GETTING TO & AROUND BOTSWANA
By air travel
International flights within Africa are served by South African Airways, Air Namibia, Kenya Airways and a few others land in the capital, Gaborone and the safari hub – Maun. From there, flights to other towns and safari destinations can be arranged. Flights from outside Africa mostly land in Johannesburg, South Africa, and from there into and out of Botswana.
Botswana has two well-developed types of commercial air industry – scheduled flights, offered by national carrier, Air Botswana and; chartered flights, offered by independent, small charter companies. Air Botswana does not cover a wide network of destinations as it already has its own monopolized niche and the rest of the sectors are picked up by the charter companies at the mercy of Air Botswana arriving and departing on time.
Specifically, Air Botswana offers flights connecting Maun and Gaborone to Kasane, Harare, Windhoek and Johannesburg. Moreover, flights between Kasane and Victoria Falls as well as Francistown and Johannesburg are also catered to. In contrast, charter flights take passengers from Maun and Kasane to a large network of safari destinations in all regions of the country. Light aircrafts are used and can only seat few passengers at a time thus running a shuttle charter service between various airstrips. Shared and private charter flights are necessary to reach most safari camps and lodges, and are incorporated into every safari trip.
By rail travel
The railway system connecting South Africa and other surrounding countries with Botswana’s towns and cities is dependable but is not often taken by visitors to the north of the country. Railways are usually used for cargo transport.
By bus travel
There are buses that go through country borders between Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Zambia. Bus companies also shuttle people between the major towns. As bus fares are inexpensive, and many buses ply the roads, riding a bus in Botswana can help one get acquainted with the locals but rides can sometimes be challenging when a multitude of people press against each other, and raucous conversation are heard all around. There are regular buses and smaller buses that go through the same routes but the minibuses have fewer stops and thus arrive to destinations sooner but fares are more expensive than larger buses. This is because buses in Botswana wait until its preferred passenger capacity is reached and the larger ones take a slower, plodding rate with plenty of stop-over to pick up passengers on the way.
The driver’s seat is set at the left side of the vehicle in Botswana. Drivers can reach Botswana using a road network that connects the country to surrounding countries. For self-driving, visitors are required to have an international driver’s license and vehicle registration papers, and are recommended to plan the trip well before the arrival. Taxis are also available in the cities. Tarred roads are mostly well-maintained, and police regularly use radar equipment to apprehend traffic violators near and within towns. In the wilderness, paths are merely cleared areas through which vehicles pass through and require high-clearance, four-wheeled safari transports. The summer rains cause some paths to become muddy and inaccessible. Slow, arduous drives in the wilderness can be frustrating but they are an essential ingredient in savoring the pleasant surprises that visitors wish to encounter in Botswana’s nature.