Health and Safety
In general, people in Botswana have a reputation for being friendly and welcoming. Along with most countries around the world, mugging can be a problem in certain towns and we advise that you do not walk at night unless you know the area well. If you are driving yourself it is sensible to arrive at your destination before dark as animals enjoy lying on the roads at night.
It is always sensible when travelling to take precautions against theft. By far the best precaution is to avoid taking valuables with you on holiday. If you do carry valuables ensure you are discreet. Do not leave any valuables or luggage unattended in a vehicle, unless in a locked boot. Although your personal belongings are generally safe from theft in the camps and lodges, we recommend that you use the safekeeping facilities at reception.
Game reserves and other tourist areas are generally secure, but you should be alert to unpredictable behaviour by wild animals You should follow park regulations and wardens’ advice. You should not bathe in rivers and lakes, because of the dangers from both wildlife and water-borne diseases.
If you intend travelling to remote areas plan your trip with care, make transport and accommodation arrangements in advance and seek local advice on what precautions to take. Vehicles should be stocked with emergency supplies and be properly prepared for off-road driving conditions.
In major towns taxis are generally safe to take. You should agree a price before setting off.
Please be aware that your trip might bring you into close contact with wild animals, which can be a threat to your safety and your health. Many of the camps we use are unfenced and particular care must be taken. It is essential that you always follow the advice of your guides, do not walk out on your own and do not touch any plants, animals or insects. You should understand the risks involved and take responsibility for your own safety.
Please note that the safari lodges will require you to sign a personal indemnity form and you must be prepared to sign these.
UK and International driving licences are acceptable in Botswana for up to 90 days. If you intend to stay longer you should apply for a Botswana licence.
Botswana has good tarmac roads over most of the country but you should be careful when driving off-road. Dangerous driving, including speeding (the maximum speed limit is 120kph), and drunk driving cause serious and often fatal accidents.
Driving, particularly outside the major urban areas, is dangerous because wildlife and stray livestock can pose a serious hazard on the roads.
Local Laws and Customs
Drug taking and smuggling is an offence. The punishments can be severe.
Taking photographs or using video equipment near military and government installations is prohibited. Always ask permission before taking photographs of people in Botswana.
The use of drones is severely restricted. Ensure that you have the necessary permissions.
You should carry some form of identification with you at all times.
Health care in Botswana is good in the major towns but medical facilities and communications are limited in rural areas. For serious medical treatment, medical evacuation to South Africa may be necessary. Private hospitals will not treat patients unless you can pay and health care may be expensive. Outpatients must pay cash before receiving treatment. Emergency patients will only be accepted if you have full insurance cover.
Malaria is common in the northern parts of Botswana, particularly during the rainy season (November-April). However, due to above average rainfall in February 2009, malaria transmissions may occur across Botswana. Malaria prophylactics are highly recommended.
Please consult your medical practitioner prior to travel. The use of additional precautionary measures, such as insect repellents and wearing long sleeved clothing, long trousers and socks when outside at night, is recommended.
No anti-malarial medication is 100% effective in preventing the disease. However, if malaria is contracted whilst taking anti-malarial medication, the severity of the malarial infection is generally milder than in those where the drugs have not been administered.
N.B. All travellers to malaria areas should discuss their travel plans with travel health professionals i.e.. travel clinics in advance of their departure in order to obtain the most appropriate anti-malarial medication.
Anyone returning from a high-risk malaria area experiencing influenza-like symptoms should seek urgent medical attention.
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.
There have recently been several reported cases of cholera in the region. If you suffer from acute diarrhoea and vomiting during a visit to Botswana you should seek immediate medical attention.
There are occasional outbreaks of anthrax amongst wild animals. You should seek advice locally from park officials and not touch dead animals or carcasses. If you suspect that you have come into contact with anthrax you should seek urgent medical advice.
If you intend to camp or walk in the bush you should be aware of the risk of tick bites.
In the 2008 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic the UNAIDS/WHO Working Group estimated that around 280,000 adults aged 15 or over in Botswana were living with HIV; the prevalence rate was estimated at around 23.9% of the adult population. This compares to the prevalence rate in adults in the UK of around 0.2%. You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS.
You should seek medical advice before travelling to Botswana and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up-to-date. For further information on vaccination requirements, health outbreaks and general disease protection and prevention you should visit the local travel clinic in your home town.
Please visit the Health Information for Travelers to Botswana on the CDC website for up to the minute information.