending on where you are travelling and staying. Generally, large hotels, modern restaurants and city cafes have flushable toilets, while remote areas like national parks, campgrounds and villages typically have squat toilets.

What will it cost for a...?

Soft Drink = 2 BWP
Snack = 4.50 BWP
Bottle of beer = 5 BWP
Basic Lunch = 15-20 BWP
Dinner at a restaurant = 55-100 BWP

Can I drink the tap water in Botswana?

Drinking tap water isn’t recommended in Botswana. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Instead, fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water. Ask your leader where filtered water can be found, some hotels we stay in may have drinking water available. It’s also advisable to avoid ice in drinks and peel fruit and vegetables before eating.

Are credit cards widely accepted in Botswana?

Credit cards are usually accepted by large hotels, modern shops and western-style restaurants but not by smaller vendors. Ensure you have adequate cash to cover purchases not able to be made on credit.

What is ATM access like in Botswana?

You will be able to find ATMs in the big cities, airports and regional towns of Botswana. Rural areas, national parks and small villages will have limited to no ATMs, so be sure to carry other payment options before travelling out of the big cities.

Do I need to purchase travel insurance before travelling to Botswana?

Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.

For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance

What public holidays are celebrated in Botswana?
  • 1 Jan New Year’s Day
  • 2 Jan New Year Holiday
  • 3 Jan New Year Holiday
  • 14 Apr Good Friday
  • 17 Apr Easter Monday
  • 1 May Labour Day
  • 25 May Ascension Day
  • 1 Jul Sir Seretse Khama Day
  • 17 Jul President’s Day
  • 18 Jul President’s Day Holiday
  • 30 Sep Botswana Day
  • 2 Oct Botswana Holiday
  • 25 Dec Christmas Day
  • 26 Dec Boxing Day

Please note these dates are for 2017. For a current list of public holidays in Botswana go to: http://www.worldtravelguide.net/botswana /public-holidays

Responsible Travel

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

  • Be considerate of Botswana’s customs, traditions, religion and culture.
  • For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water instead.
  • Always dispose of litter thoughtfully, including cigarette butts.
  • When bargaining at markets, stay calm, be reasonable and keep a smile on your face. It’s meant to be fun!
  • Learn some local language and don’t be afraid to use it – simple greetings will help break the ice.
  • Shop for locally made products. Supporting local artisans helps keep traditional crafts alive.
  • Refrain from supporting businesses that exploit or abuse endangered animals.
  • Please ask and receive permission before taking photos of people, including children.
  • When on community visits or homestays, refrain from giving gifts or money to locals.
  • Refrain from buying ivory or other products harvested from endangered animals.