The currency in Botswana is the Pula (P) which is made up of 100 Thebe.
Botswana banks only accept US Dollars, Pound Sterling, Euro and South African Rand in cash. Any cash payments made to camps for curios, or gratuities to guides or staff, need to be in one of these currencies.
Credit and debit cards are now accepted at most lodges and can be used to make payments. International Visa and MasterCard are usually accepted throughout Botswana. However, American Express and Diners Club are not accepted by the banks in Botswana, and therefore not at the camps either. Virtually all outlets charge a significant premium for using a card, 5% to 10% is common.
Traveler’s checks in any of the above currencies are also acceptable although these may also attract a significant premium similar to or perhaps worse than credit cards.
The easiest method by far is to travel with US Dollar cash, preferably in small denominations, however this clearly increases the risk of loss or theft. Pre-1996 notes are not accepted due to the high number of counterfeits in circulation. The only ATMs in Botswana are in the major urban centres, where banks can also be found.
For most Botswana itineraries the only cash you will need during your time there is enough to cover any gratuities and personal spending in the curio shops.
Tipping is not compulsory. If, however, you want to tip because you have received good service, the following brief guideline may assist you:
Camp or Game Lodge Guides, Specialist Guides and Butlers: US$10.00 per guest per day
Mokoro Paddlers and Trackers: US$5.00 per guest per day for each paddler / tracker
General Safari Camp / Lodge Staff: US$10.00 per guest per day. This should be placed in the communal tipping box to be distributed equally amongst all the staff
Generally speaking Botswana is a safe place to visit. There is virtually no political instability, very low corruption and very low crime.
For up to date advice we recommend you refer to your own governmental travel advisories:
UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office Travel Advice Botswana: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad/travel-advice-by-country/sub-saharan-africa/botswana
USA Department of State International Travel Information Botswana: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1071.html