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Botswana

If you’re travelling to Botswana, our travel advice and updates give you practical tips and useful information.

Get travel and medical insurance

Before travelling, the Department strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.

Overview

We advise you to take normal precautions in Botswana.

Emergency assistance

Because there is no Irish Embassy in Botswana, we're limited in the help we can offer you in an emergency. The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.

If there is an emergency, or if you need help and advice, you can contact the Irish Embassy in Maputo in Mozambique or the Honorary Consulate of Ireland in Gaborone, Botswana.

Other EU embassies

You can also try contacting the Embassies or Consulates of other EU countries for emergency consular assistance, advice and support.

Our tips for safe travels:

  • Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities.
  • Add an alert for your destination within the Travelwise App.
  • Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly if there’s an unforeseen crisis like a natural disaster or a family emergency.
  • Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates.
  • Read our ‘Know Before You Go’ guide.

Safety and security

Terrorism

Although the threat from terrorism in Botswana is low, there is still a global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by tourists and expatriates.

Crime

Crime remains relatively low in Botswana in comparison with its neighbours although there have been some increases of late. However, most visits to the Botswana are trouble-free but you should still take sensible precautions:   

  • Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together - leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place. 
  • Don’t carry your passport unless absolutely necessary and leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home.
  • Avoid showing large sums of money in public and don’t use ATMs after dark, especially if you’re alone. Check no one has followed you after conducting your business.
  • Avoid dark and unlit streets and stairways, and arrange to be picked up or dropped off as close to your hotel or apartment entrance as possible.
  • Keep a close eye on your personal belongings and hold on to them in public places such as internet cafés, train and bus stations.

Reporting crime

If you’re a victim of a crime while in Botswana, report it to the local police immediately. And you can contact us at the Irish Embassy in Maputo or the Honorary Consul if you need help.

Driving

If you’re planning to drive in Botswana, you should be extremely careful. Botswana has good tarmac roads over most of the country but be careful when driving off-road.

If you want to drive:

  • Bring your international driving permit and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is against the law and you risk being detained, fined or banned from driving if caught
  • Keep your vehicle doors locked and your bags kept out of sight to prevent opportunistic bag-snatching if you’re stopped at traffic lights

Driving in rural areas

Wildlife and stray livestock can pose a serious hazard so avoid driving in rural areas at night. Botswana is a very large and under-populated country. Therefore the distance between one urban centre and another can be very long with minimum services of any kind available en-route, including fuel, food, accommodation and mobile phone coverage. Ensure you carry enough drinking water, some food and a second spare tyre if travelling long distances on dirt roads.

Hiring a vehicle

If you’re hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you’re allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.

Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).

Local laws and customs

Remember, the local laws apply to you as a visitor and it is your responsibility to follow them. Be sensitive to local customs, traditions and practices as your behaviour may be seen as improper, hostile or even illegal.

Illegal drugs

Illegal drug use (no matter what the drug) carries stiff penalties, including fines and long prison terms.

Health

Get travel and medical insurance

Before travelling, the Department strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake. 

Vaccinations

Check what vaccinations you may need for your trip at least eight weeks before you travel. We can’t advise you on vaccinations, but you can get information about vaccinations from your local GP or an International Health and Travel Centre.

Evidence of vaccination (in the form of a certificate) can be a requirement for entry to some countries.

Medication

Make sure you bring enough medication for your entire trip and for any unexpected delays. You may wish to also bring copies of your prescription in case you lose your medication.

Malaria

Malaria exists in the northern parts of Botswana, particularly during the rainy season. Before you travel, get up-to-date medical advice on anti-malarial medication. When you arrive, avoid being bitten by mosquitoes by using bed nets and repellents, and wearing closed shoes, long sleeves and trousers.

HIV and AIDS

Botswana has one of the highest HIV and AIDS infection rates in the world. If you’re engaging in activities that expose you to possible HIV infection, make sure you take adequate precautions. If you suspect that you have been exposed, you should seek immediate medical attention.

Tick-borne encephalitis

Anyone intending to camp or walk in the bush should be cautious of tick bites.

Additional information

Passports

It’s advisable to take a number of photocopies of your passport with you when travelling to Botswana and you should carry a photocopy of your passport at all times during your stay.

If your passport is lost or stolen while you’re abroad, we can help.

What we can do:

  • Issue you a replacement passport that will let you finish your trip, or;
  • Issue you with an emergency travel document to get you home.

We’ll do our best to help you as quickly as possible but this can take some time. Your location and circumstances may limit the help we can give you. As Ireland does not have an Embassy in Botswana there may be additional complications in processing and application for a new passport.

You should contact the Irish Embassy in Maputo or the Honorary Consul to find out what you need to do to apply for a passport. They will also be able to advise you on the fees which apply.

More advice

Ireland doesn’t have an Embassy in Botswana so we can’t verify detailed travel advice to ensure that it’s accurate, appropriate and up to date. However, we encourage you to conduct your own research and to read these links to travel advice from other foreign ministries: