Country Info Botswana. Sense Africa.

Country Info

Drinking Water
Drinking water will be provided at all times and other drinks will be available on the trip.

Clothing
Smart casual clothing is recommended and acceptable throughout the country.  Natural coloured clothing, such as green and beige, not only keeps you cool but also will not startle wildlife.  In the evenings the temperature may well drop, especially in the winter months (May to September), and a fleece or other warmer clothing maybe necessary. During June July and August, temperatures will drop and the nights can be chilly.  It is advisable to bring a lightweight waterproof for African downpours!  Evening dress is casual.

Languages
Tswana or Setswana is the official language of Botswana.  However English is used in schools and is widely understood.

Currency and Cash
Botswana’s unit of currency is the Pula (P), which is divided into 100 Thebe.  ‘Pula’ means ‘rain’ — a valuable commodity in this desert land.

Full banking services are available only in major towns, although ATMs are sprouting up all over the country.  Most credit cards are accepted at hotels and restaurants (VISA being the best), and cash advances are available at major banks (but not through ATMs).

Travellers cheques can only be changed in specific banks, hotels and lodges, and may take some time.  PIN cards are acceptable in cash machines if they carry the VISA logo.

Sense Africa advises clients to get Dollars out in the UK before departure to avoid hassles in Botswana.  Pula can be bought at the airport.

It is strongly recommended to travel with USD/Euro or GBP cash in small denominations, most especially when travelling into Zimbabwe, if you are going there.  You will need small denominations of USD for your visa into Zimbabwe, about USD55. Please note that credit cards are widely accepted throughout Botswana, South Africa, Namibia and Zambia, however these are not generally accepted in Zimbabwe.

American Express is generally not accepted anywhere in Southern Africa, we recommend Visa and MasterCard.

Souvenirs to Take Home
There are a number of craft markets where locally-made souvenirs such as drums, wooden boxes, animal statues and soap stone carvings can be bought.  They are excellent presents, although do be careful of the weight!  Please try not to buy wooden carvings made out of threatened species such as ebony.  If in doubt, please ask.

Photography
If visitors wish to photograph a homestead or an individual, he/she should ask permission or consult your guide.  Please be subtle and aware when taking photos.

The best way is to ask whether you could take a picture or make the motions with your camera and if you have a digital camera please make sure that you show your pictures to whoever you took them of. This will break down barriers as well as make you more accepted where you are.

Please don’t promise to send a photograph if you cannot do it. The number of times that people say they are going to send the picture and it never happens is unbelievable. This is not only unfair but sends out a negative signal. If you do want to send a photograph back make sure that you get a reasonable address and that you can read the writing – some of the town names in Swaziland are rather complicated!

The photographing of uniformed police, army personnel vehicles or aircraft is prohibited and inadvisable.

Electricity
Electric current is supplied at 220 volts AC 50Hz and British flat pin plugs can be used.  There are also sockets with three round pins in a triangle, but most are flat pin.

Mobile Phone Reception
There is absolutely no mobile signal in the National Parks or remote areas of Botswana.  You will usually only find signal in the main towns i.e. Maun, Kasane, Francistown, Nata, Gaborone etc.

WIFI
Most of the hotels in the main towns have wifi access in the main / restaurant areas. There are only a handful of the more remote lodges that currently do offer it (generally in the main areas) but more and more seem to be leaning that way for the future. Please ask if you really need access during your stay and Sense Africa can get up to date information.  Unfortunately it is rather changeable!

Charging up Phones, Cameras, ipods, etc. 
Opportunities to charge up electrical equipment can be quite limited in Botswana but part of the charm of the place is to get away from things!

Tipping
Service charges are not normally levied, but 10% is a useful guide.

Quite often, as a rule of thumb, it is $20 – 30 per day for a guide and $20 per day for the general staff in the lodge.  There is normally a group tip box which is then fairly distributed amongst all members of the staff, except the guides who are tipped individually.

Business Hours
Office and shop hours are 08h00 – 13h00 and 14h00 – 1700 Mon to Fri.
Banks are 08h30 – 14h30 Mon to Fri, some are open Sat a.m.
Post offices are 08h00 – 16h00 Mon to Fri and 08h00 – 11h00 on Sat.
This does vary though and everything closes on a Bank Holiday.

Buying Necessities
In Maun and Kasane there are chemists, supermarkets and a variety of shops to buy forgotten necessities.

Communications
Mobile phones can be used in Botswana if you have arranged for international roaming from your provider before departure.  There are a number of internet cafes in Botswana although connection times can be exceptionally slow.

Please be aware that many of the remoter camps do not have mobile reception although some may have Wifi.  Some of the northern lodges may pick up Namibian networks.

Local Time
Botswana is at GMT +2 hours.  The United Kingdom is one or two hours behind Botswana, depending on UK ‘summer time’.

Passports and Visas
All visitors require valid passports and travel documents.  European nationals do not require visas.  A one-month visa is automatically given on entry into Botswana.

Please ensure your passport is valid for at least six months before travel, you are responsible for ensuring all necessary travel documents are in order prior to travel.

Visa requirements for the countries you are visiting are your own responsibility, some may be issued at border entries however please verify this before travelling. The majority of visa costs are in USD cash at border entries.  As visa requirements for all travel destinations change from time to time, it is very important to check visa requirements prior to travelling.

Visa into Zimbabwe is around $55, please make sure that you have small denominations and the right amount in cash.

Please note that it is now a requirement for all guests travelling between Zambia and South Africa to have a yellow fever vaccination.

Holidays (apart from those that we are familiar with!)
1 May – Labour Day
1 July – Sir Seretse Khama Day
3rd Monday in July – Presidents’ Day
Tuesday after 3rd Monday in July – Presidents’ Day holiday
30 September – Botswana Day
1 October – Botswana Day holiday