Botswana Travel Guide: one of Africa’s last great wildernesses

Discover exclusive safari experiences of Botswana's unspoiled and unimaginable vastness of the desert and delta - Africa's best-kept secret







Botswana Travel Guide

Botswana is one of Africa's last great wildernesses with beautiful scenery and a true fence-free wildlife haven. This exclusive safari destination is one of Africa’s most popular places to visit and is bordered by Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Namibia, which makes it also an ideal country for transfrontier safari trips in Southern Africa. It’s one of the least populated countries in Africa and has the highest concentration of elephants in the world!

Botswana is well-known for its diverse national parks & reserves, such as Chobe National Park, Okavango Delta, the vast central Kalahari Desert, Makgadikgadi Pans (one of the world's largest salt flats), the baobabs of Nxai Pans, and the southern Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. The combination of desert and delta makes Botswana a very unique country to visit. Because of the delta's swampland vegetation, you can find numerous bird species, fish, and mammals including big cats, wild dogs, large herds of Cape buffalo, and Elephants.

Botswana is also unique because of the world's second-largest zebra and wildebeest migration after the Serengeti. Don't forget to bring your zoom lens for some stunning wildlife photography. Botswana is also the best place to photograph Meerkats in the wild. With one of the greatest wildlife experiences on earth and endless diverse safari possibilities, Botswana is a must on every travelers' bucket list.

Traveling to Botswana isn't cheap and prices are higher in surrounding African countries, but this also means fewer tourists and better conservation. Something Botswana is quite good at. Try to stay in remote tented camps where the community will benefit from tourism, instead of the exclusive lodges with foreign owners.

Through this Botswana Travel guide, you can find things to do, the best time to visit, top Botswana safari experiences, desert and delta safari itineraries, and more information to discover one of the last great wildernesses of Africa.

Interesting Facts Botswana

  Flag of Botswana

Botswana country flag

  Botswana's National Animal


  Botswana National Dish


  Currency in Botswana

Botswana pula (BWP)

  Botswana Time Zone
Central Africa Time Zone or EAT (GMT+2 hours)

Best time to visit Botswana

You can visit Botswana year-round but in general, the best time to visit Botswana's most popular national parks is from June to September/October in the dry winter season with mild temperatures.

The best time to visit the Okavango Delta is in October, the hottest month with clear skies, as wildlife heads to the Delta. The Okavango is flooded from June to October. Because the water takes 6 months to filter through the Delta, the Delta is at its fullest during the driest months and not in the green rainy season. One of the best months to travel to Botswana is in June; a shoulder month at the end of the green rainy season with mild temperatures, lush greenery, lesser tourists, good rates, and great conditions for wildlife viewing.

The country knows 3 seasons:

  • The cool, dry winter season from May to September/October. This is generally the best time to go on a safari with almost no rainfall, plenty of sunshine, and clear skies. However, this is also the high season in Botswana (from July onwards) and the water levels in the Okavango are at their highest, creating the waterways and channels Botswana is famed for. May and June can get pretty chilly and the last months of this season can get pretty hot, but game-viewing is incredible as animals congregate around water holes and rivers;
  • The hot dry summer season with high temperatures of 30+ degrees in October and November;
  • The green rainy season with high temperatures from November/December to April. January and February mean lots of rain which will treat you with lush green parks, phenomenal light, and dramatic skies; great conditions for travel photography, bird-watching, and baby antelopes. It's also the period that youngsters are being born. Visitor numbers and prices are lower this season.

Things to know before you travel to Botswana

Safety in Botswana

Botswana is one of the safest and stable countries in Africa. It's also Africa's least corrupt country. There are very few incidents of petty theft and tourists are valued by the Botswane (local people from Botswana). As long as you use your common sense and don't display your wealth, you should have no problems during your visit.

Do I need a visa when traveling to Africa?

Visa requirements for Botswana

Some foreign nationals require a visa to travel to Botswana. The US, UK, and European countries don't need a visa to visit Botswana. You can obtain a visa through the Botswana Embassy or Consulate. A visa upon arrival is also possible. Note that your passport is valid for 6 months. Applying for an eVisa isn't possible yet, but this will soon be released. Visit the official Botswana Immigration and Civil Registration Department to check the visa requirements. Processing time takes about 7-14 working days. Visa prices vary from $30 (single entry and Kaza Visa) to $50 (multiple-entry visa).

Sustainable Tourism and Responsible Travel Choices for Traveling to Africa

Responsible Travel in Botswana

Sustainable travel is very important for Botswana and is the main theme for all safari trips. It's a leader in eco-tourism and they focus on high-end, low-impact tourism. That's one of the reasons why Botswana has an impressive conservation record: 1/5 of the landmass is covered with National Parks and wildlife reserves (about 40% of the land is officially protected). Botswana also has the largest tracts of remaining wilderness in Africa which is responsible for its impressive wildlife migrations.

Well-managed tourism is key to preserve local culture and for locals to generate sustainable incomes. Expect to pay tourist fees that will be used for conservation and the local community. The lodges in Botswana are designed to have minimal impact on the environment and they employ local people. For every person a lodge hires, 4.5 people get fed.

You can help by traveling to Botswana as there's a real danger that if sustainable tourism doesn't support Botswana, the hunting ban will be lifted. While traveling in Botswana, take short showers as the water is extremely scarce, reuse towels, refill bottles, don't litter, report leaking showers or toilets to the staff, and don't flush your toilet every time. Don't ask your guide to get closer to the wildlife or leaving the traces, as it will distress the animals. Don't buy elephant ivory, tusk products, or rhino horn products. Eat and shop local and take your washing to the local ladies. Also, if you want to visit the San, ask if the tour is genuine and how the San benefit from it. If they don't, it's exploitation.

Which vaccinations and antimalarials do I need for Africa?

Vaccinations & anti-Malaria tablets for Botswana

Required vaccinations for Botswana depend on the duration of your holiday in Botswana and the places you plan to visit. Most recommended vaccinations are not mandatory. However, most travelers to Botswana require Hepatitis A, Typhoid (if staying in rural areas), and routine vaccines such as DTP, MMR, and Polio. Depending on the Botswana travel itinerary some travelers might need Hepatitis B (if you're staying 3+ months) and Rabies. Yellow Fever is not prevalent, but if you have been or are going to be in transit in a Yellow Fever area for more than 12 hours, a Yellow Fever vaccination certificate for Botswana is (generally) recommended, but not mandatory. The risk of contracting Malaria in Botswana is considered low, but it is prevalent in the northern regions of Botswana. Always be aware of the risk of catching (tropical) diseases, and protect yourself against mosquitoes. Consult a travel clinic for the best advice and to see if antimalarials are right for you.

What language do they speak in Africa?

Spoken languages in Botswana

The official languages in Botswana are Setswana and English. Tswana is the most widely spoken language in Botswana, but over 20 smaller languages are also spoken. Locals appreciate it when travelers make an effort to learn a few words in their local language. The government and media communicate in English, the official business language. 

Things to do in Botswana to cross off your bucket list

Travel Botswana: Elephant herds Chobe National Park

Elephants of Chobe National Park

Chobe National Park is one of the most ecologically diverse parks in all of Africa and the oldest national park in Botswana. It's the ideal location to witness wildlife in their natural habitat.

The Chobe riverfront (Serondela area) is a popular watering hole for wildlife, especially during the dry months between May and October. Tourists can spot large herds of elephants drinking and bathing alongside the river. You can also find giraffes, buffalo, antelope, and a variety of birds.

In the Linyanti Marsh area, you are able to spot big cats, such as lions and leopards, but also wild dogs and antelopes. Near the water, you can find hippos, crocodiles, and herds of elephants.

The Savuti Marsh is well-known as a migration ground for zebras. In the dry months, you can find rhinos, zebras, impalas, and wildebeest. Expect to find lions, hyenas, and cheetahs in the wet months.

Botswana Travel: Okavango Delta African Safari

Okavango Delta, Jewel of the Kalahari

The Okavango Delta is a unique eco-system fed by the meandering Okavango River, flowing into the Kalahari Desert instead of the ocean. It is one of the last remaining wildernesses on our planet with an abundance of big game roaming free. From huge elephants and big cats like leopards, cheetahs, and lions to a variety of other wildlife species like hippos, crocodiles, antelopes, and rich birdlife. A part of the Delta is designated as Moremi National Park.

The beautiful untouched delta offers extraordinary safari possibilities. Africa's wild jewel is the largest inland delta in the world and a must on every traveler's bucket list looking for supreme tranquility, serene beauty, and rich free-roaming wildlife on both dryland and wetland.

The Okavango Delta is a proposed World Heritage Site and has many things to do including game viewing, birding, and boating in a so-called traditional mokoro. The main choices are to go on a safari in Moremi Game Reserve. You can also opt for the Trans Okavango trip, which will take you from the top of the Okavango Delta to Maun.

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