Botswana Pula - BWP
The pula is the nominated currency in use in Botswana. The word pula actually means rain, which is of great importance to those living in the country as it is very dry in nature. The pula is a decimal currency – each pula is made up of 100 thebe.
What coins and notes are available for this currency?
There are seven coins available for this currency. Three are in the pula denomination and four are in the thebe denomination. The smaller value thebe coins are in 5, 10, 25 and 50 thebe, while the pula coins are available in 1, 2 and 5 pula denominations.
As for the banknotes, well, there are five of those. These range from the 10 pula note through to the 20, 50 and 100 pula notes, and finally the largest is the 200 pula note.
From past to present – the history of the pula
The pula hasn’t actually been in existence for very long. It first came into being in 1976, before which Botswana used the rand. The rand is still used in South Africa to this day.
It has suffered through devaluation in recent years but fortunately it has recovered rather well. When compared to other currencies used in the African region the pula stands up very well indeed in terms of value.
How to get hold of the Botswana pula
You can get hold of some currency for your trip to Botswana prior to actually travelling there if you wish. Most good bureaux de change will have it available, especially those that operate largely online. If you are calling into a local bureau de change it might be useful to order your pula in advance. It is not one of the most commonly ordered currencies around so you may find it easier to pre-order it for collection just prior to your trip.
Alternatively you can exchange your own currency once you arrive in Botswana. There are bureaux de change and banks in many major areas, and it does pay to have some cash on you at all times. You may need to tip in cash, as well as paying for small purchases with cash. Credit cards are accepted in many places as well though, so you may find card payments are quite easy to do from time to time. It might be prudent to take more than one card with you so you have more than one option to rely on.
There are cashpoints available but they can be choosy as to which cards they accept. Those with Visa written on them should be fine, but anything else might lead you to run into problems.
How to find out the latest exchange rate between your home currency and the Botswana pula
Even though the pula may not be a currency you are particularly familiar with, you will still find it relatively easy to find out how far your own currency will go if you transfer it into the pula. Just bring up your favourite currency converter online and enter your own currency as the one you currently have. You can then find the Botswana pula on the second drop down menu you should see there. You can enter the amount you want to convert and hit the convert button to get the figure you need. It’s that easy.
If you are thinking about visiting Botswana and you wish to learn more, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation can be found at http://www.mofaic.gov.bw.
Travelling safely with the Botswana pula
Botswana isn’t a popular destination among British tourists, but there are many reasons why you might want to travel there. The good news is you can enjoy your visit without worrying about the potential for crime to occur. Attacks are rare, thankfully, but as with many other places around the world the major towns and cities are the most likely places to run into problems.
It is wise to keep your passport in the hotel safe if you can, and to carry a photocopy of it with you in case you are asked to provide it. If you hire a car make sure you lock the doors and don’t keep any valuables on show. Some thieves do try to break into cars while they are stationary at traffic lights.
The usual rules regarding petty crime and protecting yourself against potential theft also apply in Botswana. Divide up your cash and carry it in separate pockets or in a money belt if possible. The more valuables you have the more likely it is you will present an attractive target to those looking to steal.
Don’t assume there is a high crime rate in Botswana though. You should be perfectly fine – but it does pay to take some sensible precautions.
Where to spend your pula in Botswana – and what to spend them on
Botswana is bordered by Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa and has several large game reserves within its borders. These are the Moremi Game Reserve, the Mabuasehube Game Reserve and the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. You can also visit the Chobe National Park if you have time during your stay in the country. In the south western corner of the country the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park crosses the border with South Africa.
Indeed many people visit Botswana with the intention of staying at one of the large reserves to see the animals there. Safari holidays are very popular in Botswana and there are many opportunities to stay in lodges or camps in various locations. The presence of several reserves in the country means there is the opportunity to enjoy a multi-centre holiday if you wish. Alternatively you could stay in just one place. One of the best things about this type of holiday is that there are several ways you can do it. For example some trips include the potential to fly from one reserve to another, enabling you to see animals from the air as well as close up on the ground.
Chobe National Park, as we mentioned earlier, is a great spot to visit, particularly if you happen to like elephants. This is because it is famous for the number of elephants here, and you can enjoy a houseboat trip if you like. This enables you to stay on the houseboat while sailing up close to the elephants as well.
While you are in the country you should definitely visit Gaborone. This is the capital of the country and if you are a fan of the writer Alexander McCall-Smith you should definitely plan a visit there. It is the setting for the series of books known as The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. It certainly puts a different spin on seeing the city for yourself. There is a tourism office in the area too that is very useful if you’re not sure where to go or what there is to see.
One suggestion we can give you is the National Museum and Art Gallery in the city. This is well worth a trip to explore the many artefacts and exhibitions, as they will help you gain a better understanding of the country as a whole.
Gaborone is also the place to go if you want to spend a pula or two while you are there. It boasts several large shopping centres with all manner of different shops available. You could happily spend a day here alone buying things to take back home with you.
When it comes to safaris most people think of visiting South Africa. However as you can see there is plenty of potential to enjoy when you are in Botswana as well. It may not be the first country you would consider visiting but most of the British citizens who go there each year have a wonderful time. The plethora of game reserves and national parks here make it a sure bet if you want to come to see the wildlife.
As we have seen though, Botswana isn’t just about the wildlife – it is also about the capital city and the things you can see and do while you are in the country. With many other areas such as Bahurutshe Cultural Village, the Matsieng Footprints and the Gcwihaba Caves and Aha Hills to try out as well, you won’t run short of things to do. In fact it can be well worth planning ahead and considering how long you will be in the country and what you can do while you are there. Safaris are top of most people’s to do lists, but it might be worth seeing a few other great sights as well.
The great thing about booking a pre-arranged safari holiday is you probably won’t need too many pula while you are there. Most things will already be covered by the holiday deal, but do check before you leave so you know exactly what to expect. All that remains then is to enjoy your holiday and to discover exactly what makes Botswana so well worth a visit.