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Prepare to be dazzled…

Botswana's vast wilderness is home to a breathtaking menagerie of Africa's most charismatic wildlife. With wily big cats, wallowing hippopotami, herds of migrating buffalo and nomadic elephants, this is without a doubt one of the continent's premier safari destinations.

The land that sustains such diversity stretches across the Kalahari Desert and the Okavango Delta to the Zambezi River on the border with Zambia. Botswana is also the setting for The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency, and you'll find that the people of this wild and welcoming country have all the charm and idiosyncrasies that the novel suggests, and then some.

 

Top holidays in Botswana

Culture and history

Botswana became independent from Britain in 1966 and its citzens are called Motswana (singular) and Batswana (plural). Although Batswana fall into one of two categories – they are either Setswana speakers or non-Setswana speakers – they all have one thing in common: great pride in their country.

Religion is central in society and Christianity, introduced by missionaries in the 19th century, is widely practised. However, churches often mix Christian liturgy with elements of indigenous beliefs. A colourful aspect of daily life in Botswana are its hand-woven baskets. Music is a keystone of society and church choirs are common across the country.

And now on to a spot of history. The name Botswana stems from the country's main ethnic group, the Batswana, who came to the region from southern Africa during the Zulu wars of the 1800s. They lived on the land under tribal rule until coming under threat from the Boers in the 1820s. After many years of aggression, and several pleas for British protection on the part of the tribal leaders, Botswana became a British crown protectorate under the name of Bechuanaland in the late 1800s.

In the years that followed Botswana came very close to becoming part of South Africa, but narrowly escaped incorporation and also apartheid. During World War II some 10,000 volunteered to defend the British Empire.

By the 1950s the country was starting to think about independence, and after the formation of two political parties Bechuanaland became the independent Republic of Botswana in 1966. Shortly afterwards diamonds were discovered, completely transforming the country's economy.

Things to do

Take one of our group tours to Botswana and enjoy all the highlights, along with visits to some of the top attractions in neighbouring countries. Join a tour exclusively for solo travellers tour and visit the incredible spectacle of Victoria Falls in Zambia, or take an adventure truck holiday across the Kalahari Desert into Namibia.

We also have an escorted rail tour in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana. To make your Africa holiday as comfortable as possible, we've chosen the best hotels and safari lodges across Botswana. In many cases you'll be staying within the national parks themselves - so the wildlife watching can begin the minute you step outside.

Chobe National Park

Almost the size of a whole country itself, Chobe National Park stretches for nearly 12,000 square kilometres in northern Botswana and borders with Zambia and Zimbabwe. It is home to the most diverse wildlife in Africa, with impalas, warthogs, zebras, lions, hyenas, giraffes and cheetahs all putting in an appearance, as well as the largest population of elephants in Africa.

The town of Kasane is the gateway to the northern part of the park and also sits just down river from Victoria Falls. Cruise the Chobe River, sink a sundowner after a canoe safari or sit around the campfire and chat under the starry African skies.

Okavango Delta

This vast inland river delta is formed where the Okavango River meets the Kalahari. Rather than joining the sea though (Botswana is of course landlocked), the waters of the delta are evaporated in the African sun. The rise and fall of the waters each year creates an incredible spectacle of nature, and the animals that the region sustains are all star players in the great drama of life in the delta.

Flight time

It takes around eleven hours to fly from London to Botswana, plenty of time for a couple of films and a snooze.

Currency

Pula - The currency in Botswana is the pula, which is divided into 100 thebe.

Passports and visas

It’s a good idea to carry a photocopy of your passport with you. You will not require a visa.

Visit GOV.UK for more advice on passports and visas.

Phrases

Why not learn a few words of the local setswana lingo?

Hello – dumela

Yes – ee

No – nnyaa

Thank you – ke a leboga

Please – ka tsweetswee

Is there someone here who speaks English? – a gona le mongwe fa yo o buang sekgowa?

Where is the toilet? – ntlwna ya boithomelo e kae?

Good night – bosigo

Timezone

Botswana is two hours ahead of GMT.

Electricity

Mains voltage in Botswana is 220-240 volts AC (50 Hz) and both square and round-pin wall plugs are used. You’ll therefore need to bring an adaptor if you wish to use English appliances.

Language

English - English is the official language in Botswana. Setswana is the national language.

Tipping

Hotel service charges are included in the cost of your holiday, but not for safari staff.

As a guideline we recommend a tip of US$10 per guest, per day for the guide and the same for each of the mobile safari crew.

Climate

Botswana has a mainly temperate climate. Summer is between October and April and is very hot. Although this is the rainy season, rainfall is low and sporadic. Dry and cooler weather occurs between May and September.

Early mornings and evenings – when games drives take place – can be cold and frosty so pack a warm sweater if you plan going on safari.

Health

As health information can change at any time, we’d advise you to consult your GP at least 12 weeks before departure.

Country-specific information and advice on possible health risks is also published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre, and The British Foreign and Commonwealth Travel Advice Unit provides important health and safety information for British nationals travelling abroad.

Population and size

Around two million people live in Botswana.

Botswana is two-an-a-half-times larger than the UK.

Smoking

Smoking is banned on public transport and in bars, restaurants and hotels.



Climate