Botswana informatie voor reizen
Botswana is a land-locked country dominated in geographical terms by the Kalahari Desert – a sand-filled basin averaging 1,100 metres above sea level. Botswana is bordered by Zambia and Zimbabwe to the northeast, Namibia to the north and west, and South Africa to the south and southeast.
The Chobe River runs along part of its northern boundary; the Nossob River at its southwestern boundary; the Molopo River at its southern boundary; and the Marico, Limpopo and Shashe Rivers at its eastern boundaries. With the exceptions of the Okavango and Chobe areas in the north, the country has little permanent surface water.
The distance between the extreme north and the extreme south of Botswana is about 1,110 kilometres. It is 960 kilometres across at its widest. The area of Botswana is approximately 581,730 square kilometres and is about the size of France or Kenya.
The Kalahari Desert stretches west of the eastern hardveld, covering 84% of the country. The Kalahari extends far beyond Botswana’s western borders, covering substantial parts of South Africa, Namibia and Angola.
In the north-west, the Okavango River flows in from the highlands of Angola and soaks into the sands, forming the 15,000 sq. km network of water channels, lagoons, swamps and islands. The Okavango is the largest inland delta system in the world a bit smaller than Israel or half of Switzerland.
Although Botswana has no mountain ranges to speak of, the almost uniformly flat landscape is punctuated occasionally by low hills, especially along the southeastern boundary and in the far northwest. Botswana’s highest point is 1,491m Otse Mountain near Lobatse, but the three major peaks of the Tsodilo Hills, in the country’s northwestern corner, are more dramatic.
Botswana’s climate is semi-arid. Though it is hot and dry for much of the year, there is a rainy season, which runs through the summer months. Rainfall tends to be erratic, unpredictable and highly regional. Often a heavy downpour may occur in one area while 10 or 15 kilometres away there is no rain at all. Showers are often followed by strong sunshine so that a good deal of the rainfall does not penetrate the ground but is lost to evaporation and transpiration.
‘Pula’, one of the most frequently heard words in Botswana, is not only the name of Botswana’s currency, but also the Setswana word for rain. So much of what takes place in Botswana relies on this essential, frequently scarce commodity.
The summer season begins in November and ends in March. It usually brings very high temperatures. However, summer is also the rainy season, and cloud coverage and rain can cool things down considerably, although only usually for a short period of time.
The winter season begins in May and ends in August. This is also the dry season when virtually no rainfall occurs. Winter days are invariably sunny and cool to warm; however, evening and night temperatures can drop below freezing point in some areas, especially in the southwest.
The in-between periods – April/early May and September/October – still tend to be dry, but the days are cooler than in summer and the nights are warmer than in winter.
Summer days are hot, especially in the weeks that precede the coming of the cooling rains, and shade temperatures rise to the 38°C mark and higher, reaching a blistering 44°C on rare occasions. Winters are clear-skied and bone-dry, the air seductively warm during the daylight hours but, because there is no cloud cover, cold at night and in the early mornings. Sometimes bitterly so – frost is common and small quantities of water can freeze.
Botswana’s unit of currency is the Pula (P), which is divided into 100 Thebe (t). The word ‘Pula’ means rain and ‘thebe’ means shield. The shield appears on the national coat of arms. Bank notes come in denominations of P10, 20, 50 and 100, and coins in denominations of 5t, 10t, 25t, 50t, P1, P2 and P5.
Major credit cards, including Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Diners Club, are accepted widely. Most hotels and lodges accept foreign currency or travellers’ cheques.
There are also Exchange bureaus at major border posts. Credit card cash advances are available in major cities through Barclays Bank or Standard Chartered Bank. Cash transfers are easiest through Western Union money transfer. Please note that credit card cash is also available at First National Bank.
Botswana abolished exchange controls in February 1999. Foreign exchange transactions forms must be completed, as the Bank of Botswana requires a record of the amount of currency in circulation.
While cash of any amount is no longer restricted, any person entering or leaving Botswana is required to declare Pula and/or foreign currency bank notes in their possession if the amount is equal to or exceeds an equivalent of P10,000.00 (ten thousand Pula). A family unit must declare any amount carried by each member if the aggregate in the possession of the family is P10,000.00 or more.
Travellers’ cheques and any other monetary instruments need not to be declared.
There are 5 commercial banks in the country, with brahcnes in major towns and many main villages: Barclays Bank of Botswana, Standard Chartered Bank, First National Bank, Stanbic Bank Botswana and Bank of Baroda.
Automatic Teller Machines (ATM) are located throughout the country at most shopping malls and major hotels.
Botswana Heath system consists of different kinds of health facilities. These are referral Hospitals District Hospitals, primary hospitals, Clinics, health posts, and mobile clinics.
There is also a private hospital in Gaborone, as well as many private medical practitioners. Private medical rescue services are also available.
Compared to the rest of Africa, Botswana is not a risky place to visit from a health perspective. In spite of this, there are certain precautions visitors should take even though there are no legal requirements for taking these precautions. Botswana requires no inoculations except for visitors from yellow fever zones.
Botswana remains a relatively safe place to visit, however there are a few incidents of crime. It is advisable to take basic precautions: always lock car doors; always lock your hotel room or house; do not leave valuables in your hotel room or car; and take care with your bags in crowded places, particularly the malls and nightclubs.
Important telephone numbers
Med Rescue 911
There has been a dramatic increase in the incidence of malaria throughout Africa, and Botswana has endemic malarial areas particularly in northern Botswana during the warmer months from November to June. It’s a good idea to consult a doctor at least two weeks prior to entering Botswana and to take every precaution advised. The most important thing to do is to take anti-malaria drugs two weeks prior the visit.
Other precautions should therefore be taken in all malarial areas:
• Apply insect repellent to exposed skin
• Wear light cotton clothing, long sleeves, long trousers and closed shoes after sunset
• Clothes should be treated with an appropriate insecticide
• Take precautions when going outside between dawn and dusk
• Use mosquito nets treated with insecticide, or use mosquito coils or mats
• During the rainy season, the risk of malaria is higher
Malaria symptoms can appear up to six months after leaving a malaria region. As soon as the following symptoms appear consult a medical practitioner:
• Abdominal pain
• Loss of appetite
• Slight jaundice
Ticks can be found in the bush all over Botswana. The best precautionary measures are to keep your body well covered when walking in the bush and to use an insect repellent. Nevertheless, there is the risk of being bitten, so check your body carefully afterwards. If a tick has burrowed into the skin, it will appear as a small black dot (a common area is around the ankles and lower legs) and may go septic.
Common symptoms of tick-bite fever are headache, fever, tenderness in the glands, general body ache and neck stiffness. If you seek medical help early enough, tetracycline treatment can modify the course of the illness.
Sun and heat-related problems
Newcomers to Botswana may experience salt depletion and heat exhaustion, particularly in the summer season. Symptoms include weariness, weakness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and muscle cramps.
Preventive measures include taking salt tablets, drinking plenty of water and fruit juices (drink at least three litres of liquid daily), avoiding prolonged direct exposure to the sun, and avoiding excessive amounts of alcohol as this causes dehydration. Use sunscreen liberally when in the sun and always carry sunglasses and a sunhat.
Snakes are not usually aggressive. Sensing ground vibrations, they will usually retreat before they are seen.
One good precautionary measure is to wear shoes or boots, which protect your feet well. Wear socks and long trousers if walking through undergrowth. If you see a snake, make a slow retreat, moving steadily and slowly backwards. The exception to this is the spitting cobra. In the unlikely event that you come across a spitting cobra it is advisable that you remain completely still. The snake is very shortsighted and will spit at the first thing that glints, very possibly your eye. If you remain still the snake will probably move away.
In the case of a snake-bite, take the following steps:
• Identify the snake and establish whether it is venomous or not. You will need to know what kind of snake it is to know what venom it has; using the wrong kind of anti-venom serum can kill the victim
• If possible kill the snake. Identification of the snake is important.
• Immobilize the limb immediately – wrap a crepe bandage and put on a splint
• Do NOT apply a tourniquet or attempt to suck the bite
• Treat the victim for shock; disinfect the area of the bite
• Get the victim to a clinic or hospital immediately; if the snake has been positively identified, the doctor or nurse will assist in procuring anti-venom serum
Visitors should be aware that the incidence of HIV and AIDS is high throughout southern Africa, and Botswana is no exception.
Bilharzia is an ever-present threat in many African streams and rivers. To avoid contracting Bilharzia one should stay out of the water. The disease is easily cured and cannot be caught by drinking untreated water.
Tap water is safe to drink in Botswana’s urban areas.
Culture and History
The history of Botswana is characterised by migrations of peoples into the country from the north and west and particularly from the east and south, as well as internal movements of groups of people. The group which eventually emerged as most numerous, and dominant, were the Batswana. Their pattern of dividing and migrating saw the formation of numerous Tswana tribes, and their eventual occupation of all areas of the country.
The term “Batswana” refers to the ethnic group of people who speak the Setswana language and share the Sotho-Tswana culture, while in its common contemporary usage, it refers to all citizens of the Republic of Botswana, regardless of their ethnic background. The singular is “Motswana”: a citizen of the country. “Tswana” is used as an adjective – for example “Tswana state” or “Tswana culture”.
Setswana is the national language with minor differences in dialects. However, English is the official business language and it is widely spoken in urban areas with most written communication being in this language. However, knowing and using a bit of Setswana always helps and Batswana will be pleased that you have made the effort.
Here are some of the basic phrases in Setswana:
English / Setswana
Yes/Ee (Ee, mma – answering a woman, ee rra – answering a man)
No /Nnyaa, mma/rra
Hello /(to a woman) Dumela, mma (Dumelang, bo mma – plural)
Hello /(to a man) Dumela, rra (Dumelang, bo rra – plural)
How are you? /Le kae? O tsogile jang?
Good bye – it is OK /Go siame
Go well /Tsamaya sentle
Stay well /Sala sentle
Thank you / Ke itumetse
I do not know / Ga ke itse (“g” is pronounced as “r” in French)
Do you speak Setswana? /A o bua Setswana?
I speak Setswana just a little/ Ke bua Setswana go le gonnye fela
I don’t speak Setswana /Ga ke bue Setswana
No problem /Ga gona mathata
I am fine /Ke tsogile sentle. Ke teng.
Come in /Tsena (Tsenang – plural)
Come here /Tla kwano
How much is this? /Ke bo kae?
I don’t have any money /Ga ke na madi
What would you like? /O batla eng? or O rata eng?
I want some water /Ke batla metsi
It is necessary for you to comply with Customs requirements on arrival and departure from Botswana and the purpose of these notes is to enable you to do so with as little delay as possible. Please note that these notes are not exhaustive and may change routinely. Persons requiring additional information are advised to write to the Commissioner of Customs and Excise, Private Bag 0041, Gaborone, Botswana.
Passing Through Customs
All persons arriving in Botswana are required to unreservedly declare all goods in their possession to a Customs official on duty on a baggage declaration document called, Form J.
Customs has a duty to protect Botswana from illicit goods. To do this, checks may be made on travellers and their baggage. If you are stopped and your baggage checked, please co-operate, as we do not assume that you have done anything wrong. We pledge to treat you courteously and professionally.
When making baggage declarations, whether verbal or written, you must ensure that you declare all goods in your possession as well as their correct values. Failure to declare goods and their correct values can lead to seizure of your goods and can result in criminal prosecution or the imposition of severe penalties of up to three times the value of the goods.
What You Must Declare
• All goods acquired outside Botswana in your possession, including items you received as gifts, such as wedding or birthday presents.
• Repairs or alterations to any items or vehicle you took abroad and then bring back, even if the repairs/alterations were performed free of charge.
• Items you bought in any duty-free shop including such items bought duty-free on aircraft or ship.
• Items you are bringing home for someone else.
• Items you intend to sell or use in your business.
To Avoid Delays With Baggage Declarations
• Please produce all receipts and sales slips for goods purchased outside Botswana.
• If you are unsure of the goods and values, which you should declare, ask for assistance from the customs officer.
Customs duties are not charged on the following goods imported as accompanied or un-accompanied passengers’ baggage:
• Personal effects, sporting and recreational effects, new or used –
o imported by non-residents of Botswana for their own use;
o imported by persons making a bona-fide change of residence to Botswana.
o Exported by residents of Botswana for their own use whilst abroad and subsequently re-imported by such residents. The goods must be identifiable as those exported from Botswana.
• The following articles and consumables (excluding any goods the importation of which is prohibited), declared at the place where the traveller enters Botswana and not imported on behalf of other persons or by way of trade, may be admitted free of duty and, where applicable, Value Add Tax (VAT).
o Wines – 2 litres
o Spirituous and other alcoholic beverages – 1 litre
o Cigarettes – 200
o Cigars – 20
o Cigarette or pipe tobacco – 250 gms
o Perfume – 50 ml
o Toilet water – 250 ml
o Other new or used goods of a total
? Value not exceeding (from outside SACU) – 3000 UA*
o Other new or used goods of a total
? Value not exceeding (from SACU) – 500 UA*
*UA is equivalent to One South African Rand.
Additional goods imported from outside SACU, new or used of a total value not exceeding 12 000 UA* per person, excluding the consumable items detailed above, are admissible at a flat rate of 20%, if the owner so elects.
• Duty will be payable at the applicable rates where travellers import goods exceeding the above allowances. Travellers importing goods for business or commercial purpose will not qualify for the above allowances.
• The concession for new and used goods specified above do not apply to such goods imported by residents of Botswana returning after an absence of less than 48 hours;
• With the exception of those relating to tobacco and alcoholic products, the concessions may be claimed by children under the age of 18 years, whether or not their parents or guardians accompany them, provided the goods are for use by the children themselves.
Prohibited And Restricted Goods
Certain goods are prohibited or restricted to protect public health, domestic plant and animal life or the environment. We have been entrusted with enforcing laws for other government agencies relating to the prohibition and restriction of such goods. It is not possible to list all prohibited and restricted goods. If you are in any doubt whether the importation of other goods is prohibited or restricted, please contact your nearest customs office in Botswana before travelling outside the country.
Although there is no restriction on cross-border movement of bank notes in Botswana, there is a need to monitor the movement of money into and out of Botswana for purposes of, among other things, collecting national statistics, monitoring capital flows and balance of payments, and enforcement of anti-money laundering measures.
When you are entering or leaving Botswana you are required to declare Pula and/or foreign currency bank notes in your possession the amount of which equals to or exceeds an equivalent of Ten Thousand Pula (P 10 000). You need not declare Travellers cheques and other monetary instruments.
You are advised that under the Customs and Excise Duty Act the definition of goods includes currency, and a person who fail to declare currency as required is liable to prosecution.
Foreigners from Commonwealth countries are not required to obtain visa for entering Botswana, except in cases where the Minister of Labour and Home Affairs has directed otherwise. Botswana has also signed visa abolition agreements with a number of countries, and their nationals are not required to obtain entry visa.
Requirements for visa application:
• Completed immigration supplementary Form D by the applicant (Visa form).
• Letter of support from the host.
• Two passport size photos (identical).
• Fee of P25.00 (around USD 4.00)
• Return visa or residence permit from his/her country of residence.
• Return air ticket.
• Confirmation letter from the country if the person is coming for business purposes.
Best Time to Visit
For tourists, the best visiting months are from April through to October – in terms of both weather and game viewing. It is during this period that the wildlife of the great spaces gather around what water there is – the natural waterholes and the borehole-fed dams – and are at their most visible.
November and December – the calving months – are an excellent time to witness nature’s own timetable of regeneration. The rainy season, from January to March, sees the migration of large numbers of game into the summer grazing areas, while the delta comes alive with sounds of hundreds of bird species.
In March and April thousands of zebras and other animals migrate towards the Savuti area of Chobe National Park.
Summers (particularly from December through to February) can become exceptionally hot, and rain may make some roads muddy and impassable.
During the rainy summer season, animals in many game areas disperse, while in the dry winter season they congregate around water sources, making for good game viewing. This does not mean, however, that game viewing is impossible during the summer season.
Behavior in the bush
If you are camping on safari for the first time you may feel frightened or threatened by the possibility of elephants, lion, hyaena or other animals roaming freely around the campsite. This does take some getting used to, and your first reaction may be to flee. It is essential to behave properly near wild animals, to respect the environment and avoid potentially dangerous situations.
It would be wise to discuss the best reactions to animals, which may become aggressive with a guide or animal expert. Different behaviour is recommended for different animals, and it is important to get it right. However, in the unlikely event of an animal becoming aggressive towards you, do not panic, but stay calm and keep quiet. Remember the following rules:
• Always sleep in your tent or vehicle. Make sure your tent zips up well
• Do not sleep with legs or arms protruding from the tent
• Carry away or burn all rubbish. Many areas do not have rubbish disposal facilities
• Cigarette butts should be well extinguished and placed in a rubbish bag, not thrown out
• Make sure the campfire is well extinguished at the end of the evening, and cover it with sand
• Bury all fecal matter and burn all toilet paper
• In most parks and reserves you should camp in designated camping areas where basic amenities are provided. Outside the parks, reserves and wildlife management areas, you are free to camp anywhere you like
• Do not sleep on bridges or animal paths, particularly those of elephant or hippo
• Do not bathe in or drink from still bodies of water: there is the danger of bilharzia
• In the Okavango, it is tempting to dive into a lagoon or stream, especially after a hot, dusty drive (though new regulations forbid this). There is of course the danger of crocodiles or hippo. Do not go near the water at night. If you want to wash or refresh yourself it is best to go to the water with another person. Have him or her stand near you and be on the look out while you wash. Watch out for eyes or nostrils protruding from the water
• Be wary of animals with young. Never feed the animals or try to touch them. The feeding of monkeys, baboons and mongoose at certain campsites has brought about absolutely atrocious and at times aggressive, harassing behaviour
• In the Okavango and Chobe, where animal density is high, do not stray far from the campsite or walk in the bush
All necessary food for your camping trip can be acquired from major towns and villages. Make sure that you bring more than you think you will use. Fresh produce or meat will last three to four days in a good-quality cold-box in summer, and a week or more in winter. Tinned food is most practical, supplemented with fresh vegetables and fruits. Use plastic rather than glass containers.
If you have time, prepare two to four one-pot meals before departing. You will be grateful for having only to heat and serve a meal after long hours of driving.
If however you are traveling to Kutse Game Reserve, Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Makgadikgadi Pans or other dry remote areas, carry at least 100 litres. In the Tuli, Okavango and Chobe areas, water is readily available. However, it is best to carry between 50 and 100 litres of drinking water with you. Remember to keep some water at hand in the car to avoid having to get out while on game drives.
In the eastern part of the country and along the main roads, petrol is always available. However, in the remote areas, petrol stations sometimes run out of supplies, and there are no petrol stations in or at the entrance to the parks and reserves.
It is worthwhile taking the following precautions: estimate distances to be traveled, add on extra for four-wheel drive usage and extra for driving in the sand; add on extra again for game drives, and the possibility of getting lost – over-estimate, rather than under-estimate.
Carry at least 100 to 150 litres of petrol in long-range tanks, if you have them, or in jerry cans (never use plastic containers). If you do not have a long-range tank, use a funnel or hand-pump to put petrol into the tank. Mouth siphoning petrol through a hosepipe can be highly dangerous.
Transport in Botswana
The national carrier, Air Botswana, operates scheduled domestic flights from Gaborone to several destinations, including Francistown, Maun, Kasane, while numerous other carriers operate services to the capital and private operators maintain links to a variety of tourist destinations. The air charter industry is well developed in Botswana, offering flights to the national airport network as well as private destinations. Maun Airport, which serves a huge tourist market, is one of the busiest in southern Africa.
All Botswana’s population centres are connected by highways and very good tarmac roads. Other areas are being developed and road-tarring projects are moving ahead at a record pace. Off main routes, the roads range from good, high-speed gravel to deep, rutted sand.
As in most other southern African countries, driving is on the left side of the road. The national speed limit on tarred roads is 120km/h, while through towns and villages the speed limit is 60km/h, even in the absence of a sign. Seat belt use is compulsory, as is proof of no-fault insurance.
All vehicles licensed to carry passengers can be easily identified by their number plates, which have blue backgrounds. Taxis carry up to 5 passengers at a time. If however you would prefer not to share a taxi with other passengers, at an additional fee, this can be arranged with the taxi driver.
Should you require a taxi to pick you up from a specific location a number of privately owned taxi companies are available. Their contact telephone numbers can be found in the telephone directory.