Crime and Law in Botswana: 6 Essential Travel Safety Tips

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Botswana is one of the safer countries in Africa. Here are our tips to avoiding petty crime and staying within the law.


The Chobe National Park at sunrise in Botswana, Africa Photo © Getty Images/Mara Duchetti

Street crime

Botswana is one of the safest countries in Africa and travelers might only encounter petty crime.

Most tourism in Botswana is centered around Gaborone, Francistown and the tourist capital, Maun. The good news is Maun, the gateway to the Okavango Delta, doesn't experience high levels of crime.

As you would in any country, keep your valuables secure and only take out with you what you need for the day.

Visitors should use care when talking on a cell phone while walking. Pickpockets can frequent crowded spots and transport hubs so secure your valuables.

Occasionally, travelers have been robbed in the areas of Gaborone Dam and Kgale Hill in the capital, Gaborone. It's advised to exercise caution in these areas, particularly between dusk and dawn.

Always be aware of your surroundings and who is around you. Avoid walking around alone at night or in poorly lit areas. Instead, take a taxi to get around at night.

Theft from vehicles

Theft of property from vehicles has been reported in Botswana. Never leave any valuables in your vehicle if parked somewhere or overnight.

Drive-by snatch-and-grab style theft from vehicles whether in traffic or parked does occur so always make sure your windows are up, doors are locked and valuables are out of sight.

Transport crime

Travelers arriving in Botswana via South Africa should also be aware that there is a continuing baggage theft problem at OR Tambo (Johannesburg) and Cape Town International Airports.

Avoid placing any valuables such as electronics, jewelry, cameras, laptops etc. in checked luggage. If you don't want it lost, then carry it on you.

If you plan to catch a taxi, always negotiate the fare before hopping in to avoid any nasty surprises at the end of the ride.

Women's safety

Women travelers are pretty safe in Botswana with most locals tending to be polite and respectful. The only time a woman traveler might be hassled is if they are in a bar alone and might receive some unwanted attention from a guy (local or non-local) who has had one too many drinks.

Use your common sense as you would where ever you travel. Avoid walking alone at night or in poorly lit streets.

It's also a good idea to dress modestly, particularly in rural locations. In the more touristy spots, it's more acceptable to wear shorter sleeves and shorts.

Law in Botswana

Drug use and trafficking are illegal in Botswana. Botswana's prisons aren't known to be pleasant.

Homosexuality was decriminalized in Botswana in June 2019 after 130 years of colonial law.

Don't forget to always carry your personal ID with you when traveling around.

As in many countries, photographing military or government buildings is forbidden. Always ask someone before taking their photo.

Animal souvenirs

Botswanan law makes it illegal to possess or remove from the country any living or dead animal or animal trophy without a government permit.

A trophy is considered to be any of the following: horn, ivory, tooth, tusk, bone, claw, hoof, hide, skin, hair, feather, egg, or other durable parts of an animal, whether the item has been treated or not.

With many animals in Africa struggling to survive against poachers, it's best to avoid purchasing these items.

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  • Greg Lew said

    I totally understand your first description. Africa is a group of nations that are as different in culture as they are in stability, political leadership, and challenging geographic territory. There may be no other continent in the world that has such a multitude of risks, from the smallest insect to the roving gangs of the North. I see no racial profiling from the author, only a dead-on reckoning with the challenges facing many African nations. Really look forward to our visit this Winter.

  • AreYouKidding said

    I'm offended the writter of the article didn't have more backbone to stand up to the cyberbullies B and J. Yeah Africa is after the 'wild continent' . It is Africa after all the home of the BMW that has flamethrowers for driver safety. Spineless!

  • justaguy said

    voice of reason,

    Leave that afro centric stuff at home. You are ignorant and a racist. It is people like you that ruin Africa for everyone. The west/white people owe you nothing. NOTHING!

    Bringing up low IQ while insulting whites is laughable. I have an 8 yr old child with a better education than you.

  • ResearchAddict said

    @ "I'm from Asia and I've never heard of a serial killers here."
    Have you ever heard of Google? The countries that mase up Asia have some of the most gruesome and

  • ResearchAddict said

    "I'm from Asia and I've never heard of a serial killers here."
    Have you ever heard of Google? The countries that make up Asia have some of the most gruesome and disgustingly deviant serial killers in civilized history!

  • Eddie Lechuga said

    Been to Africa, this is true .. and the comments about "this is africa" or TIA ... is stated in the countries there. But you cant put it in an article? this pretty much goes for any third world undeveloped nation. No matter where you go in africa there is some level of danger ... but the people are real, they're warm, and its beautiful. There is a give and take. In general americans or people from developed nations carry themselves poorly ... and their expectations are too high and draw unwanted attention. As a successful traveler in dangerous places, I've done it because I do as the romans in rome. Dont draw attention to myself and do what others do to have fun and comfort. They know you appreciate their culture and not bother you but rather you're welcomed and shown more things.

  • Booby said

    I see no problem with the comments that the author made. People are so sensitive nowadays. Grow up.

  • manex said

    I've been fortunate to have travelled to many countries around the world. My experience is that there is a growing resentment towards tourists, especially white westerners. Many African citizens are warm and hospitable, however, I have noticed a definite change as many in South Africa are adopting an attitude that says 'life owes me a living and I resent what whites have so I will take it from them'. Nelson Mandela was an amazing role model, however, since his death, corruption and theft of state assets by president Jacob Zuma and his cabinet ministers has trickled down to the masses who, following his example, have adopted an approach of steal-what-you-can-when-you-can. Erosion of integrity and moral values is on the increase. Raciist politicians like Julius Malema try to propagandise that anarchy is progressive.
    Colonialism is considered something awful even though it created massive employment, the development of education systems and schools, hospitals, roads, massive agricultural development, technology, affordable medical treatment for the masses and more. Singapore got independance but kept the colonial systems intact and the country has grown in every way and criminal are treated harshly. Liberalism has created a society where criminals have more rights than victims. Porn has mushroomed as has child and women abuse. Drug abuse is rampant. Justice has become a haze.

  • Mike said

    I am planning a trip to Botswana at the end of the year and I'm really looking forward to it. I was somewhat worried about safety of traveling to Africa but Botswana is considered to be the second safest country in Africa:
    I'm so excited about my trip and the safari in Kobe National Park!

  • Bragg said

    i agrre

  • Foreign Love Web said

    If the women are beautiful, healthy, and normal, then I consider Botswana safe.

  • W said

    Wow.....the first two comments from let me guess...privileged white people, middle class or upper middle class with absolutely nothing to of any real meaning in their lives except consume and get "offended" by anything and everything. Grow up for gods sake. It IS AFRICA after all. Nothing offensive in that statement what so ever. But of coarse, being offended is subjective, in point of fact I'm offended by the cyber bullying and privileged white melodrama perpetrated by the likes of the first two commenters. I'm black, educated and African. We don't need well to do, do gooder whities jumping to our defence to "save" us from freedom of speech. Go and sip coffee at a café and spend less time online :) Good day

  • Michelle Gartner said

    Hi Allyson, I'm curious if you have ever been to Botswana. It might be one of the "safer" places in Africa, but your article makes it sound like there are little issues. There are actually may issues. I don't know when your article was written or where you got your data, but Gallup did a poll in 2017 where they discovered that many crimes go unreported because the people believe that their law enforcement is weak and won't do anything about it. The data from Botswana is not accurate because not only is it skewed to make it sound safer, but it is also inaccurate because so many people don't report crimes. The data from the Peace Corps is not accurate, per their own admission they don't report all crimes, only the ones that are unprovoked and a provoked crime could be as simple as walking somewhere like Kgale Hill in the middle of the day with a backpack. I've personally been a victim and know several others who were where the crimes were not reported. Your statement of "Women travelers are pretty safe" is untrue and women need to take many precautions especially in Gaborone.

  • Michelle Gartner said

    Here's an article for you to read, whatever data you received was scewed.

  • Allegra said

    Africa truly is a beautiful continent and like travel to any part of the world, of course care needs to be taken and local customs need to be understood and not just go into a different country gong ho as I have seen with some tourists when they would not dare attempt such stupidity in their own countries. Truth be told, I am more afraid touring the US than I am any of the African countries I have visited. I have travelled far and wide and take certain cautions everywhere I go as should any traveller.

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