10 things I wish I knew before going to Botswana
Africa is always able to please guests with exotic nature and climate. Its rich flora and fauna is still able to surprise with its diversity. And it is divided into many countries that are simultaneously different from each other and at the same time similar. One of these pieces of the mainland is located in the south of the Republic of Botswana. So, where is Botswana? Who lives there? What do they do there? what are the exports of Botswana? Let's get this straight. At one time, it bore the name given to it by the colonial British Empire - "Bechuanaland" from the phrase (country of the Bechuans). The Bechuanas, in turn, were the ancestors of the current inhabitants of this country. Since 1966, Botswana has been marked on the world map as an independent republic and has begun its development and international relations path. Despite its relatively large territory, the Botswana population is estimated in 2018 to be just over two million. And it can not boast of a large influx of tourists, but still there are a certain number of people who want to visit these lands. It is for them that I have compiled a list of ten facts to know before travel to Botswana.
1. Where is Botswana located?
The Republic of South Africa borders Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia. The latter has a state border of only 150 meters in length, despite its area of 581,730 km2 and the length of all its borders of 4013 km. The Kalahari Desert, which "captured" a huge part of the land, makes this zone almost uninhabited. It has the Okavango, Boteti and Zambezi Rivers. Due to the drains of which there are a small number of lakes, Ngami is the largest of them. A significant advantage of the republic is that almost 90 % of the Botswana population has the opportunity to use clean water. How to travel to Botswana? It is possible to get to this country without direct flights from Europe or local airlines of the above-mentioned neighboring countries. For example, flights are often made from Johannesburg – the capital of South Africa, which is easily accessible with the help of well-known airlines Lufthansa, British Airways, Qatar Airways and Emirates Airlines.
Botswana is located in the area where the summer season falls between November and March, and the winter season runs from May to August. Mainly belonging to the subtropics, the south will delight you with temperatures of +27C in June and +46C in February. Whereas in the tropical north, it ranges from +16C in May and +25C in February. Humidity in summer rises to 70% in the morning and falls to 50% in the afternoon. While in winter the level is 60% in the morning and 20% in the daytime. Temperature changes are considered common in these parts, and night frosts are possible in the south. Especially in the Kalahari Desert, regardless of the daytime temperature, night frosts are observed in areas with high humidity. Precipitation averages 450 mm per year, with low in the southwest and high in the northeast. The rainy season starts in September and comes to an end around April. In August, due to seasonal wind, sandstorms often occur.
3. There is something to see
Botswana, whose tourist attractions are closely linked to eco-tourism, will give its visitors a unique chance to merge with nature for a while and get to know its inhabitants. Naturally, the main links of local tourism are protected areas and national parks. You can take part in a safari and live observation of wild animals: cheetahs, giraffes, lions, wild dogs, elephants and leopards.
Botswana on the world map is widely known for the following places: Cross-border Park Halagadi – the largest Park of the republic, which is located on the border with South Africa in the south-eastern region. This mostly desert savanna area is 38,000 km2, but, unfortunately, the visited part of it is much smaller than the non-public area. Despite this, you can watch cheetahs, lions, hyenas and dwarf antelopes. It is better for visits to choose the months from May to September; Makgadigadi National Park-with a total area of 10,000 km2 consists of salt marshes (salt lakes). Many of these lakes merge into one during the rainy season, forming the world's largest salt lake. On its coasts, it is easy to notice a large number of flamingos and pelicans, with which it is densely populated. Tourists can visit the camping areas and admire the local views; Nksai National Park located to the north of the previous Makgadigadi and also has salt marshes, but can still surprise with thousands of years of baobab forests and a grove of African acacias. Pastures, where cloven-hoofed animals gather, can be found in the northern part of the Park; Central Kalahari is the largest nature reserve in the country and the second-largest in the world by area. It is also rich in diverse fauna, among which you can distinguish representatives of the largest species of antelope - "Eland". But the main reason for going to this reserve is the Bushmen tribes. Aboriginal people who left their native lands with the arrival of colonists and settled in the desert; Chobe National Park is the second-largest 10,000 km2 nature reserve in the country of Botswana, which you can find out how to get to in the city of Kasane. It is also known for the largest number of inhabited animals in all of Africa. The population of elephants alone totals 60 thousand, along with them in the reserve live zebras, jackals, leopards, buffaloes and giraffes. Hippos and crocodiles can also be seen in the rivers. Most of the animals can be seen during a boat safari when the animals gather to drink at the Chobe River. National Moremi game Reserve – stretches along the river Okavango and covers 4 800 km2. The reserve wildlife includes hyenas, cheetahs, giraffes, buffaloes, and wild dogs that can be taken on safari when part of the river Delta dries up in a certain season. There is also the opportunity to enjoy the lagoon Xakanaxa with a jungle of reed-beds. Do not forget that the country of Botswana has Botswana tourist attractions and historical character. Such as the Tsodilo hills near the town of Shakave, they represent about 4,500 rock paintings, each of which describes the life of a person for 100,000 years. Tsodilo rocks are known for the largest accumulation of rock art in the world, for which it is called the "Louvre of the Desert".
4. Botswana — attractions of the diamonds
Botswana is an underdeveloped country, and the lack of qualified personnel and dependence on imports mercilessly affect the country's economic factors. The industry and production of coal, salt, textiles, plastics and beverages does not stand out among other African indicators. There is still one reason for the inflated demand and prices for the goods that Botswana exports. This is an expensive mineral-a diamond, in terms of sales of which the republic is in the first place in the world. Full-fledged fishing of mineral resources began in the eighties and today it accounts for 70% of the country's income. Jwaneng is the largest and richest diamond deposit in the world located in the south of Botswana. At one of the similar quarries five years ago, the largest in the last century diamond "Our light" in 1111 carats was found. Despite these facts, poverty reduction and development of the country are very slow. Due to the paucity of education and the lack of local specialists, local minerals bring more benefits to buyers than to the country itself.
The mainland, where is Botswana located, itself has not the best health reputation. To visit the country directly, mandatory preventive measures are not required. Only for tourists who have recently visited places that are at risk of the disease "Yellow Fever", vaccination is mandatory. There are also recommendations for desirable prevention, some of them recommend getting vaccinated against Cholera, Rabies and Hepatitis B. Basically, travelers themselves should take care of protection from sunstroke and malaria, get sunscreen and antimalarial drugs. A very important condition for visiting the safari is timely notification of the organizers if you have any allergies or bronchial asthma. This also applies to nutrition, as not everybody is used to exotic food.
6. The law
The crime rate in Botswana is not that high. The locals are quite hospitable to tourists because Botswana on the world map is not the most popular haven for tourism and you need to attract them with your attitude. However you should not lose vigilance during travel to Botswana, you can face theft and hooliganism. It is not recommended to leave things unattended and leave groups during excursions outside the city. The most important thing is not to be on the wrong side of the law. Photographing government and military facilities is strictly prohibited here, as well as video shooting using unmanned aerial vehicles and ground vehicles.
Solve the question "where to stay in Botswana?» you can do it in a variety of ways. You just need to take into account in advance that the usual luxury hotels with an impressive number of floors are not here. But the average European living conditions in large cities you will find, with the condition that you are willing to pay a considerable amount, since in this part of Africa where is Botswana located, it is considered a luxury. You can also live in two-story buildings with small rooms or rent a separate house - "loggias". For camping enthusiasts, there are "rooms" in the tents of peculiar camps. Well, those who will not have enough of such a rapprochement with the universe will be able to participate in organized outings with overnight stays and food in the wild.
About the country of Botswana and how to get to it, we already know. So how to move around in it? Public transport consists mainly of shuttle buses, but it is limited to cities and localities. This type of transportation is not expensive the lack of roads in some regions makes it a little difficult to travel by bus and car. In these cases, the priority means are railways and airlines that connect cities, but are not cheap. Also, Botswana tourist attractions, which are mostly far from the roads and difficult to reach, will give you the chance to take advantage of a relatively inexpensive and versatile transport-a horse. For those who like to drive a car on their own, off-road cars should be chosen with all-wheel drive. Moreover, take into account the fact that in the country the traffic is left-hand and the driver's license is valid only with a translation into English.
9. Where to buy
The largest commercial city in the country can be considered the capital of Botswana, Gaborone. That rare place where you can stumble upon modern shopping centers. Then there are the cities of Molepole, Selebi-Pikwe Francistown and capital of Botswana, Gaborone. There you will find markets that are famous for their trinkets. As a souvenir, take the clothes of the local Aborigines with you to your homeland. You will also be enchanted by shops with precious stones and stones: (tiger's eye, malachite, tanzanite) what are the exports of Botswana and handmade wooden figurines.
10. Botswana currency
The monetary unit of the beautiful region is the Botswana Pool (P). Translated from the Tswana language, "Pula" is translated as "rain", this is symbolized by the attitude of the local Botswana population to rain as a grace. Banknotes in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 pul are in circulation. Your savings for a long-awaited vacation can be exchanged for local Botswana currency at banks, exchange offices and some hotels. Botswana on the world map can not stand out as a strong currency, as of August 2020, the exchange rate is approximately: 1 dollar (USD) = 11.71 rubles (BWP).
Anar has been promoting himself to tourism for several years now. He believes that the key to success can be obtained by starting to learn something new. And the surest way, in his opinion, is to travel, because nothing cheers us up as getting to know new people and their cultures. His interests also include cinematography and all its components, being another incentive to visit the places where his favourite films were shot. Working in hotels as a guest relations agent taught him not only the basic requirements of "conquering the horizons" but also the most critical lesson: "New places and experiences are better than old hobbies".