Ideally you need to plan your trip with a safari specialist that has experience and has visited the areas you plan to travel, this may be a Tour operator/agent or even just a well travelled friend. Travel in Africa is not as simple as in more developed areas, with 'African time' being one of the major complicating factors! It is recommended that you book through a tour operator that can present you with a well planned and informative itinerary that has taken time to listen to what your expectations and interests are and tailored a safari to suit. The main points to decide initially are: when can you visit (based on your available time), how long can you visit, what points of interest are you wanting to particularly meet, what level of accommodation are you looking for and how does that suit your budget. An experienced operator will be able to offer advice to assist you with making these choices.
In addition, the more research you do prior to travel the more informed your choices will be; resulting in a rewarding lifetime experience.
Time to Travel
When you visit will largely depend on when you are available to travel, but if you have flexibility to choose then it becomes a matter of what you are looking for from your trip and the seasons affect both wildlife movements and your comfort level - both influencing factors in deciding when to travel. The Botswana Safari season in Botswana runs from March 1 through November 30.
Some camps close over December - February which is the wet season in Botswana, whilst others remain open, as a general guide Edo's Camp is open in February as this is one of the best times to visit the Kalahari area after the summer rains.
Contact our reservations office for current details. As a general guide you may expect the following weather patterns in Botswana, the seasons are as per the Southern Hemisphere and of course is a guide only.
June, July and August are the winter months, marked by cloudless days and mild temperatures, average temperatures ranging from 7-27 degrees C. The landscapes outside the Okavango Delta begin their drying process, gradually fading from lush green to dry khaki colours. In the delta, the floodwaters from Angola start to fill the countless lagoons and streams.
September and October can be compared to spring in the Northern Hemisphere a delightful time of year to visit Botswana, however October can be very hot particularly towards the end of the month. Temperatures average 15- 31 degrees C and you may experience the occasional rain shower towards the end of October. Any discomfort from the heat is offset by the excellent game viewing at this time of year due to the lack of thick vegetation and the water holes are drying up
November, early December and March are considered summer months, with average temperatures ranging from 16-32 degrees C. These months border the rainy season (Jan & Feb), when you may encounter brief but occasionally heavy rain These months still afford visitors excellent game viewing and you may be lucky to witness the miracle that the rains bring, transforming the dry land to a vibrant abundance of lush greenery.
April and May are both delightful months to visit Botswana marked by moderate temperatures, with average temperatures ranging 15-31 degrees C. For the best advice in planning the time to visit, contact our reservations department with your date options, advising of any special interests or requests that can assist our consultants in making suitable recommendations for you.
What to bring
- Good binoculars
- Camera equipment
- Flashlight - optional (provided in all Ker & Downey camps, only necessary if you go to other camps or camping)
- Reading materials
- Pen and paper, or writing journal/diary
- Locks for luggage
- Passport with appropriate Visas
- Health Certificates as recommended by your physician for your specific destination(s)
- Airline tickets (always reconfirm reservations 72 hours in advance)
- Traveller's cheques, credit card or cash (amount depending on your itinerary, please discuss with your consultant if you are unsure - please note that although commonly accepted, not all places in Africa have access to credit card machines so it is recommended to carry a back up of traveller's cheques or cash in addition).
- Customs registration (cameras, videos, binoculars and expensive watches)
Suggested photo equipment
- 35mm camera with flash (standard or digital)
- Standard lens, 35-50mm range
- Wide angle lens, 24-35mm range
- Zoom lens, 70-200 or 100-300mm range
- Long lens, 200-400mm range, with f3.5 or f4 speed if possible
- Cigarette lighter battery charger
- A tripod may be useful when photographing outside the vehicle: otherwise a small beanbag will stabilize your camera on the side arm rails on safari vehicles.
- Spare batteries for cameras flash and motor drive.
- Camera cleaning equipment (dust can be a problem)
- Pack your equipment in a good, soft-sided case, and carry it on the plane with you. Africa can be dusty and you should protect your equipment well. Plastic 'ziplock' bags or cloth pillowcases are ideal means of covering and storing your photographic equipment during your safari.
Suggestion/guide only suited to a 7-14 day safari, please note that there is a laundry facility provided free of charge in most camps which alleviates the need to bring too many clothes. Due to the generally warm and dry climate you will find that most washing has same day return.
- 6 Shirts-3 long and 3 short sleeved
- 2 Pairs of shorts
- 1 Pair of lightweight slacks or jeans (women may prefer skirts or culottes)
- 1 Wind-breaker or bush jacket
- 1 Warm sweater for evenings and early mornings
- 1 Pair pyjamas or sweat suit for sleeping
- Sun protective hat
- 1 Pair of comfortable walking shoes, tennis shoes or lightweight hiking boots
- 1 Pair flip flops
- 1 Pair of light shoes for evenings
- 5 Pair socks
- Underclothing, for the ladies a sports bra is recommended for bumpy roads!
- 1 Lightweight rain jacket (November - April) OR a warm/windproof jacket and warm gloves/hat/scarf (May - August)
- Antiseptic cream
- Chapstick or lip balm
- Band Aids
- Extra pair or prescription glasses or contact lenses
- Anti-diarrhoea medicine
- Skin moisturizer
- Eye and nose drops/moisturizer
- Antihistamine if you suffer from allergies/hay fever as the grass and dust levels can be quite high
- Shaving kit (not electric unless the battery is long lasting)
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Nail clippers
- Insect repellent (containing DEET)
How safe is Botswana?
Botswana is considered a safe travel destination. It is both financially and politically stable. It has been spared much of the unrest and turmoil, which plagues so many countries in Africa. As is the case elsewhere, the larger cities and population centres generally have the most crime, but once you are on safari, such problems are all but nonexistent. It is, however, a good idea to leave your valuables (expensive watches, jewellery, etc.) at home, thus eliminating the temptation for possible theft. Luggage locks are always advisable when flying.
What type of travel documents do I need?
A valid passport is a requirement for any international travel, when travelling into Southern Africa your passport needs to be valid for a minimum requirement of 6 months after your entrance date as well as 2 blank pages. Citizens of certain countries are required to obtain visas for entry into Botswana. As this list of countries changes from time to time, it is important to check with your travel consultant regarding current visa requirements, well in advance of your departure. Please note that it is your own responsibility to ensure all necessary visas are obtained prior to entry (unless available on entry, such as Zimbabwe at current time).
What type of clothing will I need on safari?Depending upon the time of year you safari in Botswana, lightweight clothing of cotton and cotton/blends are most suitable. During the winter months it can be very cold and a warm jacket will be needed for early morning and evening game viewing activities. During the summer months bring a lightweight water/windproof jacket in case of rain, but otherwise temperatures are very warm. For evenings bring lightweight long sleeved clothing as protection from mosquitoes. Neutral colours such as khaki, beige/cream or olive green are appropriate, and are less conspicuous to the animals. Laundry is done daily in camp, so it is not necessary to over pack. Consult our packing list as a general guide before you travel.
It is recommended that on your international flight to Botswana you carry a change of clothing (e.g. t-shirt and underwear), any prescription medicines and your valuables (documents, camera, wallet) in your hand luggage in case of lost luggage or luggage delays from connecting international flights. In the case of lost luggage, we will assist where possible in calling the airlines to monitor progress in your luggage claim which, in most cases, arrives the following day, however please note that it is often beyond our control and your best precaution is the essential items being packed in your hand luggage.
What about tipping?
Tipping is not obligatory. It is, however, appropriate if you feel that the measure of service you received warrants a show of your personal appreciation, this is purely discretionary. The average tip amounts are approximately $10 per guest, per day. Customarily, $5-10 per day will go to your driver/guide directly and $5 per day can be placed in the Tip Box provided in the camps, Camp Managers distribute the latter among the camp employees. It is a fair distribution system ensuring that the 'behind the scenes' staff are also rewarded.
How much baggage can I bring on safari?
Since most safari travel is done in small aircraft, each passenger is limited to one soft-sided bag, weighing no more than 20 kg, plus a typical sized camera bag. Bear in mind the door to the luggage pod is only 70 x 25 cm. Soft type duffel bags are ideal and are required. Excess baggage be may subject to additional baggage/charter charges and please note it is optional to store your excess baggage in our Maun office at no extra charge until the end of your safari (this option is only available if your safari starts and ends in Maun, otherwise alternate arrangements will need to be made).
How much money will I need?
Most major currencies are accepted throughout Botswana. You will not need large sums of cash while on safari, as our programs are all inclusive. However, some guests enjoy shopping in Maun. Selected camps have a small gift shop stocked with various curios, safari items and film, credit card can be used (Master or Visa cards). Otherwise, you may need money for any accommodations, meals and shopping before or after your scheduled safari as well as for visas (Zimbabwe etc) and taxes. The amount needed, of course, is your personal decision.
What about insects or snakes?
Surprisingly, there are very few snake problems in Botswana, normal common sense avoids contact with snakes (i.e. don't go crawling through dense bushes!). Insect repellent is provided in all tents and safari vehicles. However, for your personal comfort, we recommend you bring some insect repellent of your own and take malarial prophylaxis (please consult your local travel medical specialist for the medication best suited to you). It is also a good idea to bring some sunscreen as even in the winter months the days are warm and clear and as you spend a large part of the day outside on activities, there is a risk of sunburn.
Always consult your doctor prior to travel.