If there is one place in the world where you are guaranteed to see elephants it would be Botswana.
In fact, Botswana is hands-down one of the greatest safari destination in Africa, where travelers can not only spot elephants but also big cats, endangered African wild dogs, different species of birds and so much more.
It is also home of the Okavango Delta and the Kalahari Desert.
This Botswana travel guide will help you plan your next vacation.
Fast Facts about Botswana
- Botswana power voltage is 230V 50Hz; Plug G
- The Botswana currency is the Botswana pula and is around BWP to 1 USD.
- Beware of Chikungunya in Eastern Botswana, a viral disease transmitted by the bite of infected mosquitoes. This outbreak continues to affect parts, Africa. Symptoms can take up to 12 days to appear but usually begin within 3-7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Symptoms generally include fever and joint pain; other symptoms can include fatigue, headache, nausea, vomiting, muscle pain, and rash.
- There is a risk of malaria throughout the year but the risk increases from November to June, in the north (Bobirwa, Boteti, Chobe, Ngamiland, Okavango and Tutume), including the Zimbabwean border, the Zambezi river and all the Game Parks to the north of the Kalahari Desert.
- Although the tsetse fly has been almost eradicated from wilderness areas, travelers spending a lot of time outdoors or visiting game parks have an increased risk of being bitten by a fly which can cause African Sleeping Sickness. Remember that these flies: bite during the day, are attracted to bright, dark colors and can bite through lightweight clothing.
- While Botswana is a safe country overall, travelers should be cautious in the areas of Kgale Hill and Gaborone Dam in Gaborone as there have been reports of travelers being robbed in those specific areas.
- Water in urban areas is chlorinated and locals often drink from the tap. However, visitors with a sensitive stomach might want to stick to bottled water. Outside of urban areas, water is untreated so make sure to avoid tap water.
- SIM Cards: the main mobile networks are Mascom, Orange and BTC. We’ve used Orange in Africa and it works quite well.
Things to See and Do in Botswana
- Elephant Highway: Head to northeast Botswana to ride through the elephant highway and spot some elephants while you’re there. Travel through beautiful vegetation and cycle on flatlands while seeing elephants right up-close.
- Makgadikgadi Pan: Grab a quad bike and ride through the Makgadikgadi salt pan. Once a large lake, it is now one of the largest salt pans in the world and makes for a great contemplative trip in isolation.
- Tsodilo Hills: See historical rock paintings at this site in the Kalahari. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it has thousands of paintings that date back to 800 AD and are believed to be the first creations of the Bushmen.Three Chiefs Statues: These bronze statues are of tribal chiefs from the 1800s who helped Botswana gain independence. See the statues for yourself or take a guided tour to learn more about the history of Botswana and the significance of these chiefs.
- Okavango Delta: Head over to this popular inland delta near the Okavango River. See a variety of wildlife including elephants, wildebeests, cheetahs, leopards, giraffes, and antelopes.
- Mokolodi Nature Reserve: See southern white rhinos, zebras, red hartebeests, and more at this reserve.A great trip for the whole family, Mokolodi has numerous activities, including walks with trained elephants and rhino and giraffe tracking, as well as a museum, an education center, and camping sights.
Budget: You can find budget hotels for as low as $30 per night. They offer free Wi-Fi, parking, and sometimes breakfast that’s included.
Mid-Range: You can get a mid-range hotel for around $100 per night. They may include air conditioning, laundry service, and family suites.
High-End: Staying at a luxury lodge in Botswana may cost you around $200 per night. You’ll have beautiful views of the country, a pool, and plush bedding.
Botswana has a large variety of traditional foods. Meat staples are beef, goat and deer. But they also serve ostrich and oryx meat. Seafood is also a large part of their diet.
Traditional dishes include Dekgobe a dish made up of beans, corn, and lamb. Vetkoek is popular fast food made of a minced meat burger. Phaphatha is a heavy bread that is sometimes filled with meat.
The Best Ways to Get Around Botswana
Getting to Botswana
Flights: The Sir Seretse Khama International Airport is the main airport to fly into and is located 7 miles from Gaborone, Botswana’s capital. Other major cities like Francistown also have their own airport, but it is not international. You can check for the best flights to Botswana on Skyscanner.
Buses: Buses are one way to get through major cities if you wish to explore, but they tend not to travel to major tourist destinations. They can be a way to go between cities. You can find buses that go from Gaborone to Palapye for about P78.
Taxis: Taxis are a good way to get around. The best way to get one is to call a local taxi company. Fares are not always fixed, so there is room for negotiation.You can also rent a taxi for a day for about P500.
Car Rental: To rent a car in Botswana, you need to beat least 18 years old (drivers 25 and under will get a surcharge). You will need a U.S. driver’s license, and it is recommended to get an International Driver’s License as well. Prices start at P1100 per day.
Uber: Botswana does not have uber, but they do have Hello Cab, a rideshare app that operates similarly to Uber.Hello Cab runs throughout Gaborone, Botswana’s capital.
When to go To Botswana
The best time to go to Botswana for safaris is between May-September. During this time, there are more wildlife sightings due to the dry season (the animals come out to find water) and temperatures are not too hot or too cold (highs of upper 80s).
Where to Stay in Botswana
AVANI Gaborone Resort & Casino: When in Gaborone, stay at this four-star hotel. Enjoy amenities like a casino, two hotel restaurants and a terrace bar, complimentary golf, an outdoor pool, a beauty salon, and tennis and squash courts. The Gaborone Game Reserve is just a short drive away.
Peermont Metcourt—Francistown: Come to this three-star hotel in Francistown to enjoy air-conditioned rooms with a TV and tea and coffee, a hot tub, a hotel restaurant and bar, and a shuttle to the airport. If you’re in the mood for shopping, the Galo Shopping Center is just a 5-minute walk away.
Maun Lodge: Close to the Nhabe Museum and overlooking the Thamalakane River, this popular hotel in Maun comes with private rooms and cottages, an outdoor pool, a hot tub, two hotel restaurants that serve international and African cuisine, and a hotel bar.
What to Pack for Botswana
Botswana’s climate is semi-arid. It is hot and dry for much of the year.
However, there is a rainy season, which runs through the summer months. Rainfall tends to be erratic, unpredictable and highly regional.
- Waterproof bag – the bag has two functions, protecting your stuff from the rain and also from the dust, especially if you’re travelling to drier regions.
- Footwear – especially important if going you are heading on a safari! Pack a pair of lightweight, durable, waterproof and comfortable shoes and also a pair of flip-flops or sandals that you can change into after a long day of sightseeing.
- Protection from the elements – pack sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, a loose sarong or wrap to cover yourself from the sun and bug-spray to prevent getting bitten by a mosquito (that might have malaria!)
- Layers – pack the basic tropical clothes and make sure to include long pants, long-sleeve tops and some warm clothes for those chilly nights.
- Avoid packing dark colored clothes – tsetse flies are drawn to dark colors, like blue and black clothing, and their bite can give you African Sleeping Sickness. Stick to light, neutral colors but avoid packing white clothes as they will get dirty and dusty pretty quickly.
- Pack for Humidity – for humid weather it is best to pack fabrics that breathe as much as possible and natural fabrics, like cotton, linen or rayon (avoiding silk, wool and polyester). Clothing should be loose and comfortable to encourage the flow of air and allow moisture to evaporate.
Botswana Travel Guide: Best Booking Resources
Whenever we travel to we make sure to start with these companies. We have tried a lot of different ones over the years and all of these have consistently proven to be the best when it comes to offering great prices.
We have used every one of these personally and continue to do so.
- Booking.com: This is our go site to when comparing prices for accommodation. It usually has the cheapest prices, especially in Europe and we love their interface. Not to mention you get free cancellation and you are guaranteed the best price.
- Trip Advisor: What we like about Trip Advisor is that we can look at all the reviews and then book our accommodation. TripAdvisor is where we go when we want to compare prices with multiple accommodation providers.
- VRBO: is the main search engine we use when we are looking for a home or apartment rental. It can sometimes be cheaper than hotels and it is the best way to stay in areas that offer a more local feel.
- Hostelworld: With one of the largest databases of hostels in the world, Hostelworld is the go-to site when you are looking for budget accommodation.
- Skyscanner: This is the first place we check for flights. It consistently comes back with the cheapest and best options. It allows us to compare a lot of airlines to get the best price.
- Rome 2 Rio: If you want to see how to get somewhere by plane, train, bus, ferry or car Rome2Rio lays it all out for you as well as related costs.I love how they show it all to you on a Google Map and it works offline.
- Get Your Guide: For all your day trip and city guide needs, we use Get Your Guide. It has the world’s largest collection of things to do with more than 30,000 activities in 7500 destinations.
- World Nomads Insurance: When traveling to Italy you should always have travel insurance. We have found the best bang for your buck is by far World Nomads.