Area: 581.730 km2
Inhabitants: 2.254.000 inhhabitants (2018)
Population density: 3,87 inhabitants per km2.
Languages: The official language is English, although much of the population speaks Setswan. Apart from that, we will find other languages among the population of Botswana such as Bantu and the Khoisanid languages used mainly by the San people.
Currency: The country’s official currency is the Pula (BWP). In exchange, 1 euro is 13 BWP. You can see the current change at the following link.
Road driving: Driving through Botswana is quite a challenge. The roads that cross the national parks are sandy and dirt where the 4×4 will be essential to be able to drive and enjoy the wildlife in the foreground. Between big cities like Kasane, Francistown, Gaborone or Maun, the roads are paved with long, flat straights and where you have to watch out for unexpected potholes that will make you drastically slow down. One of the main causes of accidents in Botswana is the collision with animals. Therefore, be careful and do not drive at night.
If you click here you can read the main TIPS for traveling by car to Botswana.
Internet / SIM card: Botswana is one of the African countries with the largest presence of elephants. It is a country full of spectacular national parks where you will not find coverage in many of them because they are in the middle of nowhere. Botswana is a fairly uninhabited country, but where, outside of certain areas such as the Kalahari, part of the Chobe and Okavango, and Khubu Island, will you find good connections. Most establishments usually have wifi. In fact, in this sabbatical year, since we were only a short time in the country (which we had already visited in 2019) we decided not to buy any SIM cards.
Visa: For Spanish passports, it is not necessary to have a visa to enter the country as a tourist. They allow you a maximum stay of 90 days in the country.
Budget: In total, we were in Botswana for 7 days during two in-country visits we made during our gap year in Africa. We first entered in November 2021, where we revisited Chobe NP and made our way to South Africa; and the second time we crossed it during the month of February 2022 in order to go to Malawi. In total, we spent 762.72 euros for two people. Here is a breakdown of all the expenses in Botswana:
WHAT TO SEE IN BOTSWANA?
It is one of the natural parks we have liked the most so far for everything it entails: a challenge at the wheel, dreamy landscapes and animals of all kinds everywhere. This 10,000 km2 nature park with the largest elephant population in the world (about 120,000 specimens), is one of the most beautiful safaris in Botswana. The park is named after the river that crosses it, the Chobe, where you can see the 5 big five and where crossing it is an adventure with your 4×4. Don’t miss the part of Savuti, which has the highest concentration of wildlife in the whole park, where you can observe lions, cheetahs, wild dogs, hyenas, etc.… If you can, sleep there!
Victoria Falls is one of the natuarl wonders in the world that leaves no one indifferent. Discovered by Livingstone, he named them after the Queen of England. These waterfalls, located on the Zambezi River, which mark the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, are 1,700m wide, making them the widest waterfalls in the world. They are one of the main tourist attractions in southern Africa and make sure you don’t miss them on a day trip from Kasane (Botswana).
Moremi is a nature reserve located in the famous and strange Okavango Delta. This reserve is bordered on the northeast by Chobe National Park. The landscape of this park is very different from the others, because it alternates the river plain with more extensive land (especially in the dry season), making this park one of the best in Botswana to see fantastic scenery. It is in this reserve, where you can enjoy driving in a 4×4 wildly crossing it from North to South with your own car; or else you can book a safari from the nearest town, Maun.
The Okavango Delta is the largest inland delta in the world. It is an oasis of life in the middle of a semi-arid territory that flows into the Kalahari Desert. It is a paradise on earth to see wildlife, from the big Five, 1,300 species of plants and trees, 460 birds, numerous herbivores, etc. The best way to get an idea of this delta is to fly over it. It can be done from the nearby town, Maun, which is also the gateway to the Moremi Nature Reserve, located in the delta. A unique experience that will allow you to see this natural wonder from a bird’s eye view!
5.- KALAHARI DESERT
This desert of about 500,000 km2 occupies 70% of the country’s area (apart from part of Namibia and South Africa) and was one of the deserts inhabited since the time of the first hominids. In the center of Botswana, there is the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, the second largest in the world where you can meet the Bushman tribe (to find out more, click here), nomadic people with their herds of cattle, as well as see the rich wildlife that lives there: antelopes, giraffes, lions, elephants, zebras, springbok, oryx … To make a safari through the Kalahari, you must not forget that you go to one of the most extreme areas of the planet, and you need to prepare it in advance and do so prudently, bringing plenty of water and fuel, as well as satellite phone in case you have any breakdowns. For time and experience (it was the first safari we did, and also with our own car), we did not dare to enter to the desert.
It is one of the national parks of Botswana and is part of the cross-border conservation area of the Kavango River and the Zambezi. It is made up of salt pans which attract a lot of wildlife, especially during and after the rainy season. The landscape is very curious, giving rise to some mirages and where you can see large baobabs.
It is one of the largest salt pans in the world which come from salt water of an evaporated lake whose size is about 16,000 km2. This park is surrounded by the Kalahari Desert, and to the west is the Okavango Delta. During migration, millions of flamingos can be seen feeding on crustaceans that emerge from the rain. It is a good place to be in the middle of the loneliness of the landscape, drive through endless horizon, see spectacular skies and find peace on a baobab island in the middle of the park, Kubu Island. There, we advise you to spend a day observing the immensity of the desert in this place considered sacred by the local people.
8.- TSODILO HILLS
It is one of the oldest historical sites in the world, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which stands out for its high concentration of cave paintings, making it nicknamed the “Louvre of the Desert”. More than 4,500 cave paintings are preserved in an area of 10 km2, consisting of about four hills that rise above the desert. The place is of great spiritual importance to the people of San, making it a sacred place, calling them the mountains of the gods. We couldn’t visit it, because it’s located in the far northeast of the country, and it didn’t give us time for the days we had on vacation but we found people who recommended it to us and advised us to take a walk around those mountains (there are different routes available all accessible and easy, one of the recommended is the Rhino Trail). The amount of the ticket goes directly to the community. It is recommended to pay a guide to explain the meaning of the paintings.