Useful country information

Train operators :

Botswana Railway (BR) - no official website.

 

 

Time zone & dialling code:

 

GMT+2 all year.  Dial code +267.

Currency:

 

1 = 11.4 Botswanan Pula.  $1 = 7.2 Pula.  Currency converter

Tourist information:

 

www.gov.bw     Tripadvisor Botswana page

Visas:

 

UK citizens do not need a visa to visit Botswana.   

Page last updated:

25 January 2014


International trains to & from Botswana

  Map of train routes in Southern Africa

Click for interactive map

of African train routes

South Africa to Botswana by train...

There are no trains from Botswana to South Africa, as the daily train to Mafeking and weekly train to Johannesburg were withdrawn in 1999.  However, you can take a comfortable train between Cape Town and Johannesburg, see the South Africa page for details.  Then there's a daily bus between Jo'burg and Gaborone leaving Johannesburg at 14:30 and arriving Gaborone at 21:10.  In the other direction, the bus leaves Gaborone daily at 06:30, arriving Johannesburg at 13:00.  For times, fares and online booking see www.intercape.co.za.

Zimbabwe to Botswana by train...

In 1999, the weekly Johannesburg-Gaborone-Bulawayo train was withdrawn and the daily Mafeking-Gaborone- Bulawayo 'blue train' was cut back in to run purely within Botswana, Francistown-Gaborone-Lobatse.  However, after an absence of 6 years, an international train service between Zimbabwe and Botswana restarted in June 2006, from Francistown to Bulawayo, initially 3 times a week, now twice a week.

 Francistown Bulawayo

            

 Bulawayo Francistown

Tuesday & Saturday

Monday & Friday

 Francistown 

depart

12:00

 Bulawayo

depart

09:00

 Plumtree (border)

arrive

13:40

 Plumtree (border) 

arrive

11:40

depart

14:10

depart

12:15

 Bulawayo

arrive

17:15

 Francistown 

arrive

14:25

The train has standard class coaches with reclining seats.

The fare between Bulawayo & Francistown is 30 Pula one-way (3 or $5).

For train connections to Gaborone and Lobatse (near the South African border) see below.

 

The train uses Zimbabwe's modern standard class coaches like this, complete with with TV entertainment(!)


Francistown - Gaborone - Lobatse

All Francistown-Gaborone-Lobatse trains cancelled from April 2009

A shock announcement in early 2009 was that Botswana Railways was to stop all passenger service indefinitely on the main line across Botswana because of mounting losses.  The day train stopped running in 2006, and the last overnight train between Francistown, Gaborone & Lobatse ran on 1 April 2009.  See this article.


Find hotels in Botswana

 

◄◄ Hotel search & price comparison.

www.hotelscombined.com checks all the main hotel booking sites at once to find the widest choice of hotels & the cheapest seller.  It was named as the World's Leading Hotel Comparison Site at the World Travel Awards 2013 and I highly recommend it, both to find hotels in even the smallest places and to check that another retailer isn't selling your hotel for less!

www.booking.com is my favourite booking site.  It's really clear and you can usually book with free cancellation and so confirm your accommodation at no risk months before train booking opens.

Other hotel sites worth trying...


Guidebooks

To get the most from a trip to Southern Africa, you'll need a good guidebook - and I think the Lonely Planet guides are about the best ones out there.

Buy Lonely Planet Southern Africa online at Amazon

 

 

 


Travel insurance

 

 

Columbus direct travel insurance

Get travel insurance, it's essential...

Never travel overseas without travel insurance from a reliable insurer, with at least 1m or preferably 5m medical cover.  It should also cover cancellation and loss of cash (up to a limit) and belongings.  An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheaper than several single-trip policies even for just 2 or 3 trips a year (I have an annual policy myself).  Here are some suggested insurers.  Seat61 gets a small commission if you buy through these links.

In the UK, try Columbus Direct or use Confused.com to compare prices & policies from many different insurers.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65 (no age limit), see www.JustTravelCover.com.

        If you're resident in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland or the EU, try Columbus Direct's other websites.

  If you're resident in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

Get a spare credit card, designed for foreign travel with no currency exchange loading & low or no ATM fees...

It costs nothing to take out an extra credit card.  If you keep it in a different part of your luggage so you're not left stranded if your wallet gets stolen, this is a form of extra travel insurance in itself.  In addition, some credit cards are significantly better for overseas travel than others.  Martin Lewis's www.moneysavingexpert.com/travel/cheap-travel-money explains which UK credit cards have the lowest currency exchange commission loadings when you buy something overseas, and the lowest cash withdrawal fees when you use an ATM abroad.  Taking this advice can save you quite a lot on each trip compared to using your normal high-street bank credit card!

You can avoid ATM charges and expensive exchange rates with a Caxton FX euro currency Visa Card, or their multi-currency 'Global Traveller' Visa Card, see www.caxtonfx.com for info.

Get an international SIM card to save on calls & mobile data...

Mobile phones can cost a fortune to use abroad, so consider getting a global pre-paid SIM card for your mobile phone which can cut call & data costs by up to 90%.  At the time of writing, www.roamsure.com claims a definite 25% saving within the EU and up to 90% saving in the rest of the world.  Incoming calls are free in 73 countries, including the USA, Australia, South Africa and EU.  There's no contract or commitment, and at time I write this Roamsure is offering a global SIM card for free when you buy 20 of call credit.  Seat61 gets some commission to support the site if you buy airtime from Roamsure.

 


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