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Traveling to Botswana & Zimbabwe: What to Know?

As you prepare to unroll your mats in the breathtaking landscapes of Munga Plains in Botswana, we’ve put together all the essential info to ensure a peaceful and rejuvenating retreat worry-free. From packing tips to visa requirements, as well as advice on handling the local weather and keeping your health in check, let’s dive into your ultimate guide to Botswana and Zimbabwe. 

Visa Requirements

First things first – let’s talk about getting into Botswana. Good news for many of you: citizens of most Western countries (including the USA, Canada, the UK, and most EU countries) do not require a visa for stays of up to 90 days. However, always check the latest requirements before you travel, as policies can change.

As many of you will be flying to and from Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe – the closest international airport to Munga Plains – you will need to purchase a double entry visa upon arrival. Make sure you have the visa fee in US dollars in cash available before boarding the plane to avoid any problems at the border. 

  • For UK and Irish citizens: US $70

  • For EU & Swiss citizens: US $45      

Tip: Keep a few copies of your passport, travel insurance, and retreat details handy to breeze through customs and be on your way to zen in no time.

Packing Essentials

When it comes to packing for Botswana, think comfort, practicality, and a touch of style:

  • Lightweight, Breathable Clothing: Botswana can be hot, especially from September to April, with temperatures soaring during the day. Pack loose, breathable fabrics that keep you cool.

  • Layers for Cooler Evenings: While days can be sweltering, evenings might surprise you with a chill, especially during the winter months (May to August). A lightweight jacket or a cozy shawl will be your best friend.

  • Yoga Gear: Bring your favorite yoga outfits, and don’t forget your mat if you prefer your own. We provide mats and props but we understand if some people have specific needs.

  • Comfortable Footwear: You’ll want sturdy shoes for exploring, and don’t forget flip-flops for lounging around the retreat. It can get quite dusty so avoid new white sneakers (we’ve warned you).

  • Sun Protection: A wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and plenty of sunscreen are must-haves to protect against the strong African sun.

  • Insect Repellent: Malaria is a risk in some areas, so pack a good insect repellent to keep those pesky mosquitoes at bay.

Pro Tip: A reusable, heat proof water bottle is essential. Staying hydrated is key, especially when practicing yoga in the African heat. Luckily, you’ll receive your own Munga Plains branded bottle as soon as you step foot in the camp.

Weather Wonders

Botswana’s weather can vary, so here’s what to expect:

Dry Season 

  • April & May: These months mark the beginning of the dry season. It is hot and sunny, with temperatures climbing up to 30°C/86°F.

  • June, July & August: There is very little rain during these months. It is a bit cooler now with afternoon temperatures climbing up to about 27°C/81°F. Early mornings are cold at around 8°C/46°F.

  • September & October: As the dry season draws to a close, it continues to get hotter before the rains break. October is very hot with average afternoon temperatures of 34°C/93°F. However, conditions at night and in the mornings are agreeable.

Wet Season 

  • November & December: Conditions are hot and sunny. Temperatures tend to build before it rains, and then drop afterward. Early mornings are pleasant – temperatures average about 18°C/64°F.

  • January & February: The first two months of the year are the wettest. There is usually rain in the afternoon, but only for a few hours. Heavy storms are a regular occurrence.

  • March: The rains are lessening. There is still rainfall every couple of days though, and it mostly comes as a thunderstorm. Mornings are cooler at 17°C/63°F.

Weather Wisdom: Lightweight, long-sleeved clothing is great for both sun protection and keeping mosquitoes at bay during the summer. In winter (June to August), pack layers to peel off or add on as the day progresses.

Malaria Matters

Malaria is present in some parts of Botswana, including areas near Chobe National Park, however mosquitoes are less frequent during the dry season. If you’re worried, here’s how to stay healthy:

  • Prophylactic Medication: Consult your doctor about anti-malarial medication. Start taking it before your trip and continue as advised.

  • Preventive Measures: Use insect repellent with DEET, sleep under mosquito nets, and wear long sleeves and pants in the evening.

Health Hack: Although there are no mandatory vaccination requirements traveling to Botswana, it’s always a good idea to be up to date with routine vaccinations and consult your healthcare provider for any health advice.

Safety Measures and Cultural Norms

Botswana is known for being one of the safer destinations in Africa, but it's always wise to stay cautious:

  • Stay Aware: Keep your belongings secure, avoid walking outside of the camp at night, and stick to well-lit areas.

  • Wildlife Safety: When exploring nature reserves or the bush, always follow your guide’s instructions. Never approach wildlife on your own.

  • Cultural Respect: Botswana is rich in tradition and culture. Dress modestly, especially in rural areas. Greet people politely and respect local customs. 

  • Tipping: Bring cash in Pula (the local currency) for tips to staff and guides at the end of the retreat. We advise giving the equivalent of $10 (BWP 137) per day per person, which will be divided amongst the whole staff.

Cultural Tip: Learning a few phrases in Setswana, such as "Dumelang" (Hello) and "Ke a leboga" (Thank you), can go a long way in showing respect and making connections with locals.

Journey to Bliss: Victoria Falls to Munga Plains

Your journey will begin in Victoria Falls, a destination worth arriving a day early for. Marvel at the majestic falls, then get ready for a scenic transfer to Munga Plains, nestled next to Chobe National Park.

Transfer Tips:

  • Travel Light: Keep your carry-on light and your valuables close.

  • Photography Gear: The journey offers stunning photo ops, so keep your camera or smartphone handy.

  • Relax and Enjoy: Embrace the ride as part of your retreat experience. It’s the perfect time to start unwinding and soaking in the beauty around you.

Final Thoughts

Botswana is a land of awe-inspiring beauty and rich cultural heritage. As yoga practitioners, you’ll find the serenity and connection with nature an incredible backdrop for deepening your practice. Remember, travel is an adventure – stay open, be prepared, and immerse yourself in the experience. Namaste and safe travels! 

P.S.: Don't forget to share your journey on social media by tagging @mungaplains. We can't wait to see your adventures!

Pictures credits: Ben Gunsberger and James Morrison

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