Botswana Risk Report

Security travel advice for Botswana

Security information

Threat level: Low-Medium
The current travel safety advice for Botswana is to remain cautious when visiting this country. The terror threat level in Botswana is relatively low. Attacks and serious crime against tourists in Botswana are uncommon, but small crime and violence is on the increase particularly in the major cities and tourist hotspots including towns surrounding game reserves, where there are high populations of tourists.

Recent Security risk events
There have been several recent incidents in the Chobe area where tourists have had their hotel and lodge rooms broken into in the night leading to incidences of rape and other sexual offences. You should ensure that all windows and doors are securely locked all of the time. In the unlikely event of becoming a victim of sexual assault seek immediate medical advice as HIV is present in Botswana. Females, in particular, should not walk unaccompanied after dark. Keeping valuables out of sight will reduce the chances of being broken into.

You should avoid being near any developing large demonstrations and gatherings. In cases in 2011, the Botswana police used tear gas and rubber bullets on protestors to disperse protests. However the political consensus of the country is one which is stable.

Francistown and Maun have had a particular crime rate increase in recent years. Hold-ups and robberies of restaurants during peak hours and house burglaries, often by armed gangs, are becoming more frequent.

Security risks
Botswana is in the forefront of international criminal activity, such organisations as the Russian Mafia and the Chinese Triads are attracted to Botswana due to its natural resources, wildlife and drugs. Zimbabwean, South African and Zambian criminal gangs have also been known to target unsuspecting tourists on isolated roads, however this is very uncommon.

Taking photographs or filming military and government installations is illegal in Botswana. Always ask permission before taking photographs of people, but it is better to avoid doing so altogether.

Homosexuality is illegal in Botswana; lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals living in the country face serious legal issues due to their sexuality (even the death sentence). Both female and male same-sex sexual acts are illegal which has made it an ongoing issue in the international community for some time now.

A small majority of Botswana police have turned to corruption and often do not inform the British High Commission when British nationals have been arrested. It is important that if you are detained by the authorities to insist on your right to contact the British consular office and have access to British lawyer.

Avoid displaying signs of affluence whenever possible. This includes wearing nice jewellery or using electronic devices in public, as this can make you a vulnerable target for thieves.

International relations
Botswana has a strong political relationship with many of its neighbouring countries including Namibia. The United States considers Botswana an advocate of and a role model for stability in the African continent and has played a major part in Botswana's development since its independence.

The US also provides training for the Botswana police and military.

Travel considerations
Hijackings and carjackings are on the rise throughout the country and as such, movement after dark should be avoided. Driving outside the major tourist areas and big cities can be dangerous due to stray wildlife and wild dog packs. This is a particular risk at night, so take extra care if you are driving after dark, especially travelling on foot. It is highly advised you do not walk places after dark.

Anthrax has been known to infect animals in the region, do not touch roadkill or other dead animals. If you believe you may have been exposed please contact the nearest medical centre for assistance.

General information

Capital: Gaborone
Official languages: Setswana and English
Religion: Christianity
Currency: Pula (BWP)
Time now in Gaborone:

Visa requirements
Visas are required by all visitors unless passport holders from: Algeria, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of the Congo, Côte D'Ivoire, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Hong Kong, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Taiwan, and Togo.

Immunisations
It is advised that visitors to Botswana are up-to-date with primary boosters such as MMR. It is recommended for most travellers to also get a Tetanus, Hepatitis A and Typhoid vaccinations.

If you are coming from a country where there is a risk of Yellow Fever, or transiting for longer than 12 hours in an at risk country, you will have to provide a certificate of Yellow Fever vaccination. Check with your local health professional prior to travel if you are unsure.

Other health risks
There is risk of exposure to Anthrax through the animal population, please do not touch dead animals. Malaria is an issue within the whole of the country so the use of antimalarial medication is advised.

Lassa fever has been reported in the country. It is an acute viral haemorrhagic illness transmitted to humans via contact with food or items contaminated with rodent urine or faeces. There is currently no vaccine that protects against Lassa fever so prevention and good personal hygiene is vital.

Personal hygiene must be paramount, the local water supply avoided at all costs and bottled water inspected prior to consumption. A number of cases of bottled water being refilled with tap water and re-sold have come to our attention.

Consular information

U.S. Embassy Gaborone
Embassy Drive,
Government Enclave,
Gaborone,
Botswana
Telephone: (+267) 395 3982
Emergency Telephone: (+267) 395 7111
Email: consulargaborone@state.gov

British High Commission Gaborone
Plot 1079 1084,
Main Mall,
off Queens Road,
Gaborone
Botswana
Telephone: (+267) 3952841
Email: bhc@botsnet.bw

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    Other useful info

    Police emergency: 999
    Fire emergency: 998
    Medical emergency: 997

    Utilities note:
    Botswana experiences regular periods of rolling electric power outages that can leave areas without power for several hours. Visitors and travellers are urged to carry flashlights/torches. Visitors and travellers should also be aware of how power outages might affect home security systems, garage doors and gates, and kitchen equipment, such as stoves and refrigerators. The power fluctuations could cause power surges that might harm computers, televisions, or other electrical appliances.

    Botswana is experiencing a drought and the Water Utilities Corporation is rationing water up to three times a week for eight hours a day in Gaborone and other areas. Check the Water Utilities Commission website for schedules.