Botswana is a landlocked country located in Southern Africa, north of South Africa. Botswana occupies an area of 600,370 square kilometres, of which 585,000km² are land. Botswana is bordered by Namibia to the west, South Africa to the south, Zimbabwe to the east and Zambia by just 1 km to the north. Much of the population of Botswana is concentrated in the eastern part of the country. The land is predominantly flat to gently undulating tableland, although there is some hilly country, where mining is carried out. The Kalahari Desert is in the central and the southwest. The Okavango Delta, the world's largest inland delta, is in the northwest and the Makgadikgadi Pans, a large salt pan lies in the north-central area. Botswana's highest point is Monalanong Hill, at 1,494 metres.
The time in Botswana is GMT + 2 hours.
English and Afrikaans are widely understood both in South Africa and in Botswana. South Africa has 11 principal languages recognised by the country's constitution. Setswana is the national language of Botswana and is spoken by almost all of its citizens. There are another 34 minor languages spoken in parts of Botswana.
The weather is generally good in Botswana. April to September are the driest and brightest months (24°C / 75°F during the day) but quite cold at night, especially in June and July, when the night-time temperature can fall to 6°C / 43°F. October and November are the hottest months of the year, with daytime temperatures rising to 35°C / 95°F (night-time 19°C / 66°F). From November to March there is likely to be some rainfall, which usually arrives as short-lived showers and does add to the spectacular effect of Victoria Falls.
The unit of currency in Botswana is the Pula. For up to date exchange rates visit: www.xe.com
There is no need to purchase local currency prior to travel. We recommend that you carry your travel money in the form of cash. GB pounds, Euros, US dollars and South African rand are readily exchanged and there are also reliable ATM machines at several places. Credit cards can be used to purchase goods and services and it is a good idea to carry one in case of an emergency.
If you are traveling onto Zimbabwe (Victoria Falls), you should withdraw enough currency for your time at Victoria Falls before crossing into Zimbabwe. You should not use your credit card in Zimbabwe, nor have anything to do with the local hyper-inflated currency. Pounds, US dollars, pula and rand can all be spent in Victoria Falls.
A passport with at least 12 months remaining validity is required. For UK, USA, Canadian and most EC passport holders, visas are not required for Botswana. If you are traveling via South Africa, these same Nationalities will have a South African Visa issued without charge on arrival - note that you need a minimum of 2 blank side-by-side pages in your passport for this visa.
If you are traveling onto Victoria Falls, UK and Canadian citizens will need to obtain a visa for Zimbabwe in advance of the trip from the appropriate High Commission. US passport holders can obtain their visa on arrival in Zimbabwe, provided they have tickets and documents for return or onward travel and sufficient funds for their stay.
You should attend your own doctor and dentist for a check-up. Your doctor will have access to the most up to date information on the required vaccinations for the country you are visiting. In general we recommend vaccinations against the following: Polio, Tetanus, Typhoid, & Hepatitis ‘A'. Malaria prophylaxis should be considered especially during the period from November to June.
A very good online resource is the NHS travel website at www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk
Additional Sources of Information
Botswana: Okavango Delta - Chobe - Northern Kalahari (Bradt Safari Guide).
Botswana: Photo Safari Companion. Alain Pons.
Botswana and Namibia - Lonely Planet Guide. Paula Hardy and Matthew Firestone.
Botswana - Globetrotter Travel Map. Scale: 1:1,750,000.