How safe is Botswana?
Botswana is considered a safe travel destination. It is both financially and politically stable. It has been spared much of the unrest and turmoil, which plagues so many countries in Africa. As is the case elsewhere, the larger cities and population centres generally have the most crime, but once you are on safari, such problems are all but nonexistent. It is, however, a good idea to leave your valuables (expensive watches, jewellery, etc.) at home, thus eliminating the temptation for possible theft. Luggage locks are always advisable when flying.
What type of travel documents do I need?
A valid passport is a requirement for any international travel, when travelling into Southern Africa your passport needs to be valid for a minimum requirement of 6 months after your entrance date as well as 2 blank pages. Citizens of certain countries are required to obtain visas for entry into Botswana. As this list of countries changes from time to time, it is important to check with your travel consultant regarding current visa requirements, well in advance of your departure. Please note that it is your own responsibility to ensure all necessary visas are obtained prior to entry (unless available on entry, such as Zimbabwe at current time).
Who will meet me on arrival and where?
You will be met at the airport in Maun. After passing through customs, you should look for a uniformed Ker & Downey representative with a sign showing 'Ker & Downey'. The Ker & Downey representative will then transfer you either to your flight to camp, the Ker & Downey offices, your hotel or other appropriate destination as per your itinerary.
What type of clothing will I need on safari?
Depending upon the time of year you safari in Botswana, lightweight clothing of cotton and cotton/blends are most suitable. During the winter months it can be very cold and a warm jacket will be needed for early morning and evening game viewing activities. During the summer months bring a lightweight water/windproof jacket in case of rain, but otherwise temperatures are very warm. For evenings bring lightweight long sleeved clothing as protection from mosquitoes. Neutral colours such as khaki, beige/cream or olive green are appropriate, and are less conspicuous to the animals. Laundry is done daily in camp, so it is not necessary to over pack. Consult our packing list as a general guide before you travel.
It is recommended that on your international flight to Botswana you carry a change of clothing (e.g. t-shirt and underwear), any prescription medicines and your valuables (documents, camera, wallet) in your hand luggage in case of lost luggage or luggage delays from connecting international flights. In the case of lost luggage, Ker & Downey will assist where possible in calling the airlines to monitor progress in your luggage claim which, in most cases, arrives the following day, however please note that it is often beyond our control and your best precaution is the essential items being packed in your hand luggage.
Is the water safe to drink?
Yes. Water supplies in camp are filtered to city standards. Water jugs in each tent are replenished on a daily basis. And bottled water is readily available at each camp. You can help yourself.
What type of aircraft will I be using on safari?
Ker and Downey own and fly their own aircraft, operating as Northern Air. Flights are generally in Cessna 206 light aircraft, the most reliable and efficient craft available, able to take off and land in the remote bush airstrips with ease. Depending upon factors such as occupancy, distance and destination, both the charter company and the type of aircraft used may vary. We endeavour to accommodate all Ker & Downey clients with our Northern Air services.
What type of safari vehicles will I be game viewing in?
Ker & Downey uses Toyota Landcruisers which have been specially built for game viewing and photography. All have completely open seating areas and cabs for unhindered photography. Each has ample seating (although we normally keep occupancy to six or less in each vehicle!), with seat pockets, reference books, snacks, bottled water, toilet paper, insect spray and a cool box for refreshments.
Is electricity available in the safari camps?
As our camps are situated in remote areas we need to generate electricity, for the most part by generator and in some instances solar power. Due to their noise, these generators are normally run during the day, when guests are out of camp on activities. In the evenings, the generator is switched off, and the camps run on the inverter system whereby batteries provide 220V power in each room at Shinde, Kanana, Okuti and Edo's Camps which is supported by paraffin lamps. Please note that at Footsteps camp there is no electricity generated and lighting is paraffin lamps and solar or battery powered lamps.
If necessary, batteries may be recharged in camp during the day. Depending upon the electricity needed for camp operations, it may be possible to recharge video cameras during the day, but this will be at the discretion of the camp manager. Be sure you bring a 3 prong, round point adapter with you and also be sure to bring a spare battery for use whilst the other battery is being charged in camp, to avoid missing out on any photographic opportunities.
Please note that it is not possible to use appliances such as hairdryers and electric shavers in the delta camps as the power is insufficient to charge and usage may result in the power tripping at the whole camp.
How long does it take to get from one camp to another?
On our standard fly in safaris, inter-camp transfers are provided by light aircraft. Transfer times are minimal averaging 30 minutes to one hour twenty to Kasane. Flights are booked on a 'seat rate' basis which allows us to offer a more economical transfer than a private charter. This means that flight times are scheduled by the charter company the day prior to fit in with their flying schedule. All requests are taken into consideration for flight times and international flights are guaranteed to be met provided correct information is provided by the guests. Meals and activities are planned around the flights and transfers.
Road transfers from Maun to Edo's Camp are also possible, approximately 2 hours in duration in a closed vehicle with refreshments provided en-route. The road is tar for the bulk of the journey with the last 20 minutes on dirt road and thus comfortable travelling.
Self drive access is possible to Okuti, from either Maun or from Chobe National Park or within Moremi Game Reserve. In order to drive within the National Parks of Botswana you need to have a 4 wheel drive vehicle as the roads are sand/dirt in varying conditions throughout the year. Previous 4x4 experience is highly recommended and a well kitted vehicle is compulsory (spare tyre, jack, spare fuel, water etc).
What about tipping?
Tipping is not obligatory. It is, however, appropriate if you feel that the measure of service you received warrants a show of your personal appreciation, this is purely discretionary. The average tip amounts are approximately $10 per guest, per day. Customarily, $5-10 per day will go to your driver/guide directly and $5 per day can be placed in the Tip Box provided in the camps, Camp Managers distribute the latter among the camp employees. It is a fair distribution system ensuring that the 'behind the scenes' staff are also rewarded.
Is a safari strenuous?
No. Getting into and out of vehicles and light aircraft as well as some walking is the most strenuous activity you will encounter. Our safaris are considered 'soft adventure'. Some of the road terrain can be bumpy as it is 'off road', this is part of the experience, however if you have a back problem please do advise us in advance for suitability for a safari of this nature.
How much baggage can I bring on safari?
Since most safari travel is done in small aircraft, each passenger is limited to one soft-sided bag, weighing no more than 20 kg, plus a typical sized camera bag. Bear in mind the door to the luggage pod is only 70 x 25 cm. Soft type duffel bags are ideal and are required. Excess baggage be may subject to additional baggage/charter charges and please note it is optional to store your excess baggage in our Maun office at no extra charge until the end of your safari (this option is only available if your safari starts and ends in Maun, otherwise alternate arrangements will need to be made).
How much money will I need?
Most major currencies are accepted throughout Botswana. You will not need large sums of cash while on safari, as our programs are all inclusive. However, some guests enjoy shopping in Maun. Selected camps have a small gift shop stocked with various curios, safari items and film, credit card can be used (Master or Visa cards). Otherwise, you may need money for any accommodations, meals and shopping before or after your scheduled safari as well as for visas (Zimbabwe etc) and taxes. The amount needed, of course, is your personal decision.
What about insects or snakes?
Surprisingly, there are very few snake problems in Botswana, normal common sense avoids contact with snakes (i.e. don't go crawling through dense bushes!). Insect repellent is provided in all tents and safari vehicles. However, for your personal comfort, we recommend you bring some insect repellent of your own and take malarial prophylaxis (please consult your local travel medical specialist for the medication best suited to you). It is also a good idea to bring some sunscreen as even in the winter months the days are warm and clear and as you spend a large part of the day outside on activities, there is a risk of sunburn.
What contact details should be left at my home/office?
You should leave the contact details for the Ker & Downey Maun office in order that you can be contacted in the camps by radio from Maun in the case of an emergency. Our booking form asks for an emergency contact for your next of kin, in case we should need to send an urgent message through and please note that both Kanana and Shinde Camps have a satellite phone for use by guests (charges apply)