Wondering what to bring and pack?
Use our guide below to pack, plan and perfect your safari. Take care to note all the advice on medical evacuation and insurance. We may ask you to provide proof of cover.
At WLS, we take safety very seriously so that you are free to enjoy your safari without stress or worry. This is also important for your guide, as we visit some very remote areas. Please note that we do provide a “Swiss Style” helicopter rescue service that will pick you up from remote locations. However, you still need your own insurance cover.
Feel free to ask us any questions if anything needs clarification. Please also visit this page again, closer to the travel date, to check if any of the travel requirements have changed (This happens a lot).
- Travel insurance
- Simple first aid kit and any medication
- Mosquito repellent
- Malaria prevention medicine – consult your own doctor
- Binoculars (essential). Please try bring a pair each!
- Toiletries – these are not provided on our mobile safaris
- A good torch—preferably a head torch (it is important to have a good torch!)
- Warm jacket and long trousers for cold or rain
- Gloves, hat and scarf (in winter)
- Sun cream/block – and rain jacket (in summer)
- Closed shoes (especially if doing a walking safari)
- Neutral coloured clothes if doing a walking safari
- Sun hat
- Swimming costume – we sometimes find natural safe swimming spots!
- US dollars (cash) is recommended for tips and curio shopping
- Credit card – can be used in even the most remote lodges
- Good quality sunglasses (polarised)
- Journal / notebook
- Your sense of adventure
It is a condition of booking, that the sole responsibility lies with the guests to ensure that they carry the correct comprehensive travel and medical insurance to cover themselves, as well as any dependents / travelling companions for the duration of their trip to Southern Africa. This insurance should include cover in respect of the following eventualities: cancellation or curtailment of the safari, emergency evacuation expenses, medical expenses, repatriation expenses, damage/theft/loss of personal baggage, money and goods. The Company, including their representatives, employees and agents will take no responsibility for any costs, losses incurred or suffered by the guest, or guest’s dependents or travelling companions, with regards to any of the abovementioned eventualities. Guests will be charged directly by the relevant service providers for any emergency services they may require, and may find themselves in a position unable to access such services should they not be carrying the relevant insurance cover.
Please note that you need a medical insurance that will cover you to be airlifted out of a remote location back to Maun and then on to a hospital in South Africa (should your condition be serious).
Summers are hot and wet (November to March). You’ll need a rain jacket as well as sun block. It can get very hot in the day (30 – 40+ degrees celsius).
Winter months (May to August) can be pleasant by day but can get very cold at night. Having several layers of clothing will help when the temperature drops from 25+ degrees celsius to single figures at night. Do not underestimate how cold it can get in winter as you will often be in open vehicles or boats with no protection from cold winds.
The “hot and dry” season (September and October) can be exceptionally hot with temperatures peaking well above 40 degrees every day with rain very unlikely.
If your itinerary includes a bush walk, then your clothing must be of neutral colours – nothing pure white, nothing pure black. Earthy colours are best – like khaki, beige, light grey. Finally, long trousers and long sleeved shirts for the evenings help avoid mosquito bites – closed shoes are also recommended as well as open shoes for relaxing during the day.
Electricity is 220V AC 50 Hz. Bring an adapter for your plugs – both square and round pin plugs are used in Botswana. We have charging points on all our safari vehicles and boats – 220v, USB and 12v Cigarette lighter sockets.
We provide “inverters” that are connected to our vehicle batteries that convert power from 12v to 220v. Please note that we cannot run these machines 24 hours a day and you should therefore plan your battery requirements carefully:
- Buy quality branded batteries that charge fast and hold charge (avoid cheap Chinese rip-offs)
- Bring spare batteries with you; avoid bringing rechargeable AA (double A) or AAA (triple A) batteries – these take an age to charge therefore never really fully charge on our machines.
- Try and buy a modern USB charging kit for your batteries as these do not require the inverter to be running
- It is your responsibility to bring the correct adapters for your charging devices – please ask us if you are unsure
- Bring a spare charging unit for you batteries if you are a serious photographer (we have had failures before!).
Please note that we are now encouraging all travelers to try and bring USB powered charging devices for all their charging needs. We will however keep providing the 220v inverters.
Some nationalities require a visa to enter Botswana so consult with authorities in your own country. Your passport must be valid for more than 6 months after entering the country and must have a full page for border stamps. Visa requirements for the countries you are visiting are your own responsibility. Some border posts (Zambia and Zimbabwe) will allow you to buy your visa when entering the country – the best currency for this is USD. The visa fees change regularly so please check visas requirements before traveling. A new cash visa for Botswana is due to be implemented in the near future. Do check before you travel.
Please travel with your own pen as you will be expected to fill in an arrival and departure form at immigration. You may be asked to enter the address of where you will be staying – even if you are staying at several locations! This causes confusion so just have at least one physical address known to you on arrival (usually where you are staying on your first night)! This will make the immigration official satisfied.
For safety and because space is restricted, baggage in charter aircraft is restricted to a maximum of 20kg per person in a soft bag (no hard suitcases). This includes camera equipment and carry-on baggage. Should guests arrive with excess baggage without prior warning their baggage could be delayed as baggage may have to be flown into camps at a later stage at considerable extra cost to the guest.
However, should the guest know in advance that the baggage will exceed the limit, an extra seat can be booked for the bags on the aircraft, at an additional cost.
RESTRICTIONS ON OUR MOBILE SAFARIS: Packing space is limited so the same weight limits apply, and please, no hard suit cases. If you have booked a private safari, exceptions can be made so do make inquiries if you are likely to have excess luggage. the above will not fully apply if you are NOT using light aircraft transfers!
You are required by law to travel with your childrens’ “Unabridged” Birth Certificate to enter Botswana and South Africa. If you are traveling without one parent, you will also require an affidavit from the absent parent giving permission for the child to enter the country. This must be dated no more than 3 months before the travel date.
June to September – These are our winter months and you should be prepared for cold mornings and nights. Temperatures can drop below 5c and can be above 20c in a 24 hour period. The chill factor is increased considerably while on an open vehicle or boat so we recommend that you bring gloves, beanie and a scarf. Ideally you will dress in several layers and strip off as the day warms up. These months almost guarantee perfect blue skies and good light for photography.
September to October – This is the end of winter and you can expect temperatures to climb to 40c in the middle of the day. Rain is possible but only really a threat by the end of October. We call October “suicide” month – it gets really hot!
November to March – These months are typically hot and wet. You can expect thunder showers to build up during the day and rain to fall in the afternoon – this would be typical but it can also rain for the whole day! Expect temperatures to be between 30c and 40c in the day time, however, it can get rather cold if it rains for a long time. Most lodges provide “ponchos” and umbrellas, but you should bring your own rain-gear.
April to May – Temperatures during these 2 months can be very pleasant – not too hot and not too cold. There is still a chance of rain at this time and mornings can be quite cool.
Consult your local doctor about inoculations for Botswana. These are not required by law to enter the country unless traveling from a yellow fever zone. There have been rumours about stricter yellow fever restrictions recently so it is advised that you get annoculated.
Botswana is in a malaria area so consult your doctor about suitable prophylactics. Most lodges will provide a mosquito net and repellent but we recommend that you bring a good supply of your own insect repellent.
Each lodge usually has a comprehensive first aid kit but we do advise you to bring any medication with you that you think you may need.
Be aware that HIV/Aids is common in Botswana so standard precautions should be followed.
Please be aware that your safari might bring you into close contact with wild animals. For this reason it is essential that you follow the advice of your guides (and camp managers). You should understand the risks involved and take responsibility for your own safety. Some lodges or operators will require that you sign an indemnity form on your arrival.
Once again we strongly advise that all travellers to Botswana have comprehensive travel and medical insurance. Although medical facilities are good in most major urban areas, you may have to be evacuated to South Africa for any serious medical conditions / treatment. If you do not have adequate cover you risk being turned away from the hospital.
If you are combining your safari with a visit to Zimbabwe or Zambia, consider the following:
The KAZA univisa for Zambia and Zimbabwe was relaunched at an event at the David Livingstone Safari Lodge on December 21, 2016. The visa aims to promote tourism and facilitate free, easy movement of tourists across the countries’ borders.
The univisa was first launched in a pilot programme between November 2014 and December 2015 with more than 47 000 visitors benefiting from the arrangement during the period. The univisa costs $50 and is valid for up to 30 days as long as visitors remain within Zambia and Zimbabwe. It also covers those who visit Botswana for day trips through the Kazungula borders.
Citizens of 40 countries (those who are eligible to receive visas on arrival in both Zambia and Zimbabwe) are eligible.
The Botswana currency is called “Pula” and most major currencies can be changed locally as well as used in shops in major tourist areas. US dollars are the easiest currency to exchange, so we suggest bringing US dollars if you can.
All major credit cards are widely used, although Visa seems to be the most reliable in our experience. For tipping of staff. USD or local currency is best, however all major currencies can be used for tips.
If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll try and help.
This is never compulsory although this does add greatly to the local economy and should be given relative to good service received.
You can tip as much as you want, but here is a rough guideline:
Camp staff (cooks, drivers, camp-hands): US 5-10 per staff member per day (For your planning, we typically have 3 of these staff members on each of our safaris). You can tip this amount as a group or couple or as big as the group you are traveling in. We know some nationalities like to tip more than this amount – please go right ahead!
(Tips should be given directly to the WLS staff with all members of the crew present.)
If you are an avid reader then we recommend that you bring a novel or magazines with you. There is often time in the middle of the day for relaxing (or reading). Further, we often stay out on game drives for extended periods, particularly when following predators – having something to read is a good way of passing time while waiting for animals to get active. Better still, download your reading material onto an ipad or smart phone in order to save on packing space.
You might also consider downloading videos and podcasts to have plenty of material for siesta time in camp. Please also ask us to send you our reading, movie and download list – to get you going on relevant topics related to Botswana.
Meant to be implemented in 2017, we are still waiting for this tax to be introduced. Meanwhile, you should arrive with USD30 in cash in case it gets implemented at short notice. No explanation has been given as to the delay, but from observations, its introduction was poorly planned and there is speculation about how transparent the process was conducted. With all these things, we expect a sudden implementation without warning so do make sure you travel with the cash on your arrival into Botswana.