Is your first holiday to Botswana upcoming? Or are you reading about this beautiful country? Exciting! Use our tips for good preparation.
Tip 1: Drive yourself or group trip?
You will meet new people during a group trip. In a bus you travel together through the parks and across the country. You will be part of a fully arranged itinerary in which the route is fixed and the accommodations are booked for you. Ideal for people who like to relinquish control but still want an adventurous holiday.
Khokelo Safaris organizes self-drive holidays in Botswana. In your own 4-wheel-drive safari vehicle you drive from campsite to campsite with a rooftop tent. Many people experience this form of travel as the ultimate form of freedom. Whether that is safe? In all the trips we have made, we have never been in a situation that we have labeled unsafe. Of course we prepare our travelers well in advance with practical information and tips.
Think about what you want to get out of your safari: freedom and adventure or comfort and convenience?
Tip 2: Choose the best departure time
The best travel period depends on how well you can withstand heat and rain and on the purpose with which you want to visit this versatile country.
The peak season in Botswana is from June to November. From June to August the weather is generally pleasant with temperatures around 25 °C during the day. In the last months of the peak season it is getting drier, causing wildlife to look for water. It is then easy to spot wildlife at the (scarce) water sources. The temperature at this time will rise above 32 °C.
December to March is the rainy season in Botswana. As the name suggests, it rains a lot in these months. Nature blooms in full force and hundreds of bird species return from their holidays. This is the perfect time for plant and bird watchers. During the rainy season, the average temperature drops a little further each month.
Tip 3: Don’t miss out on these highlights
Botswana consists of almost 40% protected parks and reserves. Wildlife can roam freely throughout the country, because parks are generally unfenced. However, you will encounter certain animal species to be endemic to certain areas.
The five absolute highlights for a tour through Botswana are:
- Chobe National Park with its giant elephant population, lions and hyenas.
- The Okavango Delta with its unique and versatile flora and fauna
- Moremi Game Reserve where you can spot giraffes, antelopes and buffaloes
- The endless plains of the Makgadikgadi salt pans
- The inescapable Kalahari desert
Tip 4: Safe in and around the car
Do you choose to drive yourself? How cool! This is guaranteed to be a fantastic experience that you will never forget. To maximize your safety, we recommend the following tips in and around the car.
You are safest in the car. Do you see wildlife? Shut down the engine as soon as possible. A simmering engine does not belong in nature and you can imagine that wild animals (often with a better developed hearing than humans) find this an extremely annoying sound.
In addition, keep your distance, take your time and look around you. You drive yourself, so you have plenty of time! Just make sure you don’t get trapped by herds elephants or buffaloes.
In Botswana you are allowed (unlike many other countries) to exit your vehicle in the national parks. Do this only in open areas, where you can see all around you from 50 to 100 meters. Do not get out at the water’s edge and take a good look around (also on the ground) to see if it is safe to get out.
Tip 5: If you run you die
Generally, animals are not interested in you. They are more afraid of you and will run away as soon as they see or smell you. Unless they see you running! Then an instinctive reaction arises in which you are a prey that must be caught.
So if you ever come face to face with wildlife? Stand still until the animal leaves, no matter how unnatural this feels. It is of course better not to get into this situation at all by staying in (or close to) the car or bus as much as possible.
Tip 6: Feeding is dangerous
Feeding is bad for animals and ultimately dangerous for people. Monkeys in particular are an increasing problem when they know that food can be found. They become increasingly bolder and can start to behave aggressively.
Therefore, store your food well and only throw it away in the appropriate containers in campsites. It is also better not to throw away anything whatsoever from the vehicle.
Tip 7: Drink safe water
Our western abdomen and intestines are not adapted to African bacteria. Seeing locals drink water from a spring doesn’t mean it’s safe for you too. The advice is therefore to purchase bottled drinking water from the supermarket. You can use the water from the water tank of your car to wash your hands and clothes and possibly shower if nothing else is available.
Tip 8: Vaccinations
Before you travel to Botswana or Zambia, we always advise you to get the necessary vaccinations and associated malaria advice.
The yellow fever vaccination is only mandatory if you want to travel from a country where yellow fever occurs, such as Zambia or Angola. Recommended vaccinations are Hepatitis A, DTP (against diphtheria, tetanus and polio) and Measles (if you have not had measles or have never been vaccinated).
Tip 9: Local telephone numbers
It is a good idea to compile a list of telephone numbers before departure in case of car problems, medical emergencies and other unpleasant situations. Write down the general emergency numbers, but also walk through your route thoroughly and write down the emergency numbers per location of the police and the parks.
Some examples are:
- Medical Rescue International: +267 390 1601 of 911
- Maun Police Station: +267 6860 224
- Tshabong Police Station: +267 6540 423
When you book your trip at Khokelo Safaris, you will receive an extensive list with all telephone numbers of emergency services and parks. You will also receive a satellite phone from us, so you always have coverage.
Tip 10: Start your packing list on time
Are you going on a safari for the first time? You will probably end up with a lot more stuff than you thought. Our safari packing list contains more than 60 items! Of course you don’t have to buy everything new. Make a call to friends or family. Chances are that it also leads to beautiful stories, inspiration and even more tips for your own safari!