Botswana

  • Botswana is one of our favourite destinations. We have worked carefully and diligently with our local partner to ensure that the quality of services we offer is at a quality above your standard expectations for a school trip in this country.

    Our commitment to provide a proper duty of care guides everything we do

    World Youth Adventures has an unblemished record in the operation of school & youth adventures

    We will only operate tours in accordance with strict operational standards that have built our reputation as leaders in the student travel industry

    Every tour is underpinned by an industry leading risk assessment plan that exceeds the benchmark standard in Australia, New Zealand, the UK as well as the USA and Canada

    Three decades of tailoring successful student expeditions adds another dimension to the overall student experience

    Our Price & Value Guarantee

    The safety of our young travellers is our number one priority

    Thanks to careful management and thorough consultation with local partners our track record is exemplary

    Our industry leading risk management procedures have become a skill that we continue to refine

    All of our school group experts are highly trained and experienced consultants who have safety as their number one priority

    Expert leaders, risk assessments, quality inclusions and your financial security all come standard when travelling with World Youth Adventures

    World Youth Adventures is committed to responsible travel and true sustainability

    We encourage our travellers to Botswana to avoid purchasing products made from endangered species, hard woods or ancient artifacts.

    Before arriving in a community our travellers are given information concerning local customs and traditions ensuring that they are aware of the impact their behaviour can have on a local community.

    Well-defined environmental plans exist on every trip within this country

    Learn more about our commitment, and view our free Responsible Travel Guidebook, on our Responsible Travel Page

  • Okavango Delta: The Okavango Delta, is a rich and diverse habitat where the Okavango River drains into the sands of the Kalahari Desert. It is hard to believe such a fertile place exists in the heart of the Kalahari - the oldest desert on earth - but with the Cubango River flowing from Angola into the Okavango River it finds its resting place in these rich inland alluvial plains - and your first glimpse of its shimmering lagoons and canals will leave you in complete awe. The Delta is made up of endless water ways that hug small to medium sized islands – a veritable magnet for all manner of wildlife – hippos, crocodiles, giraffes, lions, hyenas, elephants, river antelope and wart hog – these are just some of the species you may see here.

    Moremi Game Reserve or Chobe National Park: There are few places on earth that are as impressive as Moremi Game Reserve and the Chobe National Park, where huge herds of elephants roam free with other wildlife.

    Kalahari Desert: Home to the legendary Kalahari Bushmen, a visit here will introduce you to this unique culture and give you time to explore undeveloped wilderness and savour the vast open spaces, clear night skies and uninterrupted beauty on game drives and at camp.

    Botswana is blessed with significant mineral and diamond wealth, stunning wildlife, diverse human culture and an incredible diversity of spectacular natural landscapes, making it an unforgettable travel destination. Much of the country is vast wilderness, untouched and untamed by modern infrastructure, making Botswana a very rewarding destination but one that requires time, patience and a good budget to really make the most of your visit.

    The UNESCO Heritage Listed site of Tsodilo in the Kalahari Desert of northwestern Botswana, nicknamed the ''Louvre of the Desert'', contains over 4,500 rock paintings within a space of 10 sq km (3.9 sq miles), giving a detailed record of the human activities and environmental changes which took place in the region over the last 100,000 years. Humans have lived in the area for more than 100,000, although not continually, however there is evidence in the Tsodilo Hills of continuous occupation by Khoisan language-speaking hunters and herders (the Khoe and San peoples) from around 17,000BCE right up until 1650CE. The Hambukushu and San communities today revere Tsodilo as a sacred place of worship and a home to ancestral spirits.

    Hunting was the primary food source for people of the region until the last few centuries before the Common Era, and which point some of the peoples of the north began converting to pastoralism. During this time, Bantu languages, iron tool making and grain crop farming gradually spread southward from the equator, and by 20BCE had reached the upper Zambezi area. Archeological finds at various Iron Age sites around the country place farming communities in the Tswapong Hills (around 190CE) and Molepolole areas (around 420CE), and to the west of the Okavango Delta (around 550CE).

    The chiefdoms of the Khalagari peoples (aka Kgalagadi or Western Sotho) were responsible for the Moritsane culture which arose near Gabane in southeastern Botswana from around 1095CE. The 7th to 13th centuries saw the thriving farming culture of the Toutswe people dominating the east of the country around Serowe. The prosperous Toutswe kingdom is though to have been conquered in the 13th century by the neighbouring Mapungubwe kingdom. The Mapungubwe kingdom was quickly taken over by the prosperous state of Great Zimbabwe. Great Zimbabwe prospered between the 11th and 15th centuries, before being succeeded by the Butua state in the mid 15th century.

    A number of powerful dynasties emerged during the 13th and 14th centuries among the Tswana people of the Western Transvaal region (now the North West province of South Africa). The Tswana Rolong dynasty pushed westward through the homelands of the Khalagari peoples, who either accepted Rolong rule or themselves moved westward, across the Kalahari into modern-day Botswana. By the mid 18th century, the Tswana chiefdoms of the Kwena and Hurutshe, together with the Khalagari-Rolong, founded the powerful Ngwaketse kingdom. The Ngwaketse grew to be a powerful military state that controlled copper production west of the Kanye region, and hunting and cattle raiding in the Kalahari.

    By the end of the 18th century, the trade demand for slaves, cattle and ivory had begun to spread from the coasts of Angola, South Africa and Mozambique, with raiding parties beginning to penetrate the interior of southern Africa, spurring a chain reaction of chiefdom dislocations and inter-kingdom warring. By 1800, the Ngwaketse kingdom was under attack from raiders from the Cape Colony, and in 1824 again under attack, this time from the militarised nation of the Kololo who were themselves forced out of their homelands by raiders. By about 1835 the Kololo had settled on the Chobe River, before being succeeded by the militarised Ndebele nation. Things settled down in the 1840s and the Tswana states of the Ngwaketse, Kwena, Ngwato and Tawana peoples prospered from the trade opportunities brought to Botswana via new roads down to the Cape Colony. These same roads also brought Boer settlers, who settled in the Transvaal to the east, and Christian missionaries who brought the influence of western conveniences, language, religion and culture.

    From the late 1860s, white miners and prospectors flooded Botswana and South Africa in search of gold and diamonds. The Germans colonised South West Africa (now Namibia) in 1884, and sought the join up with the independent Boer republic of the Transvaal in order to control the Kalahari. The British in the Cape Colony, however, was looking to expand into Zimbabwe and the Zambezi and so used their trade and missionary connections in Tswana-controlled Botswana to maintain access. By the following year, the British had claimed a protectorate over their allied Tswana states, naming it the Bechuanaland Protectorate. In 1890 the British colonised the area soon be known as Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), using the road from the Cape up through Bechunanaland. The Bechuanaland Protectorate was considered to be a temporary possession, a mere extension of South Africa (and a supplier of its migrant labour force), and as such, little investment or administrative development was undertaken in the region. The protectorate’s administrative capital was based in Mafeking, South Africa, right up until 1964. In 1950, the extent of South Africa’s influence over the British protectorate became apparent when it was revealed that the British government had controversially stripped Seretse Khama of his chieftainship of the Ngwato people and exiled him from Botswana for six years, after Khama’s marriage to a white English woman, an interracial marriage which the apartheid government of South Africa was opposed to.

    The push towards independence was spurred on from this point, with supporters of Seretse Khama organising political movements from 1952, and a growing spirit of nationalism gaining traction, even among older tribal leaders. The Bechuanaland People’s Party was founded in 1960, and the Bechuanaland Democratic Party (BDP, later known as the Botswana Democratic Party) was founded in 1962, led by Seretse Khama. By 1964, the British had finally begun to facilitate political change, with the territory’s new administrative capital being built at Gaborone. In the following year, Bechuanaland became a self-governing territory under the administration of an elected BDP government, and in 1966 the country officially became the Republic of Botswana, with Seretse Khama as its first president.

    Botswana remained financially dependent on Britain to cover the costs of development and administration for the first five years following independence, but the discovery of diamonds at Orapa in the late 1960s allowed the country’s economic development to take off. Botswana played a more significant role in international politics from 1969, with President Seretse Khama’s policy tone of nonracial liberal democracy sitting in stark contrast to neighbouring South Africa’s apartheid policies. During the 1970s and 1980s the country was able to develop its basic mining infrastructure and social services thanks to its rapidly expending economy.

    President Khama died in 1980 and was succeeded by his deputy, Quett Masire. Masire inherited Botswana at a troubled time, with a slowing economy, high unemployment and an increasing gap between the rich (urban) and poor (rural). In addition, Botswana was raided by the South African army in two separate and violent attacks resulting in civilian deaths. Following Namibia’s independence in 1990, full diplomatic relations were forged between South Africa and Botswana in 1994. Under Masire’s administration, Botswana fell prey to the AIDS epidemic, leaving the country with one of the highest rates of infection in the world. Botswana would go on, however, to be one of the first African countries to provide free antiretroviral HIV/AIDS medication to all citizens. Upon Masire’s retirement in 1998, Festus Mogae took over as president.

    Botswana’s decision in 1998 to welcome more than 2,400 refugees fleeing Namibia’s Caprivi Strip, rather than the extradite them as per the wishes of Namibian leaders, caused tensions between the two countries. Mogae’s administration also copped domestic and international criticism over the relocation of the Basarwa (San) people to settlements outside of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (the Basarwa people’s ancestral land). A 2006 Botswana High Court ruling awarded the Basarwa people rights to return to their ancestral lands, however, disagreements over hunting and water use remain between the government and the Basarwa people. Mogae was succeeded in 2008 by vice president Ian Khama, son of former president Seretse Khama.

    Like neighbouring Namibia and South Africa, Botswana is today considered an African success story. Since achieving democracy in 1966, the country has enjoyed a fairly stable economy, transparent political process, low crime rate, good human rights record, and good healthcare and education systems.

  • Botswana is a predominantly Christian country, with the majority of the population practicing some form of Christianity. Badimo, a traditional African faith, is also practiced throughout the country, and Muslim, Hindu and Bahá'í communities are also present.

    Official census religion statistics are: Christian 71.6%; Badimo 6%; Other 1.4%; Unspecified 0.4%; None 20.6%

    Missionaries brought Christianity to Botswana during the colonial era, and by the end of the 19th century it had become the official religion of most of the country. Many aspects of indigenous religious beliefs have been assimilated into Botswana’s practice of traditional Christianity.

    Daily life in Botswana—in rural, urban and official settings—is almost always a marriage of traditional Tswana (African) cultural practices and colonial British influence.

    Batswana generally dress in western-style clothing, and in a modest fashion in line with the majority-Christian faith

    A mid-sized land mass and population of only 2.1 million make Botswana one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world. Nearly 40% of the population live in rural settlements ranging from sparse and isolated rural communities to small villages to more traditional towns with populations in the thousands

    Traditional land use patterns generally followed as a village/home nucleus, surrounded by various seasonal fields for crop cultivation (up to one or two days’ walk from home), with livestock grazed further out at various cattle posts up to three or four days’ walk from home, and game hunted further still out from cattle posts

    The country’s life expectancy has taken a nosedive in the past two decades due to the spread of HIV/AIDS. With an adult infection rate of 23% (2012), Botswana has the world’s 3rd highest adult prevalence rate for HV/AIDS. This coupled with Botswana’s improving birth rate is skewing the demographics of the country with an increasingly youthful population.

    Botswana has enjoyed free and fair elections since independence and its open and fair political process has earned the country the title (alongside post-apartheid South Africa) of Africa’s most democratic nation

    People are generally very polite and should always be treated with respect and patience.

    If you want to take photographs of people you should always seek permission first

    Do NOT take photographs of bridges, border posts, police or military personnel (or buildings).

    It’s best to dress modestly, especially when visiting villages or crossing borders into neighbouring countries (no bare feet, bare chests, bikini tops, sunglasses or hats). While shorts are fairly acceptable, women should avoid wearing high-cut shorts or skimpy tops

    Begging is a harsh reality of life but it is something that most local people believe should not be encouraged, especially by Westerners who do not understand the occasions when it is appropriate. Giving money to street beggars should always be avoided. Handing out pens, balloons and sweets to children in the villages only decreases their respect for us and is discouraged. Tourists, albeit with the best of intentions, have created this situation.

    Please be warned that there have been instances of con men presenting themselves to tourists as refugees, NGO staff or government officials requesting donations. Do not enter into conversations with these men and under no circumstances give money, not even small donations.

    As a form of respect and general courtesy towards local inhabitants and village dwellers we do not encourage the invasion of their privacy. There are a few villages that allow tourist visits at a nominal fee. Bear in mind that you may be travelling in some rural areas where the people have had little contact with foreign tourists.

    Please be careful when purchasing any wood and bone carvings, as well as feathers and skins, as they may not pass your countries quarantine laws, and you may be purchasing products from endangered species.

    If you are invited to dine or BBQ at someone’s home, it is good etiquette to take a small gift of appreciation such as chocolates or flowers

    Botswana’s Christian populations observe Easter (Mar / Apr), Ascension (40 days after Easter), and Christmas (25 Dec). Muslim, Hindu and Bahá'í communities celebrate the festivals and religious holidays of their respective calendars

    Botswana is not known for its major events and festivals. Most major event action takes place in Botswana’s capital city of Gaborone, nicknamed “Gabs”. Each March, Gabs hosts the Autumn Music Festival. In 2013, Gabs also hosted two new inaugural March events: the Hamptons Summer Jazz Festival and National Braai Festival (borrowing from South Africa’s National Braai Day, the country’s beloved national barbeque celebration day).

    Late in March, the Maitisong Festival happens in and around Gaborone – the country’s major performing arts festival showcasing 9 days of music, dance, theatre and street performance. Expect street food vendors and a carnival-like atmosphere

    Major sporting events include the Steinmetz Gaborone Marathon (Mar), the Mascom National Derby (Easter weekend), the Khawa Dune Challenge and Cultural Festival (May), the Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race (Jun), the Mascom 2014 Phikwe Marathon (Jun), and the Kalahari Challenge (Jul).

    Secular national holidays include New Year’s Day (1 Jan), Labour Day (1 May), Sir Seretse Khama Day (1 Jul), President’s Day (3rd Monday in Jul), Botswana Day/Independence Day (30 Sep) and Boxing Day (26 Dec).

    Total population is 2,155,784; Botswana being the 145th most populous country in the world, growing at a rate of 1.26%.

    The median age is 22.9 years; with 32.9% aged 0-14 and 4% aged 65+.

    Sex ratio is 1.02 males to 1 female.

    The urban population is 61.7% (2011), with average annual rate of urbanization at 2.07%.

    Tswana (or Setswana) 79%; Kalanga 11%; Basarwa 3%; Non-African 1%; other, including Kgalagadi 6%.

  • The magnificent Okavango Delta&#160;-&#160;<i>Photo:&#160;Peter Walton</i>

    Botswana is classed as semiarid, with hot summers and warm winters, and only a brief wet season.

    Summer (Oct to Mar) begins with a windy season (Aug to mid Oct) carrying dusts from the Kalahari, followed by a long dry hot season, punctuated by the infrequent subtropical downpours of the country’s only wet season (Dec to Mar).

    Average daily temperatures in summer rise to about 34°C (93°F) in the warmest parts of the country, the north and southwest.

    Winter (Apr to Sep) is marked by sunny, cloudless skies and dry, temperate weather. Daytime temperatures are warm to mild, but the absence of cloud cover means nighttime and early morning temperatures drop significantly, with frosts being common. Winter is generally considered the best time to visit in terms of both favourable weather and game viewing.

    During the dry and early rainy seasons, all but four of Botswana’s rivers (Chobe, Limpopo, Okavango and Boteti) cease to flow.

    Botswana’s semiarid climate is prone to cyclic droughts, sometimes lasting up to six years and wiping out harvests and reducing livestock to starvation.

    Zambia to the northeast (NB. the Zambezi River border is only 150m long); Zimbabwe to the northeast and east; South Africa to the east, south, and southwest; Namibia to the west and north

    581,730 sq km (224,607 square miles) / (48th largest country in the world), divided into 10 administrative districts and 6 town councils

    Botswana is ranked at 100 out of 178 countries with an improving trend, on the Environmental Performance Index (2014), which quantifies and benchmarks performance of government environmental policies and outcomes

    Environmental issues include overgrazing, desertification, limited fresh water resources and a lack of arable land

    Natural hazards include periodic droughts, and sand and dust storms blown from August westerly winds.

    Botswana is a signatory to various international environmental and conservation agreements.

    A huge variety of plant and wildlife can be seen in the country’s national parks and game reserves, including Chobe National Park, Moremi Game Reserve, Central Kalahari Game Reserve, and Gemsbok National Park.

    Due to the year-round water supply provided by the Okavango Delta and Chobe River, nearly all southern African mammal species are present in both the Chobe National Park and the Okavango’s Moremi Wildlife Reserve.

    Chobe National Park (the Chobe Riverfront area in particular) is known for its high concentration of game animals, especially elephants, with somewhere in the order of 50,000 African elephants in the park. Also found in Chobe are lions, leopards, cheetahs, giraffe, zebra, buffalo, hippopotamuses, wildebeest, antelope, hyenas, crocodiles, fish and birds. Flora in the park includes reeds and other aquatic plants along the lush wetlands of the Chobe Waterfront; dense forests of mahogany, teak and other hardwoods; riverine woodlands; and vast savanna grasslands

    The second largest game reserve in the world, the Central Kalahari Game Reserve is home to lions, leopards, cheetahs, giraffe and various wildebeest, with its gently undulating land covered mostly with savanna bush and grasses.

    The Gemsbok National Park is home to lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, wildebeest, antelope and more than 200 bird species, and is covered sparse vegetation, mostly grasses and occasional trees

    The fertile Okavango Delta supports an outstanding biodiversity of life. Apart from being the lifeblood for over 150,000 people living in the area, the Delta is home to over 500 species of birds, 150 species of mammals, 90 species of fish, as well as reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, and over 1000 plant species. The Moremi Game Reserve sits wholly within the Okavango Delta system and has one of the highest concentrations of game animals on the continent.

    Botswana is a land of stunning natural landscapes and largely untouched wilderness. The vast sandy tablelands and savannas of the Kalahari Desert occupy the country’s interior and southwest, with the fertile Okavango Delta in the country’s north

    Predominantly flat with gently rolling tablelands, Botswana is a landlocked country, sandwiched between Zimbabwe, South Africa and Namibia (also sharing a 150 m/492 ft –long Zambezi River border with Zambia).

    The highest point in the country is the Tsodilo Hills (1489 m / 4885 ft), with most of the country sitting at an average elevation of 1000 m (3280 ft

    The country contains several large national parks and game reserves, including Chobe National Park, Moremi Game Reserve, Central Kalahari Game Reserve, and Gemsbok National Park (which, along with South Africa’s Kalahari Gemsbok National Park, forms the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park)

    Approximately 85% of Botswana’s landmass is occupied by the expansive Kalahari Desert, which also covers eastern Namibia and northern South Africa. Comprised of vast sandy plains, sand dunes and salt pans, the Kalahari is largely arid, with the exception of an extraordinary drainage system in northern Botswana: the Okavango Delta

    River deltas generally lead to open seas, but the Okavango empties into a huge depression in the Kalahari bedrock, flooding the savanna and creating the vast Okavango Delta system, whose wetlands support an outstanding biodiversity of life. Covering an area of more than 16000 sq km (6178 sq miles), the Okavango Delta is one of the major physiographic features of the country and is currently awaiting confirmation on the tentative UNESCO World Heritage List.

    Tsodilo (2001) Tsodilo in the Kalahari Desert of northwestern Botswana, nicknamed the ''Louvre of the Desert'', contains over 4,500 rock paintings within a space of 10sqm, giving a detailed record of the human activities and environmental changes which took place in the region over the last 100,000 years. Humans have lived in the area for more than 100,000, although not continually, however there is evidence in the Tsodilo Hills of continuous occupation by Khoisan language-speaking hunters and herders (the Khoe and San peoples) from around 17,000BCE right up until 1,650CE. The Hambukushu and San communities today revere Tsodilo as a sacred place of worship and a home to ancestral spirits.

    Okavango Delta (2014) Covering an area of more than 16000 sq km (6178 sq miles), the spectacular Okavango Delta is one of the major physiographic features, and the lifeblood, of the country. River deltas generally lead to open seas, but the Okavango empties into a huge depression in the Kalahari bedrock, flooding the savanna and creating the vast Okavango Delta system, whose fertile wetlands support an outstanding biodiversity of life. Apart from being the lifeblood for over 150,000 people living in the area, the Delta is home to over 500 species of birds, 150 species of mammals, 90 species of fish, as well as reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, and over 1,000 plant species. The Moremi Game Reserve sits wholly within the Okavango Delta system and has one of the highest concentrations of game animals on the continent

  • World Youth Adventures can tailor make a school expedition to Botswana to your school’s budget and curriculum requirements.

    Talk to us about your next school expedition, or if you need some ideas check out the trips below.


  • Capital City:  Gaborone
    Time zone:  Botswana is +2 hours ahead of UTC/GMT
    Language:  English (official)
    Currency:  Pula
    Highest Mountain:  Tsodilo Hills
    Highest Mountain Elevation:  (1489 m / 4885 ft)
    Light blue flag bisected horizontally into two rectangles by a white-edged, wide black band. The blue symbolizes rain and the black and white bands symbolize racial harmony.