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Flag Source: CIA World Factbook
Getting In and Around
: If you’re traveling from America or most current or former British Commonwealth countries, and if you’re planning to stay for 90 days or fewer, you do not need a visa to enter Botswana.
: Most travelers fly into Botswana’s Gaborone International Airport. The country’s local domestic carrier, Air Botswana, operates scheduled domestic flights from Gaborone
to several destinations, including Francistown
, and Kasane
. Maun’s airport is one of the busiest in South Africa, as it handles many charter flights directed toward tourists.
Make sure to have on hand a number
for a taxi service when you land. You also might be able to hail a cab at the airport, but it’s safer to call for a taxi. Check to see whether your hotel offers shuttle service by minibus to and from the airport. You can also rent a car at the airport (driving is done on the left).
Botswana Railways operates one of Africa’s only air-conditioned passenger rail services. The accommodations vary from comfortable private sleepers for overnight hauls to economy-class seats for daily commuters. All coach-class compartments come with air-conditioning, running water, and rest rooms. Food is also available for purchase, and most trains run on or close to schedule.
Most taxis carry up to five passengers at a time; if you don’t want to share, you might have to pay an additional fee. Make sure that you’re riding in a licensed vehicle: look for license-number plates with blue backgrounds.
Many larger towns have minibuses, also known as combis. They travel continually along specified routes and at some point during their circular journeys will pass through shopping centers and bus stations. Be sure to wave down a minibus that is heading in the direction you would like to take, and ask the driver to stop when you get to your destination. You can even take a minibus from Gaborone to South Africa.
If you are going to be out in the wilderness you’d do well to hire a four-wheel-drive vehicle and driver. A guide has expertise enough to navigate rugged terrain. If you would like to drive yourself around the towns and cities, be sure to have a valid international driver’s license.
We recommend taking or buying a SIM card–enabled phone. Mobile reception can be spotty outside of the major cities.
Safety and Security
Before you travel to Botswana, check to make sure that your immunizations are in order, including shots for tetanus, hepatitis A, typhoid, and the H1N1 virus. Check the Center for Disease Control
’s travel website for all recommended immunizations. The threat of malaria is high: in addition to taking anti-malarial drugs before, during, and after your trip, try to wear protective clothing and insect repellent; use mosquito netting when sleeping, and, when it’s possible, stay inside with a running air conditioner or electric fan.
The U.S. Department of State’s consular website has a great deal of information about safety and security in Botswana
. It can’t be repeated often enough: be sensible when you travel. Be alert and aware of your surroundings.
The Mo Ibrahim Foundation has created a security ratings system called the Ibrahim Index
, wherein scores are based on each country’s quality of government. Before traveling to Botswana or anywhere on the continent, check the index and do your research.