English is an official language in Botswana. It is taught at schools, and is widely spoken in all urban centres. Even in rural areas, many local villagers (especially younger ones who have received schooling) will be able to converse in English. All guides and general staff in the camps, lodges and hotel have got a good command of English.
German, Italian and French translators are available on request – request through your travel operator or agent. When staying at a private camp or lodge, your guide will very often be able to introduce you to his or her friends and family, and will act as interpreter if necessary. Some amazing interaction with local people is possible, and more than likely to occur while on your trip to Botswana.
Air Botswana, Botswana’s national and only airline, provides international flights between Gaborone and Johannesburg, Gaborone and Harare, Maun and Johannesburg, Kasane and Johannesburg and Francistown and Johannesburg. Domestic flights run between Gaborone and Francistown, Maun and Kasane, and the airline has recently re-introduced its Maun to Kasane flight (three times per week).
- Air Botswana/ Air link has thrice daily flights between Gaborone and Johannesburg.
- South African Airways has twice daily flights between Johannesburg and Gaborone, during the week.
- South African Express has five flights daily between Johannesburg and Gaborone, during the week.
- Air Botswana has daily flights from Johannesburg direct to Maun.
- Air Namibia flies Windhoek to Maun every day of the week, except Tuesday and Thursday.
- Kenya Airways flies Nairobi to Gaborone.
- Air charter services are also available.
Light aircraft transfers have a 15kg luggage restrictions in soft, squashable bags PLUS 5kg of hand luggage. The size of the cargo pod of a Cessna 206, which is generally used on inter-camp transfers is 72cm wide and 29 cm high. Travelers coming for safaris are advised not to bring hard suitcases as they will not fit on light aircrafts.
Most major international airlines from Europe, the United States, Asia and Australia fly to Johannesburg, South Africa, where connecting flights can be booked to Sir Seretse Khama International Airport in Gaborone, or to Maun, Francistown or Kasane.
Botswana is accessible by tarred road from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Namibia. Vehicles are driven on the left hand side of the road. A valid international driver’s license, along with vehicle registration documents, are required to drive in Botswana, and drivers should always carry them.
Most major roads in Botswana are tarred and driving conditions are generally good. The main roads to established areas are regularly graded. Four-wheel drive is required when travelling in the national parks and reserves, as well as in remote areas. Car and four-wheel drive rental services are widely available in major tourist centres, airports and hotels.
Travel Like a Pro: Packing Tips
What to Bring
Binoculars, torch, insect repellent, lip salve, sunscreen, sunglasses. Cosmetics, medications, and cigarettes are all available in the major towns, but if specific brand names are needed, it is best to bring enough to last your stay.
However, care needs to be taken to comply with international aviation security regulations for items in carry on luggage. Contact your airline for details.
What to Wear
- In summer, lightweight, light-colored cottons are preferable.
- Garments of neutral colours that blend with the bush and forest are advisable for safaris and game viewing.
- Avoid synthetic materials and black clothing, as they increase perspiration and discomfort.
- Bring a lightweight jacket and/or jersey for unexpected temperature changes or rain.
- In winter, wear trousers, long-sleeved shirts / blouses and jerseys.
- From May – August, night temperatures can fall below zero degrees Celsius, so warm jerseys and jackets are vital, especially on morning and evening game drives.
- Closed, comfortable walking shoes or gym shoes are a must in all seasons.
- Special attention should be given to protection from the sun. Bring a sunhat, good quality sunscreen, sun lotion and polarized sunglasses.
- Wide brimmed hats are preferable to baseball caps.
Botswana is one of the healthiest countries in sub-Saharan Africa, with good primary health care facilities available throughout the country. However, the following health precautions are advised.
Tap water throughout the country is safe to drink. Bottled mineral water is readily available in most shops and supermarkets, and at camps and lodges.
Tourists travelling by road are advised to carry sufficient water at all times.
Malaria, including cerebral malaria, is common in northern Botswana, in the Okavango and Chobe areas, particularly during and immediately following the rainy season, from November to April.
As the strains of malaria, and the drugs used to combat them, frequently change, and as certain strains can become drug resistant, it is best to seek medical advice before your departure and take any medication prescribed. Pregnant or very young children are not advised to travel to malarial areas.
Other precautions are: to wear long sleeves, socks, closed shoes, and generally keep the body covered, to sleep with a mosquito net and to use mosquito coils and repellent.
Sun And Heat-Related Problems
Always take preventive measures that include wearing a wide-brimmed sunhat and sunglasses, liberally applying sunscreen every three or four hours, regularly taking rehydration mixes, drinking plenty of water and fruit juices (at least three liters of liquid daily), avoiding prolonged exposure to the sun, and avoiding excessive amounts of alcohol, which causes dehydration.