Intimidated by Botswana? What to Know Before You Go

Botswana is the Africa you’ve envisioned. Ideal aspects invite the intrepid traveler in: high standards of healthcare, a solid education system and an economy supplemented by the discovery of hidden riches in the form of the world’s best diamond-bearing formations. Stretches of deserts and parks are roamed by herds of wildebeest and zebras. This largely isolated land is for the adventurous. Thrill seekers need only apply.

Consider getting precautionary vaccines. No vaccines are required, but you may want to take precautions, anyway. Overcome your aversion to needles and get typhoid, polio and tetanus shots with a supplement of anti-malarial tablets. 

Sunset in Kalahari Desert [Botswana, Africa]

Decide what you want to see, to determine when to go. The right time to travel to Botswana depends on the sights you most want to see. For safaris, that means the dry season when the grass is short and the animals are easy to spot in May through October. The green season from December to March comes with rain and a game of hide-and-seek to find the wildlife, but it’s far more affordable and you may even see the newborn baby animals. If it’s the Kalahari Desert that draws you in, visit between May and September.

Be prepared to pay. Botswana is waiting to be discovered…for a fee. The few roads it has are wonderfully paved, but largely the country remains to be wilderness. To venture through Botswana, it will require your time, energy and plenty of cash. 

Mopane worm, an edible delicacy [Botswana, Africa]

Work up the courage to sample grubs. A torture for some, eating mopane worms – grubs, is a delicacy for the Botswanan people. Choose between trying the treat in the boiled, deep-fried or cooked variety. Down it with local drinks like the bojalwa, a homemade ginger beer. If you can’t quite muster up the appetite for grubs, stick to the safe morogo, a type of spinach.

Attempt to learn some Setswana. English is the official language, but Setswana is the unofficial official language. This is the language of the tribes and an integral part of Botswanan culture. A few phrases in the native language will communicate your respect for the locals. 

Elephant reflected on the surface of a waterhole [Botswana, Africa]

Take caution. This broad mantra applies to several aspects of your trip to Botswana. Visitors are reminded to be vigilant in all their surroundings. The international airports have had reoccurring baggage pilferage issues. It’s advised to use an airport plastic wrapping service for luggage and to avoid packing valuables in checked luggage. Once in the wilderness, it’s the animals you should turn your attention to. Respect the power of these untamed creatures, as most of Botswana’s camps and campsites are unfenced.




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Alyssa Derby

Passionately curious about the world around her, Alyssa Derby is a self-proclaimed wanderlust aficionado. She’s tallied a count of seven countries visited, with New Zealand, Greece and Bolivia next up on the bucket list. To reminisce about past trips, s