Botswana Co-ordinates and altitude
Botswana lies at latitudes 17° and 27°S; and longitude 20° and 30°E. Straddling the Tropic of Capricorn ensures Botswana has a moderate climate of hot wet summers and warm winter days with cold nights. The country is very flat and ranges in altitude between 750 and 1100 meters above sea level.
Neighbours on All Sides
Botswana is bordered in the South by South Africa, with many immigration checkpoints linking the two countries. In the West the country is bordered by Namibia, in the East by Zimbabwe and in the North by the Caprivi Strip of Namibia.
The only geological feature of note that forms a part of a border with a neighbouring country is the Linyanti/Chobe River system in the North on the border with Namibia.
Facts about the Land
At 600 370km² (231,788 miles²) Botswana is a similar size to Madagascar and is just slightly smaller than Texas and only slightly larger than France.
The Kalahari Desert covers over 80% of Botswana resulting in its climate being mostly arid to semi-arid. Rainfall occurs mainly in summer with the peak times being in January. The average rainfall is about 500mm per year in the northeast and less than 250mm in the other parts of the country, some countries or areas, such as Chocó in Columbia can receive 500 mm of rain in just one day.
The Okavango River runs through the centre of the Kalahari Desert, creating the unique ecosystem known as the Okavango Delta, from which the abundant bird and wildlife populations flourish. The Okavango River Delta is one of the world's largest inland deltas. Chobe National Park is located on the banks of part of the Okavango River and is home to over 120 000 Elephants.
A predominantly flat landscape, the two highest points in Botswana are Otse Mountain, which is 1 491 metres, and the Tsodilo Hills which is 1 489 metres. Both of these points are taller than Cape Town's iconic Table Mountain which is only 1 085 metres high. Tanzania's Mount Kilimanjaro is almost 4 times higher than both points.
Tsodilo Hills is well-known for its bushmen rock art with over 4 500 paintings being found in the various caves in the hills. Most of these paintings date back over hundred thousand years ago.
Currency in Botswana
Local currency is the Pula (P), and Thebe (T). Notes are in denominations of P5, P10, P20, P50, P100 and P200. Coins are in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 Thebe, P1, P2 and P5.
The US Dollar is the currency of preference for travellers. When you are tipping, or purchasing at craft-markets, it helps to be carrying $1, $2 and $5 bills.
Many of the flags of Africa reflect red and black to depict Liberation Wars and struggles but Botswana's flag is predominantly blue to depict peace and harmony in the country.
The blue of the flag represents water and rain, which mean prosperity in this mainly arid country and the black represents black Batswana and the white represents white Batswana - and together the flag depicts racial harmony and peace.
Seasons and Climate
Botswana is landlocked and very nearly in the centre of the southern African subcontinent, on an elevated plateau of approximately 1000 metres. These factors tend to cause low annual rainfall.
The seasons in Botswana are indistinct. Rains generally start in October or November and persist through to March or April. Within that period there may be long dry spells. In April, temperatures begin to fall and May is generally regarded as the first month of the dry, cool winter, characterised by clear sunny days and cold nights.
Spring begins in August and temperatures rise rapidly during the hot, dry period of September, October and November until the rains again break.
Dry from April to October, this is the best time to see game as animals congregate around permanent water sources and the foliage is sparse. Only permanent rivers flow in this season and central areas of the parks dry out.
There is always some water in the Okavango Delta, but by October the channels are narrow and the floodplains are mossy green but dry. With the oncoming threat of rain, the air becomes hot and October temperatures head into the high 30's°C (86°F).
Rain falls between November and March. These are summer months, so it is hot and humid.
Some roads become impassable due to the sticky mud, so difficult to reach lodges and camps may close for a few months. The rainy season attracts a huge influx of birds, such as Flamingo that feed in the algae rich pans and raise their chicks.
Many grazing animals also give birth at this time, as the landscape is lush and there is an abundance of food.
Although the rainy season is generally from October to April, there is great variation in the time of its arrival and departure, in the quantity of rain that falls and in its distribution. The amount of rainfall decreases from the north-east of the country to the south-west, and as it does so its variability increases.
Thus the north-east might expect 600mm of rain with a variability of about 30%, whilst the drier south-west will receive, on average, only 200mm, with a variability of about 80%. Rain tends to fall in short, sometimes violent thundershowers.
Although rain may first fall in September, the greatest amounts fall in the months of December, January and February. It is important to note that, at any time of year, it does not normally rain on more than 2 consecutive days.
Airports of Arrival
Should you wish to start your safari in the Okavango Delta (Moremi & Khwai) you would then fly into Maun.
If you would like to start your safari in Chobe there are two options:
1. You can fly into Kasane or
2. You can fly into Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. With option 2 please be aware that you will need visa’s and a road transfer to Botswana.
(one per person!) preferably Petzl, LED Lenser or Black Diamond, preferably with rechargeable batteries. Lighting in the tents is much dimmer than what you are used to back home and trying to find stuff in your bag at 5am is just a problem you don't need!!
Each vehicle is fitted with charging facilities for charging camera batteries.