HEALTH AND SAFETY
The medical and healthcare systems in Botswana are well developed, though distances between facilities and practitioners are great. A competent air rescue service operates throughout the country but comprehensive travel insurance will be required to make use of this service.
The most significant health threat in Botswana is malaria in the northern areas. Follow the pre-departure advice of your GP and make liberal use of repellents, protective clothing and bed nets. Malaria can remain dormant for a long time so be aware of any flu symptoms developing for up to six months after your visit. Treated early, malaria is easy to completely eradicate so you need not worry about your safety provided you follow the wealth of precautions available.
Low-level crime is evident in the built-up towns but nothing that common sense won’t be able to handle: lock up your valuables, keep your personal belongings with you and be aware of your surroundings.
The northern regions of Namibia – particularly the Kunene River and the Caprivi – are malaria areas with a high risk between November and March. The further south you travel the lower the risk becomes. In most of the country there is no malaria risk at all.
Start taking your anti-malarial precautions a few weeks prior to your departure. Use that time to observe any side effects and switch anti-malarial regimes if necessary. Depending on your itinerary, you may not need to take precautions. Please check with us when you make your booking.
There are no inoculations required for any country in southern Africa unless you are travelling from a known yellow fever country. In that case you will need to produce a vaccination certificate upon arrival or application for your visa.
For more health-related information consult the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) website at: http://www.cdc.gov/travel/safrica.htm (opens new window)
Private clinics, hospitals and health services are of a high standard in the main cities. Because of the low population density and the size of the country you may need to travel great distances in an emergency. A private medical evacuation service operates throughout Namibia. However, they will not assist unless the casualty has adequate medical cover. For this reason, we require travel insurance that is valid for your entire holiday.
Is it safe? Relatively, yes. Victoria Falls has remained unaffected by the turmoil in Zimbabwe due to its proximity to external sources of supplies (Botswana, Zambia and Namibia). The people, as always, are friendly and optimistic but the reliance of informal trading of African arts and crafts at the markets and roadside has led to over-bearing sales tactics that you may want to avoid.
However, we monitor the situation carefully in constant contact with our suppliers on both the Zambian and Zimbabwean sides. Should the security, health or economic situation pose a threat we will not hesitate to intervene and recommend alternative arrangements.
Is it ethical to visit Victoria Falls? That depends on your point of view. We believe that to boycott a dictatorship is to sanction its people, not its leadership. However, if you have moral objections of any sort, you can still visit Victoria Falls from the Zambian side and enjoy the full spectrum of exciting activities on offer.
Foreign exchange is freely traded in Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe – Victoria Falls.
All international airports have foreign exchange desks, though for Zimbabwe – Victoria Falls we recommend you use US$/Euro as it is universally accepted – bring a variety of denominations to avoid receiving change in a less-than-useful local currency.
Entry Visas are payable in US$/Euro so check the latest requirements with your consultant and have the correct amount handy on arrival.
If you visiting Namibia only, we recommend you buy South African Rand (ZAR) – the Namibian Dollar is inter-changeable with the Rand in Namibia only and is not accepted at banks outside the country.
Travellers’ cheques, credit cards and debit cards are accepted only in the large hotels and lodges in the cities. At safari lodges and shops in the more remote areas, cash is the only means of payment. Though many of the lodges are fully inclusive, some offer extra activities or charge for premium imported spirits and wine; you may want to buy some of the local craft and tip the staff in which case small denominations of US$ will again come in handy.
Tipping at lodges in Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe – Victoria Falls is not expected but always welcomed. Many safari lodges have a system of sharing the tips among the general housekeeping staff with a separate system for the guides. We recommend you ask the concierge or your host about the tipping protocol when checking in or out.