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Botswana Travel Guide

Botswana

Overview

Parks & Reserves

Wildlife

Birds

Best Time To Visit

Weather & Climate

Popular Routes

Getting There

Malaria & Vaccinations

Safety

Overview – Botswana
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By Jackson

Jackson is a distinguished expert on Africa and a seasoned trip planner, specializing in safaris across Tanzania, Kenya, Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. He also manages safari operations in Rwanda, Uganda, and South Africa.

Botswana sets the standard for low-impact, upscale tourism in one of Africa’s remaining wilderness regions. The stunning Okavango Delta offers unforgettable experiences, whether on a game drive or navigating the waterways by mokoro (traditional wooden canoe). Alongside this, Chobe National Park, Moremi Game Reserve, and the Central Kalahari Game Reserve offer breathtaking landscapes and outstanding wildlife viewing opportunities.
New Project (60)
botswana Travel map
Rates (USD)
$200 to $1,100 pp/day
Best Time To Go
March to May (Dry parks), June to September (Okavango, Chobe)
High Season
July to October
Size
581,730km² / 224,610mi²
Pros & Cons
Low-Density Tourism and Ecofriendly Lodges
Superb Wildlife Watching in Northern Parks
Stunning and Varied Landscapes: Dry Deserts, Salt Pans, Savannah Grasslands, and Delta Waterways
Sparse Population and Expansive, Untouched Landscapes
Political stability and safety
Upscale Luxury Safaris with Limited Budget Alternatives
Wildlife

Botswana is home to a rich array of large African wildlife, including elephants, giraffes, hippos, buffaloes, and zebras. While big cats are less common, lions are frequently sighted. Rhinos are also gradually re-establishing their presence in the region. For those interested in spotting rarer species, endangered antelopes and African wild dogs can be found in several northern parts of the country.

Weather & Climate

In Botswana, humidity is generally not a concern, but you will experience significant temperature fluctuations between day and night. The winter months, from May to October, feature a dry climate that begins cool and becomes quite hot as the season progresses. During the coldest months, from June to August, nighttime temperatures can drop to freezing, so warm clothing is essential. Summer, spanning November to April, brings hot and wet conditions with heavy rainfall in January and February. The Kalahari region is known for the most extreme temperature variations.

Best Time To Visit

In Botswana, humidity is generally not a concern, but you will experience significant temperature fluctuations between day and night. The winter months, from May to October, feature a dry climate that begins cool and becomes quite hot as the season progresses. During the coldest months, from June to August, nighttime temperatures can drop to freezing, so warm clothing is essential. Summer, spanning November to April, brings hot and wet conditions with heavy rainfall in January and February. The Kalahari region is known for the most extreme temperature variations.

Premier Parks, Reserves & Wildlife Areas
- Canoe and classic safaris
- Classic safaris
- Boat and classic safaris
- Classic safaris, animals scarce
- Classic safaris, animals scarce
- Classic safaris
National Parks & Game Reserves – Botswana
All Parks & Reserves
Wildlife & Animals – Botswana
Asset 3

By Jackson

Jackson is a distinguished expert on Africa and a seasoned trip planner, specializing in safaris across Tanzania, Kenya, Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. He also manages safari operations in Rwanda, Uganda, and South Africa.

Botswana boasts a robust wildlife population, where most major safari animals are readily visible, though rhinos are an exception as they have only recently been reintroduced. The northern parks, with their permanent water sources, support higher concentrations of wildlife compared to the drier southern parks.

Elephant
Giraffe
Hippo
Buffalo
Zebra
Wildebeest
Black Rhino
Lion
Leopard
Cheetah
Hyena
Wild Dog
Wildlife Highlights

The Okavango Delta and Moremi Game Reserve not only shelter a significant population of big cats but also harbor one of the densest populations of the critically endangered African wild dog. Spotting these elusive dogs can be challenging as they cover vast territories, though chances improve when they are in their denning period. Additionally, the region supports unique antelopes like sitatunga, red lechwe, and puku, which thrive in semi-aquatic settings and are often seen wading through shallow waters in the Okavango Delta, Moremi, and along the riverbanks of Chobe.

Best Time for Wildlife Viewing

Typically, the best time for wildlife viewing is during the Dry season, spanning May to October. During this period, sparse vegetation and animals gathering at water sources make it easier to spot wildlife. Additionally, the Okavango Delta undergoes its annual flooding between June and October, offering a distinctive setting for observing the diverse animal life.

 

In contrast, the arider regions of the Kalahari are more favorable for wildlife sightings during the Wet season, from November to April. This season brings fresh grasses that attract northern migrating wildlife, providing excellent viewing opportunities.

Recommended Wildlife Books
Stuarts' Field Guide to Mammals of Southern Africa
Chris & Mathilde Stuart
Pocket Guide: Mammals of Southern Africa
Chris & Mathilde Stuart
The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals
Jonathan Kingdon
Wildlife Photos
botswana wildlife animals
Birds - Botswana
Asset 3

By Jackson

Jackson is a distinguished expert on Africa and a seasoned trip planner, specializing in safaris across Tanzania, Kenya, Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. He also manages safari operations in Rwanda, Uganda, and South Africa.

Botswana stands out as a premier birdwatching haven, hosting an impressive roster of over 550 recorded bird species. Although it doesn’t boast any species exclusive to its borders, many birds here have a notably limited range. The country’s varied landscapes, stretching from the verdant delta to the stark desert bush, provide perfect settings to observe both aquatic birds and desert-adapted species. Moreover, the arrival of vast flocks of migratory birds from October to April further enhances Botswana’s appeal to bird enthusiasts.

Notable Birds in Botswana

African skimmer
Common
Wattled crane
common
Slaty egret
Common
African Jacana
common
African pygmy goose
Common
Endemic & Near - endemic Birds
(NE) near-endemic = also lives in neighboring countries
Best Time for Bird Watching

In Botswana, birdwatching is consistently excellent, reaching its zenith in the Wet season from November to April. This is when migratory birds from Europe and northern Africa descend upon the region, and local bird species are often observed nesting and displaying vibrant breeding plumages. While January and February might experience heavier rainfall, typically, the season is marked by quick afternoon showers that do not significantly impact travel. For broader wildlife sightings, however, the Dry season remains the more favorable time.

 

Recommended Birding Books
Roberts Bird Guide
Hugh Chittenden, Greg Davies, Ingrid Weiersbye
Sasol Birds of Southern Africa
Ian Sinclair
Newman’s Birds of Southern Africa
Kenneth Newman and Vanessa Newman
Birds of Botswana (Princeton Field Guides)
Peter Hancock and Ingrid Weiersbye
Pocket Guide: Birds of Southern Africa
Ian Sinclair
Facts & Figures

Bird Species

550+

Migratory Birds

Oct to Apr

Best Time To Visit – Botswana
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By Jackson

Jackson is a distinguished expert on Africa and a seasoned trip planner, specializing in safaris across Tanzania, Kenya, Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. He also manages safari operations in Rwanda, Uganda, and South Africa.

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Botswana’s premier attractions include the Okavango Delta, Moremi Game Reserve, and Chobe National Park. Visiting these parks is ideal from May to September, during the cooler and drier winter months. Notably, the Okavango Delta undergoes its annual flood from June to October, adding to the unique experience. Wildlife can be observed throughout the year, although peak viewing times may vary between parks. For detailed recommendations on the best times to visit each park, see the information provided below.

Best Time
June to September (Okavango, Moremi, Chobe), March to May (Other, drier parks)
High Season
July to October (Will not feel too crowded, except for Chobe)
Low Season
December to April (Some lodges and camps close down)
Best Weather
April and May (Moderate temperatures, little to no rainfall, and few clouds)
Worst Weather
October and November (Very hot), January and February (Peak of Wet season)
May to October – Dry Season – Winter
With less vegetation, animals gather around water sources, making them more visible
The weather features clear skies and minimal rainfall, with a reduced presence of mosquitoes
Although the Dry season attracts the most tourists, the parks generally remain uncrowded, with the exception of the busy Chobe riverfront area
In June, July, and August, early morning and evening game drives can be chilly
November to April Wet Season – Summer
During this season, the landscape is lusher and rates are generally lower
While the Dry season may offer better visibility for wildlife, you'll still encounter plenty of animals throughout the year.
The area is bustling with newborn animals and visiting migratory birds
Outside of January and February, rain rarely disrupts travel plans
During January and February, the rains can be continuous for days
October and November experience intense heat
During portions of the Wet season, certain lodges and camps may shut down
Wildlife Photos
botswana wildlife animals
​Weather & Climate – Botswana
Asset 3

By Jackson

Jackson is a distinguished expert on Africa and a seasoned trip planner, specializing in safaris across Tanzania, Kenya, Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. He also manages safari operations in Rwanda, Uganda, and South Africa.

Botswana boasts a subtropical desert climate, characterized by striking temperature swings from day to night and overall low humidity. For six months of the year, the landscape remains parched, receiving little to no rainfall. The rainy season spans from December to March, bringing much-needed moisture. Contrary to the seasonal patterns of Europe and North America, Botswana’s winter and summer are reversed, aligning respectively with the Dry and Wet seasons.

Maun's Climate Compared to Botswana's Parks

Botswana’s northern parks generally share Maun’s climate, but the Okavango enjoys slightly cooler temperatures, thanks to its plentiful water sources. On the other hand, the parks in the Kalahari’s dry environment face harsher conditions, with hotter days and nights that can dip to freezing temperatures. Areas to the south and west of the country tend to experience marginally less precipitation.

Wet Season – May to October – Winter

Throughout the winter, rainfall is nearly absent and humidity remains low, typically between 20% and 40%. Animals often congregate around waterholes and rivers as alternative water sources become scarce.

 

In May, the climate is comfortably cool with morning temperatures at 10°C (50°F) and afternoon highs reaching 28°C (82°F).

 

During June, July, and August, chilly mornings necessitate warm clothing for game drives, with temperatures averaging 6°C (43°F). In the Kalahari, nighttime temperatures can dip below freezing. However, the afternoons are much warmer, averaging around 25°C (77°F).

 

As September and October roll in, the heat intensifies. By October, temperatures can soar to 38°C (100°F), though the afternoons typically average a slightly cooler 34°C (93°F).

botswana highseasons
Wet Season – November to April – Summer

November & December – Cloud cover increases, ushering in cooler air and occasional showers in the late afternoons. This cooling pattern extends into December, where mornings typically start at 20°C (68°F) and afternoons reach up to 33°C (91°F).

 

January & February – Recognized as the rainiest months, these periods see frequent heavy showers in the afternoons, and sometimes continuous rain for days on end. The daytime temperatures stay around 32°C (90°F), with humidity levels fluctuating between 50% and 80%.

 

March & April – The rainfall diminishes and temperatures begin to drop gradually. April is characterized by delightful, clear skies and sparse clouds, with cooler nights and very comfortable daytime temperatures around 30°C (86°F).

botswana travel guide (12)
Popular Routes – Botswana
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By Jackson

Jackson is a distinguished expert on Africa and a seasoned trip planner, specializing in safaris across Tanzania, Kenya, Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. He also manages safari operations in Rwanda, Uganda, and South Africa.

botswana Travel map
Northern Botswana (1 to 2.5 weeks)

Following a layover in Johannesburg, you will land at Maun Airport, the gateway to northern Botswana and the Okavango Delta.

 

Itinerary Highlights:

Okavango Delta (2 to 5 days): Experience wildlife through game drives or from the unique perspective of a mokoro (dugout canoe).

Moremi Game Reserve (2 to 5 days): Explore this Big Five hotspot for thrilling game drives.

Chobe National Park (2 to 4 days): Enjoy spectacular views from a riverboat as herds of elephants gather at the water’s edge, offering excellent photography opportunities.

Victoria Falls (1 to 3 days): A breathtaking sight, easily accessible with a quick journey across the border into Zimbabwe or Zambia.

 

Suggested Extensions:

Central Kalahari Game Reserve (2 to 4 days): Embark on a desert safari in Deception Valley, where surprising wildlife sightings await.

Makgadikgadi Pans and Nxai Pan National Parks (2 to 4 days): Observe the annual migration of wildebeest and zebra in these remarkable landscapes.

 

 

Chobe Riverfront & Tuli Block (1 to 1.5 weeks)

After a layover in Johannesburg, you will land at Kasane Airport, located near Chobe National Park.

 

Itinerary Highlights:

Chobe National Park (2 to 4 days): Explore the park by 4WD on land or by boat on the river.

Victoria Falls (1 to 3 days): Just a short drive from Chobe, visit this magnificent waterfall from either Zambia or Zimbabwe.

Zambezi National Park (0.5 to 1 day): A prime spot to view elephants, buffaloes, and various antelope species.

Northern Tuli Game Reserve (2 to 4 days): Witness herds of elephants digging for water in the dry riverbeds.

 

Suggested Extensions:

Kwando, Selinda, and/or Linyanti Concessions (2 to 4 days): Experience exclusive wildlife sightings in the Linyanti Marshes.

​Getting There – Botswana
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By Jackson

Jackson is a distinguished expert on Africa and a seasoned trip planner, specializing in safaris across Tanzania, Kenya, Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. He also manages safari operations in Rwanda, Uganda, and South Africa.

A stopover in South Africa is generally part of the itinerary for your journey to Botswana. you usually board direct flights from O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg or Cape Town International Airport (CPT).

Botswana’s main gateway is Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (GBE), conveniently located 11km/7 miles north of the capital, Gaborone.

 

However, Maun Airport (MUB) and Kasane Airport (BBK) see more frequent arrivals for travelers. It’s typical for those combining a Botswana safari with a trip to Victoria Falls to fly into Maun and then depart from either Victoria Falls Airport (VFA) in Zimbabwe or Harry Mwanga Nkumbula International Airport (LVI; previously known as Livingstone Airport) in Zambia.

 

Upon your arrival, Bush 2 City Adventure will be ready to pick you up from the airport and manage all your transportation needs throughout your journey.

Main Park Map
botswana Travel map
Flights & Airlines to Botswana

This is a suggestion: Use Skyscanner to check which airlines offer flights to Botswana and to compare their fares. Alternatively, you can book directly through the airline’s website. It’s crucial to speak with a travel specialist from Bush 2 City before finalizing your flight booking to ensure it perfectly matches your itinerary.

Domestic Airlines & Flights in Botswana

Most domestic flights within Botswana are operated by Air Botswana. At Bush 2 City Adventure, we typically arrange for small charter flights to facilitate travel between parks or to access remote locations, like the camps in the Okavango Delta.

Passport, Visa & Other Entry Requirements
Entry requirements may vary, so it’s important to contact your local Botswana embassy or high commission to confirm that the information provided below is up to date.
All foreign visitors must have a passport that is valid for at least six months.
Citizens of most nationalities can enter without a visa and will receive a 30-day entry permit upon arrival.
All foreign visitors are required to possess a return ticket.
Children under 18 years old must have a certified copy of their full, unabridged birth certificate and a valid passport to enter Botswana. If a child is traveling with only one parent or without parents, they must also carry an affidavit from the absent parent(s) giving consent for the child's travel.
For further information, including any vaccination entry requirements, please visit the website of your local Botswana embassy or high commission, or check the government travel advisories provided below:
Malaria & Vaccinations – Botswana
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By Jackson

Jackson is a distinguished expert on Africa and a seasoned trip planner, specializing in safaris across Tanzania, Kenya, Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. He also manages safari operations in Rwanda, Uganda, and South Africa.

The information provided on this page serves as a basic guide and should not substitute for a consultation with your travel doctor. For comprehensive and current health information for travelers to Botswana, please consult the government organizations and travel clinics listed below, as they are reliable sources.

Vaccinations

Vaccinations are recommended. For more detailed immunization advice, please refer to the websites listed below. Additionally, consult the FAQ section for more comprehensive guidelines.

Malaria Risk

There is a high risk of transmission in central and northern Botswana, and a low risk in the rest of the country. The peak transmission period is during the rainy season, from November to June. For more detailed advice, please refer to the websites listed below.

More Info
Safety & Security – Botswana
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By Jackson

Jackson is a distinguished expert on Africa and a seasoned trip planner, specializing in safaris across Tanzania, Kenya, Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. He also manages safari operations in Rwanda, Uganda, and South Africa.

We consider Botswana to be a very safe and politically stable country. Safety issues are exceedingly rare for travelers on our organized trips who stay in lodges and camps. Like anywhere in the world, most crime occurs in urban areas, and taking basic safety precautions, such as securing your valuables at your accommodation, is advisable.

 

Here are some tips on how to stay safe while in Botswana.

Staying Safe on Wildlife Viewing Activities

To ensure safety on safari, always adhere to your safari guide’s instructions. If you’re on a self-drive safari, make sure to familiarize yourself with the park and reserve rules, avoid approaching animals too closely, and never leave your car except in designated safe areas. For more tips, see below:

Staying Safe in Cities & Towns

While crime in Botswana is uncommon, incidents of petty theft and pickpocketing do occur in urban areas. You are largely protected from risks during guided activities. To avoid issues when exploring the city on your own, adhere to basic safety measures: consult your hotel for advice before going out, carry only the cash you need, and avoid wearing valuable items. Always take a taxi after dark. For additional safety tips relevant to African cities in general, see below:

Other Tips on Staying Safe

Please review the information on the pages below about malaria and vaccination requirements for Botswana, as well as general travel safety precautions.

Safari Tours to Botswana

$5127 to

$11424 pp (USD)

Kenya:

Private tour,

Luxury,

You Visit: Nairobi, Lake Naivasha, three days Masai Mara, three days Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater & two days Amboseli.

$2840 to

$6527 pp (USD)

Tanzania:

Private tour,

Luxury,

You Visit: Arusha (Day 1), Tarangire NP, Lake Manyara NP, Two days Serengeti NP & Ngorongoro Crater: 24/7 Service – All Accommodations & Round trip airport transfer

$15729 to

$8976 pp (USD)

Kenya:

Private tour,

Luxury,

You Visit: Lake Manyara National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti National Park, Amboseli National Park, Ol Pejeta Conservancy & Masai Mara Game Reserve

Things to know before traveling to the destination

What currency does Botswana use?

Botswana’s official currency is the Pula. However, USD, Euros, UK Pounds, and South African Rands are also widely accepted. Most hotels accept major international credit cards, and ATMs are readily available across the country, offering local currency withdrawals.

 

What time zone is Botswana in?

Botswana operates in the Central Africa Time Zone (CAT), which is GMT+2, the same as the rest of Southern Africa.

 

Can I use my credit cards in Botswana?

Credit cards such as MasterCard and Visa are generally accepted throughout Botswana, including at Wilderness camps. American Express is sometimes accepted, though Diners Club is not. Please note that debit cards cannot be used as payment in our camps and lodges.

 

What type of power sockets are used in Botswana?

Our accommodations are equipped with 220V multi-plug adaptor points suitable for charging batteries and mobile devices, including sleep apnoea machines. We also provide universal charging stations at our safari camps. It’s a good idea to bring an extra adaptor for use at other hotels or locations you might visit.

 

What should I pack for a trip to Botswana?

Due to aircraft size limitations, only soft bags weighing up to 20 kg (44 lbs) are allowed. We recommend packing light—around 3 or 4 days’ worth of clothes—as our camps provide complimentary laundry services. Opt for clothes in neutral shades like khaki, brown, or grey, as white and bright colors are conspicuous in the wild. Dark blues and blacks attract flies. Depending on the season, pack warmer clothing for cool evenings and early morning game drives.

 

Where is Botswana located?

Botswana is a landlocked country in Southern Africa, bordered by South Africa to the south and east, Namibia to the west, and Zimbabwe to the northeast.

 

What is Botswana famous for?

Botswana is renowned for hosting the world’s largest population of African elephants. It is also famous for the stunning Okavango Delta, the expansive Kalahari Desert, and the wildlife-rich Linyanti region. The country offers unique experiences by vehicle, air, and on foot, along with its warm, hospitable people, making it an extraordinary destination.

 

What languages are spoken in Botswana?

Setswana is the primary local language in Botswana. English is also widely spoken, especially in all Wilderness camps.

Do I need a visa to travel to Botswana?

Botswana allows visa-free entry to citizens of all countries for stays of up to 90 days. Ensure that your passport is valid for at least six months beyond the date you plan to depart from Botswana.

Do I need a yellow fever vaccination to travel to Botswana?

If you are coming from a region where yellow fever is prevalent, you must present a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate. It’s also advisable to be vaccinated against tetanus, polio, diphtheria (TPD), and hepatitis A.

 

Do I need to take malaria tablets when visiting Botswana?

The need for malaria prophylaxis in Botswana depends on your specific travel itinerary. It’s important to consult with your general practitioner or a travel health consultant prior to your departure to determine if you need malaria medication.

Photo Gallery of Botswana