CAPITAL : Gaborone, although Maun is the better-known tourist destination as it's the last stepping-stone into the Okavango Delta.
POPULATION : 1,800,167 approx
AREA: 600,370 km2 (585,370 km2 land; 15,000 km2 water), About the size of Texas or France (Twice the size of Arizona). Situated in the centre of Southern Africa, it is a landlocked country, with Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe as its immediate neighbours. Botswana lies an average of 950 metres above sea level and is more than 600 kilometres from the nearest coast. The Tropic of Capricorn bisects Botswana.
LANGUAGES: The National language is Setswana. English is the official language.
TIME : GMT +2 hours, the same as South Africa
RELIGIONS: indigenous beliefs 50%, Christian 50%
CULTURE 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). Eighty percent of the population of Botswana are rural inhabitants.
CONSERVATION: Hunting and gathering methods were practised by tribesmen but were controlled by strict traditional conservation plans, which enabled Botswana to preserve its vast and diverse species of wildlife and natural resources. Now 17% of Botswana is protected and has been given over to National Parks and Game Reserves:
MOREMI WILDLIFE RESERVE & OKAVANGO REGION This pristine wilderness area of Botswana is reputed to be Africa’s most beautiful reserve. There are a wide range of habitats in the Okavango Delta which encompasses the Moremi - from the riparian woodlands, floodplains, reed beds and the permanent wetland of the Okavango Delta, through towering stands of mopane forests to the dry savannah woodlands. Such wide variety of habitats implies a wide variety of wildlife and at any time of the year, game is prolific (although what is seen obviously varies with the season). The mosaic of land and water comprising the Okavango Delta is a birder’s haven, especially from November to March when the area is brimming with migratory birds.
The Okavango Delta is divided into various private concession areas outside of the Moremi National Park. Each concession area is managed by different safari operators and permission to be in their area needs to be obtained over and above the Film Permit granted by the Ministry of Wildlife, Environment, and Tourism.
There is no fence between the Moremi and the surrounding wildlife concession areas. Game moves freely.
MAUN Maun is the gateway to the Okavango Delta. Many safari and air-charter operations have offices here (as do AfriScreen Films), thus it is busy with people coming and going especially around the airport. Maun is not usually considered a destination to stay in, but rather the last stop on the way to the Okavango. Maun has developed rapidly from a rural frontier town and has spread along the wide Thamalakane River. There are a several hotels and a few tented camps. There are 4 restaurants to eat in at night. It has several shops where you can buy food, drinks, and clothes (although very limited in choice) and curios. However, it still retains a rural atmosphere, many of the roads are not yet tarred and it still remains mostly a village.
CURRENCY: Botswana Pula. Smaller local stores only accept local currency. Most larger establishments or places you would want to buy from, e.g. the airport curio shop, bottle store, food store, hotel restaurants, accept Visa.
If you do want cash Pula, you can change (at banks or Bureau de change) Pounds or US Dollars in Maun either in cash or in traveller's cheques or draw cash from the ATM’s (Visa cards only).
Banking hours 09h00 to 15h30, Monday to Friday, and 09h00 to 11h00 on Saturday.
Visa and Master Cards are accepted at cash machines, not American Express. Please be careful at cash machines, and do not use them alone at night. U.S. Dollars cash are accepted in some restaurants, curio shops and for adventure activities. American Express is not accepted. Diners Cards are not accepted.
· Yellow Fever certificate: is not required for entry into Botswana unless you are have been in any Yellow Fever infected country (such as other African countries like Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, etc in the last 6 months – even if you are only transiting through these countries). Please check other countries before departure as regulations change.
· Travellers should be aware that there is a presence of bilharzias and sleeping sickness.
· Botswana is considered a Malaria area (including cerebral malaria). Northern Botswana, the Chobe and Kasane areas are the most common areas for malaria, particularly during and immediately following the rainy season, from November to April. As the strains of malaria, and the drugs used to combat them, frequently change, and as certain strains can become drug resistant, it is best to seek medical advice before your departure and take any medication prescribed. · Sensible precautions are: to wear long sleeves and generally keep the body covered in the evening, to sleep with a mosquito net and to use mosquito coils and repellent. · Please note that the actual cases of malaria in Maun or the Okavango are very low. · Please do not be tempted to take Larium! It is seriously bad for you (no matter what the doctors say). · The tap water is safe to drink in Botswana. However tap water does not taste very nice. Bottled mineral water is widely available. · HIV / AIDS is very prevalent. Use medical rubber gloves when treating people who are bleeding.
SECURITY: Botswana has a low crime rate but please take the normal precautions. Like many places in the world, leave your valuables out of sight or in the Hotel safe and do not place any of your belongings near a window or leave anything valuable in a car. Do not walk around at night alone. Beware of pickpockets. While in Maun equipment can be stored at Afriscreen Films office which is secure and has an alarm system.
Botswana's climate is semi-arid. Though it is hot and dry for much of the year, there is a rainy season, which runs through the summer months. Rainfall tends to be erratic, unpredictable and highly regional. Often a heavy downpour may occur in one area while 10 kilometres away there is no rain at all. Showers are often followed by strong sunshine so that a good deal of the rainfall does not penetrate the ground but is lost to evaporation and transpiration.
The rainy season is in the summer (November to March), with October and April being transitional months for rainfall. January and February are generally regarded as the peak months. The mean annual rainfall varies from a maximum of over 650mm in the extreme northeast area of the Chobe District to a minimum of less than 250mm in the extreme southwest part of Kgalagadi District.
Winter is from May – August. The days are variable. Shade temperatures rise to the 25°C mark. At night the temperature can drop radically to 5°C (and sometimes lower) – especially on the back of open vehicles with the added wind-chill factor. 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. During the day it is warm enough to wear shorts and a T-shirt. In winter humidity varies between 40 and 70% during the morning and falls to between 20 and 30% in the afternoon.