Botswana is in Southern Africa, north of South Africa. The terrain is predominantly flat to gently rolling tableland, bordering the Kalahari Desert in southwest. The highest point is Monalanong Hill, one of the four Tsodilo Hills, at 1,494 meters (4,902 feet). Environmental issues include overgrazing, desertification, and limited freshwater resources. The mining industry, and in particular diamond mining, dominates the national economy of Botswana. There has been speculation in both the national and international press about Botswana’s mining versus tourism conundrum, and whether or not tourism can replace finite mineral resources.
The Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) is under the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism. The International Union for Conservation of Nature maintains a country office in Botswana, IUCN Botswana. IUCN coordinates the Botswana CBNRM (Community Based Natural Resources Management) Support Programme, founded by the SNV Netherlands Development Organisation and funded by the World Wide Fund for Nature. Local environmental NGOs include the Kalahari Conservation Society, Makgadikgadi Wetlands Working Group, and Okavango Research Institute.
Botswana’s three main ecoregions consist of: tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands – flooded grasslands and savannas – and deserts and xeric shrublands. Botswana has no official Biosphere Reserves. DWNP divides its protected areas into national parks (Chobe, Makgadikgadi/Nxai Pans, Kgalagadi), game reserves (Central Kalahari, Khutse, Moremi), and educational game reserves (Gabarone, Manyelanong, Maun, Francistown). The Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area, including Mapungubwe National Park, is classified as a “peace park” by the Peace Parks Foundation. The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park now includes Kalahari Gemsbok National Park in neighboring South Africa. Survival International has documented ongoing issues with the exclusion of the indigenous San Bushmen (aka Basarwa) people from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. The Okavango Delta region has been inscribed as natural World Heritage, as well as Ramsar Wetland of International Importance; however, there is concern about the region’s plummeting animal numbers and vulnerability to climate change. Other protected areas include Mashatu Game Reserve, Mokolodi Nature Reserve, Nata Bird Sanctuary, and Northern Tuli Game Reserve.
Botswana’s wildlife is unquestionably its most valuable tourist attraction. The high season for safaris is during the dry months, from May to October. The so-called “green season” from December to March is low season for safaris. Originally coined by big game hunters, the “Big Five” to watch for throughout Southern Africa include the lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard, and rhinoceros. Notably, Botswana is to ban commercial hunting from 2014, over concern about rapidly declining animal numbers. There are a good number of NGOs now working on animal conservation in Botswana, including the Botswana Predator Conservation Trust, Cheetah Conservation Botswana, Elephants Without Borders, Khama Rhino Sanctuary Trust, and Makgadikgadi Zebra Migration Research. Birdlife Botswana provides a focal point for bird conservation, and both Birding Botswana and Birding Safaris specialize in guided bird watching.
There are quite a lot of both domestic and international safari providers operating in Botswana. Primary safari providers have their own lodge or tent camp concessions within parks or reserves, making do-it-yourself safaris difficult; since, many of Botswana’s parks and reserves have no provision for accommodating self catering visitors. Locally based safari providers include Bush Camp Safaris, Delta Rain Safaris, Desert & Delta Safaris, Game Trails Botswana, Golden Okavango, Letaka Safaris, Okavango Expeditions, Thebe River Safaris, Ulinda Safari Trails, and Wildland Safaris. Yoga teacher Deborah Carter offers Yoga Safari. Elephant Trails offers artist lead safaris focusing on drawing the big cats. Horseback safari providers include African Horseback Safaris, Limpopo Horse Safaris, Okavango Horse Safaris, and Ride & Walk Botswana. Abu Camp even provides elephantback safaris. Okavango Divers specializes in diving with delta crocodiles.
People from Botswana are called “Batswana”; but, the term originally comes from the country’s major ethnic group, the Tswana people. The indigenous San Bushmen are officially known as “Basarwa” in Botswana. The Tswana people account for some 79 percent of the population, whereas the San Bushmen only 3 percent. Today, the Kuru Family of Organisations is one local network concerned with the interests of the minority San people.
In the late 19th century, the Bechuanaland Protectorate was established by the British at the request of local chiefs as a response to the instability of inter-tribal warfare. In the aftermath of WWI, Bechuanaland was gradually granted some measure of self rule, and following WWII a political infrastructure was eventually put into place. The newly named nation of Botswana finally gained its independence in 1966.
The U.S. State Department considers crime a serious concern in Botswana; and, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office concurs that violent crime is on the increase in the major towns of Gaborone, Francistown and Maun. The Overseas Security Advisory Council of the U.S. State Department provides recent, detailed crime and safety reports. Be aware, HIV/AIDS is rampant in Botswana.
Botswana’s only official World Heritage site, Tsodilo Hills, consists of some 4,000 ancient San Bushmen rock paintings. There are 8 other sites added to the Tentative List of natural as well as cultural World Heritage, Toutswemogala Hill Iron Age Settlement, Okavango Delta, Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Chobe Linyanti System, Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape (Trans-boundary Listing), Gcwihaba Caves, Makgadikgadi Pans Landscape, and Tswapong Hills Cultural Landscape. Most heritage conservation activities are overseen by the Botswana National Museum (botswana-museum.gov.bw), a member of ICCROM (International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property). The Botswana Society is involved among other things with cultural tourism development. Botswana Society for the Arts is an umbrella organization for the visual and performing arts. The Maitisong Festival is an annual arts festival at the Maitisong theater in the capital city of Gaborone.
In 1990, the government of Botswana formalized both a National Conservation Strategy and Tourism Policy. Botswana’s current tourism development model is based on ‘low density high value’, in other words limiting numbers and creating high end offerings, which is perhaps better for the environment but does limit broader economic development. The Southern African Development Community headquarters is in Botswana, and has a hand in both nature conservation and tourism development. There is an International Tourism Research Centre at the University of Botswana in Gabarone. The Botswana Tourism Organisation maintains a number of informative websites. The Hospitality and Tourism Association of Botswana maintains an extensive online members listing. The Botswana Guides Association also maintains a useful online members listing. Botswana Trails offers safari guide training courses, in addition to walking safaris. Tourism Expo Botswana is the major annual domestic tourism trade show. Legodimo Wilderness organizes environmental volunteer opportunities in Botswana. Inspired by Rudolf Steiner anthroposophy, the Camphill Movement operates a number of facilities in Botswana requiring volunteers for special needs children.
The Botswana National Ecotourism Strategy was developed for the International Year of Ecotourism, 2002. The Botswana Ecotourism Certification System was developed following the Botswana Ecotourism Best Practices Manual in 2008. As of 2013, the Botswana Tourism Organisation website listed 7 certified facilities: Chobe Game Lodge, Jao Camp, Kwetsani Camp, Little Vumbura Camp, Savuti Bush Camp, Vumbura Plains Camp, and Zarafa Camp. Botswana Lodges is a map-based accommodation portal. Botswana has many safari lodges and tented camps, as well as proper campgrounds and a few backpacker hostels. Lodges include Elephant Sands Lodge, Grassland Bushman Lodge, Khwai River Lodge, Mowana Safari Lodge, Muchenje Safari Lodge, Nata Lodge, Ngoma Safari Lodge, Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodge, and Tuli Safari Lodge. Tented safari camps include Eagle Island Camp, Meno A Kwena, Pom Pom Camp, Safari Camp Ghanzi, Savute Elephant Camp, and 3 Ta Shebube camps. Proper campgrounds include Gam Xho Campsite (Huiku Community Trust), Kaziikini Campsite, Kubu Island, numerous SKL Group campsites, and various Xomae Group campsites. Backpacker hostels include Mokolodi Backpackers, Old Bridge Maun Backpackers, and Okavango River Lodge in Maun.
Transport in Botswana is mainly by road and air; though, there are quite a few river cruises and houseboats available. The Trans-Kalahari Corridor is a paved highway between Namibia and South Africa, known as the A2 highway in Botswana. Self drive safaris are a popular way to see Southern Africa. Botswana based self drive safari companies include Drive Botswana, McKenzie 4×4 Botswana, Papadi Safaris, and Travel Adventures Botswana. Air options include international air, domestic air, and air charter. Air Botswana is the national airline, and connects the country with destinations throughout Southern Africa. Airlink is a privately owned regional airline based in South Africa flying throughout Southern Africa, including Kasane and Maun in Botswana. Air charter companies include Kavango Air, Mack Air, Moremi Air, and Wilderness Air. Mokoros are local canoes, commonly used in the Okavango Delta by poling rather than paddling. The Okavango Polers Trust organizes local polers for river safaris. Motorized river safaris are available from Okavango River Safaris. The Zambezi Queen promises luxury river safaris. Houseboats include the Kubu Queen, Nguni Zambezi Voyager, Ngwesi House Boat, various Okavango Houseboats, and Pride of Zambezi.
- Climate change is likely to worsen the public health threat of diarrheal disease in Botswana by KA Alexander, M Carzolio, D Goodin, 2013
- Evicted from Ancestral Lands: Botswana’s Basarwa Minority by K Jayakumar, L Anderson, R Bhandari, 2013
- Marketing Botswana’s pristine heritage sites for tourism by AA Mabuse, 2013
- The economic impacts of tourism in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa: Is poverty subsiding? by E Muchapondwa, J Stage, 2013
- ‘Women Cannot Lead’: Empowering Women Through Cultural Tourism in Botswana by N Moswete, G Lacey, 2012
- Agriculture-tourism linkages in Botswana-evidence from the safari lodge accommodation sector by H Hunt, CM Rogerson, JM Rogerson, N Kotze, 2012
- Collaboration and Partnership in Tourism: the Experience of Botswana by J Pansiri, 2012
- Hosts & guests: Stereotypes & myths of international tourism in the Okavango Delta, Botswana by J Mbaiwa, 2012
- Students’ Perceptions of Managerial Competencies: A Study of Undergraduate Tourism and Hospitality Students at the University of Botswana by D Mahachi, 2012
- The impact of HIV/AIDS on the socio-economic environment in Botswana with special reference to tourism by LS Ketshabile, 2012
- Tourism industry reaction to climate change in Kgalagadi South District, Botswana by J Saarinen, WL Hambira, J Atlhopheng, 2012
- Changes in resident attitudes towards tourism development and conservation in the Okavango Delta, Botswana by JE Mbaiwa, AL Stronza, 2011
- Changes on traditional livelihood activities and lifestyles caused by tourism development in the Okavango Delta, Botswana by JE Mbaiwa, 2011
- Community-based natural resource management and tourism: Nata Bird sanctuary, Botswana by MT Stone, CM Rogerson, 2011
- Community-based tourism enterprises: challenges and prospects for community participation; Khama Rhino Sanctuary Trust, Botswana by LS Stone, TM Stone, 2011
- Cultural Commodification And Tourism: The Goo-Moremi Community, Central Botswana by JE Mbaiwa, 2011
- Hotel companies, poverty and sustainable tourism in the Okavango Delta, Botswana by JE Mbaiwa, 2011
- Prospects and challenges for tourism certification in Botswana by JE Mbaiwa, LI Magole, DL Kgathi, T Jamal, 2011
- The effects of tourism development on the sustainable utilisation of natural resources in the Okavango Delta, Botswana by J Mbaiwa, 2011
- The prime heritage trails of Botswana by AA Mabuse, 2011
- Tsabong Camel Park to create jobs and revenue by G Moeng, 2011
- Utilising Tourism Potential in Combating the Spread of HIV/AIDS through Poverty Alleviation in Rural Areas of Botswana by KL Simeon, 2011
- Utilising tourism potential in combating the spread of HIV/AIDS through poverty alleviation in rural areas of Botswana by LS Ketshabile, 2011
- Community-based tourism ventures, benefits and challenges: Khama Rhino Sanctuary Trust, Central District, Botswana by LS Sebele, 2010
- Neoliberalising Nature? Elephant-Back Tourism in Thailand and Botswana by R Duffy, L Moore, 2010
- The effects of tourism development on rural livelihoods in the Okavango Delta, Botswana by JE Mbaiwa, AL Stronza, 2010
- Community, lions, livestock and money: A spatial and social analysis of attitudes to wildlife and the conservation value of tourism in a human–carnivore conflict in Botswana by G Hemson, S Maclennan, G Mills, P Johnson, 2009
- Cultural Tourism in Botswana and the Sexaxa Cultural Village: A Case Study by R Jones, 2009
- Cultural tourism and livelihood diversification: The case of Gcwihaba Caves and XaiXai village in the Okavango Delta, Botswana by JE Mbaiwa, LK Sakuze, 2009
- Investigating the impact of World Heritage Site tourism on the intangible heritage of a community: Tsodilo Hills World Heritage site, Botswana by S Keitumetse, O Nthoi, 2009
- Natural Resource-based Tourism and Wildlife Policies in Botswana by J ATLHOPHENG, K MULALE, 2009
- The Eco-tourism of Cultural Heritage Management (ECT-CHM): Linking Heritage and ‘Environment’ in the Okavango Delta Regions of Botswana by SO Keitumetse, 2009
- The socio-economic impacts of tourism in the Okavango Delta, Botswana by JE Mbaiwa, MBK Darkoh, 2009
- Tourism development, rural livelihoods and biodiversity conservation in the Okavango Delta, Botswana by JE Mbaiwa, P Hottola, 2009
- Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis of the Okavango River Basin The Status of Tourism Development in the Okavango Delta, Botswana by JE Mbaiwa, 2009
- Village-based tourism and community participation: a case study of the Matsheng Villages in southwest Botswana by N Moswete, B Thapa, G Lacey, 2009
- Community-based natural resource management and tourism partnership in Botswana: which way forward? by J Lepetu, ROB Makopondo, MBK Darkoh, 2008
- Critical factors in cultural tourism in Botswana by MMM Bolaane, AM Kanduza, 2008
- Indigenous Knowledge and Ecotourism-based Livelihoods in the Okavango Delta in Botswana by JE Mbaiwa, OT Thakadu, MBK Darkoh, 2008
- Potential for domestic tourism: A study of the University of Botswana students travel motivation by H Manwa, R Mmereki, 2008
- Resident involvement and participation in urban tourism development: A comparative study in Maun and Gaborone, Botswana by N Moswete, B Thapa, EN Toteng, JE Mbaiwa, 2008
- Sustainable development, ecotourism, national minorities and land in Botswana by MG Molomo, KS Amanor, S Moyo, 2008
- The realities of ecotourism development in Botswana by JE Mbaiwa, 2008
- The socio-economic and environmental effects of the implementation of the tourism policy of 1990 in the Okavango Delta, Botswana by JE Mbaiwa, MBK Darkoh, 2008
- Tourism as a Socio-Cultural Encounter: Host-Guest Relations in Tourism Development in Botswana by J Saarinen, H Manwa, 2008
- Tourism development, rural livelihoods, and conservation in the Okavango Delta, Botswana by JE Mbaiwa, 2008
- Two Dynamic Export Sectors (Diamonds, Tourism) in Namibia and Botswana: Compari-son of Development Strategies by JP Rieckmann, 2008
- Water Resource Use in the Tourism Sector in the Okavango Delta, Botswana by JE Mbaiwa, 2008
- Final Draft Report 3: The Socio-Economic and Environmental Impacts of Tourism Development in the Okavango Delta, Botswana by JE Mbaiwa, 2007
- Problems and prospects for the development of urban tourism in Gaborone and Maun, Botswana by JE Mbaiwa, EN Toteng, 2007
- The value of wildlife-viewing tourism as an incentive for conservation of biodiversity in the Okavango Delta, Botswana by N Mladenov, RJ Gardner, EN Flores, 2007
- Whatever You Do, Don’t Run: True Tales of a Botswana Safari Guide by P Allison, 2007
- Community-based natural resources management (CBNRM) and tourism: The Nata Bird Sanctuary Project, Central District, Botswana by MT Stone, 2006
- The social impacts of community-based tourism: a case study of Khama Rhino Sanctuary Trust in the Central District of Botswana by LS Sebele, 2006
- Tourism market potential analysis in Botswana: a Delphi study by E Kaynak, EE Marandu, 2006
- Enclave tourism and its socio-economic impacts in the Okavango Delta, Botswana by JE Mbaiwa, 2005
- Possibilities and constraints to development of small-scale entrepreneurs that cater for the tourism industry in Ngamiland district of Northern Botswana by KG Modimootsile, 2005
- The problems and prospects of sustainable tourism development in the Okavango Delta, Botswana by JE Mbaiwa, 2005
- The socio-cultural impacts of tourism development in the Okavango Delta, Botswana by JE Mbaiwa, 2005
- Evaluation of Tourism in the Okavango Delta in Botswana Using Environmental Accounting by M Lehmensiek, 2004
- The socio-economic benefits and challenges of a community-based safari hunting tourism in the Okavango Delta, Botswana by JE Mbaiwa, 2004
- Bridging the gap between livestock keeping and tourism in Ngamiland District, Botswana by MV Flyman, 2003
- Community-based tourism in Ngamiland District, Botswana: development, impacts and challenges by JE Mbaiwa, 2003
- Community-based tourism: the key to empowering the Sankuyo community in Botswana by K Mearns, 2003
- Problems facing the tourism industry of Botswana by N Moswete, FT Mavondo, 2003
- The socio-economic and environmental impacts of tourism development on the Okavango Delta, north-western Botswana by JE Mbaiwa, 2003
- Tourism or Livestock-A Policy Dilemma for Environmental Management and Poverty Amelioration in Botswana by DJ Beal, RN Ghosh, MAB Siddique, 2003
- Botswana National Ecotourism Strategy by PW Stevens, R Jansen, 2002
- Botswana: Integrating biodiversity into the tourism sector by MC Kalikawe, 2001
- Tourism development in Botswana: problems and potential by AD Chilisa, PUC Dieke, 2000
- Economic characteristics of the demand for wildlife-viewing tourism in Botswana by JI Barnes, 1996
- Low impact eco-tourism—clarioncall or reality? The challenge of Botswana by SSA Smeding, 1993
- Tourism in Botswana: Proceedings of a Symposium held in Gaborone, Botswana 15-19 October, 1990 by L Pfotenhauer, 1991
- Economic impact of wildlife-based tourism in Northern Botswana by LJ Borge, WC Nelson, JA Leitch, FL Leistritz, 1990
- Tourism, Conservation, and Culture in the Kalahari Desert, Botswana by K Robert, L Brandenburgh Rodney, 1990