Sustainability in Botswana is a hot topic. This epic destination and resource rich country has set itself some ambitious sustainability targets, joining forces with the UN to deliver its vision. Given sustainability is the underlying theme for safaris, the travel sector is key to its success. As the pioneer of ‘high yield, low impact’ tourism, visitors are guaranteed unspoiled surroundings and once-in-a-lifetime wildlife sightings, along with the peace of mind that they’re contributing to the country’s conservation efforts. Read on to discover more about sustainability in Botswana and how travellers can help.

Desertification and Drought

Almost three-quarters of Botswana is covered in desert, so water is understandably scarce. In recent years, a growing population, increased agriculture and grazing, and climate change resulting in ever-more erratic weather patterns have put extra pressure on Botswana’s limited water supplies, while at the same time– the annual rains are becoming less predictable. As reservoirs dry up in the more densely populated south, people are turning to the north for their water, which is putting Botswana’s greatest natural resource – the Okavango Delta – at risk, along with the wildlife that depends upon it.

‘Vision 2036’

As Botswana’s population has grown, the trade-offs between development and environmental sustainability are becoming more evident in the form of threats to fauna and flora, air pollution and water pollution. Ensuring that resource extraction levels are within the capacity of the environment to adapt and regenerate is another key concern. These are some of the issues highlighted in Botswana’s ‘Vision 2036’ - a national policy summarising the country’s aims. The purpose of the vision is achieving prosperity at all levels by ‘ensuring sustainable economic development, human and social development, sustainable environment and governance, peace and security’. To realise its bold vision, Botswana has committed to the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Botswana and the UN

The Sustainable Development Goals outlined by the UN are a global call to action to end poverty, protect the earth’s environment and climate, and ensure that people everywhere can enjoy peace and prosperity. The goals the UN and Botswana are working on together include:

  • Ecosystem functions and services
  • Sustainable utilisation of natural resources
  • Water and energy security
  • Sustainable land use and management
  • Sustainable human settlements
  • Climate resilience and disaster risk reduction
  • Pollution and waste

How Visitors Can Help

Travellers to Botswana can help the country towards achieving its goals by practicing responsible tourism. Everyday examples include removing chargers from the mains once a gadget is fully charged; turning off all lights (plus the TV and air-conditioning) when leaving a hotel rooms; and eating and shopping locally. Visitors can engage in sustainable travel further by following this advice:

  • Save water: take short showers rather than baths, reuse towels and turn off taps when brushing your teeth. Toilets use a huge amount of water too; remember you don't have to flush every time.
  • Pack green toiletries: be sure to use biodegradable toiletries and laundry detergents, especially when camping, as water supplies can quickly become contaminated.
  • Protect wildlife: it’s natural to want to get closer to wildlife, but never ask your guide to leave the trails or drive after animals and be sure to observe rules in the reserves.
  • Protect habitats: desert fires spread fast and burn hard. Take care not to drop cigarettes or matches on the ground, be extremely cautious when building fires, and keep water to hand to extinguish sparks and embers.
  • Reduce waste: remember that all waste must be removed from safari destinations, most of which is transported out of the national parks and then put into landfill. A simple thing you can do is limit the number of bottles you use. Refill water bottles instead of buying new ones.
  • Be aware of viable travel: Don’t be disappointed if your traditional mokoro (canoe) trip is in a modern fibreglass boat rather than a hollowed-out tree. Wooden mokoros only last around five years, which means cutting down lots of trees, so fibreglass is a sustainable alternative.

Join a Sustainable Safari in Botswana

In addition to everyday actions that demonstrate responsible travel, there are opportunities for visitors to delve deeper. Imagine getting to know the country, its nature and its people while contributing to sustainability in Botswana. With Original Travel you can embark on an eco-conscious safari to preserve the country’s natural beauty and spectacular wildlife for future generations. Become acquainted with the animals of the Okavango Delta on a riding safari, an ethical and epic way of experiencing the environment. You can also witness the amazing work being done to relocate endangered rhinos by the Rhinos Without Borders charity. Venture into the wilds and feel a rush of euphoria as you watch these incredible creatures safely run free. We’ll absorb 100% of the carbon emissions from your flights and ground transportation as part of your trip, to make your eco-excursion even greener.


Now you know how to make sustainable travel in Botswana a reality, why not give our expert team a call to plan your epic, and ethical, trip of a lifetime?

Contact one of our Botswana specialists