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BOTSWANA - Exercise normal security precautions
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Botswana. Exercise normal safety precautions.
The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.
Most Canadian visitors to Botswana do not experience problems, as Botswana is politically and economically stable, with no recent violent civil disturbances.
Pickpocketing, thefts and “smash and grab” robberies are on the rise in the country. You should not show signs of affluence and should remain aware of your surroundings. Avoid walking alone after dark, particularly in urban and peri-urban areas.
Carry a photocopy of your passport with you at all times, and keep your original document in safekeeping facilities. It is also advisable to leave a photocopy of your travel documents with a relative or a friend at home.
Demonstrations occur and have the potential to suddenly turn violent. They can lead to significant disruptions to traffic and public transportation. Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.
Wild animals can pose risks. Observe all local or park regulations and instructions given by tour guides. Wildlife areas are not fenced and warning signs are few. Do not swim in rivers or lakes as wildlife attacks are possible, particularly from crocodiles and hippopotamus. Do not walk alone or unescorted after dark because of the threat from nocturnal predators, particularly lion, hyena or leopard.
Road conditions are generally good in major towns, but overland travel outside major centres can be dangerous. Driving standards, high speed limits, long stretches of highway and poor lighting pose hazards, particularly at night. A reliable private roadside assistance service called Medical Rescue International is available by calling 390-1601.
Failure to obey traffic signs, driving while intoxicated or not being in possession of a valid driver’s licence may result in arrest and heavy fines.
Pedestrians and roaming livestock or wild animals may pose a hazard on rural roadways, particularly in the Okavango, Chobe, Savuti, Pandamatenga and Ghanzi districts.
Desert conditions and conditions in remote areas are harsh. Travel to these areas should not be undertaken without a guide if possible nor without serious planning in advance, and a four-wheel-drive vehicle well equipped with provisions, fuel and water.
When you travel by road, for example, if you have hired an Avis 4 x 4 vehicle, you will be entirely responsible for your safety as there are generally no guides provided then or when you enter the parks. You should ensure that friends or relatives are aware of your travel itinerary so that they can keep in contact with you. Guides are provided by private camps or mobile safaris when you fly directly into the Delta or similar conservancy areas, as they are part of the commercial or guided safari packages. This is not necessarily the case with self-drive travel.
Some hotels operate a minibus service between the airport and Gaborone. You should verify whether your hotel provides this service and reserve the transfer in advance. Vehicles can be rented at the airport in Gaborone. In major towns, taxis are generally safe, but the fare should be determined before departure.
Domestic air services are available. Consult our Transportation FAQ in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards. Passenger train service in Botswana has been discontinued. There are reliable buses for long distance journeys to Johannesburg, Lusaka, Harare, which can be found at the main Bus Rank in Gaborone. Mini buses leave at hourly intervals to Johannesburg from the main Bus Rank in Gaborone. Long distance buses normally leave in the early hours, around 6 a.m. For reliable transportation to Johannesburg from Gaborone, you must book at least one day before the travel date. Reliable operators used for the Johannesburg-Gaborone/Gaborone-Johannesburg Routes are:
InterCape Bus Service – telephone +267 3974294
T. J. Motlogelwa’s Express – telephone +267 3190395
In case of an emergency, dial 999 for police, 998 for fire, and 997 for ambulance services.
It is the sole prerogative of each country or region to determine who is allowed to enter. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry requirements. The following information on entry and exit requirements has been obtained from the Botswana authorities. However, these requirements are subject to change at any time. It is the traveller’s responsibility to check with the High Commission for the Republic of Botswana and its consulate for up-to-date information.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
Canadians must present a valid passport to visit Botswana. Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of your expected departure from that country.
Tourist visa: Not required (for stays up to 90 days)
Business visa: Not required (for stays up to 90 days)
Student visa: Not required (for stays up to 90 days)
Canadians who stay in the country for more than 90 days should request an extension.
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. Please consult our Children page for more information.
Some countries require proof of yellow fever vaccination before allowing entry. Consult the World Health Organization’s country list to obtain information on this country’s requirements.
- Measles: Global Update - November 14, 2014 14:02 EST
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and is common in most parts of the world. Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Rabies is a deadly illness spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from an infected animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).
Yellow Fever Vaccination
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
|* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.|
|Country Entry Requirement*|
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in Southern Africa, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Southern Africa. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
Schistosomiasis can be spread to humans through freshwater sources contaminated by blood flukes (tiny worms). The eggs of the worms can cause stomach illnesses like diarrhea and cramps or urinary problems. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Avoid swimming in freshwater sources (lakes, rivers, ponds). There is no vaccine available for schistosomiasis.
- Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
- Risk of developing travellers' diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor standards of hygiene and sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
- The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among pediatric travellers, travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives or travelling for a long period of time. Travellers at high risk visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care provider about vaccination.
Insects and Illness
In some areas in Southern Africa, certain insects carry and spread diseases like African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, chikungunya, malaria, Rift Valley fever, and West Nile virus.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
There is currently an outbreak of chikungunya in this country. Chikungunya is a viral disease spread through the bite of an infected mosquito that typically causes fever and pain in the joints. Protect yourself from mosquito bites, particularly around sunrise and sunset. There is no vaccine available for chikungunya.
- There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in this country.
- Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no vaccine against malaria.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in enclosed air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider pre-treating clothing and travel gear with insecticides and sleeping under an insecticide-treated bednet.
- Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss your options.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Some infections found in Southern Africa, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks and impairs the immune system, resulting in a chronic, progressive illness known as AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).
High risk activities include anything which puts you in contact with blood or body fluids, such as unprotected sex and exposure to unsterilized needles for medications or other substances (for example, steroids and drugs), tattooing, body-piercing or acupuncture.
Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.
For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.
Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care provider.
High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws & culture
Laws & culture
You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and detention page for more information.
Laws and illegal activities
Persons convicted of unlawful dealing or possession of illegal drugs such as cannabis (known locally as motokwane or dagga) are subject to harsh punishments.
Prior permission is required to import firearms and munitions.
Possession of pornographic material is illegal.
Homosexuality is still an offence under law in Botswana, but is seldom pursued by the police or prosecuted in court anymore.
It is prohibited to take photographs of military and government installations. Always ask permission before photographing individuals.
Traffic drives on the left.
An International Driving Permit is recommended.
Botswana law strictly regulates the sale, possession or removal of animal “trophies”. Any animal, dead or alive, or trophy from an animal such as a horn, tooth, tusk, bone, claw, hoof, hide, skin, hair, feather, egg or other durable portion of an animal, whether it has been processed or not, cannot be owned or removed from the country without a government permit or a receipt from a licensed shop. All souvenirs are subject to the National Trophy Law, and travellers must present a receipt from a licensed store upon departure. It is strictly prohibited to remove elephant hair, ivory and rhinoceros horn products.
Dual citizenship is not legally recognized in Botswana, which may limit the ability of Canadian officials to provide consular services. You should travel using your Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times. Consult our publication entitled Dual Citizenship: What You Need to Know for more information.
The currency is the pula (P). There are no import or export restrictions on foreign currency, provided it is declared upon arrival. A maximum of P1,000 in cash can be carried into or out of the country. Credit cards are not widely accepted. Many hotels and lodges accept major foreign currencies and traveller’s cheques, but a high surcharge may be applied. Automated banking machines in Botswana work well, are reliable, and are easily accessible across the country.
Natural disasters & climate
Natural disasters & climate
There are two seasons in Botswana: summer (September to April), with frequent rains and thunderstorms; and winter (May to August), with cold and dry days and nights.
Gaborone - Consulate of Canada
Harare - Embassy of Canada
Tuesday and Thursday: 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.
For emergency assistance after hours, call the Embassy of Canada in Harare, Zimbabwe, listen to the full recorded message, and follow the instructions. You may also make a collect call to the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at 613-996-8885.
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