Safety and security
Attacks on tourists are rare, but petty and violent crime is increasing particularly in the major towns of Gaborone, Francistown and Maun. House burglaries, often by armed gangs, are common. Hold-ups and robberies of restaurants during peak hours have also occurred in the past.
Theft from parked cars does occur and thieves target cars waiting at traffic lights to smash and grab handbags, phones or laptops. Keep valuables out of sight and in a safe place. If you are attacked, don’t resist. Use a hotel safe, where practical. Keep copies of important documents, including passports, in a separate place.
There have been isolated room break-ins and robbery from lodges in the Chobe area, particularly river-fronting lodges. Lock your room when you can and secure valuables.
There have been incidences of rape and other sexual offences. Seek immediate medical advice if you are sexually assaulted or otherwise injured. Women, in particular, should not walk alone at night.
You should avoid large demonstrations and gatherings. In 2011 police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse protests.
Game reserves and other tourist areas are generally secure, but be alert to unpredictable behaviour by wild animals. Follow park regulations and wardens’ advice. Avoid bathing in rivers and lakes, because of the dangers from both wildlife and water-borne diseases.
If you travel to remote areas plan your trip carefully, make transport and accommodation arrangements in advance and seek local security advice. Take emergency supplies (including water and fuel) and be prepared for off-road driving conditions. In very remote areas travel in convoy or with a satellite phone in case of breakdown.
You can drive using an International Driving Permit for up to 90 days. If you intend to stay longer you should apply for a Botswana driving licence.
Botswana has good tarmac roads covering most of the country but you should be careful when driving. The standard of driving is lower than in the UK and many drivers ignore road safety rules. Dangerous driving, including speeding (the maximum speed limit is 120kmh) and drink/drug driving, cause frequent serious and often fatal accidents.
Driving, particularly outside the major urban areas, can be dangerous due to stray wildlife and livestock. This is a particular risk at night, so take extra care if you are driving after dark.
In major towns taxis are generally safe to take. You should agree a price before setting off.