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Botswana

Country info

Botswana is one of the world's most exciting travel destinations for exploring wildlife. It is landlocked by South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Namibia. The natural beauty of Botswana is found in its land formations, its wilderness, wildlife and its cultural diversity. To travel Botswana offers an unique experience in exploring wildlife, birds and game in its natural state.
Botswana straddles the Tropic of Capricorn in the centre of the Southern African plateau between latitudes 17 and 27 and longitudes 20 and 30 east.  It is bordered by South Africa in the south and southeast, Zambia and Zimbabwe in the northeast, and Namibia in the north and west. The land is flat, with gentle undulations and occasional rocky outcrops. In the northwest, the Okavango River drains inland from  Angola to form the Okavango Delta. The Okavango Delta is one of the largest inland deltas in the world.  It provides sustenance to a rich profusion of wildlife, and it is still in its natural state - unspoilt and unpolluted. It attracts thousands of tourists throughout the year from all over the world. In this Delta, dryland mingles with wetland.
It has marsh, river, grasslands, riverine forests of palms, islands, flood plains and lagoons. In fact, the Okavango Delta is an Oasis situated within the Kalahari Desert, and is part of the larger geographical network which embraces Moremi Game Reserve, Chobe National Park, Makgadikgadi and Nxai Pans and Mababe Depression.
In addition to this Delta, Botswana offers a number of other exciting areas. In the central north-east is a large area of calcrete plains bordering the Makgadikgadi Pans. In the east, adjacent to the Limpopo drainage system, the land rises above 1.200 metres, and the Limpopo Valley gradually descends from 900 metres in the south to 500 metres at its confluence with the Shashe River.

Travel info

Climate
Botswana is a very dry, semiarid land. The northern two-thirds of the country lies within the tropics. Daytime temperatures of 27 degrees Celsius may drop to below freezing point occasionally during the night. The rainfall ranges from 600mm in the Northwest to 250mm in the southern part. The rainfall is extremely unpredictable therefore there are frequent droughts.

Summer (September - April)
Frequent rain and thunderstorms; days and nights are very hot, but cooling off after rain spells.
Winter (May - July)
Dry and cold days and nights especially in the early hours of the morning.

Clothing
Generally throughout the year casual comfortable clothes are worn, blouses, shirts, shorts or light skirts are best. Some hotels in Gaborone do not permit jeans although they are useful on safari. Jerseys and jackets are necessary for winter mornings and evenings. Dull colours are more suitable on safari, white is not practical. In winter, warmer clothing is needed and track suits are very useful for sleeping in on safari. Comfortable shoes are essential.

Visa
Visas are required by all nationals of foreign countries excluding the following: All Commonwealth countries, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece., Iceland, Rep. of Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Namibia, Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Samoa (Western), San Marino, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Uruguay and USA. Any visitor wishing to stay more than 90 days will have to apply for prior permission to the Chief Immigration Officer, PO Box 942, Gaborone, Botswana.
The following countries alhough Commonwealth countries do require visas: Ghana, India, Mauritius, Nigeria and Sri Lanka.

Visa application forms are obtained from:
Department of Immigration and Citizenship
P.O. Box 942, Gaborone, Botswana
Tel: +267 3611-300/342
Fax: +267 352-996

Car hire
Cars can be booked from anywhere in the world to be available on arrival at Gahorone airport. Cars, trucks, minibuses and four wheel drive vehicles are also available, some with professional guides and drivers.
There are three vehicle hire companies in Maun. Vehicles from all three companies come with drivers for which there is no additional charge. Prices, which vary, are available on request, but in all cases fuel costs are an extra.

Health
Consult a doctor at least 2 weeks prior to entering Botswana on what precautions should he taken against malaria. There has been a dramatic increase in the incidence of malaria infection amongst visitors and residents of Botswana's malaria endemic areas. As a precaution boil or sterilize drinking water outside of the main towns.
Botswana like other countries has been threatened by the Aids pandemic. However, the government has put in place measures like the National Aids Control Program to help address the many problems that this scourge has created. The general advice given by Worldwide Aids awareness campaigns should be adhered to while in the country.

Currency
The unit of currency is the Pula. Notes are in P5, P10, P50 and P100. Coins (Thebe) are in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25, 50, Pl & P2.
The Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Dinners Club are accepted as forms of payment, but only to a limited extent. Most hotels and lodges accept major foreign currencies or traveller's cheques, but the surcharge may be high. It is advisable to change money into local currency.

Commercial Banks
Barclays Bank of Botswana, Standard Chartered Botswana Limited, Stanbic, First National Bank of Botswana, Union Bank of Botswana and Zimbank of Botswana.

Banking Hours:
Monday Friday: 09h00 14h30
Wednesday: 08h00 12h00
Saturday: 08h00 10h45

Major hotels have foreign currency facilities and most shops, lodges and travel agencies will accept travellers cheques.

Language
English is the official language. Setswana is the local language

Accessoires
Sunblock lotion, sunglasses, hats and insect repellents are essential. Binoculars are an absolute must.

                                                       copyright: Paul Janssen