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USEFUL INFORMATION FOR TRAVEL TO BOTSWANA
VISA REQUIREMENTS: All visitors are required to carry a passport that is valid for six months beyond the intended length of stay. There should be sufficient blank pages for entry stamps upon arrival. US A citizens do not require visa for a stay of less than 90 days:
IMPORTANT NOTE ON PASSPORT PAGES: It is the responsibility of each traveler to make sure their passport is valid and has sufficient “VISA” pages to stamp entry visas. Please note the last 3 pages on the passport are “NOT VISA” pages; they are amendment pages, and thus visa cannot be stamped on these pages. There should be at least a minimum of 2 blank (unstamped) “VISA” pages for each country to be visited. Failure to have 2 blank (unstamped) “VISA” pages you run the risk of being denied entry even when in possession of valid passport.
HEALTH REQUIREMENTS: Before entering Botswana, you will have to get malaria prophylactics. When buying them, tell your doctor or pharmacist that you intend visiting Botswana, as certain anti-malarial are tailored to particular areas. If you suffer from side effects, try taking your malaria prophylactics at night, after dinner. Take precautionary measures to prevent contact with mosquitoes, like: sleeping under a bed net or in a room/tent with mosquito proofing (remember to keep the flaps zipped at all times); spraying your accommodation with insecticide; making use of a mosquito-repelling lotion or stick and wearing long-sleeved clothing, long trousers and socks when outside at night. Any person entering Botswana from or via a yellow fever infected area must be in possession of a valid International Certificate of Vaccination against yellow fever. It is advisable to obtain medical insurance prior to arrival. Health care standards in Botswana are high, with excellent hospitals in Gaborone and Francistown. All main towns have well-stocked pharmacies, but it is recommended that you bring any medicines you may require with you.
INSURANCE: We strongly recommend that you take out travel insurance, which includes curtailment and cancellation cover, as well as medical cover, upon confirming your booking.
CLIMATE: In summer (November - April), days are hot and generally sunny in the morning with possible afternoon thunderstorms. Daytime temperatures can rise to 38ºC (100ºF) and night temperatures drop to around 20-25ºC (68-77ºF). The afternoons can be very humid. The rainy season begins late in October/November and ends in March. The northern areas receive up to 700mm while the Kalahari Desert area averages as low as 225mm. During winter (May –October), days are dry, sunny and cool to warm while evening temperatures drop sharply. Daytime temperatures generally reach 20ºC (68ºF) and can drop to as low as 5ºC (41ºF) at night. Please note that exceptionally cold spells can occur (although this is the exception rather than the rule), so it is recommended to bring appropriate clothing, just in case!
CURRENCY: The unit of currency is the pula (P),which is divided into 100 thebe. Notes are in P5, P10, P20, P50 and P100. Coins are in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 (thebe) and P1 & P2.(Pula also means rain or greeting in Tswana.) .
CREDIT CARDS: All major credit cards are accepted at hotels, shops and restaurants. Certain lodges and restaurants do not accept payment by Diners or American Express.
BANKS: Major hotels have foreign exchange facilities and most shops, and lodges will accept traveler’s checks and US dollars
TIPPING / GRATUITIES: Tipping is not compulsory. If, however, you want to tip because you have received good service, we have enclosed a brief guideline to assist you:
a) Camp, Game Lodge and Specialist Guides - If the guide has done a good job, we recommend US$5 per guest per day for travel to Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe and R50 per guest per day for visitors to Namibia and South Africa.
b) The General Safari Camp / Lodge Staff
Here we recommend about US$3 per guest per day for safari camps in Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe and R30 per guest per day for safari camps in Namibia and South Africa. This should be placed in the communal tipping box to be distributed equally amongst all the staff at a later stage
c) Hotel Staff - Please allow between $1 and $2 per guest per day for hotel staff ie housekeeping etc
d) Porterage -Here we recommend about US$1 per person per movement.
e) Mokoro Paddlers and Trackers
We recommend that each paddler receive US$3 per guest per day and the camp / lodge trackers receive R35.00 per guest per day.
f) Transfer and Touring Driver/guides
Transfer R10 per person
Half day tour R25 per person
Full day tour R50 per person
g) Restaurants / Hotels
10% is customary on meal accounts but only if you are satisfied with the service.
COMMUNICATION: The international dialing code for calling Botswana is +267. There are no regional codes within Botswana. The international dialing code when dialing out from Botswana is 00. A direct international dialing service is available from the major hotels and lodges in Kasane, Maun, Gaborone and Francis Town. Both local and long distance calls are metered on a time basis and you pay for every second. Major hotels and businesses have a fax service. Hotels levy a substantial surcharge on all calls. Lodges in the more remote areas of Botswana such as the Okavango Delta do not have telephonic communication facilities.
The lodges are able to communicate with the “outside world” via two-way radio to Maun or Kasane.
ELECTRICITY: Electricity is supplied at 220/240 volts AC, 50hz. Lodges in the more remote areas of Botswana do not have electricity. These lodges generally rely on generator power for lighting and refrigeration but this power only runs at critical times
of the day. Internet facilities are becoming more available in some of the main towns of Botswana.
LANGUAGE & CULTURE: Although the official language of Botswana is English, most of the population also speaks Tswana. Guided safaris are always conducted in English. The main ethnic groups are the Batswana (descendants of iron age immigrants from Central West Africa), the Basarwa (San, indigenous hunter gatherers, pre iron age), and the Herero (pastoralists). About 80% of the population of Botswana are rural inhabitants.
SOUVENIRS: Botswana is well known for beautifully decorative baskets, which are both functional and ornamental. These can be purchased directly from the villages or from curio shops. Weavings and textiles are usually quite expensive, but one is guaranteed quality and a unique item. Original San (Bushman) jewellery and leatherwork, including miniature items (like bows and arrows) can be purchased. In the northwest, traditional dolls can be bought from the Herero people. These depict Herero women in the four stages of life (childhood, puberty, adulthood and old age), dressed in their distinctive costume, as well as their traditional clothing worn before European influence.
PHOTOGRAPHY: Film is available at most game lodge, but stocks are usually small and of the common sizes only. Digital flush cards are not available readily, so you are advised to take enough to last you to the end on your trip. For game and bird photography, a telephoto lens of between 200 and 300mm is strongly recommended. Larger lenses, which require a tripod, are generally impractical for game photography from vehicles, as are double lens reflex cameras. A lens hood and ultra violet filter are advisable and a dust cover (plastic bag) is essential. Remember to bring spare batteries for your camera, as these are seldom available on safari. Binoculars are invaluable for bird and game viewing.
SUGGESTED PACKING LIST: Generally, casual comfortable clothing is suitable throughout the year. The most practical items to pack for safari are:
SUGGESTED LUGGAGE LIST FOR YOUR SAFARI
1. Good quality sunglasses - preferably polarized. Tinted fashion glasses are not good in strong light
2. Sun hat
3. Golf-shirts, T-shirts and long-sleeved cotton shirts
5. Long trousers/slacks
6. Track suit
7. More formal attire for your stay at prestigious city hotels or on one of the luxury trains.
8. Underwear (sports bra recommended on game drives as the roads can be bumpy and uneven) and socks
9. Good walking shoes (running/tennis shoes are fine)
11. Swimming costume
12. Warm winter jersey
13. Warm Anorak or Parka and scarf / gloves for the cold winter months (May to September)
14. Light rain gear for summer months (late November to April)
15. Camera equipment and plenty of film
16. If you wear contact lenses, we recommend that you bring along a pair of glasses in case you get irritation from the dust
17. BINOCULARS - ESSENTIAL (Night vision binoculars are not essential but highly recommended if your safari includes night activities)
18. Newman's bird book if you are a keen birder
19. Personal toiletries (basic amenities supplied by most establishments)
20. Malaria tablets (if applicable)
21. Moisturizing cream & suntan lotion
22. Insect repellent e.g. Tabard, Rid, Jungle Juice, etc
23. Basic medical kit (aspirins, plasters, Immodium, antiseptic cream and Anti-histamine cream etc)
24. Tissues/"Wet Ones"
25. Visas, tickets, passports, money etc
26. Waterproof/dustproof bags/cover for your cameras.
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