Planning a safari trip to a destination such as Botswana is hugely exciting and your safari tour operator will provide a detailed safari itinerary and answer many of the questions you may have. However, you might find that you still have some unanswered questions so we’re here to help! We have put together a list of frequently asked questions by safari visitors to answer your queries.
1. When is the best time to visit Botswana?
For wildlife safaris, the best time to travel to Botswana is from May to October. These months mark the dry season, a time during which the chances of spotting animals are higher due to the diminishing vegetation, which makes it easier to spot animals that congregate around waterholes. These months are also the peak season, which means it can be more expensive in terms of park prices and accommodations.
Compared to the dry season, the wet season, from November to March, may have fewer animal sightings, but even with the dense vegetation, visitors can spot plenty of animals. Furthermore, a safari trip during the off-season will be easier on the pocket and less crowded.
For more information about the best time to travel to Botswana, check out our best time to visit Botswana guide.
2. Is Botswana a family-friendly safari destination?
Like the majority of safari destinations, Botswana is ideal for a family holiday. Some safari lodges and camps have a minimum age of 12 (or other) but there are plenty of great options available to families with younger children. There are many safari options put on for children such as tailored game drives and walks with fantastic guides as well as other entertainment to keep the kids busy.
3. How safe is Botswana?
Based on credible sources, Botswana is one of the top 10 safest countries in Africa. The locals are welcoming, generous, and always eager to help. But, as a person visiting a foreign country, you need to take some precautions. Store your valuables such as cash, cards, expensive camera equipment, laptops, and jewellery in a hotel safe. Avoid travelling alone at night and during game drives always follow the guidelines set by the experienced safari guide.
For more information, refer to Botswana Travel safety guidelines.
4. What should I take on a safari to Botswana?
The key to experiencing a great safari trip is to pack light; there are usually laundry services available so it’s easy to wash items as you travel around.
- Pack clothes that are comfortable to wear and easy to wash.
- Pack neutral colours such as beige and khaki for game drives.
- Pack warm clothes such as a wind-proof jacket, fleece jacket, beanie, scarf, and gloves for the early morning and evening game drives when the temperatures drop.
- You can shed these layers in the afternoon as the temperature rises. Pack sunscreen, insect repellent spray, sunglasses, and a wide-brim hat.
- Pack comfortable footwear for bush walks.
For more information on what to pack for your Botswana safari, refer to this safari guide.
5. What languages are spoken in Botswana?
English, a remnant of colonial rule, is the official language in Botswana, used for written communication and business dealings. Although it is known as the official language, it is only a first language for 2.8% of Botswana’s population. The most commonly spoken language in Botswana is Setswana, spoken by around 77.3% of locals, and one of the many Bantu languages spoken in Botswana.
6. What currency is used in Botswana?
Botswana’s official currency is Botswana Pula, which is accepted throughout the country. But US Dollars, UK pounds, Euros, and South African rands are also accepted at most shops and accommodations. Moreover, visitors can also use international credit cards at the majority of hotels in Botswana. And if you find yourself short on money, there are plenty of ATMs throughout Botswana.
To make things a little simpler, we have shared a quick currency conversion (2021):
|1 Pound Sterling||15.13|
|1 United States Dollar||10.88|
|1 Canadian Dollar||8.86|
|1 Australian Dollar||8.43|
7. How much money should I carry on my Botswana safari?
Your safari package will cover the majority of your expenses including accommodation and some (if not all) activities. Each safari will differ slightly with its includes and excludes, but there are often extras which you will need to have cash (or credit card) to pay for such as gratuities, drinks, optional activities and shop purchases. Bring at least 60-70 USD or 650-760 Botswana Pula in cash to cover extra spending.
8. Do I require a visa and passport to travel to Botswana?
A visitor will need a passport with at least 6-month validity and two blank pages. Not every visitor needs a visa to enter Botswana. To find out if you need a visa to visit Botswana, refer to the list of visa-exempt countries. Currently, foreign citizens have to apply for a Botswana visa at the Botswana Embassy in person or on arrival as there is no online mode to apply for a visa.
9. What about mosquito nets and repellent?
Botswana is one of the high-risk malaria countries in Africa. Consult your doctor before you leave for Botswana for suitable malaria prophylactics. All safari lodges and camps should provide mosquito nets and insect repellents that are necessary at dusk – a time during which mosquitoes are most active. You should also wear long-sleeved t-shirts, shirts, or blouses and pair them with jeans, safari trousers, or slacks.
10. How safe is the water and food in Botswana?
A delicious meal is an important part of the safari experience and Botswana lodges and camps are likely to offer a high standard of culinary dishes for guests to enjoy. Avoid drinking tap water in Botswana and stick to bottled water.
11. How Do I Get Around In Botswana?
Travelling to and from the major safari destinations in Botswana such as Okavango Delta, Chobe National Park, Central Kalahari Game Reserve, and Moremi Game Reserve, is by transfer vehicle and/or charter flights. Maun is the hub for many charter flights taking visitors into the Okavango Delta and other more remote areas. On a charter flight, the safari experience begins with amazing views of the wilderness and animals below you.
12. How to make an emergency call in Botswana?
To reach emergency services in Botswana dial 997 for ambulance or 999 for police.
13. Where are Botswana’s best birding spots?
- Okavango Delta: Not only is Okavango Delta one of Africa’s most renowned safari spots, but it is also a spectacular birding destination with the Okavango’s waterways a haven for water-dwelling birds. The delta is home to over 400 birds with frequent sightings of African fish eagle, African pygmy goose, African green pigeon, black-chested snake eagle Bateleur, hamerkop, martial eagle, and saddle-billed stork. The birding experience is enhanced by mokoro excursions, as they provide an opportunity to get close to elusive bird species quietly with no noise from a motor.
- Chobe National Park: Chobe National Park is an excellent birding destination with more than 450 bird species. Birding enthusiasts can participate in a boat safari, getting close to the water-loving bird species. It is also home to few rare and endangered bird species such as gray crowned-crane, hooded vulture, and white-backed vulture. Moreover, Chobe also has 15 swallow species, 8 starling species, and 8 kingfisher species.
- Central Kalahari and Khutse Game Reserves: Birds such as black-shouldered kite, black-chested snake eagle, and martian eagle are often seen flying over the central Kalahari Game Reserve and Khutse Game Reserve, which are part of the same ecosystems. Home to over 250 bird species, some of them a rare delight for birdwatchers.
- The Nata Bird Sanctuary: This sanctuary dedicated to birds has provided a haven for around 165 bird species. Visitors can easily spot rare birds such as avocet, blacksmith lapwing, korhaans, cape teal, blue-billed teal, red-knobbed coot, and spoonbills. The sanctuary also has a large number of flamingos and pelicans.
Botswana is one of Africa’s top-most bird-watching destinations. Some of the major parks and game reserves in Botswana have a large concentration of birdlife. Bokaa Dam, Kgoro Pan, Kasane region, Lake Ngami, Limpopo River, Moremi Gorge, Rysana Pan, Shakawe, and Savuti Marsh are few other popular birding destinations in Botswana.
14. What are Botswana’s major attractions?
- Central Kalahari Game Reserve
- Chobe National Park
- Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
- Linyanti Swamp
- Makgadikgadi Pans National Park
- Moremi Game Reserve
- Nxai Pan National Park
- Okavango Delta
15. What wildlife can be seen in Chobe National Park?
Chobe National Park, one of Botswana’s shining jewels, is known for its abundant wildlife concentrations. Apart from rhino, Chobe National Park has the four other big five animals while its rich birdlife amounts to over 450 bird species. We have listed some of the well-known wildlife species below.
- African Buffalo
- African Wild Dog
- Burchell’s Zebra
- Greater Kudu
- Red Lechwe
- Selous Mongoose
- Wild Cat
- African hobby
- African skimmer
- Black-winged and Collared pratincole
- Broad-billed roller
- Brown firefinch
- Crimson-breasted shrike
- Greater painted-snipe
- Half-collared kingfisher
- Knysna turaco
- Meyer’s parrot
- Pel’s fishing-owl
- Red-necked falcon
- Rosy-throated longclaw
- Slaty egret
- Souza’s shrike
- Swamp boubou
- Swamp nightjar
- Thrush nightingale
16. What wildlife can be seen in the Okavango Delta?
The Okavango Delta is lush and filled with remarkable wildlife. It has around 1500 plant species, 530 bird species, 160 mammal species, and 155 reptile species.
- African Buffalo
- Blue Wildebeest
- Greater Kudu
- Rhinoceros (Black and white)
- African Jacana
- Bateleur Eagle
- Flamingoes (Greater and Lesser)
- Kori Bustard
- Lilac-Breasted Roller
- Malachite Kingfisher
- Pel’s Fishing Owl
- Pygmy Goose
- Rock Pratincole
- Slaty Egret
- Southern Ground Hornbill
- White-Backed Night Heron
- Wattled Crane
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