The People and culture of the Okavango

People of the Okavango

The people of Botswana are vibrant

Another highlight of Botswana is its people. Batswana are a mesh of many different tribes with unique origins and beliefs. The dominant group is Tswana (79%) whose language Setswana (or Tswana) is the spoken by 90 % of Batswana. The Tswana have a deeply entrenched system of chieftainship and a rich cultural heritage rooted in deep traditional values, reflected in proverbs such as “we are people because of other people”.

The San Bushmen have a rich heritage in Botswana

The first inhabitants of Botswana were the Basarwa (3%) (Often know as San Bushmen). The traditional Basarwa lifestyle of hunter gathering has sadly diminished over the years with the historic homelands of the Basarwa replaced by National Parks and towns. Basarwa people, who can further be divided into several groups with distinct ‘click’ languages, are no longer able to live the traditional nomadic life of their ancestors. Walking with bushmen is a fascinating activity that attracts visitors over and again to regions like the Central Kalahari and the Makgadikgadi salt pans. The baYei are another very interesting tribal group who arrived in the Okavango region from the Barostse floodlands of the Zambezi and lived in harmony with the Basarwa (known as Bukakhwe in the area). The baYei introduced the ‘mokoro’ dugout canoe, still used widely today as a way of transport and for fishing along the delta channels from village to village.


Our Recommended Itinerary

Botswana Okavango Delta safari adventure

day 1 to 2

Welcome to the Okavango Delta

day 3 to 4

Explore the Shinde Lagoon

day 5

Bon Voyage

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The cultures of Botswana

Travellers greeting local Batswana will notice that the spoken “dumela rra/mma” (man/woman) is accompanied by a handshake with the right hand while the left hand moves to gently grasp one’s own right forearm. This greeting is commonly shared between local people, and tourists are welcome to take part in the tradition. A large number of people from Botswana and indeed southern…

Botswana travel advice

It is good to know that Botswana’s wildlife reserves and national parks are not fenced, so it is possible that wandering wildlife as well as domestic animals will wander onto the main roads and in and around towns. Public bathrooms are mostly basic and might lack items such as toilet paper and hand soap, so if one if travelling through the country by road and exploring the parks on a…

Malaria free safari in Botswana

There is no clear-cut answer to this question. Although Botswana’s malaria-risk is lower than some other African nations, there is still a certain risk associated with travel through the beautiful Botswana bush. It’s therefore advised that you practice precautions before you travel to Botswana. Anti-malaria medication is a must - and you should consult your doctor in this regard.…

Mekoro Safari in Botswana

The most intimate way to explore the Okavango’s meandering channels and hidden lagoons is on a guided mekoro (singlular: mokoro) trip. These traditional wooden dugouts are still used extensively in the region for fishing and transport, especially near Maun and Seronga (in the panhandle). The thought of slinking through the wild territory of hippos and crocodiles may seem a little…

Botswana in September

Northern Botswana stays completely dry during September, but the centre and south may receive a few scattered showers. Temperatures climb rapidly throughout the month and no longer drop below 0°C, even in the Kalahari. Average lows are between 10°C and 15°C, a bit cooler in the south and warmer in the north. By the end of September, the days are hot everywhere, averaging over 30°C and…

Cash and payments in Botswana

Botswana’s pula The currency in Botswana is Pula, which is a Tswana word meaning “rain”. Rain is cherished and welcomed because it brings life to the Kalahari. Pula is used throughout the country and is the accepted form of payment in restaurants, shops, and at hotels or lodges; however, most places in Maun, Kasane, Francistown, Gaborone, and other major towns accept international…

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