Getting there & away
Overland travel to or from Botswana is usually straightforward as most travellers either arrive by private vehicle or by Intercape Mainliner (www.intercape.co.za). At border crossings, arriving travellers are often requested to clean their shoes, even those packed away in their luggage, in a disinfectant dip to prevent them carrying foot-and-mouth disease into the country. Vehicles must also pass through a pit filled with the same disinfectant.
Border opening hours change all the time, but major crossings between Botswana and Namibia or South Africa generally open sometime between 6am and 8am and close sometime between 6pm and 10pm. The main crossings between Botswana and Zimbabwe are open from 6am to 8pm, and the Kazungula ferry to Zambia runs from 6am to 6pm.
The Trans-Kalahari Hwy crosses the border at Mamuno–Buitepos (open 8am to 1am). In the Caprivi Strip, you can cross the border into Namibia at Ngoma Bridge (8am to 6pm) or between Mohembo and Mahango (6am to 6pm). The border crossing between Kasane and Mpalila Island (7am to 12.30pm and 1.45pm to 4pm) exists mainly for guests of safari lodges on the island. Note that during the winter months (late May to August), Namibia is one hour behind Botswana.
Most overland traffic between Botswana and South Africa passes through the Ramatlabama, Tlokweng or Pioneer border crossings. Other border crossings serve back roads across the Limpopo River, in the Tuli Block, and the Molopo River in southern Botswana; some of these are impassable to 2WD vehicles, and may be closed altogether during periods of high water.
Botswana and Zambia (along with Zimbabwe and Namibia) share what’s certainly the world’s shortest international border – a single point in the middle of the Zambezi River. Direct travel between the two countries is on the Kazungula ferry, which operates from 6am to 6pm daily and costs US$0.50 per person and US$5 for motorbikes, US$15 for cars and US$20 for larger vehicles. If there’s a long queue or the ferry isn’t operating, it’s not difficult to reach Livingstone via Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.
If you’re hitching from Kasane-Kazangula or the Zambian shore of the Zambezi, ask truck drivers about lifts to Livingstone.
The two most commonly used borders are at Ramokgwebana–Plumtree and at Kazungula, west of Victoria Falls. There’s also a lesser-used back-road crossing at Pandamatenga.
Botswana’s main airport is Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (35 11 91) 15km north of the capital Gaborone. Although this is well served with flights from Johannesburg (South Africa) and Harare (Zimbabwe) it is seldom used by tourists as an entry point into the country. Far more popular are Maun Airport (66 02 38) and Kasane Airport (65 01 36).