The unit of currency is the Botswanan pula (P). Pula means ‘blessings’ or ‘rain’, the latter of which is as precious as money in this largely desert country. Notes come in denominations of P10, P20, P50 and P100, and coins (thebe, or ‘shield’) are in denominations of 5t, 10t, 25t, 50t, P1, P2 and P5.
Prices can be quoted in US dollars and pula. At top-end hotels, lodges and camps, things are priced and you can pay in US dollars. Otherwise, you’ll be making most transactions in Botswana pula.
Most banks and foreign exchange offices won’t touch Zambian kwacha and (sometimes) Namibian dollars; in border areas you can sometimes pay at some businesses with the latter. To make sure you don’t get caught out, buy/sell these currencies at or near the respective borders.
While tipping isn’t obligatory, the government’s official policy of promoting upmarket tourism has raised expectations in many hotels and restaurants. A service charge may be added as a matter of course, in which case there’s no need to leave a tip. If there is no service charge and the service has been good, leave around 10%.
It is also a good idea to tip the men who watch your car in public car parks and the attendants at service stations who wash your windscreens. A tip of around P5 to P10 is appropriate.
Guides and drivers of safari vehicles will also expect a tip, especially if you’ve spent a number of days under their care.