- Airports – Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (GBE), Maun Airport (MUB), Francistown Airport (FRW)
- Currency – Pula (BWP)
- Official Language – Setswana, English
- Population – 2.2 million
- GDP – $15 billion (120th Overall)
Welcome to Botswana!
One of Africa’s best-kept secrets, Botswana is located in the southern part of the continent and declared its independence in 1966. Its national anthem is “Fatshe leno la rona” which translates to “This is Our Land.” The people of Botswana are called either ‘Batswana’ or ‘Motswana.’
The national language of Botswana is English, yet Setswana is spoken by a majority of the population. Gaborone is the country’s largest city with a population of about 230,000 people. While Botswana may not be on the top of your travel list, this country has a lot to offer, including many national parks and reserves rich in wildlife.
Visa & Flight Costs
Before you go, make sure your passport is valid for at least six months after your travel date. You will not need a tourist visa unless you are staying in the country for more than 90 days. If you are flying to Botswana from the U.S., you will most likely have a connecting flight from Johannesburg, South Africa. The flight from New York to Johannesburg is 16 hours long and covers almost 8,000 miles! The trip to Johannesburg from New York is one of the longest direct flights in the world, so be sure to pack extra snacks for your journey.
In this age of technology, make sure to pack a travel adapter. In Botswana the power sockets are either type D, G, or M. While you may want to bring some Botswana Pula, their national currency, U.S. dollars are widely accepted throughout the country.
Botswana is not always as hot as many people believe. Average monthly temperatures range from 55°F to 77°F (13°C to 25°C). Make sure you check the weather to determine how you should dress.
Observing the differences in how locals get around is a fantastic way to learn about a new culture. Most people travel by car or bus, which usually involves running along the side of the road and waving till the driver stops to pick them up!
In Botswana, life is more fluid and the people are easily adaptable. While buses in New York City run on a schedule with designated bus stops, the buses/vans you will encounter in Botswana run without a schedule or designated pickup stops.
Whether you are in Chobe National Park, the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, or Moremi Game Reserve, the wildlife and scenery in Botswana are amazing. These public parks forbid night driving, but there is a lot of interesting game to be spotted during the day.
The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is a must-see. It is the largest reserve in Southern Africa and the second largest wildlife reserve in the world. In addition, Botswana has more elephants than any other country.The best time to go on a safari is during the dry season from June to September since it is easier to spot game. If you do go during the summer, be sure to bring a sweater because sitting in a safari car can get cold as the cars are usually open air.
The best time to go on a safari is during the dry season from June to September since it is easier to spot game. If you do go during the summer, be sure to bring a sweater because sitting in a safari car can get cold, as the cars are usually open air.
Whether you want to stay overnight on a houseboat or just go for an afternoon, boat tours are a unique way to experience wildlife. Bat safaris provide a different perspective on wildlife behavior. There are plenty of ways to enjoy the wildlife. Whether you are on a motorboat, a houseboat, or a boat cruise, a boat safari is an amazing experience. You can enjoy a safari by boat on the Chobe River, the Kwando River, or the Okavango Delta.
Hippos cooling themselves in the water
In Botswana, you may come across local street vendors selling unique goods. While driving around Maun and Gaborone there are many vendors offering various jewelry and other local items. If you are driving along the roads and see a vendor, stop by and check out their shop. In Botswana, many street vendors are willing to bargain with customers or even trade things like pens and hair pins for their wares.
Botswana has a wide variety of cuisines. Similar to other African countries, they eat mostly meat and maize. Seswaa is the national dish of Botswana and it consists of meat, mostly beef, and pap (cornmeal porridge). While the natives often use utensils to eat, some foods are meant to be eaten with your hands. Many restaurants in Botswana also have dancing during the nighttime to burn off those calories.
While in Botswana, you may wind up being offered to try a Mopane Worm, which is a delicacy in the country. Give it a try!
Botswana was the first sub-Saharan African country to provide free treatment to those who have HIV. Since this program has been implemented, the number of new infections has decreased dramatically.
While in Botswana, you can look into volunteering opportunities such as at Bana Ba Letsatsi, a rehabilitation center for orphans or vulnerable children. You can help mentor children, hand out supplies, prepare meals and create new friendships.