Buses are the main form of transport used by locals. They are frequent and good value and a great way to meet local people, though they are often crowded and noisy – no real difference to other parts of Africa. Both smaller minibuses and large coach-style buses operate all main routes along tarred routes.
Taxis operate in major towns and cities, though standards do vary.
Self-drive between major towns and cities (on tar roads) in Botswana is an option. Self-drive cars and 4WD vehicles can be hired at many locations (though best pre-arranged), and it is possible to undertake self-drive safaris for those with significant off-road driving experience and excellent navigation skills. Most travellers though choose to take a private or small group safari with an expert driver/guide.
Driving is on the left in Botswana and the standard of driving is generally variable. Speeds are often extremely slow or very fast. Drunken driving is very common, especially at night. Cattle, goats, sheep and donkeys are deadly hazards on the roads. Red traffic lights are frequently ignored.
Botswana’s main roads are tarmac and built (and maintained) to international standards. There are numerous non-tarmac roads from maintained gravel surfaces and sand roads to bush tracks. 4WD is pretty much essential for travelling through the National Parks, and advice from a local expert should always be sought before setting off into the bush. For travellers contemplating off-road driving, a familiarity with 4WD is essential as is the ability to drive in mud and hot, often deep, sand. Travel with a second vehicle in remote areas in case of problems or breakdowns.
A limited railway service exists in Botswana that links Gaborone, Francistown, Lobatse and Palapye with South Africa. It is not often used by travellers as doesn’t serve the popular north of the country.
At Kazungula (near Kasane) in northern Botswana, a local ferry makes several crossings of the Zambezi each day between Botswana and Zambia. The ferry takes large trucks and smaller vehicles as well as foot passengers.