Holidays in Botswana from A to Z
What can be of interest to travelers in Botswana? The same as any other country in the world – its characteristics. And they are as follows: untouched and pristine nature, carefully preserved in the reserves, exotic climate and landscape, the opportunity to touch the culture of local people, such an ancient and alien, and at the same time – so fascinating. Botswana – a country for those who do not want a standard all-inclusive vacation: the beach, the sea, a couple of museums. It – for the curious. It – for the brave. Botswana – for those who are looking for something unique. Read an article about this wondrous country, perhaps its uniqueness will attract you and you will visit Botswana with vacation goals in 2022.
General information about Botswana
A brief historical background.
Even a couple of millennia BC – and the territory of modern Botswana already has the sites of the oldest ancestors of man. The territory was inhabited by tribes of hunters and gatherers, they gradually evolved and began to breed livestock.
As early as the first centuries AD, the Bantu, a people engaged in agriculture, arrived in southern Africa. Mingling with the local population, they began to build their own small buildings – the remains of which have survived to this day.
In the Middle Ages, trade with the tribes that lived on the other side of the Limpopo River began to develop on the territory of the country. Many different peoples could not help but conflict: for the possession of the territory, for the subordination of the chief of their tribe, for the rich deposits.
In the 16th century, a group of Tswana peoples stood out in particular, which gave rise to generations of people who now inhabit the state. The Tswana created quite strong state formations, and some of them came into contact with Europeans, who had already reached Africa at that time. But, alas, this goodwill did not lead to good for the Tswana, because in the late 19th century colonial Britain established its authority over their territories.
Like all African nations, Botswana had a long and hard road to independence. Having gone through numerous wars tearing the body of the country, colonization, humiliation of its indigenous people, Botswana gained independence in 1965, as the economy of the country by that time began to grow on its own. The main source of income of the country until 1970 of the last century was cattle breeding. Then minerals, including diamonds, were discovered and the economy began to grow steadily. The diamond industry generates more than a third of the country’s income.
Botswana is now one of the countries on the African continent with a fairly developed economy, a people’s republic, and an independent country. However, the authorities of the country do not particularly welcome tourists so far, they do not want a mass invasion of strangers into the country. Therefore, a tour or independent travel to Botswana will cost quite a lot – but it is worth it.
A brief geographical background and climate
The state is located in South Africa, has borders with South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Namibia, and is landlocked. More than two-thirds of Botswana is occupied by the Kalahari Desert. There are hills (the famous Tsodilo area) and lowlands – near the Limpopo River. The country has swampy areas, plains, different types of soil. The largest waterway is the Okavango River, and there are many lakes in its delta. A large number of minerals have been found in the interior.
Botswana on the map:
Vegetation is represented by flora of savannas and semi-deserts, forests near rivers. The fauna is varied: in Botswana there are cheetahs and hyenas, zebras and buffalo, elephants, a lot of antelopes, birds and fish. The animal world near the Okavango River is very diverse.
Most of the territory of Botswana belongs to the subtropical type of climate, sharply continental. Summer here lasts from September to April and is pleasant with temperatures around 25 – 30 degrees Celsius. From May to August it is dry, and the temperature is lower – on average about 20 degrees of heat. The temperature variations during the day and night can be quite severe. In August the country is attacked by sandstorms.
The best time to travel to Botswana is April to October. This is when the animals congregate near the Okavango River.
Planning a trip to Botswana: transportation, accommodation, visa, safety
How to get to Botswana and travel around the country
If you book your airline tickets in advance for autumn 2022, a one-way flight for one person will cost about 30,000 rubles. There are no direct flights from the CIS countries, you can fly through Europe or Africa – and get to the capital of Botswana, Gaborone.
As for transport infrastructure in the country, it is virtually undeveloped. There are very few roads, and sometimes it will be more convenient to travel through local airlines. There are also bus routes – between and within cities, a small railway line.
To get to the Okavango Delta, you may have to include canoeing and horseback riding.
In the major cities of Botswana many companies offer car rentals. However, even if you arrived in the country on your own and don’t want to take tours, hire an SUV driver who will also be your guide around the country, because the local roads are not easy to understand.
Hotel infrastructure in Botswana
Hotel infrastructure in the country is mainly represented by institutions like a lodge (a small building with a small number of rooms or an entire village with these buildings) or campsites with upscale tents. In the capital you can book a room for two (in advance) from $ 30 per day. Lodges more comfortable will cost about $ 70 a day for double occupancy. Rest of the “luxury” can cost in the area of 250 dollars for the same conditions. However, as a rule, tourists in Botswana are accommodated in nature, and close to the beautiful places of the country will be not even internationally known, but comfortable hotel facilities.
Visa to Botswana for Russians
Russian tourists don’t need visa if the period of stay in the country doesn’t exceed 90 days. You must present your passport and prove your financial status at the border. Medical insurance is not required – but it is worth obtaining it for your own safety.
Safety in Botswana
Botswana – a very pleasant country for tourists, because there is little crime, and the local population is generally friendly to travelers. Here’s what to consider before traveling to Botswana:
- living in the wilderness, you should not leave your lodge at night, because the pristine nature is also predatory animals;
- Before a trip you should get a vaccination against yellow fever;
- it is worth to take a course of medicines against malaria;
- Do not take photos or record videos of the military, government officials, military infrastructure, the airport;
- during safari should not approach wild animals;
- in Botswana there are ticks, so it is better to wear clothes covering your extremities and periodically check your appearance;
- It is worth every possible way to protect the ecology of this wonderful place.
Leisure in Botswana: sights and attractions
Settlements of Botswana
Gaborone is the capital city of Botswana and can be the starting point of your journey. It was built only in the 20th century, so it is not very antique. But Gaborone is very picturesque: it stands in a valley surrounded by beautiful hills, and there are many gardens, parks, and boulevards in the city.
A large collection of ancient and traditional exhibits can be seen in the National Museum of Botswana. These are paintings of local craftsmen and products of crafts of bushmen – African aborigines. In the National Botanical Gardens you can admire the flora – because you haven’t gotten to nature itself yet.
The best viewing platform of the city is, in fact, Kgale Hill. More than a kilometer in height will require physical effort, but you will be rewarded with a lovely view. However, the capital is only a starting point: all the best is in the heart of the country, in its different corners.
The village, located in the east of the country, is not so simple. It was formerly the capital of an ancient kingdom. The village has a museum, preserving the personal belongings of the rulers of that state, weapons, household items, art, crafts, as well as the royal cemetery.
The country has developed folk arts and crafts. There are fine artists and craftsmen engaged in painting on wood, making pottery and incredibly graceful figurines of people and animals, weaving baskets of mokolvane, the production of rugs from skins and other crafts. One of the artisan villages is Oodi. The best weavers in the country live here: you can literally see how the product is made and then buy it as a souvenir.
Botswana’s Ancient Monuments and Unspoiled Nature
Botswana has thousands of years of history. This is why there are places in the country, where historians, archaeologists and just lovers of this science with a special zeal strive to get.
The country protects and preserves the nature.
Animals live both in the wild and collected in national parks and reserves.
The most ancient monument of art on the territory of the country is a huge collection of rock paintings in the area of Tzodilo. Numerous pictures of birds, animals, people, hunting scenes, various religious rituals and scenes of ritual dances have survived from ancient times to the present day and are scattered on the territory of 10 square kilometers in the Kalahari desert. These drawings are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Despite the fact that Botswana does not even have access to water, there is something to dedicate your vacation to. Several of the richest national parks in the country allow you to get an up-close look at the extraordinary African animals, observe their way of life and admire the incredible African scenery.
Among them are very dry parks, such as Nxai Pan, where the last rains were observed in 1992 and the ground is covered with a thick crust of salt.
When traveling on excursions to the parks of Botswana, it is recommended to take a solid supply of water.
Nxai Pan National Park is famous for its baobabs. Here you can also see herds of antelope and zebra migrating to their seasonal habitat.
Kgalagadi is a new park that opened in 2000 through the joint efforts of South Africa and Botswana. The harsh natural conditions involve a fierce struggle for survival. All the fauna of Africa inhabits the national park: antelopes, lions, cheetahs and many birds of prey, jackals and hyenas. But you won’t find any of Africa’s big animals here.
The largest reserve in Botswana is Central Kalahari. It is located right in the middle of the desert and is generally the second largest nature reserve in the world. Book a tour and drive through a real, pristine, dangerous and beautiful desert and then enter the reserve. It is home to just about everything that inhabits Botswana at all. There is a tourist infrastructure near the reserve, and the bushmen live nearby. Just imagine: plains and hills, sand and grass, an ancient riverbed called Ghost Valley…
Gchwihaba is a multitude of caves, which have walls of different colors on the inside. Stalactites and stalagmites surround the tourist, the vaults seem to sparkle, and the caves themselves, according to legend, keep ancient treasures.
It is definitely worth seeing the Okavango River, or better yet, get to its delta. This delta is unique in that the river does not flow into the ocean, and almost completely evaporates! Near the delta you can admire the reeds and lilies, and, of course, see the wildlife.
Entertainment in Botswana
Traditional entertainment for Europeans in Botswana you will not find much. This is not a place to stroll through amusement parks or water parks, not a place for parties or discos. In large cities, of course, there are supermarkets, restaurants and bars, in the capital there is a yacht club, you can go fishing. But it is not necessary to put it at the center.
But jeep safaris, rafting on rivers, climbing hills, watching nature – wild and non-living … For this Botswana will do just fine.
As for cuisine, the cuisine of Botswana is a mixture of different culinary traditions: African, Indian, Malaysian. Mainly meat in any form and corn porridge are preferred here. Extreme cuisine is, for example, wood caterpillars. But this will not suit everyone, so you can just try the steak meat: a braai dish, flavored with a side dish of maize and sauces. The population is relaxed about drinking beer and sparkling water.
Shopping in Botswana – a lot of shops and stores. Even in the capital, going to the mall, you will find a lot of handicrafts. What is necessary to buy and bring from the exotic Botswana:
- soapstone products;
- wicker products;
- products of pottery;
- rug made from an animal skin;
- precious and semi-precious stones.
Botswana is a place not every European, much less Russian tourist will get to. But how it is beautiful! This country will give you a feeling of fusion with the planet and its nature, the locals will charm you with their friendliness, and the entertainment will be really amazing. Think about it: maybe once you should sacrifice the beaches and museums, and visit a truly unique Botswana.