Botswana – Economic and Political background
As a country, Botswana has a tremendous amount going for it. The former British protectorate of Bechuanaland, it’s independence in 1966 proceeded peacefully, without any tribal conflict or political upheaval. It is Africa’s least corrupt country and one of the world’s largest producers of diamonds (discovered in 1967, a year after independence).
Botswana’s diamond industry contributes about 20% of total global production and makeup between 60-70% of the De Beers Group’s total diamonds. As an interesting side note, the precious stones were initially dislodged and forced to the surface by termites building underground nests – a perfect example of the immense role wildlife plays in Botswana!
From the outset, De Beers Group involved the people of Botswana in its mining operations, setting up Debswana, a 50/50 partnership with the government, and investing 80% of money generated straight back into the economy. What’s more, the government owns 15% of the company, effectively making every Botswana citizen a part-owner of the world’s largest diamond group. Among other things, diamonds fund the education system, with free, quality schooling offered to every child under the age of 13.
Botswana is a member of the Commonwealth, the United Nations (UN), the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). It ranks in the world’s Top-5 for the highest increasing GDP per capita and is at upper-middle income level. Its people are peaceful, tolerant of fellow citizens belonging to other tribes and known for their friendliness and kindness towards strangers. As an added bonus, English is one of the country’s official languages and is spoken widely.
In a nutshell, Botswana is one of Africa’s safest, ethically sound, and politically stable destinations – and one of its most spectacularly beautiful.
Botswana’s Wild Landscape
From the Kalahari Desert’s arid desolation to the Okavango Delta’s quiet serenity, Botswana resonates deeply with visitors, meeting their every expectation – and then some. It’s expansive landscapes, whether vast and deserted or dense and teeming with life, is an imposing sight which leaves an indelible mark on those lucky enough to experience it.
One of the most sparsely populated countries on the planet, Botswana also has one of the highest conservation land ratios in Africa. Approximately 40% of the country’s territory is protected, either as national parks, forest reserves, sanctuaries or wildlife management areas. Botswana is considered a global leader in its conservation efforts and commitment to protecting its natural heritage.
Botswana can broadly be divided into three areas: the Chobe River and Okavango Delta in the north, the Kalahari Desert and Makgadikgadi Pans situated in the central part and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, which spills over into South Africa, to the south.
Hunting takes place mainly in the Central Kalahari region and the Okavango Delta. Although most of the country is made up of a vast desert ecosystem, Botswana’s rivers, grasslands, deltas and savannas make it a haven for significantly diverse animal populations.
The Chobe and the Zambezi rivers intersect in the north-east corner at the Kazungula border, where four countries (Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe) meet. This is where you’ll find the Okavango Delta, a truly awe-inspiring region and the most well-known of Botswana’s numerous attractions.
A wetland spanning almost 5,800 square miles, it earned UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2014 for the diverse array of wildlife it sustains, including Elephant, Cape Buffalo, Leopard, Lion, Cheetah, Rhino, the African Wild dog and more than 400 bird species. In winter, the terrain’s swamps, canals and rivers attract almost half a million large mammals, one of the most abundant wildlife concentrations on the continent.
Chobe National Park is best known for its large Elephant herds but offers four distinct ecosystems (swamps, floodplains, mopani woodland and savanna) each with its own distinct features. Big cats are largely found in the Linyanti Marshes section.
Just south of the Okavango Delta, and in stark contrast to the wet northern areas, lies the fascinating and seasonally desolate Makgadikgadi Pans, once an ancient lake. Now the largest salt pans in the world, when flooded, it comes alive with thousands of Blue Wildebeest, Burchell’s Zebra and flamingo. Even when dry, the pans are notable for its surreal natural landscape, dotted with the stunning silhouettes of ancient Baobab trees.
Further south, you’ll reach the vast nothingness of the Kalahari, the ancestral home of the Bushmen people. At 20,000 square miles, the Central Kalahari Game Reserve is the second largest wildlife reserve in the world. Its diverse fauna includes big cats, the African Wild dog, Spotted Hyenas, many antelope species, and a spectacular annual Zebra migration.
The Kalahari Desert covers about 70% of the land surface in Botswana but is a habitat like no other. Although it may appear arid at times, it supports an abundance of wildlife year-round, offering huge tracts of grassland for grazing during the wet season.
Southern Botswana is slightly off the main Safari circuit, but is home to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, straddling Botswana and South Africa and bordering Namibia to the west. Characterised by red dunes and dry rivers, it is a magical wilderness with multitudes of game, including migrating herds of Blue Wildebeest and Springbok, black-maned Kalahari Lions, Cheetah and incredible plains game.
In the south-eastern corner of the country, you’ll find the Tuli, one of the lesser-known Safari gems in Botswana. Featuring ancient Baobabs, beautiful rocky outcrops, and pristine bush, it is a beautiful part of the Kalahari Desert.
Botswana travel update
Botswana started the phased lifting of international travel restrictions at the beginning of November 2020.
Air travel to Sir Seretse Khama International Airport in Gaborone, Kasane International Airport, Maun International Airport and Phillip G. Matante International Airport in Francistown has been resumed, including international travel.
Air Botswana is currently offering four weekly flights between Gaborone and Johannesburg, subject to demand and travel conditions and protocols. Regional destinations like Cape Town, Harare and Lusaka will be gradually be re-introduced.
Airlink resumed its operations on 16 November 2020 and is flying into Gaborone from OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg. The Johannesburg-Maun route was reactivated on 1 December and Johannesburg-Kasane is set to resume from 16 December.
Botswana COVID-19 requirements for travelers
- All visitors entering Botswana must present a valid 72-hour negative COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) result from time of departure and will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms upon entry.
- If visitors are symptomatic visitors upon arrival, they will be required to undertake mandatory testing and possible isolation and/or quarantine, as per section 76 (1) (2) and 80 of the Public Health Act of 2013.
- Visitors will be required to remain in contact with the local health authority for 14 days doing self-monitoring.
- Travellers exiting Botswana are expected to comply with travel regulations of their destination country at their own expense.
Botswana at a glance
Formerly: The British protectorate of Bechuanaland
Area: 600,370 km2
Population: 2.254 million (2018)
Language: English (Official), Setswana (National)
Money: Pula (BWP)
- Botswana got his name from its dominant ethnic group, the Tswana.
- Botswana is a landlocked country in the centre of Southern Africa, with Namibia bordering it to the west, Zambia and Zimbabwe to the northeast and South Africa to the south and southeast. Africa’s fourth longest river, the mighty Zambesi, forms the border between Zambia and Botswana.
- The Kalahari Desert covers approximately 70% of Botswana.
- Water is so valued in Botswana that the word ‘Pula’, Botswana’s currency, means “rain” or “blessing” in Setswana.
- Botswana is about the size of France but is home to fewer than about 2.3 million people because of the country’s arid nature.
- Large tracts are given over to diamond mining and others to conservation.
- Botswana is not the cheapest Safari destination due to the government’s policy of ‘high quality, low impact’. It is, however, worth every dollar, especially for visitors longing for an authentic experience unhampered by crowds of other tourists.
- Botswana holds several world records including the world’s largest salt pans, the world’s largest inland delta and the world’s shortest border.
- Diamonds make up roughly a third of Botswana’s GDP and because of the country’s stable nature, all diamonds mined are conflict-free.
- A traditional Botswana dish will comprise corn and sorghum as the main ingredients, with stewed beef and vegetables as staples. Beef is cheaper than chicken in Botswana since they have so many cattle.
- The Burchell’s Zebra is Botswana’s national animal, chosen to signify the racial harmony of its people.
Botswana’s subtropical desert climate is characterised by large fluctuations in day and night-time temperatures, and the country enjoys low overall humidity. The wettest months are December to March but for six months of the year, the country receives virtually no rainfall at all.
Okavango temperatures are slightly more moderate due to the abundance of water, but the dry Kalahari environment is more extreme, with hot days and freezing nights.
Winter (dry season, May to October)
It hardly ever rains during winter and the humidity is low, usually around 20-40%. During May the temperatures are pleasant (10°C/50°F – 28°C/80°F) but from June to August, the early morning and nights will bite, as the temperature can drop below freezing, especially in the dryer Kalahari areas. In September it gradually warms up, and by October, afternoon temperatures can reach 38°C/100°F.
Summer (wet season, November to April)
By November and December, clouds start to build up, bringing an occasional afternoon shower. January and February are the wettest months, with not only torrential downpours but sometimes steady rain lasting for days. Daytime temperatures average around 32°C/90°F, and the humidity is between 50-80%. By April, things are steadily cooling down with beautiful clear, balmy days.
Hunting in Botswana
Botswana is home to about 150 species of mammals, 460 species of birdlife and more than 200 species of reptiles and amphibians. The country boasts the largest Elephant population in Africa and is home to almost a third of the continent’s Elephants. Graham Sales Safaris offer Elephant, Cape Buffalo and Leopard trophy hunting as well as trophy hunting for multiple plains game species.
The most common way of reaching the newly opened CHA hunting areas in the north is flying into Maun from Johannesburg. The hunting terrain in Botswana varies. The Tuli Block comprises mainly bush and savanna with rocky outcrops and low hills. Along the Limpopo River, the bush tends to be dense, but generally, the terrain is easy to navigate on foot. The Kalahari is a semi-arid region, and the predominantly flat terrain consists mainly of sandy savanna with acacia or mopane forest, thorn bush and grassy plains.
Tourist visas are not required for visitors from the USA or UK for visits of up to 90 days. If you do require a visa, you can make the application at your nearest Botswana Embassy or High Commission.
Medical precautions in Botswana
Because of Botswana’s diverse climate, malaria precautions are only needed if you are travelling to the northern part of the country, especially the Okavango Delta area. Transmission occurs mainly from November to June. Most travellers will need vaccinations for Hepatitis A, Typhoid fever, Polio, Yellow fever and Meningitis.
Getting to Graham Sales Safaris’ camp
Virtually no Safari traveller ever goes to Botswana’s capital Gaborone, as entry into the country is mostly through air travel into Maun or the border post at Kasane (pronounced ‘kas-sar-nee’).
Upon your arrival in Botswana, you will be welcomed by Graham Sales Safaris’ staff (PH) at Maun airport and be transported to the Safari camp, either by air charter or ground transport with one of our Land Cruiser Safari vehicles. You will be housed in one of our comfortable grass-thatched lodges or Safari tented camps, depending on the location of your Safari. Linen and basic toiletries are provided. All meals, soft drinks a daily laundry service (expect on travelling days) are provided.
Please make provision for all accommodation and travel expenses before and after your Elephant Safari as these expenses are not covered by your daily rate during your contracted Safari.
Botswana game laws.
- Botswana’s hunting season runs from the beginning of April to the end of September.
- You are not allowed to hunt female, young and/or immature animals.
- Hunting from a vehicle is prohibited, although you may use a vehicle to reach the area from where hunting will be done on foot.
- All non-resident hunters must hunt under the supervision of a licenced professional hunter in a hunt organised by a licenced outfitter.
- Clients are only permitted to hunt animals for which a permit is issued.
- All animals are subject to quota availability, even on private land.
- There is no official minimum number of days for a hunting safari based on the species being hunted, although minimum hunt lengths may be set by outfitters for some species.
- Hunt permits must be issued before the hunt commencing.
- A separate permit must be issued for each hunting client.
- Minimum calibre for any game, excluding dangerous game is .222
- Minimum calibre for dangerous game is .375
- Maximum calibre for any game is .577 Nitro Express
- Although not illegal, try to avoid overly military-looking camouflage gear.
The principal wildlife protection legislation of Botswana is the Wildlife Conservation and National Parks Act (Chapter 38:01). For elephant hunting prices and hunting packages, please contact Graham Sales directly.
Packing, dipping and shipping of trophies.
An import and export CITES permit for Appendix I, and an export CITES permit for Appendix II animals are required for each shipment. Field preparation of trophies is done in camp before transportation to a shipping agent designated by Graham Sales Safaris. Clients will be put in touch with the shipping agent to discuss their requirements and arrange for the payment of services.
About Graham Sales Safaris
Graham Sales has nearly twenty years’ experience in dangerous game, as well as plains game hunting. Combined with his passion to provide the ultimate Elephant trophy hunting Safari, clients are consistently in awe with not only the tusker taken but the overall hunting experience. Should you have any questions, or wish to discuss specific issues, contact Graham Sales directly.