Horseback riding in Botswana

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Equestrian tours in Botswana

 Botswana Mini Guide
    Source: World Travel Guide

Overview

Outstandingly dramatic, Botswana encompasses striking salt pans, diamond-rich deserts and fertile flood plains which teem with game. The north, in particular, offers superb wildlife-watching opportunities, making this one of southern Africa's top safari destinations.

A sizable proportion of the country - over 40% - is given over to national parks, reserves and private concessions, where tourists crane their necks out of jeeps to check out the roving animals. But Botswana's policy of favouring low-impact luxury tourism ensures that even the most famous game-viewing areas rarely feel crowded.

The jewel in Botswana's crown is, without a doubt, the Okavango Delta - the largest inland delta in the world. Its seasonal lagoons and waterways are crammed with hovering birds, while zebras and giraffes amble across vast grass flats. Northeast of here is Chobe National Park, home to gigantic elephant herds, some of them 400-strong.

Botswana is one of Africa's success stories. Since gaining independence in 1966, it has achieved steady economic growth through successful exploitation of its agricultural potential and its enviable diamond reserves. It has not escaped controversy - the HIV/AIDS pandemic and alleged maltreatment of the Kalahari Bushmen have caused international concern - but it remains a peaceful and stable nation of remarkable natural beauty.

 

Passport/Visa

Passport Required?

British

Yes

Australian

Yes

Canadian

Yes

USA

Yes

Other EU

Yes

Visa Required?

British

No

Australian

No

Canadian

No

USA

No

Other EU

No

Return Ticket Required?

British

Yes

Australian

Yes

Canadian

Yes

USA

Yes

Other EU

Yes

 

Passports

To enter Botswana, a passport valid for at least six months is required by all nationals referred to in the chart above. Outgoing travel documents and sufficient funds are also required.

Visas

Visas are not required by all nationals referred to in the chart above for stays in Botswana of up to 90 days.

Visas are also not required by transit passengers, provided they are continuing their journey by the same or first connecting aircraft, and do not leave the airport.

Note: Nationals not referred to in the chart above are advised to contact the high commission/embassy to check visa requirements (see Contact Addresses).

Visa Note

Those nationals who do require a visa for Botswana must include a copy of their travel itinerary with their application, along with a letter of support from their intended host and return visa or residence permit from his/her country of residence.

Types of Visa and Cost

Visitor visa: US$107 (single- or multiple-entry).

Validity

Up to 90 days from the date of issue. Extensions are available from the Department of Immigration in Botswana.

Applications to:

Consulate (or consular section at embassy or high commission); see Contact Addresses.

Working Days Required

Allow 21 working days for visa processing.

 

Money

Currency

Pula (BWP; symbol P) = 100 thebe. Notes are in denominations of P100, 50, 20 and 10. Coins are in denominations of P5, 2 and 1, and 50, 25, 10 and 5 thebe.

Currency Exchange

Money should be exchanged in banks at market rates. The main commercial banks include Bank of Baroda, Barclays Bank of Botswana, First National Bank, Stanbic Bank Botswana and Standard Chartered Bank with branches in major towns and villages. Owing to limited facilities in small villages, it is advisable to change money at the airport or in major towns, where credit card cash advances may also be available. There are also bureaux de changes at major border posts. Safari lodges accept payment in US dollars.

Credit/Debit Cards and ATMs

American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa are widely accepted. ATMs are available in most larger cities and towns.

Traveller's Cheques

To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers are advised to take traveller's cheques in US Dollars or Pounds Sterling. Traveller's cheques are accepted in large cities but with a high surcharge.

Currency Restrictions

There are no restrictions on the import of local or foreign currencies, provided declared on arrival. Export of local currency is limited to P50 and foreign currencies up to the amount declared on arrival.

Banking Hours

Banks open 0800 and 0900, Mon-Sat, closing between 1615 and 1715 on weekdays and 1045 and 1200 on Saturdays.

Exchange Rate Indicators

Date

June 2

£1.00=

P16.15

$1.00=

P11.21

€1.00= P12.50

 

Health

Vaccinations

 

Special Precautions

Diphtheria

Sometimes

Hepatitis A

Yes

Malaria

Yes

Rabies

Sometimes

Tetanus

Yes

Typhoid

Yes

Yellow Fever

No*

Inoculation regulations can change at short notice. Please take medical advice in the case of doubt. Where 'Sometimes' appears in the table above, precautions may be required, depending on the season and region visited.

* A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from all travellers over one year of age travelling from infected areas.

Food and Drink

Tap water is considered safe to drink, although outside main cities and towns, visitors are advised to check first and sterilise water if in any doubt. Bottled water is available in most tourist centres. Milk is pasteurised, and dairy products, local meat, poultry, seafood, fruit and vegetables are generally safe.

Other Risks

Vaccinations for tuberculosis and hepatitis B are sometimes recommended. Hepatitis C occurs. Bilharzia (schistosomiasis) is endemic; avoid swimming and paddling in fresh water. Tick-bite fever can be a problem when walking in the bush. It is advisable to wear loose-fitting clothes and to search the body for ticks. Rabies is present in animals. For those at high risk, vaccination before arrival should be considered. If you are bitten, seek medical advice without delay.

Health Care

The dust and heat may cause problems for some people. Visitors should use sun protection, especially due to Botswana’s high altitude. The public health system is good. All main towns have chemists, and pharmaceutical supplies are readily available. Health insurance is essential.

 

Getting There

Getting There by Air

The national airline, Air Botswana (BP) (website: www.airbotswana.co.bw), flies into Botswana (Gaborone, Kasane, Maun and Francistown) from Harare (Zimbabwe) and Johannesburg (South Africa). Airlines serving Harare and Johannesburg from London include British Airways (website: www.britishairways.com) and South African Airways (website: www.flysaa.com). Air Namibia (website: www.airnamibia.com) flies from Windhoek (Namibia) to Maun, direct.

Approximate Flight Times

From London to Gaborone is approximately 15 hours (including stopovers).

Main Airports

Sir Seretse Khama International (GBE) is 15km (9 miles) northwest of Gaborone. To/from the airport: There are no regular bus services to and from the airport but several hotels run combis (minibuses or vans). Taxis are available to the city centre (journey time – 15 minutes). Facilities: Left luggage, banks, bar, snack bar, restaurant, post office, duty-free shops and car hire.

Maun International Airport (MUB) receives direct flights from Johannesburg, Harare, Cape Town and Windhoek. This gateway to the Okavango Delta is served by Air Botswana, Air Namibia and several charters. For information on charters, see the Getting Around section. To/from the airport: The city centre is less than 1km (0.6 mile) walk. Taxis and shuttles are available. Facilities: Car hire and lounge with Internet and Wi-Fi.

Other major airports that handle international flights are at Kasane, Selebi-Phikwe and Francistown.

Departure Tax

None.

Getting There by Water

A car ferry operates across the Zambezi River to Zambia.

Getting There by Rail

There is a thrice-weekly service with Botswana Railway (BR) between Botswana and Zimbabwe (Francistown–Bulawayo; journey time – 6 hours). The train has standard class coaches with reclining seats.

A daily train with sleepers and restaurant car runs from Francistown–Gaborone–Lobatse. At Lobatse, buses cross the South African border. Botswana has assisted in the construction of the Limpopo line from Zimbabwe to Mozambique, an act which will speed up the availability of alternative routes into Botswana.

Getting There by Road

There are reasonable roads running roughly along the same routes as the railway, linking Botswana with South Africa and Zimbabwe. There is also road access from Namibia. The Botswana Tourism Board publishes a map showing all border posts and their opening times in the Travel Information section of their website (www.botswanatourism.co.bw).

Bus:
Frequent services operate between Gaborone and Johannesburg. Services are also available from Windhoek in Namibia to Maun, and between Bulawayo in Zimbabwe and Francistown. Private transfers can be booked between Victoria Falls and Kasane (for Chobe National Park).

Bus:
Services are available from Namibia and Zimbabwe. Frequent services also operate between Gaborone and Johannesburg. Complicated formalities may be necessary for crossing the border to or from South Africa, where the South African Customs Union agreement is in operation.

 

Climate

Mainly temperate. Summer, between October and April, can be very hot, but daytime temperatures typically hover around 30ºC (86ºF). The rainy season lasts from January to March. Winter, from May to September, brings cooler weather with an average temperature of 25ºC (77ºF); early mornings and evenings may be cold and frosty, particularly in the Kalahari. The average annual rainfall decreases westwards and southwards.

Required Clothing

Loose, natural fabrics are recommended, with wet-weather gear and warmer clothes according to the season and area visiting.

Contacts

Botswana Tourism Board

Plot 50676, Block B, Ground Floor, Fairgrounds Office Park, Gaborone, Botswana
Postal address: P/Bag 0047, Gaborone, Botswana
Tel: 395 3024 or 391 3111.
Website: www.botswanatourism.co.bw  

Botswana High Commission in the UK

6 Stratford Place, London W1C 1AY, UK
Tel: (020) 7499 0031 or 7647 1000 or 09065 508 954 (recorded visa information).
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 0900-1700.

Embassy of the Republic of Botswana in the USA

1531-33 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington DC 20036, USA
Tel: (202) 244 4990.
Website: www.botswanaembassy.org
Opening times: Mon, Wed and Fri 1000-1300 (enquiries); Mon-Fri 0900-1600 (visa drop off); Mon-Fri 1400-1600 (visa collection).

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