Tucked away in the middle of southern Africa is the culturally rich country of Botswana. Known for its pristine game reserves and national parks, Botswana is the perfect destination for those looking for a guided adventure into the heart of Africa.
As one of the most politically stable countries on the continent, Botswana regularly welcomes adventure seekers, solo travelers, and even families wishing to experience African wildlife in their natural habitat. Botswana's San people have one of the most well-preserved traditionalist ways of life that Africa has to offer.
Taking a tour in Botswana is a great way to experience the country without having to tackle many of the difficult logistics on your own. There are many well-known safari and tour companies that offer similar adventure packages. That said, it's important to gather all the details before booking a tour so you end up choosing the itinerary, activities, and cost that work best for you.
Go on Safari
There's no better way to experience the nature and wildlife of Botswana then to head out on safari. With some of the best nature parks and game reserves, it's no wonder the country is a hot spot for seeing some of the biggest and most classic African animals up close.
One of the best regions for safari is in northern Botswana. The Okavango Delta and Chobe River flood the swampy marshland each season. This creates a lush environment for wildlife enthusiasts to see one of the best natural concentrations of different animals on the continent.
Visit the National Parks
Although the Moremi Game Reserve in the Okavango Delta is a very popular destination, Botswana has other National Parks and Game Reserves that are also worth the attention of travelers. Some tours make a point of exploring more than one. Central Kalahari Game Reserve is another place that allows visitors exclusive access to the interior of the country. Here, hidden gems like rock formations and other wildlife gathering spots are a highlight.
Experience Botswana's Culture
Like other African nations, Botswana has a long history and deep connection to the land. Before and after independence from Britain, the country flourishes as one of the most stable countries in Africa. Because of this, there is a rich tourism industry that it fueled by the fascinating history of the area.
From the over 4,500 rock paintings that date back to the Stone-age era to the San bush people who continue to pass on their traditional way of life, there is a great deal of culture to be experienced in Botswana. It is common that tours of Botswana include different cultural activities on their itineraries.
A tour of Botswana is certainly an accessible experience, but it will come with some planning and research to find the adventure that is right for you.
Best Time to Visit Botswana
The best time to visit Botswana is from April to October. During this time, the seasonal climate fluctuates from lush and green vegetation with little rain, to colder evenings with dry and clear days, to the hottest temperatures the country will generally experience, in their respective order. As such, “safari season” is usually June to August when the land is drier. This is because animal movements become more predictable as the sources of fresh water become scarcer.
What to Look for in a Tour to Botswana
You will want to look for a tour that takes care of all the basic details like transportation and accommodation. These should be included in the base cost of the tours. Another detail to consider is activities and meals. Another consideration, depending on your tour activities, is which safari companies are used and their practices within the local area. Try to find tours that utilize local guides and aim to have sustainable, ethical operations for their guests.
Typical Tour Cost
A typical tour of around 20 days in a medium sized group (12-20 people) can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000. Many tours do not just cover Botswana, but take you on an adventure into neighboring countries like Namibia and Zambia.
There are also usually extra costs associated with tours. Flights to and from where the tour begins and concludes are usually not covered. The same is usually true for travel visas and travel insurance. Whether all of your meals or only select meals are covered is usually a point of differentiation between tour companies. Keep these additional costs in mind when calculating the final prices for your whole tour experience.
Packing Tips & Gear Rentals
You'll want to pack light, versatile clothing that is good for lots of varying weather conditions. Layering your clothing to be able to put on clothes when the evenings get chilly and take them off when the days are much hotter is a key to comfort and practicality.
Other gear, such as tents and mattresses, are usually provided by tour companies and included in costs associated with the initial tour fee. However, be sure to inquire about any additional gear rentals you will have to organize on your own.
Other Tips for Travel in Botswana
If you’re looking to do a tour of Botswana, you should be aware that it can actually be quite difficult to get there! This is because direct flights from outside Africa to Botswana are infrequent. To access the northern parks where many tours would begin, one route is to fly through South Africa and then take a small hopper flight into Maun Airport or Kasana Airport.
Sir Seretse Khama International Airport, located near the capital of Gaborone, is a larger entry point into Botswana. However, it is located quite far in the south -- far from the center of the action.
Before you travel to Botswana, it is important to consult a travel doctor to get your vaccinations up-to-date for the area. There are also other medications which might be prescribed to help with minor ailments such as food-related or environmental-related illnesses. Follow guidelines on your tour for accessing safe drinking water and remember to stay hydrated while in the heat.
While Botswana is a relatively safer African nation, there are still risks involved with travel there. Large game animals can be very dangerous. Always follow the instructions of your tour guides and safari leaders. Violent crime is almost non-existent in the cities and rates of petty crime, like pick-pocketing, are also very low -- even targeting tourists. As a traveler, you should still take the usual safety precautions with your belongings.