The Getaway
Essential Botswana Travel Tips

Naturally landscaped by the sweeping Kalahari Desert and Okavango Delta, it’s not surprising that Botswana is a travel destination for more than 2 million tourists each year. With 38 percent of its land dedicated to parks and wildlife management areas, Botswana is home to a host of animals, including giraffes, elephants, zebras, baboons, velvet monkeys, cheetahs, leopards, and lions. For visitors, its multitude of savannahs and grasslands, green floodplains, and waterways give Botswana a stunning visual appeal. As another plus, Botswana is exceptionally tourist-friendly, with well-organized wildlife tours and attractions. The local population welcomes tourism as a major economic resource, so you’ll find friendly smiles and helpful people throughout your Botswana experience.


01 Diamonds and tourists fuel the economy

Overview of the Central Business District in Gaborone, the capital city of Botswana. Photo by Justice Hubane on Unsplash

Botswana’s two major sources of revenue are diamond mining and tourism — but in recent years, the country has focused more on becoming an ultimate tourist destination. For tourists, this means a welcoming future where amenities and excursions will continue to increase and improve.


02 Don’t drink the water

Nxai Pan, Botswana Photo by Chris Koelewijn on Unsplash

Tap water isn't considered safe for drinking purposes in Botswana. When in restaurants and bars, always request bottled water, and avoid ice unless you’re absolutely certain it’s made from bottled water as well.



03 Driving is an adventure

Chobe National Park. Central South Africa. Ostriches are the largest living birds, standing 2.4m tall and weighing around 136kg. Females are a dull grey-brown colour, whilst males are black with white wings and tail. They are only found in Africa. [1997]. Art Wolfe / Getty Images

While most city roads are well-paved, secondary roads often are not. And once you’re away from town, you might find your car surrounded by elephants, even along the highway. Also, roads can get overgrown with vegetation during the rainy season, so plan your road trips wisely.


04 Don’t pet, feed, or interact with animals

A herd of elephants drinking in the Chobe river in Botswana. Photo by Colin Watts on Unsplash

You’d be surprised at the number of tourists who end up in emergency rooms each year because they chose to interact with wild animals. Botswana is not one huge petting zoo, and the animals aren’t there to entertain tourists. Keep a safe distance and let them alone, and they’ll let you alone, too.


05 Don’t go it alone

Thunderstorm building up in late afternoon, Botswana Photo by Hans-Jurgen Mager on Unsplash

Botswana is one of the most sparsely populated countries on the planet. If you choose to stray off the beaten path, you may end up completely alone (except for our wild animal friends). Botswana is home to some pretty sinister flora and fauna, so it’s best to travel in groups and stick to designated safe areas.


06 Botswana is one of Africa’s safest countries

Men Punting Boats along River Jake Wyman / Getty Images

Botswana has lower crime levels compared to the rest of Africa, particularly in the primary tourist centers of Maum, Gaborone, and Francistown. This higher level of safety is one reason for Botswana’s popularity as a tourist destination.


07 Use common sense precautions

Tutume, Botswana Photo by Jäger on Unsplash

Petty thievery does exist in Botswana, so lock up all valuables, and lock your car and hotel doors. Also, the local airports sometimes experience baggage thefts, so don’t put valuables in your checked luggage. As in any country, the most stolen hotel items include wallets, passports, IDs, credit cards, laptops, and cellphones, so keep these either with you or securely locked up.


08 Practice good judgment when taking photos

Dried mud on the surface of the Makgadikgadi Pans with long shadows from the safari vehicle. Botswana Martin Harvey / Getty Images

With its abundance of wildlife and grassy velds, Botswana is a photographer’s dream destination. However, it’s forbidden to take photos of military installations or government buildings, so be smart when choosing where to focus your lens.


09 Take an organized safari tour

Makgadikgadi Pans, Botswana Photo by Jamal Selolwane on Unsplash

If you’re longing to go on safari but are apprehensive about safety, take advantage of Botswana's vast selection of well-organized safari tours. You’ll find a wide range of luxury safari lodges to stay in, as well as comfortable camping tents in case you prefer roughing it.


10 You can eat affordably in Botswana

african street vendor, selling onions, cabbage, tomatoes. poco_bw / Getty Images

While your trip might be expensive, groceries in Botswana can be surprisingly inexpensive. By opting for market stalls instead of restaurants, you can save quite a bit of Pula — the Botswana word for money.


11 Chobe National Park is a must-see destination

Monkeys playing at sunset Photo by David McLenachan on Unsplash

As Botswana’s best site for seeing wildlife, Chobe National Park is a glorious safari in itself. You can take river cruises and go on photo safaris, where you’ll see an amazingly diverse variety of wildlife, including Africa’s largest elephant population.


12 Plan your wardrobe ahead of time

3 rhinoceros roaming the grasses of Botswana Photo by Jessica Bateman on Unsplash

If you plan to go on safari, you’ll need to invest in specially designed safari clothing to ensure your comfort and safety. There's a wealth of websites providing safari clothing options at a wide range of styles and prices.


13 Visit an animal sanctuary

Africa, Botswana, Moremi Game Reserve, Tourists in Land Rover approach resting Lion (Panthera leo) at dusk Paul Souders / Getty Images

Don’t miss the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit one of Botswana’s many animal preserves — like the Kahama Rhino Sanctuary or the magnificent Moremi Game Reserve, home to one of Botswana’s densest and most diverse wildlife populations.


14 Tour the Okavango Delta

Luxury Lodge on the Okavango River. Buena Vista Images / Getty Images

One of Africa’s greatest safari destinations, the Okavango Delta is home to dense populations of elephants, big cats, zebras, rhinos, baboons, hyenas, and endangered African Wild Dogs. You can choose from walking, riding, or boating safaris, or even opt for balloon or helicopter adventures.


15 Patronize local artists

Maun, Botswana (Africa) - close up of a woman hands weaving a basket in the Sexaxa Village. Edwin Remsberg / Getty Images

Botswana is famous for its local handicrafts, which form the major source of income for many of its locals. You’ll find high-quality jewelry, clothing, tapestries, glassware, baskets, and pottery, all at affordable prices. When you make a purchase, you’ll not only get a memorable souvenir; you’ll also help the local economy.


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