Botswana is located north of South Africa with Namibia to the west, Zimbabwe to the east, and Zambia to the north. It is a sparsely populated desert country in southern Africa, with the arid sands of the Kalahari Desert in the west making up more than half its landmass. Oddly enough, the northwest corner of this desert country is home to the world’s largest inland delta. However, most of Botswana’s population lives in or near the capital city of Gaborone in the southeast.
This land in southern Africa came under British protection in 1885 and adopted the name Bechuanaland. In 1966, the people of Bechuanaland were granted independence from Britain and renamed their new democratic country Botswana. The country remains home to the most of the world’s San bushman population. Batswanas have also established one of the healthiest economies in all of Africa, led primarily by diamond mining and tourism.
The biggest draw of Botswana travel is the country’s wildlife parks. The grasslands and savannas of the Chobe and Moremi national parks are home to such indigenous animals as wildebeest, antelopes, and the endangered African Wild Dogs. Game reserves, especially the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, are also popular with visitors on Botswana holidays. Another major draw to vacations in Botswana is the geologically unique Okavango Delta, formed by the Okavango River flowing into the Kalahari Desert.
Travelers beginning their vacations in Botswana by plane will most likely fly into Sir Seretse Khama airport in the capital city of Gaborone; however, the only international flights into the country originate solely from South Africa or Zimbabwe. The town of Maun, the main starting point for Botswana holidays to the Okavango Delta, also has an airport with regular flights from Gaborone and Johannesburg, South Africa. Although Botswana Railways normally operate a major rail line through the southeast region of the country from Lobatse to Francistown, all passenger rail services have been suspended since 1999. The well-maintained Trans-Kalahari Highway makes automobile and bus travel a safe option for Botswana travel, as well. This desert highway also connects Botswana to the city of Windhoek in neighboring Namibia.
Visitors from most major world countries do not need a visa for Botswana travel, including citizens of Australia, Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. English is the main language in Botswana’s cities, but visitors are advised to learn a few basic phrases in Setswana, the first language of most of the rural population. The currency of Botswana is called the Pula, consisting of 100 Thebe. Most accommodation options for Botswana holidays are near the larger cities, though most game reserves have their own lodging options, as well.
The country’s crime rate is low, but visitors on vacations in Botswana are advised to exercise caution in several other dangerous areas. First, Botswana has the second-highest reported HIV infection rate in the world. Second, drinking water in urban areas is potable, but use common sense when searching for water outside these cities. Also, northern Botswana falls within a malaria zone, so consulting your doctor before your visit is recommended.