Surrounded by four countries namely South Africa, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. This vast landscape has much to offer the adventurous traveller, whether by road or air, you will not be disappointed.
Entering into Botswana you pay a fee, this fee is different at every border post. It is usually paid in cash in Pula (local currency), some of the borders accept mastercard payments but never rely on this as the machine is not always in working order.
There is a book that needs to be filled in by the driver. You fill in your name, surname, car reg number, date, signature, number of people travelling and where you are going to/coming from.
Next to the book is a note pad for your exit form. On here you write car registration number and number of people in your car. You will get this stamped and then give it to the officer at the gate on departure. You do not pay a fee to exit Botswana.
You can expect thundershowers in Summer months (November to February). No rainfall is usually expected in winter. The rainy season is from November to March. This season brings malaria, beautiful bird life, full rivers, abundant plains game and predators. Some roads are impassable due to rain and your chances are higher for getting stuck. This is also known as the Green Season. The Zebra and Wildebeest Migration take place during this time to.
The dry season brings a lower risk of malaria, the plains game hangs around where there is a bit of water with of course the predators hot on their heels. The bird life decreases due to the summer birds migrating.
Make sure your passport is valid for 6 months after the return date of your trip. Make sure you have more than 2 pages left in your passport. Children under 16 years of age need to have their unabridged birth certificates with them.
It is recommended to have vaccinations for Rabies, Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid, Tetanus and Flu. Yellow Fever is only necessary if you are travelling from infected areas.
In the main cities in Botswana one can find Spar, Woolworths, Choppies and Shoprite just to name a few. Fast food places one can find in the main cities include Nandos, Hungry Lion, Wimpy, Debonairs and Steers.
Garages are scattered over most of Botswana. Puma, Engen and Shell are the main brands of fuel. To be on the safe side, fill up your jerry cans. You may or may not need it.
The local currency in Botswana is the Pula. Most of the larger shops do accept your Mastercard as well as at the larger garages in the main cities. Some places accept ZAR as a form of payment as well as USD. In order to get Pula you will need to visit your bank or go to a Foreign exchange bank. You will need your proof of residence, passport and air tickets if flying.
In the South of Botswana there is no malaria. From Francistown and up it becomes a risk. In Winter the malaria does subside but it is always best to take precautions and speak to your doctor about getting malaria prophylactics. Children under the age of 12 need a prescription for malaria tablets. You can visit your GP or visit the travel clinic.
Certain border posts are very strict when brining meat into Botswana, they will search your fridge and confiscate fruit and meat. You may not take meat across vet borders. Coming from Nata side to Francistown is a check point, your fridge will be searched and meat will be taken away, even if you bought it at the Spar in Nata.
Buy a fire extinguisher, you can get this at the AA for about R300 for a small one. Keep this in a safe place where it is easy to get to should anything happen. To get to Kubu Island from Nata Side, in the small town of Zoroga there is a sign, a very small sign, to say Kubu Island.
If you are still paying off your car, contact the bank with whom the car is financed through and ask for a permission letter to take your car over the border. They will send you registration form, it has all the car details on it as well as the letter of permission. If you own the car, please take the registration document with you. Contact your insurance company and ask for a letter of permission to take your car across the border.
With regards to your trailer or caravan, you will need the registration form with all the details reflecting on it as well as a letter form the insurance company stating you can take the trailer or caravan across the border. You will also need the ZA sticker on your car and trailer / caravan. You can purchase this at an AA shop.
It is advised to have a 4x4 when travelling to Botswana. I never really understood why. After travelling to Botswana recently, I found out first hand why you need a 4x4. The tar roads are fine for a 4x2 or sedan, this is between cities. Once you drive off road to a camp site, even the ones just off the road, can become sandy. In the rainy season from November to February the roads are muddy and wet, a 4x4 is crucial during this time. So, save yourself the hassle and use a 4x4 it gives you more freedom to go on the sandy roads and explore a bit more.
The benefits of driving in a convoy are unlimited. Should you need help you have the convoy to help you. Travelling off the beaten track is always better in a convoy as you may not see another car for days. If you get stuck in the sand, the convoy is there to assist you.
Some of the roads are perfect, while other roads are narrow, full of potholes and care should be taken when driving on them. It is not recommended to drive at night, purely for the potholes and animals roaming around at night.
There is livestock everywhere, goats, donkeys and cows roam freely and cross the road randomly. Watch out for stray dogs too that appear out of nowhere. Stick to the speed limit, watch the signs, when the speed changes, the police do trap randomly and will not hesitate to pull you over and take a bribe in cash.
It is advisable to have a first aid kit on hand. Travelling with children there is bound to be a reason to get it out. Add in an anti-septic cream for scratches, burns and bites (Germolene, TeaTree) Septoguard is a natural antibiotic and is good to have on hand. It comes in syrup for the children or pills for the adults. Tweezers and nail clippers are also very handy to have. Wet wipes are always needed in the car for those sticky fingers or to just get rid of the dusty feeling on your hands. Cough mixture, antihistamine, pain and fever medication are all reccommended. All chronic medication to take with you, take extra and extra. Hospitals are all in the main cities but may not stock what you need.
Mascom is the better sim card to go with, their coverage is very wide. You will need to find a Mascom office, most of the larger towns have Mascom offices. In order to buy a sim card, your passport is required to register your sim card. This is a lengthy process so be patient. Don’t go for Orange Network, the coverage is very limited and they are pretty useless to say the least. Most of the lodges offer WiFi to their guests, ask for the password. This is usually around reception area that WiFi will be available.