World Travel Guide > Guides > Africa > Botswana

Botswana travel guide

About Botswana

Easily one of best safari destinations in Africa, Botswana is a wild and dramatic land characterised not only by its bountiful wildlife, but also by its extraordinary scenery: from shimmering salt pans and diamond-rich deserts to raging rivers and fertile flood plains, the landscapes here come in many guises.

Nearly half of the country is given over to national parks, reserves and private concessions, which makes for an excellent safari experience. Botswana’s policy of favouring low-impact luxury tourism ensures that even the most famous game-viewing areas rarely feel crowded, while its population of just two million adds to the sense of wilderness.

The north of Botswana in particular offers superb wildlife-watching opportunities. It is home to the wondrous Okavango Delta – the largest inland delta in the world – where shimmering lagoons and fertile waterways are crammed with more than 400 species of bird. Away from the water zebras and giraffes amble across grass flats and flood plains, keeping an eye out for the numerous big predators that also reside here.

Northeast of Okavango is another jewel in Botswana’s crown: Chobe National Park, which has one of the largest concentrations of game anywhere in Africa. The reserve is particularly well known for its vast elephant herds, some 400-strong, which share this wild land with the likes of lions, cheetahs, hippos and many more.

It’s not only in conservation that Botswana is an African success story. Since gaining independence in 1966, it has achieved steady economic growth through good use of its agricultural potential and enviable diamond reserves.

It has not entirely escaped controversy – the HIV/AIDS pandemic and alleged maltreatment of the Kalahari Bushmen have caused international concern – but it remains a peaceful and stable nation of remarkable natural beauty and its developed infrastructure makes it much more accessible than some of its neighbours.

Key facts


581,730 sq km (224,607 sq miles).


2,291,661 (2017).

Population density:

3.8 per sq km.




Parliamentary republic.

Head of state:

President Mokgweetsi Masisi since 2018.

Head of government:

President Mokgweetsi Masisi since 2018.

Travel Advice

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides advice about risks of travel to help British nationals make informed decisions. Find out more about FCDO travel advice.

Before you travel

No travel can be guaranteed safe. Read all the advice in this guide and any specific travel advice that applies to you:

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this advice is updated.

Travel insurance

If you choose to travel, research your destinations and get appropriate travel insurance. Insurance should cover your itinerary, planned activities and expenses in an emergency.

This advice reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.

The authorities in Botswana set and enforce entry rules. If you’re not sure how these requirements apply to you, contact the Botswana High Commission in the UK.

Telephone: 0207 499 0031


COVID-19 rules

There are no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for travellers entering Botswana.

Passport validity requirements

To enter Botswana, your passport must have an ‘expiry date’ at least 6 months after the date you arrive and at least 3 blank pages.

Check with your travel provider that your passport and other travel documents meet requirements. Renew your passport if you need to.

You will be denied entry if you do not have a valid travel document or try to use a passport that has been reported lost or stolen.

Make sure you get your passport stamped.

This will record your date and port of entry. Unstamped passports will raise suspicions of illegal entry.

Dual nationals

Dual nationals must enter Botswana on the same passport they used to exit the previous country.

Visa requirements

You can visit Botswana for up to 90 days without a visa.

If you want to work, study or volunteer in Botswana, see the requirements for business, study and employment visas.  

Overstaying a visa or a permitted visit can cause a delay to your departure. If you want to extend your stay, contact Botswana’s Department of Immigration.

Travelling with children

You must have an original or certified copy of the full birth certificate of any child aged 17 or under when you enter or leave the country.

Any parent not present must sign an affidavit giving their consent for the child to travel. For more information contact the Botswana High Commission in the UK.

Vaccine requirements

You must have a certificate to prove you’ve had a yellow fever vaccination if you’re coming from a country listed as a transmission risk.

For more details about health entry requirements and recommended vaccinations, see TravelHealthPro’s Botswana guide.

Customs rules

There are strict rules about goods you can take into or out of Botswana. You must declare anything that may be prohibited or subject to tax or duty.

Taking money into Botswana    

Declare foreign or local cash currency if the value is 10,000 Botswana pula or more. If you do not, you could be liable to prosecution.


There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. You should remain vigilant at all times.

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out how to reduce your risk from terrorism while abroad.

Terrorism in Botswana

Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in Botswana, attacks cannot be ruled out.


Attacks on tourists are rare, but violent crime is increasing particularly in the major towns of Gaborone, Francistown and Maun. Criminals have also carried out hold-ups and robberies of restaurants during peak hours.

Protecting yourself and your belongings

Criminals may target cars waiting at traffic lights. To reduce the risk of attack:

  • keep doors locked and windows closed
  • keep handbags, phones and laptops out of sight
  • avoid carrying luggage in your vehicle whenever possible
  • do not stop for people at the roadside hitchhiking

House burglaries, often by armed gangs, are common. They do not often target tourists, but there have been isolated room break-ins and theft from lodges in the Chobe area, particularly river-fronting lodges. To reduce the risk of burglary or home invasion:

  • lock your room at all times
  • speak to your travel operator if your accommodation does not seem secure
  • secure valuables in a hotel safe or other safe place

Sexual assault

Botswana has a high number of sexual assaults. While foreign visitors are unlikely to be targeted, women should take care when walking and avoid walking alone at night.

Laws and cultural differences

Personal ID

Always carry some identification. A copy of the photo page in your passport is usually enough as long as you can produce the original if required.

If you send your passport for renewal, make sure you have a certified copy that you can present in its place.

Illegal drugs and prison sentences

Drug taking and trafficking are illegal. If you’re convicted of a drug-related offence, you can get a fine of up to 500,000 pulas (about £30,000) or a prison sentence of up to 25 years, or both. Prison conditions are generally poor.

Using cameras in secure areas

It is illegal to take photographs or use video equipment near military and government installations. Always ask permission before photographing people in Botswana.

LGBT+ travellers

Although same-sex sexual activity is no longer prohibited by law, public attitudes are less tolerant than in the UK and displaying affection in public may attract negative attention.

Read more advice for LGBT+ travellers.

Wildlife, animal products and souvenirs

It’s illegal to buy, sell, kill or capture any protected wild animal or trade its parts. If you’re caught hunting, buying or trafficking these goods you will be prosecuted. If you’re convicted, sentences can be severe.

Outdoor activities and adventure tourism  

If you travel to remote areas, make transport and accommodation arrangements in advance and seek local security advice. Take emergency supplies, including water and fuel, and be prepared for off-road driving conditions. In very remote areas, travel in convoy or with a satellite phone in case of breakdown.

On open highways, inside or outside wildlife reserves, there could be dangerous animals roaming that may behave unpredictably. Always follow park regulations and advice from park wardens.   

Do not bathe in rivers and lakes. You could be attacked by wild animals and you risk catching water-borne diseases.

Transport risks

Road travel

You can use a UK photocard driving licence to drive in Botswana. If you still have a paper driving licence, you may need to update it to a photocard licence or get the 1949 version of the international driving permit (IDP) as well. 

You can drive with a UK driving licence for up to 90 days. If you intend to stay longer than 90 days, apply for a Botswana driving licence.

Hire car companies often have stricter requirements for their customers, such as a year of driving experience, a higher minimum age and holding an IDP

Driving conditions

Botswana has good tarmac roads covering most of the country, but driving outside the major urban areas can be dangerous due to stray wildlife and livestock. This is a particular risk at night, so take extra care if you’re driving after dark.

The standard of driving is lower than in the UK. Many drivers ignore rules of the road. Speeding and drink-driving, or driving on drugs, cause frequent and often fatal accidents.


To reduce risk of crime when using taxis, look for licensed taxis with blue plate numbers. Cabs run by a recognised taxi company will usually have branding and can be pre-booked.

Extreme weather and natural disasters


Botswana experiences significant flooding during the rainy season from November to March. Some parts of the country become inaccessible except by 4-wheel-drive vehicles. Get local advice or hire a local driver who knows the water levels and which roads to use. 

Before you travel check that:

  • your destination can provide the healthcare you may need
  • you have appropriate travel insurance for local treatment or unexpected medical evacuation

This is particularly important if you have a health condition or are pregnant.

Emergency medical number

Call 997 and ask for an ambulance.

Contact your insurance company quickly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Check TravelHealthPro’s current advice on Botswana to find out how to reduce the health risks you’ll face there.

TravelHealthPro also lists the recommended vaccines that could apply to you. At least 8 weeks before you travel, check how to get vaccines and whether you have to pay on the NHS travel vaccinations page.

There are occasional outbreaks of anthrax among wild animals. Do not touch dead animals or carcases. If you suspect that you have come into contact with anthrax, seek urgent medical advice.

If you intend to camp or walk in the bush, take precautions to avoid tick bites, as they can cause several dangerous diseases.


The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries.

Read best practice when travelling with medicines on TravelHealthPro.

The NHS has information on whether you can take your medicine abroad.

Healthcare facilities in Botswana

Healthcare in Botswana is good in major towns, but medical facilities and communications are limited in rural areas. For serious medical treatment, medical evacuation to the UK or South Africa may be necessary.

Private hospitals will not treat you unless you can pay, and the cost may be high. Public hospitals will only take you as an emergency patient if you have full insurance. For outpatient treatment, you will need to pay up front.

Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

FCDO has a list of medical providers in Botswana.

There is also guidance on healthcare if you’re living in Botswana.

Travel and mental health

Read FCDO guidance on travel and mental health. There is also mental health guidance on TravelHealthPro.

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) cannot provide tailored advice for individual trips. Read this travel advice and carry out your own research before deciding whether to travel.

Emergency services in Botswana

Ambulance: 997

Fire: 998

Police: 999

Contact your travel provider and insurer

Contact your travel provider and your insurer if you are involved in a serious incident or emergency abroad. They will tell you if they can help and what you need to do.

Refunds and changes to travel

For refunds or changes to travel, contact your travel provider. You may also be able to make a claim through insurance. However, insurers usually require you to talk to your travel provider first.

Find out more about changing or cancelling travel plans, including:

  • where to get advice if you are in a dispute with a provider
  • how to access previous versions of travel advice to support a claim

Support from FCDO

FCDO has guidance on staying safe and what to do if you need help or support abroad, including:

Contacting FCDO

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this travel advice is updated.

You can also contact FCDO online.

Help abroad in an emergency

If you’re in Botswana and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the British High Commission in Gaborone

FCDO in London

You can call FCDO in London if you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad.

Telephone: 020 7008 5000 (24 hours)

Find out about call charges

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