Frequently asked questions about botswana
You've got questions about travelling Botswana? We've got the answers. Let's start with these 10 frequently asked questions about Botswana.
Of course! Take a look at our family safari in Botswana: A Family Affair.
Botswana, Zambia & Zimbabwe offer wonderful safari experiences for families. In the bush camps and lodges the general minimum age for children is 12 years but many camps allow for children between 6 – 12 years with applicable conditions. Some camps accept younger children and most hotels accept children of all ages.
It is important to note that even if a lodge accepts children, certain activities (particularly guided walks and mokoro excursions) may be restricted and will be at the discretion of their guide. Conditions such as private vehicles and limited activities may apply depending on the camp or lodge. Some properties will require that children under the age of 18 years share with an adult.
More and more lodges are building family rooms but these are typically limited to one unit per property and early booking is essential. There might be discounts for children but these do not always apply depending on the lodge and the time of year.
As a general rule, accommodations in Chobe (Botswana), Victoria Falls (both Zambian & Zimbabwean side) and Mozambique are more flexible regarding minimum ages of children.
If you are travelling with children through South African or Botswana Borders, please be aware that you will be required to have certified copies of their unabridged birth certificates, and passports on hand.
Please make sure you have the following documents prior to travel for children under 18 years of age:
Travelling with both parents:
• Parents must produce a certified unabridged birth certificate and a valid passport.
Travelling with one parent:
• Parents must produce a certified unabridged birth certificate, a valid passport and a court order/ death certificate/ affidavit confirming the absent parent has given permission for the child to travel. Certified copy of ID/ Passport of absent parent.
Travelling with someone other than a parent:
• Guardian must produce a certified unabridged birth certificate, a valid passport and an affidavit confirming the parents have given permission for the child to travel.
Children travelling unaccompanied:
• Child must produce a certified unabridged birth certificate, a valid passport and affidavit confirming permission to travel from both the parents or legal guardians, and letter from person who will receive child in the final destination including their full contact details and a certified copy of their passport or ID.
* Travellers need to make sure that all the required documents are issued in their country of residence prior to travel. Please be aware that some countries may require more time to process these documents. So we advise that these are applied for well in advance of the date of travel.
* The documents need to be valid for at least 6 months before travelling. Certificates & affidavits older than 6 months at the time of travel will not be valid.
The first thing to know is that the various National Parks and Private concessions are not surrounded by fences. For wildlife there are no man-made borders, this is what makes Botswana so special, and what makes nature untouched. This does not mean that you will have more opportunity to see wildlife in the private concessions, this can be done anywhere. The National Parks, Moremi Game Reserve, Makgadikgadi, Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Nxai Pann and Chobe are accessible to everyone, self drivers, mobile safaris and guests of the lodges. As a result, a National Park can be busier than a Private Concession. There are also slightly more rules in the NPs, the most important of which are:
- You are not allowed to drive off-road.
- You have to be back at camp by 6.30pm.
- No walking safaris are allowed.
Most Private Concessions are located in the Okavango Delta and are often only accessible by bushplane or helicopter. Each area or lodge has its own airstrip, so the most remote areas are easily accessible. The boundaries between the various private concessions are also not fenced or indicated. The private concessions are only accessible to guests of the lodges. Because most concessions only have 1, 2 or 3 lodges with an average of only 8 tents, it is quiet and exclusive. All activities you do in these areas are accompanied by the lodge’s great guides. This also means there are more options and fewer rules, the biggest advantages of this are:
- Activities possible day and night.
- Off-road driving is allowed.
- Walking safaris are possible.
In short, there are no boundaries for nature in Botswana! The NPs and Private Concession are bursting with wildlife and both offer an unforgettable safari adventure, but enjoy more exclusivity in a private concession.
Planes, 4x4s, helicopters and boats are how you travel through Botswana. If you are adventurous and like camping, a self-drive or mobile safari is a great way to discover Botswana. you travel by 4×4 on adventurous roads through the National Parks. During the journey you will travel through unspoilt nature and there is the chance to spot wildlife at any time.
If you want to travel deeper into the Okavango Delta, there is no other option than to travel by bushplane or helicopter. This makes the most remote places accessible and you reach your destination quickly. If you fly with the bush plane, you may make several stops (maximum 3) before you reach your final destination. Other passengers (maximum 11) may need to be dropped off or picked up at other locations. The guide will wait for you at the airstrip and the safari can begin. Most lodges, concessions and NPs have airstrips so you can easily travel from one place to another.
If there is no airstrip near the accommodation, it is possible to travel by helicopter. This is always with your own company without other passengers. The helicopter flies lower than the bush planes which offers great views. Please note that with the bush planes and helicopter you can carry a maximum of 15 kg of luggage and 5 kg of hand luggage. It is mandatory to carry your luggage in a travel bag or duffel with dimensions no larger than 25cm wide x 30cm high x 62cm long.
You will always hear the departure times of flights from the guide or lodge manager the afternoon or evening before departure. God makes sure you get to the airstrip about 30 minutes before departure. As soon as the plane or helicopter lands, your guide will help you load your luggage and leave for your next destination
Some accommodations or locations are easily accessible via good asphalt roads. The transport will take place in good vans or in open safari cars.
Even though different days bring different experiences, safaris follow a general pattern, which is consistent throughout your travel.
Typically, a safari day includes two major activities per day – one beginning early in the morning and the second starting in the mid-to-late-afternoon and continuing until dark. If you are staying in a private concession or community area the afternoon activity may extend into a night drive up until two hours after sunset.
The day starts with a wakeup call at around 5h00 to 5h30 depending on the season of travel, but normally before sunrise with tea/coffee and a light snack taken in camp before the first activity. The mornings are the best opportunity to follow fresh tracks and see game interactions, as some of the nocturnal animals are still active. The game activity normally lasts 3 – 5 hours depending on what you see.
Morning activities are usually over by late morning (around 11h00) and guests will return to camp for a full breakfast/brunch. The early afternoon is spent resting and relaxing in camp as this is the hottest part of the day and animal activity is minimal.
At around 15h00-15h30 pm high tea is taken before departure for the afternoon activity (usually around 15h30 – 16:00). The game activity starts in the late afternoon providing you with another opportunity to see game in the daylight. If you are in a national park, park regulations require your guide to have you back at camp by sunset, however if you are in a private concession or community area, you will often enjoy sundowners out in the bush before experiencing a night drive en route back to camp. On arrival back at camp you may sit around the camp fire and enjoy drinks while waiting for dinner. Please note water activities and walking also need to end by sunset for safety reasons.
After dinner, drinks may be enjoyed around the fire however most people find they are tired from the fresh air and early start and are in bed by 22h00.
On transfer days where you move between camps the itinerary may be slightly different depending on the daily flight schedules. Your guide and the camp managers will discuss and plan your days with you.
The Okavango Delta, the 1000th UNESCO World Heritage Site. an oasis of swamp, crystal clear canals and countless islands in the middle of the Kalahari. The Okavango Delta is home to numerous vulnerable animal species and unprecedented birdlife.
Just east of the Delta lies the protected Moremi Game Reserve. The rest of the 15,000 square kilometer natural wonder is divided into private concessions.
Every year the Okavango Delta fills with rainwater from the highlands of Angola. The flood flows through the Okavango River around May in northern Botswana. The canals and lagoons slowly fill with water, creating a true paradise for wildlife, peaking in July and August.
What makes your safari adventure in the Okavango Delta unique is the possibility of taking boat safaris. In some places this is only possible during the months when the tide flows into the Okavango Delta. There are also places available where the canals are permanently deep enough for boating. Due to the dynamics of the tides and seasons, the Okavango Delta is a destination that is absolutely great to visit.
The Okavango Delta is the highlight of your trip to Botswana and perhaps the most unique piece of nature in Africa. The Delta will always amaze and surprise you. It has to be on your bucket list!!!
We can be quite clear about this: Yes, Botswana is safe.
The only towns that tourists will visit are Maun, the safari capital of Botswana, and Kasane, located in the north on the Chobe River. Both towns are friendly and you can move freely, even in the evening. The local people are very friendly and helpful.
Furthermore, during your trip to Botswana you will spend most of your time in unspoilt nature, where the danger of wild animals can arise. But with good common sense and the realization that you are a guest in the world of wildlife, you will only enjoy this.
For us, the biggest danger of Botswana is that you love it so much that you just want to keep coming back!!
The Botswana government’s point of view for tourism is low volume – high cost policy. This has made Botswana an exclusive and expensive destination. The big advantage is that there are no traffic jams in the national parks and in the private concessions there is a good chance that you will hardly meet anyone else during your game drives.
Tourism makes a major contribution to the conservation of nature and the local community. Jobs are created and this has bring many growth and training opportunities and therefore a lot of positive development. The local community therefore realizes that the conservation of nature is vital for animals and humans. The best thing about this is that you get to know the locals and experience how proud they are of their beautiful country.
Most land in Botswana is owned by the government or the community. The safari camps lease the land to conduct their business operations here. A major advantage of this is that the local population votes on the conditions and reaps the benefits of the fees and contributions that lodges pay to the community
Because most lodges are self-sufficient through solar and borhole water, the footprint is low. In addition, the lodges may only be built in such a way that they can be completely removed without any construction residue being left behind in nature. In this case it is a win-win situation for nature, the community and tourists!!
As described earlier, Botswana rejects mass tourism. This means that availability is scarce. In the Okavango Delta, 15,000 square kilometers, there are approximately 60 lodges with an average of 8 tents or accommodations. This means that if everything were fully booked, there would be approximately only 1000 guests in this entire area.
What also plays a role in planning your trip is what season you are traveling in, whether you are traveling with children and what your budget is. The months from June to September are the busiest, for these months we recommend that you start planning your adventure a year in advance, especially if you are traveling with children. This gives you more choice and the lodges with the best price/quality are often still available. The months of April, May, October and November are generally quieter and availability is easier to find. In the green season months of January to March, it is often no problem to plan your trip a little further in advance, with the advantage that good deals and rates are often offered.
Availability can generally be found for the more luxurious premier accommodations.
We have visited more than 60 lodges and have a great local network. We know where to find the pearls. We always do our utmost to plan a great adventure, but the sooner you plan, the wider the choice.
Botswana is an expensive destination and we cannot ignore that. Because Botswana’s largest source of income is diamond mining, the economy is less dependent on tourism. The government of Botswana has therefore opted for a policy of high cost – low volume tourism. This has made Botswana perhaps the most exclusive safari destination in the world, with the most unspoiled nature in Africa, that’s the reason why Botswana is expensive .
Let’s take the Okavango Delta as an example. The Delta is 15,000 square kilometers in size, which is approximately half the size of Switzerland in terms of area. There are approximately 60 lodges in this entire area, with an average of only 8 tents. This indicates that the occupancy is very small-scale, and means that you often encounter no or few other tourists during the safari activities. The Lodges are also partly responsible for preserving nature and maintaining the relationship with the local community.
Because most lodges are so remote, they can often only be reached by bush plane or helicopter. This also entails the necessary costs. Your stay at the lodges often includes all meals, drinks and activities. The level of service is high and the quality of the safari activities are sublime. The rooms, often in the form of tents, vary from an adventure accommodation with bucket shower to a premier stay of a 150 square meter tent including plunge pool and air conditioning.
In NPs such as Chobe, Makgadikgadi, Nxai Pan, Central Kalahari Game Reserve and the Moremi Game Reserve, the Department of Wildlife is responsible for nature conservation. These NPs are often accessible to self-drive travelers and mobile safari camps. This may make it busier in NP, but this is still on a very small scale.
In short, Botswana is exclusive due to its limited availability. The nature is unspoilt and the wildlife unprecedented. This comes with a price tag, which is more than logical. If your budget allows it, there is no more beautiful safari
For the solo traveler, a safari to Africa can seem quite exciting, but don’t be put off. Because the lodges are small-scale and intimate, it is easy to be in the company of others if you feel the need to do so. During game drives or other safari activities you are often in the company of other people
A well-organized safari to Botswana is an excellent way for a solo traveler to experience the wilderness of Africa. The country is safe, the people are friendly, the nature is excellent and the logistics and travel are seamless.
What is also a good option is to go on a mobile safari. You travel with a fixed group that may vary in number of participants to different locations in the bush. A temporary camp will be set up here from which you will do the activities.
Single supplements are charged for some accommodations. In certain seasons we know how to find the right places to avoid this as much as possible.
We understand the concerns that may prevent you from taking the first step in planning a safari yourself. We are ready to help you every step of the way. We are happy to discuss the different options and plan your dream safari together.
Soon to come.