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Tourist Information

 

Money Matters

Currency
Botswana's unit of currency is the Pula (P), which is divided into 100 Thebe (t). The word 'Pula' means rain and 'thebe' means shield. The shield appears on the national coat of arms. Bank notes come in denominations of P10, 20, 50 and 100, and coins in denominations of 5t, 10t, 25t, 50t, P1, P2 and P5. See exchange rates.

Major credit cards, including Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Diners Club, are accepted widely. Most hotels and lodges accept foreign currency or travellers' cheques.

There are also Exchange bureaus at major border posts. Credit card cash advances are available in major cities through Barclays Bank or Standard Chartered Bank. Cash transfers are easiest through Western Union money transfer. Please note that credit card cash is also available at First National Bank.

Travellers' cheques and any other monetary instruments need not to be declared.

There are 5 commercial banks in the country, with branches in major towns and many main villages: Barclays Bank of Botswana, Standard Chartered Bank, First National Bank, Stanbic Bank Botswana and Bank of Baroda.

Botswana abolished exchange controls in February 1999. Foreign exchange transactions forms must be completed, as the Bank of Botswana requires a record of the amount of currency in circulation.

While cash of any amount is no longer restricted, any person entering or leaving Botswana is required to declare Pula and/or foreign currency bank notes in their possession if the amount is equal to or exceeds an equivalent of P10,000.00 (ten thousand Pula). A family unit must declare any amount carried by each member if the aggregate in the possession of the family is P10,000.00 or more.

VISAS
Valid entry visas for the countries which do require them may be obtained from Botswana's various embassies and high commissions abroad. In countries where Botswana is not represented, visas may be obtained from the British High Commission. Entry visas obtained at border posts are valid for a maximum of 30-90 days. Extensions may be obtained from any immigration office in Botswana. No visitor is allowed more than a 90-day stay in every calendar year, unless permission has been granted in the form of a waiver pending the outcome of a residence permit application.

What You Must Declare

  • All goods acquired outside Botswana in your possession, including items you received as gifts, such as wedding or birthday presents.

  • Repairs or alterations to any items or vehicle you took abroad and then bring back, even if the repairs/alterations were performed free of charge.

  • Items you bought in any duty-free shop including such items bought duty-free on aircraft or ship.

  • Items you are bringing home for someone else.

  • Items you intend to sell or use in your business.

  • Prohibited Goods

  • The importation of, among other things, the following goods into Botswana is completely prohibited. It is illegal to be found in possession of prohibited goods and may result in seizure and prosecution. These include:

    •  Narcotic, habit-forming drugs and related substances in any form.

    • Military firearms, ammunition and explosives

    • Indecent and obscene material such as pornographic books, magazines, films, videos, DVDs and software

Best Time to Visit
The months between April and November, when large number of animals migrate towards the waterways of the Okavango Delta, is best time to go.

November and December - the calving months - are an excellent time to witness nature's own timetable of regeneration. The rainy season, from January to March, sees the migration of large numbers of game into the summer grazing areas, while the delta comes alive with sounds of hundreds of bird species.
In March and April thousands of zebras and other animals migrate towards the Savuti area of Chobe National Park.

Summers (particularly from December through to February) can become exceptionally hot, and rain may make some roads muddy and impassable. During the rainy summer season, animals in many game areas disperse, while in the dry winter season they congregate around water sources, making for good game viewing. This does not mean, however, that game viewing is impossible during the summer season.

What to Bring

Clothing
In summer, lightweight, light-coloured cottons are preferable. Avoid synthetic materials and black clothing, as they increase perspiration and discomfort. Dress is casual in Botswana. Shorts and trousers are permissible for women. Most hotels have swimming pools, so do bring a bathing suit. Bring a lightweight jacket and/or pullover for unexpected temperature changes.

In winter, bring a pair of trousers, long-sleeved shirts or blouses and pullovers. Make sure you have a very warm jacket for early mornings and evenings, - it does get surprisingly cold at night but warms up during the day.

Footwear
Comfortable walking shoes are a must; supplement with sandals and plastic flip-flops.

Sun protection
Special attention should be given to protecting yourself from the sun, particularly in the summer when the sun can be scorching. Bring sunhat, sunscreen, sun lotion and sunglasses.

Miscellaneous / other
Binoculars, torch (with plenty of spare batteries and bulbs), matches, penknife, water bottle, insect repellent (spray and coils), lip salve, water purification tablets, sewing kit, safety-pins, tweezers, cello tape and masking tape are all very useful. A basic first-aid kit is a must, as in many instances you will be traveling to areas far from health facilities. Camera film is available at most shops and petrol stations. Cosmetics, medications, cigarettes and imported liquors are all available in the major towns.

Behavior in the Bush

  • Always sleep in your tent or vehicle. Make sure your tent zips up well
  • Do not sleep with legs or arms protruding from the tent
  • Carry away or burn all rubbish. Many areas do not have rubbish disposal facilities
  • Cigarette butts should be well extinguished and placed in a rubbish bag, not thrown out
  • Make sure the campfire is well extinguished at the end of the evening, and cover it with sand
  • Bury all fecal matter and burn all toilet paper
  • In most parks and reserves you should camp in designated camping areas where basic amenities are provided. Outside the parks, reserves and wildlife management areas, you are free to camp anywhere you like
  • Do not sleep on bridges or animal paths, particularly those of elephant or hippo
  • Do not bathe in or drink from still bodies of water: there is the danger of bilharzia
  • In the Okavango, it is tempting to dive into a lagoon or stream, especially after a hot, dusty drive (though new regulations forbid this). There is of course the danger of crocodiles or hippo. Do not go near the water at night. If you want to wash or refresh yourself it is best to go to the water with another person. Have him or her stand near you and be on the look out while you wash. Watch out for eyes or nostrils protruding from the water
  • Be wary of animals with young. Never feed the animals or try to touch them. The feeding of monkeys, baboons and mongoose at certain campsites has brought about absolutely atrocious and at times aggressive, harassing behaviour
  • In the Okavango and Chobe, where animal density is high, do not stray far from the campsite or walk in the bush

Safety
Botswana remains a relatively safe place to visit, however there are a few incidents of crime. It is advisable to take basic precautions: always lock car doors; always lock your hotel room or house; do not leave valuables in your hotel room or car; and take care with your bags in crowded places, particularly the malls and nightclubs.