A spectacular natureBotswana is undoubtedly a great safari destination. Wild fauna and flora are queens, and wildlife shows are compared only in a few other countries. The vastness of natural territories, with a wide variety of landscapes, allows the traveller to immerse himself completely and to open his senses.A safe destinationIf Africa is sometimes afraid of travellers, because of political instability or extreme poverty, Botswana is at the opposite of this image of the continent. The country is economically prosperous and the begging is almost absent. Democracy is enshrined in the traditional way of life of the Belgians who can be proud to live in the most peaceful and secure country.A meeting of culturesIf the fauna and flora are the stars of this destination, the curious traveller will be happy to discover the many facets of the Botswana culture. Accompanied by a guide commissioned by a local agency, it is now possible to visit a village bayei in the Okavango or basubiya in the Chobe, to meet a San group through a multilingual interpreter or to discover tswanas cultures.Hospitality and Tourism ProfessionalismThe professionalism of the tourism sector is remarkable in Botswana. Local agencies offer quality services and very good tailor-made tours. Accommodation is at the western standards while keeping their African soul.
Life in Botswana is expensive for one simple reason: in isolation. This country, on ¾ semi-desert, produces little and very important. This is true, both for food and for manufactured products. The trade balance is certainly positive, but this is largely linked to diamonds. So, by going to the supermarket, the bill will be slightly lower than you know at home. Botswana is a rich country in Africa and the level of development is high. In Gaborone, Maun, Kasane or Francistown, the standard of living is completely western for part of the population. Indeed, there is a real middle class class in Botswana, the lifestyle close to Western mode. Most often, however, a large part of the family resides in the village of origin, sometimes located in very remote areas. It leads to a simple and the life, most of its members having a self-employed agricultural activity. Meals are often made of porridge in the morning and daddy in the evening (millet or cooked corn flour) with fish or meat in sauce. However, it is difficult to talk about poverty for these rural families, although financial income is very low. On the one hand, as mentioned, each family counts in its members one or more employed parents in a large city or abroad. The links of the extended family are made when resources are most often shared. On the other hand, the traveller will find that the existence in the village is simple but dignified in most cases. It seems to be living wisely, close to nature, farming and agriculture. The condition of rural populations does not "three the heart", as may be the case in other African countries. The traveller can appreciate the virtues of this know-how, which may have nothing to do with the way of life of the large Western cities. There is no doubt, however, that society is changing and increasingly joining a liberal and more individualistic economic system. The youth of the villages are attracted by the city lights. Already some of the authors of Botswana deplore this development and the loss of a community-wide lifestyle. Let us hope that Botswana will not know this famous "social divide" that affects most of the countries of the North.For indicationA bottle of mineral water (1,5 l): about 8 pulas.A coke can: 5 pulas.One minute of local communication on a laptop: 2 to 3 pulas.One litre of fuel: between 8 and 11 pulas.FormalitésA French, Belgian, Swiss or Canadian citizen can obtain a valid tourist visa 90 days on site. It will be necessary to verify that your passport is valid at least 3 months after the day of your departure from Botswana.If the following vaccines are not compulsory to enter the country, they are also strongly recommended: against yellow fever, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, rabies, tuberculosis, tetanus, and typhoid. It is also advisable to follow malaria prevention treatment. Make an appointment with the doctor to ensure that your vaccines are updated.
English is the official language, which is taught at school, used by the media and at parliamentary assemblies. The national language, that is, the one spoken by the majority of the inhabitants, is setswana. It is also used by political bodies and in the media. There are more than 20 other languages spoken by the different tribes of the country. French is not understood at all, and every francophone traveller is aware that his language will be of no help to him by travelling to Botswana, even if a tiny number of citizens can form at the Alliance Française de Gaborone. The traveller who will not have the basics in English will have to call on a receptive or even French-operator-operator to prepare his itinerary under the best conditions. There are different ways to learn some basics of the setswana language and self-learning can be done through different media: CD, video cassettes, exercise books or even directly on the Internet.
The currency, introduced in 1976 on the market to replace the South African rand, is pula, name which means "rain" in setswana language since it is so precious in this arid country. Pula is divided into thebe and 1 pula = 100 thebes. It is one of the most stable currencies on the African continent and one of the strongest.There are exhibits of 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 thebes and 1, 2 and 5 pulas, as well as 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 pulas notes. On the pieces, the coat of arms is found in Botswana and the drawing or engraving of a mammal or an emblematic bird: rhino, zebra, bull, oryx and hornbills on pieces, eagle-eagle, ostrich, martin-fisherman. The notes bear the image of one of the three presidents of Botswana on the front. On the back of the tickets are depicted scenes of life in Botswana: man working at the factory, woman taillant of diamonds, oryx at feet of baobabs, fisherman moving to mokoro in the marshes of the Okavango.Little trick: most billiard tables only accept old pieces of 5 pulas, smaller than the new ones. So, advice to "snooker" fans: put them aside!
Botswana is a semi-arid country, isolated from the direct influence of the ocean by its intracontinentale position and the Tropic of Capricorn.During the dry season, temperatures are mild. The day, the sun is always on schedule and very few clouds come to disturb the blue sky. In the north of the country - Maun, Chobe, Okavango - it is about 25 ° C at noon and 10 ° C at night. Hot clothing for morning and evening safaris is recommended. In the south - East Corridor, Central Kalahari, Salés - it is colder and the nights are often icy.The most monthly months are June, July and August. Starting in September, temperatures rise and in October the air becomes so dry and so hot that it can make 40 ° C in the desert.Large mammals are easy to observe around the few permanent water points. However, in the Central Kalahari, water points are so rare that it is difficult to observe wildlife there. The flora is dying and drying apart, except in the delta and Chobe regions where it is well irrigated.During the southern summer it is warm and humid. Temperatures rise up to 30 ° C, reaching their peak in November around 35 ° C in the north. Showers are irregular, sporadic and unpredictable, and weeks of drought can sometimes fit into the so-called rainy season. However, when they happen, it is not half. They fall heavily and sometimes with violence, especially in January and February.The highest rainfall level is in Chobe, up to 650 mm, while in the southwest, rainfall is at its lowest, with less than 200 mm.Animals are more scattered during this period but remain visible. It is the love and childbirth period. For ornithology or fishing enthusiasts, the birds and fish will be present in abundance.
© Dominique Auzias & Jean-Paul Labourdette