Travellers encounter health and medical conditions different to those in their home countries, and there is always the risk of exposure to new diseases. Hence, behaviour, duration of a journey and preventative actions are factors critical to a traveller’s health.
Communicable diseases (e.g. tetanus, polio, hepatitis, typhoid fever, yellow fever, cholera, or smallpox) may be reduced by immunisation prior to travel. Diarrhoeal diseases such as cholera may be reduced simply by paying attention to food and water hygiene. Bilharzia is prevented by avoiding infected water bodies. Others like tuberculosis are only a risk to long-stay visitors who have prolonged contact with infected persons.
HIV/Aids occurs worldwide but is not transmitted through casual contact, the ingestion of food or water, by insects or by animals. Infection is through sexual intercourse with infected individuals, use of infected blood or blood products, or use of unsterilised contaminated instruments (e.g. syringes and needles) to inject materials or pierce the skin. HIV infection is prevented by avoiding such activities.
Tap water is mostly safe. As a precaution boil or sterilise drinking water (outside of main towns). Swimming in rivers, ponds or dams is dangerous as they may be infected with bilharzia. City facilities are good, rural facilities are adequate. There are clinics in large villages and hospitals in major towns. Malaria is endemic, especially summer months (October to March). Malaria suppressants and inoculations against tetanus, polio, hepatitis, and typhoid fever recommended. Yellow fever, cholera, or smallpox vaccination certificates may be required of those from infected areas.
Passports are required of all except holders of United Nations Convention travel documents. Visas are required of all except nationals of all Commonwealth countries, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Namibia, the Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Republic of Ireland, South Africa, San Marino, Sweden, Switzerland, Uruguary, USA, Western Samoa and Yugoslavia.
Visitors staying for less than three months do not require residence permits. Those staying for more than six months must have residence permits. Application prior to travel should be made to the Chief Immigration Officer, Immigration Department, Box 942, Gaborone, Botswana. Visitors are not allowed to work or seek employment.
Persons wishing to leave Botswana for a day or two (e.g. to visit neighbouring countries) must make prior arrangements with the immigration authorities as re-entry within a month may be refused.
Residents of South Africa and Botswana are exempted from duty on goods if they are travelling express from the South Africa. Goods transferred from Lesotho, Swaziland, Malawi and Zimbabwe do not require import permits. Visitors travelling from outside the RSA are each allowed 400 cigarettes, 50 cigars, 250g of tobacco, 2 litres of wine, 1 litre of spirits, and perfume not exceeding 300ml.
Dress is mostly casual and lightweight. Summer clothing best October through May. A lightweight sweater or jacket is advisable, as is a raincoat during the summer months. Hats, sunglasses, insect repellants and block cream (suntan lotion) are essential items. Spring clothing sufficient for rest of the year, with warmer clothing required during winter. Campers are advised to carry warm sleeping bags. Track suits are very useful for sleeping in. Some upclass hotels and restaurants (in Gaborone) may insist on smart casual evening wear, with ties for men. Hence, jeans (though very useful on safari), sports wear, shorts and sandals may not be acceptable. Inappropriate to wear scanty beach attire in villages away from resorts.
Photographs should not be taken in the vicinity of airports and such installations; the President’s and the Ministers’ homes; government buildings; satellite dishes; fuel storage depots; etc. If in doubt ask permission. Above all, respect local people’s right to privacy. Be courteous and seek permission before taking anybody’s picture(s). Remember to carry own camera equipment and film as supplies can be difficult to come by and tend to be expensive. For bird and game photography telephoto lens of 200-300 mm is deal. Lenses which require a tripod tend to be impractical as are double lens reflex cameras.
Bordeer Post Hours
All border posts open daily except for Kazungula to Zimbabwe which is closed on Sundays.
Kazungula (ferry) 06h00 -18h00
Zimbabwe (road) 08h00-18h00
Ngoma (bridge) 08h00-16h00
Mamuno (road) 08h00-16h00
Ramokgwebana (road) 06h00-18h00
Pont Drift (drift) 08h00-16h00>
Platjan (drift) 08h00-16h00
Saambou (bridge) 08h00-16h00
Zanzibar (drift) 08h00-16h00
Martins’ Drift (drift) 08h00-16h00
Parr’s Halt (drift) 08h00-16h00
Sikwane (bridge) 08h00-16h00
Tlokweng (road) 08h00-22h00
Ramatlabama (road) 07h00-20h00
Bray (drift) 08h00-16h00
Werda (drift) 08h00-16h00
Pioneer Gate (Lobaste) (road) 07h00-20h00
Ramotswa (drift) 08h00-16h00
New Years Day: 1st January
Public Holiday: 2nd January
Good Friday: 9th April
Public Holiday: 10th April
Easter: 12th April
Ascension Day: 29th May
President’s Day: 19th July
Public Holiday: 20th July
Botswana Day: 30th Sept.
Public Holiday: 1st October
Christmas Day: 25th Dec.
Boxing Day: 26th Dec.
Public Holiday: 27th Dec.
Currency & Banking
The unit of currency is the Pula. P1 = 100 Thebe. (Pula, meaning rain in the national, Setswana, language is the most important word in water-starved Botswana. It appears as the motto on the Coat of Arms and, broadly speaking, means welcome. Thebe is the Setswana word for raindrops.) Notes are used in denominations of P1, P2, P5, P10, P20, and P50. Coins issued in denominations of 1t, 5t, 10t, 25t, 50t and a hectagonal P1 coin. The pula is fully convertible. The currency import/export limit is P200 in cash and all other currencies up to the amount imported and declared. Pula notes can be purchased at Thomas Cook, American Express and other foreign currency outlets in South Africa.
The main commercial banks include Barclays Bank of Botswana, Standard Chartered Botswana Limited, Zimbank Botswana, First National Bank of Botswana, Union Bank Botswana Limited, ANZ Grindlays Bank Botswana Limited. The Government owned Bank of Botswana allocates generous foreign currency allowances and transfers of capital and savings out of Botswana. Banking Hours: Monday – Friday: 09h00-14h30
Wednesday: 18h00 12h00
Botswana is an enormous, generally empty land where transportation is easy only in the well-populated eastern edge.
Air Botswana flies to regional (Johannesburg, Harare, Lusaka, Nairobi, Entebbe, Maseru & Manzini) as well as domestic destinations. Comair of South Africa operates flights between Johannesburg and Gaborone, and handles all South Africa Airlines (SAA) reservations in Botswana. British Airways connects Gaborone to London Heathrow (terminal 4). UTA connects Paris to Gaborone weekly. Air Namibia connects Frankfurt and Windhoek, with a midday connection to Maun on Air Botswana. Visitors from around the world can connect via London, Paris, or Frankfurt. Convenient connections can also be made through Harare, Lusaka, Windhoek, Nairobi, Dar-es-salaam and Johannesburg, all of which are served by many international carriers. Okavango Air offers air charter services in Gaborone to various domestic destinations.
Botswana Railways offers efficient service around the country, and it boasts the only entirely air-conditioned fleet of coaches in Southern Africa.
Close to main towns on good roads buses are available between the main towns and villages. A number of minibuses operate daily between Gaborone and Mochudi, Lobatse and Kanye. Government subsidised services operate to Tshabong, Hukuntsi, Ghanzi, Sehitwa, Shakawe, and other such remote areas. Taxi services are available in Gaborone, Lobatse and Francistown. Taxis do not have meters and have to be shared with other occupants. Higher fares are charged for those wishing to travel alone. Hitchhiking is difficult, but on main routes with a higher volume of traffic it is possible to get a lift between towns. In rural areas too it is possible to get a lift despite the low traffic volume. It is common practice for the hitch hiker to contribute towards petrol costs. Car hire services are available in main towns.
Self-drive Driving licences from most countries are recognised provided they are in English (non-English licences must be accompanied by authorised English translation). Otherwise, an International Driving licence with an attached photograph of the owner is required. Traffic keeps to the left. Priority is given to all vehicles sounding a siren, by moving off the road and stopping.
Overland entry into Namibia is usually not complicated. But on entry vehicle tyres and passengers’ shoes must be passed through a solution of cattle-dip. Best Roads Namibia: The route from Windhoek to the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park via the Matamata entrance to Tweerivieren, then to Bokspits is recommended.
South Africa: The Cape, Vryburg to southwestern Botswana route with entrances at Werda (if going to Ghanzi), or via McCarthyrus for Tshabong, is recommended. The Johannesburg, Nylstroom, Beauty, Martin’s Drift to Palapye (or through Potgietersrus to Matin’s Drift) routes are recommended.
Zimbabwe: The recommended entry points are one from Plumtree entering at Ramokgwebane on the main road to Francistown, and the other from Victoria Falls entering at Kazungula.