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Summary: Botswana is in the south of Africa, to the north of South Africa, and is a landlocked country that is generally flat to rolling highlands and with most of the population avoiding the Kalahari Desert in the southwest of the country and living in the eastern portion. Known as Bechuanaland until its independence in 1966, Botswana has a strong economy with solid diamond mining and tourism sectors, and subsistence agriculture in many parts of the country while working with the UN to combat AIDS.
Capital: Gaborone
Time Zone: UTC+2
Population: 1,561,973
Languages: English, Setswana
Power: 231V, 50 Hz
Currency: Pula - Currently 1 BWP = 0.1668 USD $
Climate: Botswana is semiarid with warm winters and hot summers and a dry winter season from May to August.


Gaborone: The capital of Botswana was founded in the late 19th century by an African chief who gave it his name, and is now a small and quiet city which serves best as a gateway to the rest of the country. While here, see the Botswana National Museum and Art Gallery, which has excellent historical and cultural collections, and head out for a hike up the side of Mount Kgale and enjoy the scenery, or on a day trip to the Gaborone Game Reserve complete with picnic tables and an education center.

Chobe National Park: Chobe is part of the Okavango Delta, the world's largest inland delta, and is home to a large concentration of African birds and animals, including flamingos, zebras, giraffes, cheetahs and lions. The national park itself is huge, 4300 square miles in size, and balances the needs of both tourism and the ecology by controlling access to the park. Head to Kasane, the main town at the park's northern tip, which serves as the gateway into the area as well ? safaris are most easily arranged from here.

Gcwihaba Caverns: Spelunkers will love visiting the Gcwihaba Caverns, 400 miles northwest of Gaborone, although preparation is required for the two to three day trek by jeep or 4x4. Bring enough food, water, flashlights and extra batteries for the trip, along with a camera and a pair of tall boots, as the bat guano is deep in some places. Some sections require an experienced cave navigator, and this is not a commercialized area, so there are no stores nearby and you will be camping while here.


Security: Although carjacking is becoming more common, use regular street awareness when traveling, avoid walking alone at night, and note that driving at night may combine fast highways with slow moving wild animals in the back country. Any drug possession is taken very seriously here.

Local Customs: A more traditional life is strong in rural areas of the country, so ask permission before taking someone's picture, as well as avoiding photographing airports of military buildings. Clothing should not cause problems with casual wear accepted throughout the country and standard dress in the cities.

Banking: Credit cards have limited acceptance and while traveler's checks can be used more frequently, you'll get better exchange rates in a bank. Banks are open for the first few hours in the morning, normally from 8am to 11am or noon.

When To Visit: The dry season, from May to August, is the best time to visit Botswana and is also the peak tourist season with higher rates, although the last half of the season isn't as busy as the first. President's Day, July 15th to 16th, and Independence Day, September 30th and October 1st, are the two biggest holidays during this time.

Food: Botswanan food can include simpler millet and sorghum porridge, morama, a large tuber, mealies, or ears of corn, and the more exotic Kalahari truffle or mopane worm. Kgadi, distilled brown sugar, and bojalwa, a sorghum beer, are both popular.
Tipping: Follow standard tipping rules and add 10% to your bill in all the urbanized areas.

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