Located in Southern Africa, Botswana boasts diverse wildlife and many national parks and game reserves. It’s also one of the most progressive and up and coming countries in Africa. Students will primarily have the opportunity to volunteer in wildlife conservation as well as community development.
Botswana is best for high school students interested in community development, wildlife conservation, and African studies.
Wildlife Protection: Botswana has several volunteer programs that involve student in wildlife protection. Students may have the chance to get a close look at conservation movements for endangered species like the rhino, wild dogs, anteaters, and aardvarks.
Community Development: Students may have the chance to work in the community to make a positive difference. They may be placed in villages to assist in teaching English or spending the day playing with children.
Environmental Projects: Because Botswana is prone to drought and deforestation, students can volunteer alongside professionals to help prevent this environmental problem.
The official language of Botswana is English, which makes traveling in Botswana a bit easier for those of you who already speak English.
However, many people in Botswana speak Setswana. Students may have the opportunity to study this language during their stay.
Participating in a summer program in Botswana may be an ideal opportunity for those of you who don’t want to diverge from your studies but want to continue learning. Most programs will last anywhere from one to several weeks, and are either travel-centric or volunteer-based.
Remember, Botswana is beneath the equator, so if you visit during summer (typically May/June until August/September), it will be their winter. However, this is the best time to visit Botswana, as it promises the best climate and weather throughout the region.
Planning Your Trip
US citizens are allowed a visa free 90-day stay in Botswana. For those of you who have traveled to Zambia prior to Botswana, you may need to present a Yellow Fever Vaccination certificate.
Students wishing to study in Botswana for less than 6 months must submit an application for a waiver. For those of you staying over 6 months, you must apply for a student visa. Learn more about the application process for this permit.
Botswana is a bit more expensive than some other African countries, especially if you plan on going on a safari. A typical meal can cost around $5 USD, water is around $.60 USD per bottle, and local transportation is around 40 cents.
Students can easily budget themselves on $15-30 a day; however, keep in mind that necessary expenses such as equipment, toiletries, clothing, and medical costs will add to your overall budget.
Maun is an up and coming city and is where many people choose to take safaris, since it is near the Okavango Delta. Gaborone is the capital of Botswana and is the most important city, and is most likely where you will begin your stay in Botswana. Francistown is the second largest city in Botswana.
Students will most likely be living in home stays with local families. They may also live in group homes or dormitories with other students who are in the same program. They may also go camping if they are working in a national park or on a reserve.
The rainy season is from December until May, with thunderstorms and minimal sunshine. Pack rain boots, a rain jacket, long pants and shirts, t-shirts and shorts.
The dry season is from June until October, with hotter temperatures during the day and cooler temperatures at night. Pack loose fitting cotton clothing, light sweaters, and comfortable shorts and pants. Packing clothing that can be layered will be the most efficient way to prepare for any type of weather.
Make sure you have supportive, comfortable sneakers before you come to Botswana, which can be worn in any type of weather.
Health & Safety
Travelers should make sure they’re up to date on any routine vaccinations. Talk to your health care provider to decide what’s best for you. For travelers coming from Zambia prior to arrival in Botswana, you may have to show proof of your Yellow Fever Vaccination.
Make sure you’re staying hydrated and wearing an appropriate amount of sunscreen while in Botswana to prevent sunburn and heat stroke.
Botswana is a relatively safe country, and civil unrest is rare. However, petty theft is still an issue in the country, so travelers should take any extra precautions to protect themselves and their belongings.
Never walk alone around at night, especially with your valuables, and if possible, always have someone else with you during the day. The US Department of State warns travelers to exercise extreme caution near the Gaborone Dam and Kgale Hill in Gaborone because of the number of reported crimes. Check your government's website prior to departure for the most accurate information.