Important Travel Information
Important Travel Advice For Botswana
Passport, Visa, and Medical Advice
Passport & Visa
Additional requirements and restrictions may apply for travel during the Covid-19 pandemic. Travel Butlers aim to highlight these requirements to affected clients, however the onus remains with the traveller to ensure they are aware of any requirements and restrictions that will apply to their own trip.
For up-to-date travel information from the UK government, please check:
UK Government Advice: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/botswana
It is expected that these rules will be lifted and that the entry requirements will revert to normal as soon as the government of Botswana deems it safe to do so.
Normally, holders of the following passports do not require a visa to enter Botswana when travelling as a tourist for stays up to 90 days:
United Kingdom; United States of America; Canada; Australia; New Zealand; Ireland; Belgium; Netherlands; Italy; France; Germany; Spain; South Africa.
If you are a passport holder from another country, you can check to see if you require a visa and apply for an eVisa here: https://evisa.gov.bw/#/home.
Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Botswana and have sufficient blank pages for the Botswana entry/exit stamps (at least 2).
TRAVELLING TO/FROM BOTSWANA WITH CHILDREN YOUNGER THAN 18 YEARS OF AGE AT DATE OF TRAVEL: The following requirements apply regardless of nationality.
Parents travelling with children must produce an unabridged birth certificate for the child, showing full details of the child's parents. If the birth certificate is in a language other than English, it must be accompanied by a sworn translation issued by a competent authority in the country concerned.
If the child is adopted, the adoption certificate must be produced.
If only one parent is travelling, said parent must also show consent in the form of an affidavit from the other parent named on the birth certificate authorising the child to travel (the affidavit must be no more than 6 months old from the date of travel), or a court order granting full parental responsibilities to the travelling parent, or (where applicable) a death certificate for the deceased parent. Legally separated parents should also provide a court order when the other parent does not give consent.
Where a person is travelling with a child who is not their biological child, he/she must produce an unabridged birth certificate for the child supplemented by affidavits from the child's parents/legal guardian giving consent for the child to travel and copies of the identity documents or passport of the parents/legal guardian PLUS their contact details.
There are also additional rules for unaccompanied minors - available on request.
PLEASE NOTE: All documents must be original - PHOTOCOPIES ARE NOT ACCEPTED. In the case of foreign countries that do not issue unabridged birth certificates, a letter to this effect issued by the competent authority of the foreign country should be produced.
For more information, please contact your local Botswana High Commission.
IMPORTANT: Plastic bags are banned in Botswana. This ban is primarily aimed to reduce plastic in commercial use (as opposed to tourists bringing in plastic bags to carry personal property), however, we would strongly recommend guests avoid bringing plastic bags into the country if possible.
PLEASE NOTE: Countries can change their entry requirements at any time. Travel Butlers try to ensure that the information displayed here is correct, but the onus remains with the traveller to verify the information with the relevant High Commission or Embassy and ensure that they can comply with the applicable entry requirements.
You are advised to contact your doctor or clinic around 4-8 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations and to get their professional medical advice regarding travel to Botswana.
To help prevent diarrhoea, avoid tap water – drink only bottled water and use bottled water for tooth brushing, and avoid ice made with tap water – and only eat fruit or vegetables that are cooked or can be peeled.
To help avoid heatstroke, drink plenty of bottled water/fluids, and keep out of the midday sun.
There is a risk of malaria in the northern half of Botswana, including Chobe and the Okavango Delta, particularly during the months of November to June - check with your doctor about suitable antimalarial tablets. Try to avoid mosquito bites wherever possible - wear loose long-sleeved clothing and trousers, and use a repellent on clothing and exposed skin.
There is no risk of yellow fever in Botswana, so a yellow fever vaccination is NOT required for travellers whose sole destination is Botswana. However, in accordance with International Health Regulations, Botswana requires all travellers over one year of age arriving from a yellow fever risk country, or having been in transit longer than 12 hours at the airport of such a country, to have a yellow fever certificate. These countries include Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.
Botswana Standard Time is 2 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+2).
English is the official language of Botswana and widely spoken with all guides and general staff in camps and lodges having a good command. In the broader population, however, not everyone will speak English fluently as many have grown up speaking different tribal languages.
We would ask that all travellers are respectful of the local culture as follows:
Although homosexuality is no longer prohibited by law in Botswana, public attitudes are less tolerant and public displays of affection may attract negative attention. Whilst everyone is of course entitled to their own sexual preferences and gender identity, we would advise all clients of the LGBT+ community to refrain from public displays of affection (including kissing and holding hands) and to be as discrete as possible about their relationship.
You should always ask permission before taking anyone’s photograph. Taking photographs of military and government buildings is prohibited.
Botswana's unit of currency is the pula (P), which is divided into 100 thebe.
Full banking services are available only in major towns, although ATMs are appearing all over the country. Most credit cards are accepted at hotels and restaurants and cash advances are available at major banks (but not through ATMs).
Electricity in Botswana
Botswana generates electricity at 220 volts, AC 50 Hz. 2 types of plugs are commonly used throughout the country - the South African type (3 large round pins / prongs) and the smaller UK type (3 square pins / prongs).
Adaptors for both, and for other types of international plugs, are readily available at major airports and towns.
Water in Botswana
Botswana is generally a very safe travel destination, but it is always sensible to take basic precautions as you would anywhere:
Do not wear expensive jewellery or carry too much cash.
Store passports, jewellery, money and other valuables in room safes where available, or keep locked in your luggage.
Take a copy of all travel documents and keep in a separate place.
Many camps are unfenced, so be alert to wildlife when walking around during the day.
Government travel advisories are a good source of up-to-date security information too.
Using The Phone in Botswana
The international dialling code for Botswana is +267, followed by the number. Roaming agreements exist with international mobile phone companies - we suggest you contact your phone company if in doubt. Coverage is average.
General Information About Safaris
A Typical Day, What To Take, Tipping On Safari And More
Going on a safari, whether it is your first time or you are a seasoned safari goer, is still an exhilarating experience and will undoubtedly be one of the main highlights of your trip to Africa. You spend your days waking up to the sounds of the African bush, taking exciting game drives over the plains and through the bush to spot Big 5 animals in their natural environment, and ending with a relaxed dinner under the starry night skies – there cannot be a better way to pass the time!
Are Safaris Demanding?
Generally, safaris are not demanding in terms of heavy physical activity, however there are elements which can be tiring that you need to be aware of.
Game drives tend to be in 4x4 safari vehicles (or in Kenya, you can be in a safari minibus). Due to the nature of the terrain the roads are often bumpy and can be a little tiring. Open 4x4 vehicles also expose travellers to the elements more than closed vehicles, meaning greater exposure to the sun in summer and cold winds in winter. Some open safari vehicles will have a canopy overhead to minimise exposure to the elements, however there are some lodges who do not use canopies in order to enhance photographic opportunities for their guests.
Many lodges offer walking activities ranging from one to 3 hours and this is generally the most strenuous activity you will encounter, and individuals of average fitness should experience no problems. Walking in single file, you will be introduced to how to spot tracks in the sand or mud, the uses of many different types of trees, and much more. If you are extremely lucky, will come across wildlife such as impala, giraffe or even something larger!
If your itinerary includes a light aircraft flight, these are often very compact and there is a certain amount of stepping and bending to get into the aircraft and manoevering yourself into your (rather small) seat. Travellers are also more likely to experience travel sickness in smaller planes than the larger commercial aircraft and this should be kept in mind.
A Typical Day on Safari
Even though every day will bring a different experience in terms of your wildlife viewing, safaris tend to follow a general pattern, which is consistent wherever you go.
The day starts with a wakeup call before sunrise at around 05:00 to 05:30, with tea/coffee at the lodge before you depart. The mornings are the best opportunity to follow fresh tracks and see wildlife, as some of the nocturnal animals are still active. Depending on what there is to see, the game drive is normally 3 to 4 hours long. When you return to the lodge, a delicious breakfast will be waiting for you - normally buffet style, followed by a cooked offering if you are still hungry!
The next few hours are spent resting and relaxing in camp as this is the hottest part of the day and animal activity is minimal.
At around 15:00 high tea is normally served before you head off again for an afternoon game drive (usually around 15:30 to 16:00). If you are in a National Park, the Park regulations require your guide to have you back at the lodge by sunset, however if you are in a private concession or community area, you will often enjoy a sundowner drink stop out in the bush before experiencing a night drive en-route back to the lodge, aided with a spotlight to search out the nocturnal animals.
On arrival back at the lodge you will normally sit around the camp fire and enjoy drinks while waiting for dinner. Sometimes dinner is served outside under the stars in a 'boma' around an open fire, with candles or lanterns as the only form of lighting. Chatting about your experiences and adventures with your fellow guests is a perfect way to round off the day, and a great feeling of camaraderie soon begins to exist between everyone. Many lodges will seat everyone on the same table for all meals, which gives you the opportunity to really get to know other people. After dinner, drinks may be enjoyed again around the fire however most people find they are tired from the fresh air and early start and are in bed by 22:00.
In some areas, such as East Africa, and especially if you are with a private driver-guide for your safari, there is also the opportunity to elect to go out after breakfast on a full day game drive with a picnic lunch, which means you do not have to return to the lodge until sunset.
What to Take on Safari
The dress code on safari is very relaxed, so there is no need to even consider packing dinner jackets, ties, formal shirts or cocktail dresses for your time on safari! Shorts/t-shirts are ideal for walks and the warm midday periods, but long trousers and long sleeved shirts are a good idea to wear in the evenings to protect yourself from mosquito bites.
Try to take neutral coloured clothes – so greens, beiges, etc – and avoid taking anything too brightly coloured. Also, try to avoid taking anything white – firstly the dust will soon turn your pristine white t-shirt into a not-so-attractive dirty colour, and secondly white does attract bugs at night. Camouflage printed clothing is OK for the bush but please do not wear in towns or when crossing borders (particularly in Zimbabwe).
In addition, a warm sweater is useful for the cooler morning and evening temperatures when out on game drives – you also have the ‘wind chill’ factor of being on a moving vehicle.
If you are going on safari during a known rainy season, a waterproof jacket is obviously a good idea, and during the Winter months you will certainly need several warm layers for your game drives, including a hat, scarf and gloves, as it can be extremely cold when the sun goes down in the evenings, and when you first set off on the morning game drive.
Comfortable walking shoes, trainers or hiking boots are advisable if you want to go on a bush walk – otherwise sandals are ideal to wear at meal times and around the lodge area. Covered shoes on the game drives in the Winter months may also be an idea, as there is nothing worse than cold toes/feet!
A sun hat or baseball cap, or anything really to keep the sun off your head, is a good idea to stop sunstroke when out on game drives, and also will help to shade your eyes from the sun. A good pair of sunglasses will also help you to scan the landscape for the wildlife without squinting into the sunlight and getting a headache! Sun block and lip balm are also recommended.
Swimwear is not something most people would associate with a safari, but as many lodges do have pools, it is worth just throwing into your case just in case you fancy a cooling dip inbetween game drives.
Taking photographs on a safari is almost a given, so don’t forget your camera (and if you are into photography in a big way, consider different size lenses and a bean bag too to rest the lens on so that you avoid camera shake), binoculars (the ranger/driver will tend to have a pair of these always to hand, but they are there for everyone to share, so if you are not the sharing kind of person, better to have your own pair to use all the time) and spare camera batteries and memory cards – there is nothing worse than seeing the perfect shot, only for your camera to die a death or the memory card to be full (bear in mind too that the opportunity to download photos will be limited). Most lodges will have curio shops that will sell most types of batteries so if you run out, it’s not serious, but prices may be high. If you have a video camera, it may be a good idea to take a spare battery for this as well.
One top tip for camera equipment in particular is to take a pillow case to keep everything in when out on game drives – some camera bags are big and unweldy so take up valuable seat space, plus you end up having to unzip compartments and while the bag is open dust gets in everywhere – having everything in a pillowcase that you can keep relatively ‘closed’ and just reach in to retrieve the necessary camera body/lens is just so much easier and cleaner all round.
Even in malaria-free areas, there are still nasty bugs about that can give you a nasty bite so do take some strong insect repellent with you. Some lodges will supply this in the rooms, but better to be safe than sorry and pack your own just in case.
It is always a good idea to pack your own first aid kit – so plasters, antiseptic cream/wipes, antihistamine tablets, painkillers, etc. If you wear daily disposable contact lenses it is advisable to bring more than you think you will need, as you may want to take the lenses out inbetween game drives if you get too much dust in your eyes. And of course, if you are taking malaria tablets – don’t forget to pack these!
Some lodges have a library but these are limited and so it is useful to bring your own books/novels for siesta hours. Having your own wildlife reference books too will mean you can also read up about more facts on the animals you have seen during your drive. Bird books in particular, if you are an avid birder, are especially good to have, as not every bird will be identified by your ranger along the way, so you can quietly look up anything you have seen and identify it yourself.
Tipping on Safari
It is customary to tip your guide (and tracker if you had one on your game vehicle, or your poler if you take a mokoro in Botswana) when you leave, and also to leave something for the housekeeping staff, especially if they have done a good job of looking after you.
Many lodges will leave guidelines in your room as to what they feel is an ‘appropriate’ tip, however some people feel that these suggestions can be a bit high. Obviously, tipping is optional and what you leave is totally at your own discretion - we would stress that you should never feel pressured into leaving a tip that you are not comfortable with.
If you wish to follow the lodge guidelines, of course that is your decision, but if you feel uncomfortable with their suggested tipping levels, we would like to put forward an alternative method for working out a suitable tip amount.
Your ranger/guide - what we normally suggest is think about your tip in terms of what he/she would appreciate most - so for example, this could be money to cover a really nice 3 course meal out with a good bottle of wine, so that they can treat themselves (and maybe their partner too) on their valuable time off. We would suggest basing this amount on what YOU personally would be happy to pay at home if you were to treat yourself and someone else to the equivalent night out.
Driver-guide (East Africa) – for people who take a longer safari with a private driver-guide, USD7 to USD10 per traveller per day is considered a good tip for a driver-guide (based on 4 to 6 travellers in a vehicle). If there are only 2 or 3 travellers in a vehicle, you might consider raising this amount to approximately USD10 to USD12 per traveller per day in recognition of the individual attention given to a smaller-size group.
Safari escort (East Africa) - some groups are accompanied by a professional safari escort. It is customary to tip your safari escort on the last day you are with them and the recommended tip is USD10 per traveller per day. As with the tip for a driver-guide, smaller groups (5 or less) might consider tipping slightly more.
Your tracker/poler - we would suggest tipping something equivalent to giving him a night out in a local bar, where he can buy himself and friends a few round of drinks. Again, maybe base this amount on what you would be happy to spend at home in your local pub.
Housekeeping/general staff - if they have kept your room spotless, then a tip is certainly a nice gesture - but maybe just the equivalent of a couple of drinks. Some lodges will have communal tip boxes, so all the tip money is pooled and shared between the relevant staff members.
We hope that this helps – but please note this is just a personal opinion, and it is a relatively easy way of estimating a tip amount that should not offend anyone. It is customary to tip on the last day you are with anyone.
Another thing to consider is taking some envelopes with you, so that you can address the envelopes accordingly and seal the individual tips inside - in this way, the tip is not revealed until after you have departed.
Please listen to your guide/lodge manager attentively on safety precautions particular to each lodge and follow their instructions.
There is an inherent risk associated with going on safari. Most guests will be required to sign indemnities at the various camps and lodges and will also be required to abide by the operator’s code of conduct in order to ensure your safety.
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If your trip cannot go ahead due to Covid-19 travel restrictions you can either:
- Postpone to a later date
- Switch to another destination
- Receive a full refund
Terms apply - see here for details.
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Please see our booking conditions for further information or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOLCertificate.