Botswana

Quick Facts

Region: Africa

Population:
1,990,876

Religion:

The majority of the people are nominal Christians, with a large admixture of African traditional beliefs. About 40% are practicing Christians. The majority of these are Anglicans, Congregationalists, and Methodists. There are other, smaller Protestant and Roman Catholic communities in the country.

Language:

The official language is English, but the national language is Setswana (also called Tswana), which is understood by over 90% of the population.

Area (sq. km):
600,370 square meters

Time:

GMT +2

When To Travel

Botswana generally has a semiarid subtropical climate. Rainfall is greatest in the north, where it averages about 640 mm (about 25 in) annually. In the Kalahari rainfall averages less than 230 mm (less than 9 in). The normal rainy season in Botswana is in the summer months and so hot and humid conditions are associated with the rain. Rain usually falls from December to March, although it can extend on either side of these months. We recommend a rain jacket should you be travelling at this time of year. In winter (May- September) temperatures during the day are often in the mid-20s; at night, however, it is possible for them to drop to 0ºc and you will need to bring adequate warm clothing, particularly for early morning walks or game drives. By late September, daytime temperatures will be back into the low to mid-30s with milder, warmer nights. In general, October is the hottest month, and July is the coldest.

Useful Travel Facts

Telephone:

The international dialling code for Botswana is +267. Telephone calls, especially international ones, can be expensive when made from a hotel. We suggest you check the price first. If you have a mobile phone it should be a relatively simple procedure to arrange ‘global roaming’ with your service provider; however, charges are generally very high so be sure to check this option thoroughly. You should also check with your service provider to see if your mobile phone is compatible with the networks used in Africa. Phone calls made from public telephone offices are generally your cheapest option.

Electricity:

The electricity supply in Africa is rated at 220 volts/50 cycles, and appliances requiring 240 volts will work normally. If you bring electrical appliances you should also bring an international adaptor. Round three pin plugs are the most common types in southern Africa.

Shopping:

Botswana is reputed to have some of the best art and crafts in Southern Africa. To name a few: Woven baskets - Beautiful designs hand crafted by the Yei and Mbukushu women who live in the Ngamiland district of north-western Botswana. The baskets are made of fibrous shoots from the heart of the mokolane palm, which is boiled in dyes that are of earthy tones. Dye colours are taken from motsentsila roots, tree bark, fungus that grows in sorghum husks, blood, ochre, clay and cow dune. As a guide a basket of medium size takes around two to three weeks to complete. Weavings - Rugs, bed covers, tablecloths, contemporary weavings and scarves are all made from karakul wool. Weavings are made mostly by women who use wooden looms.

Visa: Australians, Americans, Canadians, British and New Zealanders do not currently require a visa for Botswana. For other nationalities that do require a visa to enter into Botswana, this is no longer able to be purchased upon arrival. Your visa will need to be pre-arranged - please contact your travel agent for assistance.

Useful Words & Phrases

Setswana (Tswana)

1: Bongwe
10: lesome
100: Lekgolo
1000: Sekete
2: Bobedi
3: Borara
4: Bone
5: Botlhano
6: Borataro
7: Bosupa
8: Borobabobedi
9: Boroba bongwe
Boiled water: Metsi a a bedileng
Coffee: Kofi
Do you speak English?: A o bua Sekgoa?
English: Setswana (Tswana)
Excuse me/sorry: Intshwarele
Goodbye (person leaving): Sala sentle
Hello (to a group): Dumelang
Hello (to a man or woman): Dumela mma/rra
How much is it?: Ke bokae?
How’s it going?: O kae??
No: Nnyaa
Rice: Raese
Tea: Tee
Thank you: Kea leboga
Where is the_____?: E ko Kae_____?
Yes: Ee

Further Reading

Botswana-Lonely Planet

The Guide to Botswana-Alec Campbell

Birds of Southern Africa-Newman

The Chobe-Bruce Aitken

The Lost World of the Kalahari-Laurence Van der Post

Okavango-Sea of Land, Land of Water-Bannister & Johnston