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The Okavango river commences in the Benguela Plateau in Angola, where rainfall is between 1 200 and 2 000 mm per year. Once it leaves the plateau it flows through an area of Kalahari Sand for about 1 300km, where it enters Botswana it is guided by two parallel faults of about 80 km long, known as the panhandle. The river flows between the faults, but the rest of the area is only seasonally flooded . An estimated 11 000 billion cubic metres of water is brought down the Okavango River yearly.
Climate and rainfall
The summer months are from October to March and temperatures can soar up to mid forty degrees celcius at midday. Night time temperatures are seldom below mid twenties celcius during the summer. Winter temperatures are hight twenties celcius at midday, and below ten degrees celcius at night and early mornings. Rainfall is during the summer months – September to April, but usually the rain only starts in December towards end February. Average rainfall is 450mm per year, and highest can be 650mm in the north west – Chobe area, with the Kalahari Gemsbok Park the driest at 250mm per year. Botswana is low lying and land locked by higher altitudes that separate it form the coast, about 600 km away.
The People of Botswana
The San Bushmen and the Khoi Hottentot were the earliest known inhabitants of Botswana. About thousand years ago, the other tribes moved southwards, possibly form the Cameroon region. The Batswana are the largest tribal group in the country, forming about fifty percent of the population. The Bakalang live mainly in the Francistown area, forming the second largest group in Botswana. The Ovaherero, are found in Maun and the Okavango Delta area.
Botswana Government and legal system
The government is based on the Westminster system, with an executive president as head of state and government. It has a multi party democracy and the constitution has remained almost intact since written in 1966. The president is elected for a term of five years by the National Assembly, after which he appoints his cabinet ministers. The House of Chiefs, which is represented mainly by the tribal chiefs, advises the National Assembly on matters concerning the tribes. The legal system can be divided into formal and customary law, the former being handled by the Magistrate’s court, the High court and the court of appeal. The high court is located in Lobatse. Customary court – also known as the “kgotla” may be seen in most towns – dealing mostly with informal and petty matters and the punishment here is mostly a verbal rebuke or a lashing.
In 1966, at Independence, this was one of the poorest countries in Africa. In 1967, the discovery of diamonds changed this dramatically. Botswana is a large producer of diamonds, making it possible to accumalate large foreign exchange reserves. Coal deposits were discovered near Palapye in 1973.Other minerals consist of a copper nickel mine at Selebi Pikwe and a soda ash plant at Sowa Pan. The beef industry is one of three main revenue earners in Botswana, the other being diamonds and tourism . Botswana is one of the prime tourist destinations in Africa, offering unspoilt wilderness. It follows a high-cost, low volume tourism policy and has put aside seventeen percent of it’s surface area for game reserves and national parks. Wildlife management areas comprise a further twenty two percent, totalling to a record thirty nine percent of Botswana being used for conservation purposes.
The national language is Setswana. English is the official language.
Each tribe speaks a different language.