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Travel tips for Botswana. Important information for your holidays.

Botswana.

All you need to know about Botswana.

Time Zone

If in Europe is winter - in Botswana is summer and vice versa. Accordingly, the days are shorter or longer. Botswana has the same time as South Africa. In Central European summer time, Germany and Botswana have the same time. During our winter (normal time) South Africa is one hour ahead of us (12:00 in Cape Town = 11:00 in Berlin).

Languages

The official languages in Botswana are English and Setswana. Setswana is mainly spoken by the locals, while English is used in parliament and by the major newspapers. Kalanga, Sesarwa and Afrikaans are also spoken.

Touring

Public transport in Botswana is not comparable to that of Europe, is geared to the needs of the population and is limited to the main roads between the main conurbations. Passenger trains run daily between Lobatse and Francistown. Otherwise, the railways are used almost exclusively for freight transport. In cities, public transport is limited to minibuses. Long-distance buses run on the main roads. In general, we strongly advise against the use of local and long-distance public transport.

There are no direct flights from Europe to Botswana. You can change flights in South Africa, Namibia or Zimbabwe. There are some domestic flights. Lodges in the Okavango Delta can be reached by charter flights in small aircraft.

Driving

There is left-hand traffic in Botswana. Only the main roads are asphalted and they are often in good condition. The side roads are not paved and you have to reckon with big potholes. In the rainy season some roads can unfortunately not be used.

Driving on the main roads in Botswana is only recommended in 4X4 vehicles that are properly equipped. Most lodges offer transfers or can be arranged. However, if you will be driving in Botswana, your home driving licence will be accepted, but an international driving licence is recommended. The national speed limit on paved roads is 120 km/h and 60 km/h in towns and villages.

Always plan to refuel your rental car in advance. The petrol stations can be far apart and it is therefore advisable to refuel at every opportunity and have a spare canister with you.

It is recommended not to drive over land after dark because of the high risk of accidents.

Gratuity

As everywhere in the world, many people who have made a service for you are happy to receive a tip. In the following we have tried to make a small recommendation, but of course it can only serve as a guide and depends a lot on the situation.  

It is always a good idea to have a few Pula in your pocket so that you can have them at hand when you need them, without having to pull out your entire wallet. In a restaurant 10% are usual. With particularly good service it can be a little more, with bad service correspondingly less. When refuelling you should give 2-3 Pula to the gas station attendant, if the windows have been cleaned or the air and oil levels have also been checked. In hotels you should give 10 Pula to porters. All other tips are usually collected in a box. Maids usually get their tips from this. Depending on the category, you should plan up to 5 pula/stay. Of course you can also give a small note to employees who have been particularly helpful to you. On safaris there are usually local recommendations. Here it is often customary to give a separate tip to your personal driver, all other employees get their share.

electricity

Sockets in Botswana are the "Type M" South African SABS1661 ("Large" 15 amp Bs-546) sockets. This is actually an old British standard. You can buy adapters in corresponding specialty shops in Germany or much cheaper everywhere on site. If you have many devices to connect, we recommend that you take a German multiple plug / socket strip with you. This way you only need one adapter and you can still charge or use many devices at the same time. Sockets in Botswana normally supply electricity between 220 and 240 volts AC.

money

In Botswana you pay with the Pula, which is divided into 100 Thebe. "Pula" means rain and "Thebe" means raindrop. You can see the important role water and rain play in Botswana.

We recommend to exchange or withdraw money in Botswana, where the exchange rates are best. At most ATMs you will receive cash with your Maestro or credit card. Please ask your issuing bank for the fees. In some restaurants and shops you can also pay directly with your credit card. In tourist areas you can also pay in US dollars, but at worse exchange rates.

leisure

In Botswana, leisure activities are closely linked to nature and wildlife. For example, you can take a panoramic flight, a balloon flight, a mokoro tour through swamps and canals, a game drive in an open safari vehicle or bush walks.

immigration

For tourists from Germany there is no visa requirement - as long as their stay does not exceed 90 days per calendar year and they do not take up any activity. The passport must only be valid for six months after the return date. Children, regardless of age, need their own travel documents and entries in their parents' passport are no longer accepted!

Short-term changes to the regulations or differing interpretations by individual offices cannot be ruled out. Detailed and binding information can be obtained from the Botswanan foreign mission responsible for your place of residence. In all other cases (including temporary passports) a visa is required, which must be applied for at the Embassy of Botswana.

If you are a citizen of a country other than Germany, please inform us of your nationality when making your request or booking so that we can inform you of the relevant entry requirements. Thank you very much!

From the 1st of June 2017, all travellers to Botswana (with the exception of the inhabitants and citizens of the Southern African Development Community) will have to pay a tourism development tax. This is $30 (€27) and is paid at all ports of entry, including airports and border posts, through electronic payment machines, cash and debit and credit cards. After payment, a unique receipt corresponding to the passport is automatically generated. The receipt is presented to the immigration officer with the passport and stamped. It is valid for a period of 30 days and can be used for several entries.

health

For the current health situation and your personal situation, please contact your doctor or tropical physician before starting your journey. A healthy attitude to life is first and foremost part of a healthy trip to Africa.

Don't let the media and sales-oriented pharmacists impose an often exaggerated picture of Africa on you. A healthy person with an intact immune system can also cope with many bacteria and viruses in Africa or does not come into contact with the dangers. Psychological attitudes and confidence in one's own body are also important. Many diseases can be avoided by sensible, preventive behaviour. This includes, among other things, protecting oneself from excessive exposure to sunlight, ensuring a sufficient daily intake of fluids (non-alcoholic), abstaining from food of dubious origin, not drinking unfiltered water (including brushing one's teeth), taking even small wounds seriously, finding sufficient sleep, taking breaks and countering temperature differences with appropriate clothing. Inform yourself about the typical diseases in southern Africa and take care of active and passive mosquito protection (especially in the evening and at night).

Learn more about malaria and its prevention. The risk of malaria is much higher during the rainy season (November to May) and in the North. In addition, knowledge and vaccinations against tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough (pertussis), polio, mumps, measles, rubella (MMR), influenza, pneumococcus, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid fever, meningococcus disease (ACWY - conjugate vaccine) and rabies are recommended. A check with your doctor and tropical physician will help you quickly. We strongly recommend that you take out travel and return insurance.

climate

Botswana's climatic pattern is typical for southern Africa, although its rainfall is less than that of the countries further east. Rainfall in Botswana usually occurs between December and March, when average minimum temperatures are in the low 20° C range. Some days will be bright and sunny, some will have thunderstorms in the afternoon, and some will only be grey.

As in Namibia, April and May in Botswana are usually beautiful, with clear skies and green landscapes. Night temperatures begin to drop during these months, especially in the Kalahari. Note that places in and around the Okavango tend to have less extreme, temperate temperatures than the drier areas of the Kalahari.

From June to August, night temperatures can be near freezing in drier areas, but it warms up quickly during the day when the sky is usually clear and blue. It is now very much "peak season" for most safari areas: the land is dry in most areas, and the animals gather around the few available water sources.

This continues into September and October, when temperatures rise again and the landscapes are dry. This is the best time for Big Game Safaris - although October can also get very hot (with maximum temperatures sometimes approaching 40°C).

November is difficult to predict as it can sometimes be a continuation of the heat of October, while sometimes it is cooled by the first rains; it is always an interesting month.

The Okavango Delta fills from May with water from Angola. In July the water level is highest. Then it dries out bit by bit until only a few canals and water points are left.

insurances

Before starting your holidays, it is strongly recommended to arrange a foreign health insurance which also covers repatriation to the home country. We offer you appropriate insurance through our partner TravelSecure.com.

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security

As in other African countries, Botswana also has problems with crime. But even here, if you stick to some rules, the risk is drastically reduced.

The Federal Foreign Office provides information on the current situation on its website (www.auswaertiges-amt.de) and we recommend that you inform yourself here before departure.

Please never leave valuables open in the vehicle (not even during the journey). Organise your journeys so that you arrive at your destination at nightfall. It goes without saying that you do not wear jewellery in public and do not display expensive cameras.

Flora & Fauna

The nature in Botswana is very diverse. While the Kalahari Desert is in the south, the Okavango Delta is in the northwest. It is the largest inland delta in the world and home to many animals. On 20,000 square kilometres this miracle world extends full of animals and plants, which you can see only here.

The Chobe National Park in the northeast is also incomparable. One of the largest connected elephant populations can be discovered here, but also hippos and crocodiles, buffalos and countless bird species populate the park.

But Botswana can also offer desert. In the Makgadikgadi-Pans or the Kgalagadi-Transfrontier-National Park the dryness loving animals dominate. Ostrich herds and the graceful oryx antelopes roam the dunes and salt pans, black maned lions lie sluggish under the few shade-giving trees and cute meerkats do their daily business. Botswana is a unique safari destination. Unrivalled. Unique.

Important Note:

We cannot guarantee the correctness, completeness and topicality of the information given here, nor shall we be liable for any damage. Described regulations as well as the security situation can change at any time. As we have already recommended, in case of doubt we recommend that you contact your local diplomatic, consular representative or your doctor for health issues.

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