Memo to a Tourist in Botswana
Botswana, located in the southern part of the African continent, is famous for its untouched wilderness, characterized by deep lagoons, swamps, lush palm trees, rugged hills and desert plains scattered with scrub. The main tourist attraction of the country is undoubtedly the vast red territory of the Kalahari Desert and the amazingly beautiful Okavango Delta, the largest inland delta in the world. These natural wonders are a safe haven for wildlife to thrive. Other attractions in the country include the spectacular Makgadikgadi Salt Flats, where visitors can watch massive zebra migrations during the flood season; Savuti Plains, home to large prides of lions; and the Tsodilo Hills with 4500 rock paintings,
According to a2zgov, Gaborone is the capital and largest city of the country with a population of about 230 thousand people.
Citizens of Russia for a period of stay in the country up to 90 days do not need a visa.
Duty-free import is allowed (per person): no more than 2 liters of wine, 1 liter of spirits; 200 cigarettes, 20 cigars, 250 g of tobacco. A license to own a firearm is required, as well as a permit to import it. When exported, weapons are subject to mandatory customs control. Duty-free import of personal items, new or used sports equipment, as well as 50 ml of perfume, 250 ml of toilet water is allowed.
The import of drugs, poisonous and explosive substances, pornographic materials into Botswana is prohibited. The export of wild animal skins and rough diamonds from Botswana is prohibited. When exported, processed diamonds and ostrich eggs are subject to mandatory customs control (a veterinary certificate is required).
The official language in Botswana is English, although the Tswana language is widely spoken in the country. Other languages spoken in Botswana include Kalanga, Tshwa, Ndebele, Khong and, in some areas, Afrikaans.
Banks and currency
The monetary unit is the Botswana pula (P), equal to 100 thebe with the international symbol BWP. “Pula” means “rain” in the Tswana language, and “thebe” means “shield”. In circulation there are banknotes in denominations of 200, 100, 50, 20 and 10 pula and coins in denominations of 50, 25, 10 and 5 thebe and 5, 2 and 5 pula. January 2019 1 USD = approximately 10.5 BMP.
Traveler’s checks and foreign currencies can be exchanged at banks, exchange offices and authorized hotels. The US dollar, euro, British pound and South African rand are the most easily convertible currencies (and are accepted by some institutions, but usually at an overvalued exchange rate).
There are seven major commercial banks in Botswana, as well as a number of foreign exchange offices. Opening hours: Monday to Friday from 08:30 to 15:30 and Saturday from 08:30 to 10:00. Full banking services are available in major cities, although the number of ATMs is growing throughout the country. Most credit cards are accepted in hotels and restaurants. Cultural sites and craft shops usually only accept cash.
Travel and transport
Public transport in Botswana is focused on the needs of the local population and is limited to the main roads between large settlements. Although cheap and reliable, it is of no use to the traveler as most of Botswana’s tourist attractions are off the beaten track.
Driving off the main roads in Botswana is recommended only in properly equipped 4WD vehicles. Most lodges offer transfers, or they can be arranged in advance. If you drive in Botswana on your own, be sure to keep the following in mind: Your driver’s license will only be accepted with an official English translation; traffic in Botswana is carried out on the left side of the road; the national speed limit on tarmac roads is 120 km/h and in towns and villages it is 60 km/h. Be sure to watch out for wild animals on the roads!
Maun, Kasan and Gaborone all have major airports, while smaller charter flights are used to reach other famous sites and camps.
Botswana is a very safe place. There is an incredibly low crime rate, and the locals are very hospitable and deservedly love tourists for helping the country’s economy. However, general precautions are never superfluous.
Photographing or filming the President, government ministers, police or military officials, as well as police buildings, military installations and airports is prohibited.
Food and drink
Tap water is considered safe to drink, although outside of major cities and towns, visitors are advised to test and sterilize the water first if in any doubt. Bottled water is available in most tourist centers. Filtered water is available at most lodges and shops offer bottled water. It is recommended to have a good supply of bottled water if you are traveling off the beaten track. The milk is pasteurized and dairy products, local meats, poultry, seafood, fruits and vegetables are generally safe.
Safari lodges and camps serve international cuisine, usually of a very high standard, as well as local beer and imported wine and spirits. Good restaurants and bars can be found in the main cities, often in hotels. The most popular meats are beef and goat. Elsewhere the food is simpler, with sorghum and wheat porridge being the main staples.