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Getting Around Botswana

Air

Major areas of Botswana are linked by air. The main airports are Sir Seretse Khama International (GBE) and Maun International Airport (MUB).

  • Sir Seretse Khama International (GBE) is 15km (9 miles) northwest of Gaborone. To/from the airport: There are no regular bus services to and from the airport but several hotels run combis (minibuses or vans). Taxis are available to the city center (travel time is approx. 15 minutes). Facilities: Luggage storage, luggage shrink wrap, banks, bar, snack bar, restaurant, post office, duty-free shops and car hire.
  • Maun International Airport (MUB) receives direct flights from Johannesburg, Harare, Cape Town and Windhoek. This gateway airport to the Okavango Delta serves a huge tourist market. It is served by Air Botswana, Air Namibia and several charters. To/from the airport: The city centre is less than 1km (0.6 mile) walk. Taxis and shuttles are available. Facilities: Car hire and lounge with Internet and Wi-Fi.

Other airports are in Francistown, Ghanzi, Jwaneny, Kasane, Pont Drift and Selebi-Phikwe.

The national carrier, Air Botswana, operates scheduled domestic flights from Gaborone to several destinations, including Francistown, Maun, and Kasane while numerous other carriers operate services to the capital and private operators maintain links to a variety of tourist destinations. Click here to see Air Botswana's domestic flights working timetable.

The air charter industry is well developed in Botswana, offering flights to the national airport network as well as private destinations. Many visitors use charter companies based in Maun to fly to the various lodges in Botswana. These include Delta Air, Mack Air, Moremi Air Services, Northern Air, Wildlife Helicopters and Kalahari Air Services.

Roads

All Botswana's population centers are connected by highways and very good tarmac roads. Other areas are being developed and road-tarring projects are frequently encountered. Off-main routes, the roads range from good, high-speed gravel to deep, rutted sand.

As in most other southern African countries, driving is on the left side of the road. The national speed limit on tarred roads is 120km/h (75mi/h), while through towns and villages the speed limit is 60km/h (37mi/h), even in the absence of a sign. Seat belt use is compulsory, as is proof of no-fault insurance.

There are a number of passenger transport companies in Botswana which offer services throughout the country. Some of them are Motlogelwa, JNG, Mahube and Seabelo Express. They offer daily routes from Gaborone to: Selebi-Phikwe, Palapye, Mahalapye, Serowe, Francistown, Ghanzi, Tshabong, Hukuntsi, Orapa,Lobatse, Maun, Kasane, Ramotswa, and other routes.

Note: At veterinary fence posts around Botswana, travelers are often requested to clean their shoes, even those packed away in their luggage, in a disinfectant dip to prevent foot-and-mouth disease transfer into domestic animal areas. Vehicles must also pass through a pit filled with the same disinfectant.

Train

Botswana Railways operates one of Africa's few air-conditioned passenger rail services, with a variety of passenger accommodation from private sleeper compartments on the overnight train to the modern well-serviced economy class on the day train. All coach classes are air conditioned and served with dining facilities, running water and toilets.

Trains travel the route between Lobatse and Francistown, via Gaborone, Pilane, Mahalapye, Palapye, Serule and other villages. Train service operates primarily for the convenience of its residents - there are no 'tourist train' routes in Botswana.

Schedules and tickets are available at all train stations, but reservations are only possible at Gaborone, Francistown and Lobatse. For 1st and 2nd class, advance bookings are essential; economy-class passengers can buy a ticket in advance or on the train.

Taxis

All vehicles licensed to carry passengers can be easily identified by their number plates, which have blue backgrounds. Taxis carry up to 5 passengers at a time. Non-shared taxi service can be arranged with the taxi driver for an additional fee.

Should you require a taxi to pick you up from a specific location, a number of privately owned taxi companies are available. Their contact telephone numbers can be found in the telephone directory.

Mini-buses

The mini-buses (Combis) are operating in towns. Each mini-bus will travel a particular route, often a circular journey and most of them at some point pass through the mall or the station.
Depending on the direction you wish to take, you will need to pick up a mini-bus travelling along that route. Mini-buses can be waved down along the road and you ask the driver to stop when you want to get off.

Car Rental

Renting a vehicle, especially 4WD, will allow you the freedom to explore some of Botswana's most beautiful wilderness areas on your own timetable. The downside is that distances are long and the cost of renting a vehicle is high in Botswana. You can expect to pay about US$50/100 for a rental car/4WD in Botswana, though long-term rentals in South Africa can bring this figure down substantially. Plus, it's hassle free to cross the border, assuming you have a written permission from the rental agency.

When driving anywhere in Botswana, and particularly early morning, evenings and at night, even on main highways, look out for donkeys, cows and occasionally sheep and goats on the road. Other (larger) animals also wander onto major highways.

To hire a vehicle in Botswana, you must be in possession of a valid International Drivers license or your country-issued Drivers license as long as the details are in English (one may use their home drivers license for a period of 6 months).

There are a few regional/international rent-a-car companies in Botswana, among them:

  • Avis (+267 391 3093); www.avis.com; Sir Seretse Khama International Airport, Gaborone)
  • Budget (+267 390 2030); www.budget.co.za; Sir Seretse Khama International Airport, Gaborone)
  • Holiday (+267 686 24290); Maun, Maun Airport)
  • Imperial (+ 267 390 7333); www.imperialcarrental.co.za; Sir Seretse Khama International Airport, Gaborone)
  • Tempest (+267 390 0011); www.tempestcarhire.co.za; Sir Seretse Khama International Airport, Gaborone)

Transport from the airports

The transport between Gaborone, Francistown and Selebi-Phikwe and their respective airports is serviced by mini buses, operated by AVIS or other rent-a-car agencies, as well as, mini-buses from big hotels for their guests. Taxi service is also available on phone call.

Money Matters

Currency
Botswana's unit of currency is the Pula (P), which is divided into 100 Thebe (t). Bank notes come in denominations of P10, 20, 50 and 100, and coins in denominations of 5t, 10t, 25t, 50t, P1, P2 and P5. Click here for the currency converter page.

Currency Exchange
Money should be exchanged in banks at market rates. The main commercial banks include Bank of Baroda, Barclays Bank of Botswana, First National Bank, Stanbic Bank Botswana and Standard Chartered Bank with branches in major towns and villages. Owing to limited facilities in small villages, it is advisable to change money at the airport or in major towns, where credit card cash advances may also be available. Cash transfers are easiest through Western Union money transfer.There are also bureaux de changes at major border posts.

Most hotels and lodges accept foreign currency or travelers' checks. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travelers are advised to take traveler's checks in US Dollars. Safari lodges may accept payment in US dollars.

Credit/Debit Cards and ATMs
MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Diners Club, are widely accepted. ATMs are available in most larger cities and towns, at most shopping malls and major hotels.

Banking Hours
Banks open 8 am and 9am, Monday through Saturday, closing between 4 and 5 pm on weekdays and 11 am and noon on Saturdays.

Social Conventions

Botswana is a country comprised of many cultures living in harmony. In the urban areas, the way of daily life is not unlike those of North Americans. Nonetheless, as most people in Botswana follow their traditional pattern of life, visitors should be sensitive to customs which will inevitably be unfamiliar to them. Outside urban areas and safari destinations, the local Batswana may well not be used to visitors. Considerate, tolerant, and respectful behavior help both travelers and locals appreciate each other. Throughout Botswana, casual clothing is acceptable.

Photography

Airports, official residences and defense establishments should not be photographed. Permission should be obtained to photograph local people.

 

 

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