Public transport in Botswana isn’t particularly reliable or widespread, especially outside of Gaborone or other big cities. For this reason, most expats living in Botswana opt to drive themselves around, while some hire a driver and a vehicle to get about.
Public transport in Botswana
Expats will find that their options are rather limited when it comes to public transport in Botswana. Nevertheless, taxis, 'kombis' (minibuses) and coach buses are available.
Coach buses are one of the most popular transport options in Botswana when it comes to travelling between cities or even further afield to neighbouring countries. Various companies operate along the busiest bus routes, the biggest of which is Seabalo.
Within cities and towns, public transport mostly consists of 'kombis'. These are minivans or minibus taxis that seat 15 passengers. These minibus taxis travel along fixed routes and are easily hailed on the street.
Taxicabs are another common way of getting around. Getting a taxi in Botswana is generally a safe choice. We do advise passengers to agree on a price before departing, though. As there are several different taxicab companies, there is no set design to identify them. Some ride-hailing applications are available in Gaborone.
Rail transport in Botswana is not as well developed as the road networks. It is largely limited to freight trains. With that said, there is a passenger train operated by Botswana Railways known as the BR Express. This offers services connecting Lobatse, Gaborone and Francistown. We advise expats to check the Botswana Railways and contact the relevant station for up-to-date schedules and information.
Driving in Botswana
Most expats moving to Botswana opt to buy or rent a car and drive themselves around.
New arrivals may drive on an international driver’s permit and their valid home country licence for up to three months. Thereafter, they have to get a local driver’s licence. In most cases, expats will not need to complete a driving test and will merely have to present their valid licences and residency permit to their nearest branch of the Department of Road Transport and Safety.
Road conditions in Botswana are better than in many other African countries, with roads in urban areas being particularly well maintained. The speed limit is generally 74mph (120km/h) on major highways and 37mph (60km/h) in cities and towns. Expats caught exceeding these limits may be subject to hefty fines.
Despite many roads being in good condition, road safety still presents some challenges. Particular difficulties include limited signage, erratic driving and the presence of animals on the road in rural areas. Directions are commonly given using landmarks, rather than street names and numbers.
Dirt roads in remote areas can be hazardous, particularly during the rainy season. Driving after dark on these routes is discouraged.
Expats should also take note that Botswana is crisscrossed by various veterinary fences, the purpose of which is to prevent the spread of cattle illnesses like foot-and-mouth disease. Travellers will have to hand over all meat products at the control points along these boundaries. Drivers may also have to clean their tyres and shoes on disinfectant mats. The thoroughness of the checks depends on whether there has been a recent outbreak of one of these diseases.
Air travel in Botswana
Botswana's main airport is Sir Seretse Khama International Airport in Gaborone. Smaller airports can be found in Francistown, Maun and Kasane. The national carrier is Air Botswana, which operates flights between South Africa and Botswana.