Before you go
Visitors to Botswana should always take out a comprehensive medical insurance policy to cover them for emergencies, including the cost of evacuation to another country within the region. Such policies come with an emergency number (often on a reverse-charge/call-collect basis). You would be wise to memorise this, or indelibly tattoo it in as many places as possible on your baggage.
Personal effects insurance is also a sensible precaution, but check the policy's fine print before you leave home. Often, in even the best policies, you will find a limit per item, or per claim – which can be well below the cost of replacement. If you need to list your valuables separately, then do so comprehensively. Check that receipts are not required for claims if you do not have them, and that the excess which you have to pay on a claim is reasonable.
Annual travel policies can be excellent value if you travel a lot, and some of the larger credit-card companies offer excellent policies. However, it can often be better to get your valuables named and insured for travel using your home contents insurance. These year-round policies will try harder to settle your claim fairly as they want your business in the long term.
Having a full set of immunisations takes time, normally at least six weeks, although some protection can be had by visiting your doctor as late as a few days before you travel. Ideally, see your doctor or travel clinic (see below) early on to establish an inoculation timetable.
No immunisations are required by law for entry into Botswana, unless you are coming from an area where yellow fever
is endemic. In that case, a vaccination certificate may be required. To be valid the vaccination must be obtained at least ten days before entering the country.
Preparations to ensure a healthy trip to Botswana include checking on your immunisation status: it is wise to be up-to-date on tetanus
(ten-yearly) and diphtheria
(ten-yearly). Regular travellers are advised to have hepatitis A immunisation with Havrix Monodose or Avaxim. The course comprises two injections given about a year apart (total cost about £100) and lasts for ten years.
The newer typhoid vaccines (eg: Typhim Vi) last for three years and are about 85% effective. They should be encouraged unless the traveller is leaving within a few days for a trip of a week or less when the vaccine would not be effective in time.
Immunisation against cholera is considered ineffective and is not required for trips to Botswana.
Vaccination against rabies is unnecessary for most visitors, but would be wise for those who travel for extended periods (four weeks or longer), or stay in rural areas. Ideally three injections taken over a four-week period prior to travel are advised. But there is some benefit to be gained from even one injection if time is short.Hepatitis B
vaccination should be considered for longer trips (two months or more) or for those working with children or in situations where contact with blood is likely. Three injections are needed for the best protection and can be given over a four-week period if time is short. Longer schedules give more sustained protection and are therefore preferred if time allows. A BCG vaccination against tuberculosis
(TB) is also advised for trips of two months or more.