Botswana Cultural Holidays
Why Visit Botswana?
Why Visit Botswana?
A summary: there’s much more information in our
Botswana is a peaceful, democratic and well-governed country in southern Africa.
It is about the same size as France but with a very much smaller population: about two million versus 66 million in France. It is bordered by Namibia to the west, Zimbabwe to the east and South Africa.
A British protectorate, known before independence as Bechuanaland, it became Botswana in 1966. One of the poorest African countries on independence, it has benefitted from the discovery of diamonds in 1967 which, along with the income from other minerals, from the exporting of beef and from tourism, have been very wisely invested in education, hospitals and roads.
Botswana has a long history of peaceful democracy, led by local chiefs, including the well-known Khama family. Debate, discussion and the dispensing of justice, held in local meeting places, called Kgotla, continue to be highly valued.
The Tswana are the majority people and they live peacefully alongside several other groups, including the San (also known as the Kalahari Bushmen).
Despite earlier decades of loss through hunting, there is still an abundance of wild animals, especially in the Okavango Delta (in northern Botswana), with the largest number of elephants in Africa, lions, rhinos, hippos, giraffe, kudu and several others and many birds and insects. Hunting is now prohibited except for occasional licence holders; this has posed great problems for the San who have lived as hunter-gatherers for thousands of years.
The capital, Gaborone (in the south-east), is a thriving and rapidly expanding commercial city with good facilities and retaining its charm in the centre, around the Main Mall. This is one of the recommended bases in our suggested itinerary.
Towns people often rent a cattle post in a rural area where they keep small numbers of cows, goats, sheep (sometimes) and donkeys. Some also have a farm where crops and vegetables are grown on a small scale.
Botswana’s excellent roads frequently have loose cows, goats or donkeys grazing at the roadside.
Botswana is a safe country to visit and main services such as water, electricity and good roads are very well established.
The people are friendly; expect to be greeted in the streets and shops and to respond with greetings and handshakes in return. Visitors from the UK are especially well liked.
The pace of life here is slower than in the UK so patience is sometimes called for.
January and February are often wet; March and April see some rain; May - July are cooler and drier; August – October are mostly dry and warm; November and December can be cloudy with a little rain in the afternoons.
The costs of food, drink, visits and accommodation are noticeably lower than in the UK; tips for services (say 5%) are well received in eating places, petrol stations (which are not self-service) and for guides in tourist venues.
Shops and stalls open early (eg 7.30 or 8.00 am), breakfast in hotels often starts at 6.00 am; children are on their way to school by 7.00 am; at the other end of the day, the sun sets quickly and it is getting dark by 6.00 pm.
Credit and debit cards work well in the cash machines at banks in the towns.
Driving is straightforward as Botswana uses the same side of the road as the UK and the roads are very good, with strictly enforced speed limits.
Glossy Botswana cows at a cattle post
Koko the Kudu
Botswana Three Chiefs