2021 Botswana Travel Updates
Cost of a Botswana Safari
Best Time to Visit
Returning Traveler Recommendations
2021 Botswana Travel Updates
2021 Botswana Travel Updates
Botswana is open to American travelers. All travelers over the age of 5 years old must arrive in Botswana with proof of a negative Covid-19 PCR test performed no more than 72 hours before departure and undergo screening. Zicasso travel specialists can assist in arranging testing before your return flight to the United States.
Entry requirements are subject to change, and your Zicasso safari specialist can provide updated information and further details.
Related: Countries Open to American Travelers
Must-See Destinations in Botswana
We have worked alongside our Botswana travel specialists to provide you with recommendations for any trip length. A custom Zicasso tour organizes your time around your needs and desires, but the following suggestions act as great guidelines.
The majority of travelers from the United States spend 7 to 9 nights in Botswana. At least seven nights is needed to really experience different ecosystems and destinations. Some visitors do spend less time in Botswana but combine their safari with neighboring destinations, such as Namibia, South Africa, or Victoria Falls.
How and where you travel depends on your goals in Botswana. It’s not just about one camp; travelers should move camps to witness different species and wildlife. We suggest moving camp every two to three days.
7 to 10 Day Trips
If you have between seven to nine days in Botswana, we suggest that you visit at least two different ecosystems.
The Okavango Delta is Botswana’s ultimate destination. The ecosystem changes during the year. Parts of the delta are very dry most of the year, but some parts are always wet. It’s recommended to try both land and water based activities so that you can experience both sides of the Okavango. This will probably mean you must stay at camps in different sections of the Okavango.
Chobe is another must-see destination. It is a vast wilderness that is dominated by forest and home to the world’s largest elephant population.
Savute and Linyanti are two outstanding private concessions in Northern Botswana. The landscape is a mix of delta, plains, and forest. These multiple ecosystems help attract an incredible abundance and diversity of wildlife. Botswana is known for having the largest and best concessions in Africa.
The Kalahari Desert has very little wildlife but some interesting experiences, such as the Makgadikgadi salt pans, San bushman communities, and meerkats (great fun for kids). You should also consider tiger fishing in the panhandle.
Victoria Falls is located in Zimbabwe and Zambia, which is less than one hour from Botswana’s northeastern border. It is a popular place to start or end a safari.
Days 1 - 3: Okavango
Days 4 - 5: Chobe
Days 6 - 7: Linyanti
Days 1 - 2: Okavango (dry)
Days 3 - 4: Okavango (wet)
Days 5 - 7: Savute
Days 1 - 2: Victoria Falls
Days 3 - 4: Private concession or Chobe
Days 5 - 8: Okavango (wet and dry)
Days 1 - 2: Moremi Game Reserve (Okavango)
Days 3 - 5: Okavango (private concession)
Days 6 - 7: Linyanti (or other northern concession)
Day 8: Chobe
Days 9 - 10: Victoria Falls
How many days is enough to see Botswana?
Ten days is the perfect amount of time for a Botswana safari. It will give you enough time to experience different areas and wildlife. It’s also a nice amount of time for disconnecting from the everyday world and feeling an immersion in the African bush.
Essential Botswana Safari Experiences
During your Botswana tour, you can experience wildlife from many perspectives. This is one of Botswana’s advantages over other African safari countries.
How will I experience wildlife?
It is ideal to experience the Okavango Delta via its many channels. Motorized boats can take you to deeper channels and provide a better view of the terrain. Usually 20-foot metal boats that can cut through shallow water, you can cover a lot of distance and see a lot of wildlife this way.
A makoro is a traditional dugout canoe that is good for a two-hour activity on the water. They travel down shallow channels, and a local gondolier drives them. While they are slow, they offer a close-up perspective of wildlife and local flora.
Game drives are the standard activity on land. It’s the best way to see the most wildlife, especially large and dangerous animals that cannot be approached. Some private concessions offer game drives at night, which is a completely different experience. You can’t see as much in the dark, but wildlife is more active, so there is more going on in your vicinity.
At some Botswana camps, it’s also possible to participate in short game walks and walking safaris. Like a makoro, you travel slowly and focus on smaller, less dangerous animals.
You should also consider a helicopter flight over the Okavango Delta when it is floodeed. Hot air ballooning over the Delta is another option.
How can I ensure I see my favorite animal?
Wildlife encounters are never guaranteed. You can maximize your chances by planning a safari around the animals in which you are most interested. For example, Chobe is home to more elephants than anywhere else on the planet but is not ideal for viewing big cats. This is where a top Botswana travel specialist is invaluable for planning a safari that suits your safari dreams.
Private activities will also increase your chance of spotting your favorite animals. Some camps only offer game drives, whereas others offer more. Camps within three miles of each other can be very different in price, e.g.,$300 versus $1000 a night. More expensive camps tend to offer more in terms of terrain, wildlife, and activities.
What is a day on Safari like?
Every day on a Botswana safari can vary. That’s why it’s such an interesting destination that is deserving of at least a week. Camps have different activities, so what you do exactly will change at each destination.
A typical day on safari involves a pre-dawn alarm followed by a light breakfast. You will participate in a safari activity in the cool early-morning hours when wildlife is most active. After returning to the camp for brunch or lunch, there will have time to relax during the hottest part of the day. Then, you will partake in a second activity from mid to late-afternoon onwards. Usually, it’s early to bed after such an early start and exciting day.
What Choice Do I Have With Accommodation on a Botswana Safari?
The Botswana safari experience is highly dependent on the places you stay. Each camp or lodge is located in its own wildlife area. Some may see a lot of animals, and others may not see very many; it all depends on the season. Each season offers different activities as well.
What is the difference between a Camp and a Lodge in Botswana?
A lodge is a more permanent structure than a camp. The Botswana government does not allow big concrete lodges because they want to minimize the impact on wildlife and the natural area. There are less than ten concrete lodges in the entire country. Most of these are in Chobe National Park. They have 80 or more rooms, which means the area is overrun with mass tourism, mostly accommodating short-stay visitors coming from Victoria Falls nearby.
Lodges in the Okavango and elsewhere tend to be much smaller and ecological. Most of these are known as tented lodges that are made from wood and canvas. The overall lodge infrastructure is larger and more permanent than the camps.
Safari camps can be just as luxurious and spacious as lodges. High-end safari camps are nothing like camping or glamping. They are hotel rooms in the wilderness with canvas walls that help connect you with the bush. Mid-range camps are more basic, and their price tag may reflect the location rather than the facilities.
How many days should I stay at each Camp or Lodge?
A successful safari involves moving around Botswana and different camps. During the shoulder and low season, it’s common to spend longer at each camp, usually three nights but maybe four. This is often because the price per night is lower than the high season.
In peak season there is less camp availability. Visitors tend to stay a little shorter, usually two to three nights. It’s not recommended to spend just one night at a camp or lodge due to the long travel distances involved.
Cost of a Botswana Safari
How much is a Botswana Safari?
The starting price of a custom-tailored private Botswana safari is approximately $600 per person, per day. For an escorted group tour, the starting price can be approximately $300 per person, per day.
The cost of a Botswana safari is dependent on many factors, such as the:
- Length of your trip
- Season (month) of travel
- Class of camp/lodge
- Number of destinations and the use of safari flights to get around
- Staying in private concessions vs national parks
A vacation such as this is often the biggest purchase of the year. It will also likely be one of the most memorable experiences of your lifetime. To get the most out of your trip, we highly recommend using an expert travel specialist to plan a customized tour that is tailored to your specific interests and budget.
What Are the Key Differences Between a 3-Star, 4-Star and 5-Star Property in Botswana?
Just about every camp outside of Chobe is eco-friendly and located in a great wildlife area. Camps that do the most to preserve the natural area are the four and five-star camps. All four and five-star accommodation are small, and never accommodate more than 80 guests. Typically, these properties only have about 20 to 30 guests.
Most four-star and all five-star camps are located in private concessions. Some of these start at $900 - $2,000 per person per night.
A 5-star, tailor-made Botswana tour, where most services are upgraded and extra unique experiences are included, typically starts at $1,100 per person per day.
Best Time to Visit
Best Time to Visit Botswana
The best time to visit Botswana is during the dry season (May to September). This is the best time for wildlife viewing. It is also the busiest and most expensive time to visit.
How Does the Safari Experience Change During Different Seasons of the Year?
Botswana is truly a seasonal destination with clearly defined high and low seasons. Prices for camps can double during the high season.
Early May to September are the best months to see wildlife. These months represent the winter or dry season. During this time, water levels recede and the guides know where to find wildlife. Vegetation also isn’t overgrown, so it’s easier to spot animals.
Botswana is unusual because the dry season coincides with the Okavango Delta flooding. Other countries have clearly defined dry and wet seasons. Ironically, Botswana’s dry season occurs at the same time the desert floods. Water flows down rivers from the Angolan Highlands and takes around four months to reach the Kalahari Desert. This attracts a variety of migratory wildlife from drier desert plains. Winter is also a cooler time of year, so it’s more comfortable for visitors and has less insects.
October is very hot and dry. During this time temperatures can reach over 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Animals stick around the very little water that remains. While the heat is harsh for many visitors, this is a good out-of-season month for a cheaper safari.
November and December
November and December start to see rain. This is the beginning of the green season, which is another fantastic time to visit Botswana. Most species time their reproduction cycles with this green season. Young animals can grow fat on all the lush greenery, and predators enjoy easy meals.
January and February
January and February are the summer months in Botswana. During this time, it is hot and tropical. The heat and humidity are challenging for some visitors. After three months of rain, some of the grass grows so high that it obstructs the line of sight from vehicles, making wildlife harder to see. Thus, January and February represent the low, green season.
In March, the rain subsides. Botswana is left with tall grass, wildlife on the move, and slightly cooler temperatures. March is not the best month for a safari.
April and May
From April to May, there is a cold wave that brings very low temperatures at night. Leaves begin to die, and grass is grazed by animals. During this time, you can see the landscape and wildlife more clearly. Elephants, zebras, wildebeest, and impalas begin to gather in large numbers. This is also an excellent shoulder season.
Cost of a Safari vs the Season
Doing a safari during the green (low) or shoulder season is more affordable. Sometimes it is less than half the price of a July safari. Most camps are booked a year in advance for the peak months (June to August).
How long in advance do you need to book for your choice of accommodations and safari?
You really need to book around one year in advance for peak season and staying in the top lodges. Much of this depends on the combination of camps you want to visit and the size of your group.
Modes of Transportation in Botswana
Botswana is an enormous country. How you get around will depend on the destinations you wish to visit. There are very few roads here, and most safari areas are not located along any major road.
Best Flights and Airports
Botswana has very few international airports and connections. There are currently no direct flights to Botswana from Europe or the US. This inaccessibility is part of the appeal of a Botswana safari.
Maun (MUB) is the easiest way into the Okavango Delta. Flights here typically make a stop in Johannesburg before continuing north to Maun. It is about a two-hour flight from Johannesburg.
Kasane (BBK) is next to Chobe and also has flight connections with Johannesburg.
Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe) and Livingstone (Zambia) airports have flight connections to various destinations in eastern and southern Africa. Many visitors use these airports and add one or two nights to their safari to see the falls.
An excellent network of safari flights takes visitors around Botswana. Many camps are completely inaccessible without taking a plane. Every year, the Delta wipes out even the most basic four-wheel drive tracks. Distances to cover are large, and a 90-minute flight is often the best alternative to a two-day desert and swamp journey.
Maun (MUB) and Kasane (BBK) are the southern and northern hubs for these flights. Most planes that fly in and out of the Delta go through one of these airports. Many high-end camps and lodges operate their own airstrips in addition to those used for national parks. Flight schedules are flexible and depend on where passengers are going. Your plane may touch down at one airstrip to drop off four passengers before continuing to your concession.
It is not recommended to fly from Victoria Falls to Kasane. A road transfer takes the same amount of time and is significantly cheaper.
Flights Via Zicasso
Zicasso Air Desk is an international air ticketing service that eliminates the stress of finding and booking the right flights for your upcoming vacation by employing the same personalized service you can expect from planning a trip with Zicasso. Our competitive flight pricing, 24x7 Service & Support, and Complimentary Consultation of Routing vs. Pricing with an Expert Flight Specialist make finding the perfect flight for your trip effortless.
Some visitors choose to do a self-guided four-wheel drive camping safari in Botswana. This is an adventurous option that is not for the faint of heart. Some safari camps are connected by small roads, and this may be part of your itinerary. Traveling between them is like a game drive and is another part of the overland safari experience.
What to Consider When Traveling in Botswana
When traveling on a Botswana tour, you must consider safety, travel logistics, and accessibility. The following information covers important travel considerations so that you can have a stress-free travel experience.
Is Botswana safe for travel?
Botswana is very safe for travelers. Petty theft is never an issue at camps or in communities. The country is governed at a first-world standard and is considered one of the most advanced and stable countries in Africa. Travelers should be more on guard in towns and cities; however, Botswana only has one city, and it is rare that travelers ever make stops in places outside the wildlife areas (except Maun).
A Botswana safari is safe, although all wild animals can pose a risk. Camps are designed with accommodation and walkways that are lifted above the ground, so they cannot be accessed by wildlife. There are no gated or fenced camps either. Wildlife moves freely around these authentic camps, and you can hear buffaloes and baboons as they run. It is usually very safe for well-behaved children, however, parents should consider the responsiveness of their children to directions.
Local people have been walking and living alongside large wildlife for many millennia. They continue to use traditional practices to keep themselves and their visitors safe. Guides also know how to handle dangerous wildlife situations. All camps will provide a safety briefing so that you understand where you can go without a guide or tracker.
Mobility and Accessibility
Some of Botswana’s camps and lodges are adapted for guests with mobility issues. Although the country has some of the wildest places on Earth, accessibility can be arranged for virtually everyone. This will require careful planning and some places or activities may not be possible, but so many are!
Typhoid and yellow fever are not prevalent in Botswana. Southern Botswana is considered to be malaria-free. Central Botswana, including most of the Delta, is a low-risk Malaria area. Antimalarials are usually advised when traveling to the north of Botswana. There are very few mosquitoes during the dry season (May to October), and this significantly reduces the risk of malaria.
You’ve booked your dream vacation, now protect it with travel insurance. A wide range of factors can leave your vacation in limbo. Medical emergencies, inclement weather, and unexpected cancellations can cause turmoil for your trip, so in the unlikely event of a disaster, get the travel insurance coverage that provides peace of mind. To get a quote, visit our travel insurance page.
Most domestic flights in Botswana have a strict 33lb per person luggage limit. It’s more comfortable to pack light anyway, and the animals don’t care what you wear. Muted colors are best because they don’t show the dust or aggravate certain animals. Lightweight clothes are also very advantageous when traveling in the hot and humid conditions.
You should note that there is no need to bring walking boots unless you are actually going on a walking safari. With so much wildlife everywhere, the most you will probably walk is from the camp to your safari vehicle. Don’t underestimate how cold it can get at night or how intense the sun can be either. You should pack high-SPF sunscreen, a wide-brimmed sun hat, and at least one warm sweater or jacket.
Going from airport to airport and traveling between camps can be hard with kids, but most find the experience of safari to be incredible and worth every effort. Much of the country is malaria-free, and it is a really inspiring destination for teenagers and older children to experience this sort of adventure.
Heat and humidity can be unbearable during the summer, and this is often an issue for senior travelers. Travel during the shoulder season is advised, as is planning with a African Safari travel specialist. As safari is inherently bespoke, issues of accessibility and mobility are often easily managed.
A travel specialist understands the best camps and experiences for couples who are seeking something extra special. Wherever you go in Botswana you will be cut off from the everyday world. This is one of the world’s least-populated countries, and your neighbors will have four legs rather than two.
Returning Traveler Recommendations
Recommendations for the Return Traveler
The Kalahari Desert is a timeless destination that crosses the borders of Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa. The desert also represents the vast stretch of scorched landscape that borders the oasis of the Okavango Delta. The majestic scenery consists of lush fields, gushing waterfalls, and secluded vineyards in the wet months that juxtapose the crimson sands and thorn trees that edge the dry riverbeds of the dry season.
Wildlife consists of black-maned lions, howling hyenas, cheetahs, and skies that shimmer with endless stars. Meerkats populate the rocky landscape, and San Bushmen communities offer a glimpse into the nomadic lifestyles. These tribes have acted as hunter-gatherers for more than 20,000 years.