Botswana is a country located in South Africa, possibly the safest country in the entire Africa, rich in natural goods and wildlife and bordering with Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Tourism is well developed in Botswana, as a contrast to its neighboring countries, and is somewhat distanced from the racism spreading across Africa.
The level of service in Botswana is considerably better than in its neighboring countries, tourism is the norm (even though the number of tourists is pretty low away from Botswana’s main national parks, which agrees with travelers who hate feeling like tourists) and hassles are low, so traveling to Botswana is a great option for anyone feeling like visiting Africa.
Warnings & Dangers in Botswana
OVERALL RISK : LOW
Overall, Botswana is a safe country - probably the safest one in Africa, and a good place to start your exploration of this content if you've never been there before. Attacks towards tourists are rare and people are welcoming and warm.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : MEDIUM
Transportation in Botswana is for the most part safe, and the only public transport left between major cities are buses, since all domestic rail routes were cancelled in 2009. You should be careful when renting a car since carjacking does happen, although rarely. Do not rent cars from expensive manufacturers that would be an attractive theft target.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
Pickpocketing is rare in Botswana and mugging and bag snatching is actually more likely to happen to you. However, do not keep your valuables in your back pocket or anywhere easily reachable in crowded places.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
Botswana is seriously affected by cross border floods, since there is a risk of Gaborone Dam, the water source in the capital city, overflowing. Another issue for Botswana are diseases from South Africa, Angola, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia. It is also prone to occasional droughts.
MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM
Even though crime towards tourists is rare in Botswana, it does happen at times, and it is usually executed in the form of carjacking, bag snatching, cell phone thefts etc. Try not to handle anything valuable on the street, or drive expensive vehicles. In case of mugging, do not act brave or resist handing over your valuables.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
Even though in Botswana's recent history there haven't been any terrorist attacks, one can never be too cautious, and things such as terrorist attacks can never be ruled out, so be aware of your surroundings at all times.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
There is a reasonably low risk of being scammed in Botswana, about the same as being scammed anywhere else. Taxi drivers may try to overprice their rides, and street vendors might try to sell their souvenirs for a much higher price than its value. As a tourist, be sure to arrange all your deals in advance, and get well informed about the prices in the big cities as well as the national parks.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
The threats for women travelers in Botswana are no greater than in Europe, and travelling around Botswana shouldn't be too difficult or unpleasant for women. However, unaccompanied women should be cautious in clubs or bars and avoid walking alone in city parks or empty streets at night.
So... How Safe Is Botswana Really?
Good news for travelers – Botswana is one of the safest African countries. The crime rate is low, even though it has been on the rise during the last couple of years, people are very friendly and the country is slowly acquiring the reputation of a luxury tourist destination.
Street crime is rarely an issue in Botswana, especially towards tourists. Such cases have been reported and people have gotten robbed, but it doesn’t happen very often, so tourists shouldn’t be too worried. The main areas where you should exercise caution are the country’s capital Gaborone and the tourist capital, Maun, which serves as a gateway to one of Africa’s greatest natural regions and tourist destinations, the Okavango Delta, so be careful in this area. However, you are likely to have no incidents, as tourism is a huge part of economy and tourists are welcome in the country.
Another issue in Botswana is carjacking and the best way to handle these situations is not to resist or act brave, and of course, try not to drive cars from manufacturers that would be considered highly valuable in Africa, and an attractive target for theft. Cell phone thefts also happen, so be careful when using your cell phone in public, and never leave your valuables (or cell phone) in plain sight.
Tourists traveling to Botswana via South Africa should also be aware that there is a serious baggage theft issue at OR Tambo (Johannesburg) and Cape Town International Airports, so be cautious when arriving to Botswana.
- Visas - Generally speaking, visa is not required for any stays shorter than 90 days and passport with at least six months of validity remaining is required. U.S. citizens are permitted to stay up to 90 days total within a 12-month period without a visa. There is, however, a list of countries that do not need a visa to enter Botswana, so if you are not sure about your visa status, visit www.doyouneedvisa.com which will let you know whether or not you need visa based on your nationality and the country you want to visit.
- Currency - Botswana's currency is Botswana Pula and it is recommended that you exchange your money at the Bank of Botswana, since they offer the best exchange rates.
- Weather - The climate in Botswana is typical of southern Africa, with rainfalls from December all the way until March, with September and October being the hottest and the best months for visiting safaris and national parks.
- Airports - Sir Seretse Khama International Airport is situated 15 km north of Gaborone and is the main (and the busiest) international airport of the capital city of Botswana
- Travel Insurance - Just like anywhere else, we recommend getting travel insurance when traveling to Botswana, since it covers not only the costs of medical problems, but also theft and loss of valuables.