The US Center For Disease Control maintains an updated list of medical advice for those travelling to Botswana
The CDC recommends being up to date with all your regular shots. These vaccines include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot
They also suggest being vaccinated for hepatitis A. There is also some advice about protection for hepatitis B and rabies – but this depends to some degree on where you are heading and what you are doing.
There is a high risk of malaria throughout the year in the Caprivi Strip, Kavango and Kunene regions. For further information see NaTHNaC’s information sheet.
Cholera is known to occur in Namibia.
Additionally, malaria, yellow fever, zika virus, chikungunya virus and dengue fever are a risk in Namibia so avoiding being bitten by mosquitos is advised. Also, ticks can carry diseases so when going through forested areas or long grass protect yourself by wearing long trousers and shirts.
Some people suffer skin problems and/or dehydration due to Namibia’s hot and dry climate. Make sure you carry a good supply of drinkable water.
Namibia has one of the highest prevalence rates of HIV in the world. In 2019, UNAIDS Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic estimated that around 210,000 adults aged 15 or over in Namibia were living with HIV; the prevalence percentage was estimated at around 11.5% of the adult population compared to the prevalence percentage in adults in the UK of around 0.2%. You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS.
The public sector dominates the healthcare system in Botswana – operating most of the care facilities. However, there is a considerable gap between public and private medical provisions, and you’re advised to purchase private health insurance for the trip to Botswana.
As in much of Africa, the public healthcare system mainly serves a lower-income bracket, while ex-pats and those who can afford it use the private healthcare system.
It’s always recommended that visitors use travel insurance and medical aid services supplied by their providers at home, which will ensure that they can benefit from treatment in the private healthcare facilities in Botswana. Citizens of Botswana pay a very small fee for healthcare in public hospitals and mobile clinics, as the healthcare they receive is mainly subsidized.
Private healthcare providers are geared towards catering to tourism and provide a good service. Medical Rescue International and Okavango Air Rescue are recommended medical services for tourists in Botswana.
As always when you travel you should take out the necessary travel insurance coverage. We always use World Nomads but there are plenty of other insurance companies that offer travel insurance
Only eat food that is cooked and served hot. Eat fruits and vegetables that you have personally washed in clean water or peeled yourself. Never eat food sold by street vendors. Only drink boiled water that is sealed and has been filtered and disinfected. Prefer carbonated drinks, hot coffee or tea, and pasteurized milk.
- 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’re attacked, do not 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’re sexually assaulted or otherwise injured. Women, in particular, should not walk alone at night.
- Drug taking and smuggling is a serious offence. The punishments can be severe.
- Taking photographs or using video equipment near military and government installations is prohibited. Always ask permission before taking photographs of people in Botswana.
- Although homosexuality is no longer prohibited by law, public attitudes are less tolerant than in the UK and public displays of affection may attract negative attention. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.
- You should carry some form of identification with you at all times. A photocopy of your passport is sufficient.
- It’s illegal to buy, sell, kill or capture any protected wild animal or trade its parts. Those caught hunting, purchasing or trafficking such goods will be prosecuted and sentences if found guilty can be severe.
- Botswana residence and work permits are only valid when held with a valid passport. Do not allow your passport to expire whilst staying in Botswana. If you send your British passport for renewal, make sure you have a certified copy that you can present if needed.
Useful emergency numbers
Ambulance 997 (Toll Free)
Police 999 (Toll Free)
Fire Brigade 998 (Toll Free)
Medical Rescue 911 (Toll Free)
Medical Air Rescue 390-1601
Be Mobile 1333