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Honeymoon in Botswana

Spectacular wildlife, including the "Big Five", river rides, adventure, birding, safaris, African music, dance and art...

Northern Botswana

The most sought after wilderness destinations in the world with the supreme tranquality and serenity of extraordinary natural beauty.

Enjoy enchanting mokoro rides through the Okavango Delta, and experience unique photographic opportunities.

Discover spectacular wildlife including Africa’s incredible Big Five.

Experience our national monuments; San rock paintings at Tsodilo and spelunking caves at Gcwihaba.

Travel through 12 iBAs (important Bird Areas) and enjoy fantastic birding.

Take a cruise on the chobe River - enjoy inspiring scenery, rich concentrations of wildlife and breathtaking sunsets.

The Okavango Delta

One of the most sought after wilderness destinations in the world, the Okavango Delta gives entrance to the spectacle of wild Africa such as dreams are made of – the heart-stopping excitement of big game viewing, the supreme tranquility and serenity of an untouched delta, and evocative scenes of extraordinary natural beauty.

Kgalagadi/Central

Refuting the classical perception of desert as a barren, vegetation-less, useful land which is rich in natural resources.

Experience the ultimate adventure – a self-drive safari through the Kgalagadi; see the unique birds of the desert.

Witness the magnificent zebra migrations of the Makgadikgadi. Explore the pans on walks with the San.

Traverse the vast Makgadikgadi on quad bikes. Experience the immense wilderness of the world’s second largest game reserve.

Indulge in arts and crafts shopping, including world-class basketry and San jewellery and artifacts.

See the rare black-maned Kalahari lions, and a host of other desert animals.

Central Kalahari Game Reserve

Nothing prepares you for the immensity of this reserve, nor its wild, mysterious beauty. There is the immediate impression of unending space, and having the entire reserve to yourself. Waist-high golden grasses seem to stretch interminably, punctuated by dwarfed trees and scrub bushes. Wide and empty pans appear as vast white stretches of saucer-flat earth, meeting a soft, blue-white sky. At night the stars utterly dominate the land; their brilliance and immediacy are totally arresting. The Central Kalahari game Reserve (CKGR) is the largest, most remotely situated reserve in Southern Africa, and the second largest wildlife reserve in the world, encompassing 52 800 sq km.

Eastern Botswana

Spectacular landscapes, and a host of historical cultural and natural history attractions.

Tour the Northern Tuli Game Reserve on horse back, mountain bike or hiking.

Explore the rich historical and archaeological sites of ancient civilisations.

Visit Francistown’s Supa Ngwao Museum, an important repository of northern cultures.

Experience the exhilarating waterfalls - and historical sites - of Moremi Gorge.

Enjoy the unique and breathtaking topography of eastern Botswana.

Francistown

One of Botswana’s oldest towns, Francistown was the centre of southern Africa’s first gold rush. It came to prominence through European prospectors’ discovery and mining of gold in the region in the mid 19th century, first at Tatitown (about 50 kilometres from Francistown), and later at Francistown itself (at Monarch Mine, recently revived).

Southern Botswana

Enjoy the amenities of the modern cosmopolitan city of Gaborone, with luxury hotels and world class conference centres.

Gain an introduction to Botswana’s fascinating wildlife through accessible reserves in and around the city.

Experience vibrant music and dance performances, as well as colourful arts and crafts.

Browse cottage industries specialising in pottery, weaving, glasswear, leatherworks, and meet local artists.

Visit our village homesteads and glean insights into traditional life.

Gaborone

Once proudly referred to as “Africa’s fastest growing city,” Botswana’s capital, Gaborone, has been – since its inception – continually expanding, to the point that now the sprawling urban centre of some 300 000 residents has become nearly unrecognisable from the tiny, dusty administrative town it was at the country’s independence in 1966.

Twenty-first century Gaborone boasts four, large American-style malls, replete with cinema complexes, a host of hotels, guest houses and restaurants, an international airport, a cultural centre, discos and nightclubs, a national museum and art gallery, as well as two golf courses and other sports facilities.

What makes Gaborone so unique is that the visitor can enjoy all the familiar modern conveniences of home, but can gain entry into rural Africa, or wildlife areas, within minutes – having then the best of both possible worlds.

Climate

Botswana's climate is semi-arid. Though it is hot and dry for much of the year, there is a rainy season, which runs through the summer months. Rainfall tends to be erratic, unpredictable and highly regional. Often a heavy downpour may occur in one area while 10 or 15 kilometres away there is no rain at all. Showers are often followed by strong sunshine so that a good deal of the rainfall does not penetrate the ground but is lost to evaporation and transpiration.

'Pula', one of the most frequently heard words in Botswana, is not only the name of Botswana's currency, but also the Setswana word for rain. So much of what takes place in Botswana relies on this essential, frequently scarce commodity.

Seasons

The summer season begins in November and ends in March. It usually brings very high temperatures. However, summer is also the rainy season, and cloud coverage and rain can cool things down considerably, although only usually for a short period of time.

The winter season begins in May and ends in August. This is also the dry season when virtually no rainfall occurs. Winter days are invariably sunny and cool to warm; however, evening and night temperatures can drop below freezing point in some areas, especially in the southwest.

The in-between periods - April/early May and September/October - still tend to be dry, but the days are cooler than in summer and the nights are warmer than in winter.

Rainfall

The rainy season is in the summer, with October and April being transitional months. January and February are generally regarded as the peak months. The mean annual rainfall varies from a maximum of over 650mm in the extreme northeast area of the Chobe District to a minimum of less than 250mm in the extreme southwest part of Kgalagadi District (see the map for districts). Almost all rainfall occurs during the summer months while the winter period accounts for less than 10 percent of the annual rainfall. Generally, rainfall decreases in amount and increases in variability the further west and south you go.

Temperatures

Summer days are hot, especially in the weeks that precede the coming of the cooling rains, and shade temperatures rise to the 38°C mark and higher, reaching a blistering 44°C on rare occasions. Winters are clear-skied and bone-dry, the air seductively warm during the daylight hours but, because there is no cloud cover, cold at night and in the early mornings. Sometimes bitterly so - frost is common and small quantities of water can freeze.

Humidity

In summer during the morning period humidity ranges from 60 to 80% and drops to between 30 and 40% in the afternoon. In winter humidity is considerably less and can vary between 40 and 70% during the morning and fall to between 20 and 30% in the afternoon.

For tourists, the best visiting months are from April through to October - in terms of both weather and game viewing. It is during this period that the wildlife of the great spaces gather around what water there is - the natural waterholes and the borehole-fed dams - and are at their most visible.

Culture and History

The history of Botswana is characterised by migrations of peoples into the country from the north and west and particularly from the east and south, as well as internal movements of groups of people. The group which eventually emerged as most numerous, and dominant, were the Batswana. Their pattern of dividing and migrating saw the formation of numerous Tswana tribes, and their eventual occupation of all areas of the country.

The term "Batswana" refers to the ethnic group of people who speak the Setswana language and share the Sotho-Tswana culture, while in its common contemporary usage, it refers to all citizens of the Republic of Botswana, regardless of their ethnic background. The singular is "Motswana": a citizen of the country. "Tswana" is used as an adjective - for example "Tswana state" or "Tswana culture".

Customs

It is largely the culture of the Batswana that has dominated that of other minority groups. This is particularly evident with regard to cattle ownership. Cattle, the traditional Tswana source of wealth and status, are now desired by most, if not all groups of people in Botswana. But this exchange of cultural values has not been a one-way affair: minority groups have influenced and contributed to the dominant culture in numerous ways - in Ngamiland, for example, the Bayei fishing methods were adopted by the ruling Batawana.

Recent years have seen the introduction of western culture in the form of western business, technology, consumer goods, tourism and the media. There is a rather circuitous route, which all this takes to get to Botswana. South Africa, heavily influenced by America, Europe and Japan, acquires the latest goods and media items from these countries first; Botswana, in turn, imports nearly all commodities from South Africa. Botswana can well afford to buy in such goods, but personal wealth on the scale that exists for the elite few in Botswana is a new phenomenon.

Life in the urban areas has been most affected by western culture and increasing modernity. In the rural areas many traditions persist and ways of life differ from region to region. Some of the more obvious physical aspects of the different cultures have disappeared (such as traditional clothing, arts and crafts, most ritual ceremonies and some tools and utensils). Others remain important, however, such as cattle ownership, music and dance and the consultation of traditional healers.

The changes, which have come so rapidly to Botswana, have had their advantages and disadvantages. Better health and education facilities have been provided and increased prosperity has improved the standard of living for some. However, there is a steadily widening gap between the rich and the poor.

Music and dance

Music is the aspect of culture, which has perhaps best survived the onslaught of western influences in Botswana. Both traditional and modern music of numerous ethnic groups from southern Africa and sub-Saharan Africa are heard nearly everywhere you go - in shops, malls, houses, schools, cars, combis, trains, taxis and bars. Music, dance and singing are an integral part of everyday activities and modern-day ceremonies such as weddings and even funerals.

Batswana have incorporated their traditional music into church singing. The result is some of the most stirring, soulful music on earth. There are a lot of church choirs, in both urban and rural areas.

Children are taught traditional music and dance at primary school. Even in secondary schools, morning assembly sometimes begin with singing. Teacher training colleges often have their own dance troupes, some of which have performed overseas. Traditional dance competitions for schools are periodically held, usually in larger towns and villages, and many schools from around the country participate. These school groups also perform for the public on public holidays - in villages, town halls and community centres. The dancers, wearing traditional costumes of skins and beaded jewellery, move exuberantly and energetically. The music is happy, infectious, and full of feeling.

Religion

Early tribal religions were primarily cults. The supreme being and creator was known as Modimo. Religious rites included the bogwera and bojale (male and female initiation ceremonies) and gofethla pula or rain-making rites.

Today, Christianity is the most prevailing belief system in Botswana, with well over 60% of the population. It was brought into Botswana by David Livingstone in the middle 19th century who converted Kgosi Sechele I (Chief of Bakwena) to Christianity. The main denominations are - Roman Catholic, Anglican, Zion, Lutheran and Methodist Christian Church.

Arts and Crafts

There are groups of people and organizations promoting indigenous crafts, newly introduced crafts or western art forms. Their products can be purchased in curio, craft, gift shops and malls in Gaborone, Francistown, Maun and Kasane and at safari camps in the Okavango and Chobe regions.

Basketry

Botswana baskets are widely regarded as some of the finest in Africa, and certainly the best in southern Africa. Their high quality, outstanding workmanship and originality have gained them international recognition, and they are now exported to many countries around the world.

The baskets are made of the mokolwane palm (Hyphaene petersiana) which are cut and boiled in natural earth-tone colouring. The lemao (in Setswana) is the main instrument used to make the baskets. This is a sharpened piece of thick wire set in a wooden handle, which is used to pierce the tight coil and insert and then wrap the palm.

Many traditional basket designs are representations of animals and of nature. Many basket-makers say they do not know the origins of these designs, but some claim they were taken from the designs of Mbukushu beaded skirts and aprons.

Traditionally, baskets had many practical uses - to store seeds, grains, to transport food, etc. The shape of the basket varied according to its function. With the introduction and adoption of mass-produced western buckets, bottles and pots, basket making declined.

In 1973, Botswanacraft Marketing Company, hoping to generate income for rural Batswana, began buying Ngamiland baskets and other crafts. Since then Botswanacraft and other wholesalers have continued to market Ngamiland baskets and handicrafts, which are now exported to North America, Europe, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

A National Museum annual basket exhibition brings the year's best baskets to Gaborone. Visitors to rural areas have the opportunity to purchase crafts directly from the producers.

Pottery

Few households in Botswana still use traditional pots as receptacles to hold water, and there are only a small number of rural women who still make traditional pottery, mostly to sell. However, the tradition is showing signs of recovery as the tourist market grows. Modern ceramics are produced at several small cottage industries such as those in Gabane, and Thamaga, both near Gaborone.

Weaving

Unusual, good quality, hand-woven tapestries, carpets, bed covers, jackets and coats are all made from karakul wool. All utilize locally inspired designs and patterns. Oodi Weavers near Gaborone has gained an international reputation for its fine work.

Woodcarving

Woodcarving has been used traditionally in the production of the traditional items such as tools, bowls or cups, spoons, all made out of grained wood of the mophane tree. Elsewhere, animal figures may be carved by individuals living in the rural areas, and then brought to the towns to be sold. Artists are now using mophane wood to produce jewellery as well as animal and people figurines.

Bonecarving

This is a relatively new craft in Botswana, currently gaining in popularity. It was recently introduced and taught to ivory carvers who, with the worldwide ban on the sale of ivory products, were in danger of losing their livelihoods. Bonecarvers in Botswana produce elegant, finely crafted jewellery and small statuettes, which interestingly have the look and feel of real ivory.

Leatherwork

Botswana's best-known leather factory is located in Pilane, near Mochudi (see maps). High quality sandals, bags and cases are made, and marketed in the major towns. Ostrich and buffalo skin items are imported from neighbouring southern African countries and sold in the curio and craft shops around the country.

Skin-tanning

This is done throughout Botswana, both commercially and non-commercially. Tanned skins, usually of domestic animals such as goats, are still used as floor mats or sleeping mats, both in rural and urban households. The skins of wild animals, generally, but not exclusively, tanned commercially, can be bought in the major towns and cities.

Jewellery

Jewellery made of beads, ceramics, stones and malachite are produced in several local cottage industries, and sold in urban areas of the country.

Bushmen crafts

Tourism and tourists' fascination with the Bushmen have brought a revival of sorts to traditional Bushmen crafts. Bushmen now produce and sell hunting sets, fire-making sticks, beaded jewellery and belts, leather items and musical instruments. Authentic ostrich eggshell beadwork is still made, and the contrast of the creamy white beads on the brown and black leather string makes for very attractive items indeed.

The Mokoro

The Mokoro, is the traditional dug-out canoe used by the fishermen of the Okavango Delta. This, typical African craft, was brought to the delta by the Bayei people in the 18th century. Hewn from a single tree, it is a narrow vessel with a rounded bottom and no keel. To the inexperienced these canoes appear extremely precarious, but they are actually surprisingly stable when properly loaded and they are especially suited to shallow delta waters. The vessel is propelled either by paddles or a pole. To protect trees in the delta, many mokoro these days are made of fibre glass.

Art

There are many local artists - both citizens and expatriates. Paintings are sold in local curio shops, or may be displayed in the Gaborone or Francistown malls, but most artists prefer to stage exhibitions in the National Museum, or at their private homes. The National Museum in Gaborone has an annual art competition for all schools in the country, the results of which are usually quite interesting.

The museum also has an annual National Art Exhibition in which all artists living and working in Botswana are invited to participate. The Kuru Development Trust in Ghanzi District is encouraging the growth of Bushmen painting. The National Museum also stages exhibitions from artists outside Botswana.

Source: http://www.botswanatourism.co.bw/

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