With one of the most diverse ecological systems in the area, Botswana offers something for everyone. Botswana is home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Okavango Delta, located in the northwest; it is also home to the Kalahari Desert, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, and Chobe National Park. Sitting on the Tropic of Capricorn, this landlocked country has a semi-arid climate with the dry, winter months starting in May and ending around August. Though the temperatures are still warm to hot, it can reach quite low temperatures at night, especially in the southwest region of the country. Summer months are rainy and hot, though the rain tends to allow the temperatures to dip, and last from November until March. Though sometimes harsh, this is the ideal climate for the Big Five, as well as a number of other wildlife creatures. Additionally, the currency in Botswana is the Botswana Pula, which means “rain” in Setswana. This comes from the fact that rain is quite scarce in Botswana and therefore, very valuable.
Home to the Island of Mozambique, a UNESCO World Heritage site, this country is situated on the best beaches in Eastern Africa. Bordered by the Indian Ocean, Mozambique offers some of the warmest and calmest waters for scuba diving, requiring just a one-day certification process. Come enjoy the vast variety of marine life, including the dolphins and a mecca of whale sharks. With its beautiful, tropical climate, Mozambique’s year is split into two seasons. The wet season lasts from October until March, followed by the dry season from April to September. There is the phenomenon of cyclones appearing during the height of the wet season, so be prepared for being rained into paradise if traveling during those times. Enjoy the warm waters year round, whether it’s snorkeling, going for a sea-safari, catching some surf, or experiencing a fresh, seafood dinner. Mozambique has the Mozambican metical as currency, though they also accept ZAR.
Situated between the Namib and Kalahari desserts, Namibia receives the least amount of rainfall within sub-Saharan Africa. Namibia is home to the Namib Sand Sea, also known as “The Gates to Hell,” and “The Skeleton Coast.” This is a highly arid land, blanketed in thick fog and harsh surf, making the area highly inhospitable. Traveling further inland, you will find wild horses and snakes traversing this rugged landscape. In the southern region of this expansive country, there is Fish River Canyon, which is the largest canyon in Africa and the second most visited attraction in Namibia. Located on the Tropic of Capricorn, the country experiences dry, winter months starting in June and ending around September, with severely cold nights in some areas. Hot, summer months last from October until April, with rain in the first several months of the season. If the weather does not cooperate for outdoor adventures, there is the capital city of Windhoek, which is a vibrant and German influenced metropolis. Additionally, their common currency is the Namibian dollar.
One of the last real monarchies in Africa, the Kingdom of Swaziland is a small, landlocked country with a diverse topography as well as a varying climate, with four climatic regions. With several national game parks, Swaziland is teaming with all sorts of wildlife. One of the featured parks, Hlane Royal National Park, was the private hunting ground of the royalty in the past. There is also a rich culture behind the Swazi Nation which focuses on the famous Reed Dance Ceremony, in which the King chooses a wife every year. Dancing and singing are large parts of the culture within the region and you may be so lucky as to see the Swazi people perform. With an average life expectancy of 50 years due to Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, Swazi people usually marry at a young age into polygamous marriages. Their currency is the Swazi lilangeni.
Just south of the Equator, Tanzania offers a magnificent blend of beaches and culture. With a tropical climate and a mix of mountains, coastline, and forests, Tanzania’s vast beauty cannot be missed. Whether you desire a walk through the historical city of Dar es Salaam or would rather spend your afternoons searching for wild game at one of the 16 national parks, including Serengeti National Park, Tanzania has countless scenic opportunities. Additionally, the island of Zanzibar is also a part of Tanzania. This amazing island, also known as “Spice Island” offers great insight into the local dishes and delicacies that come from the sea. In Tanzania, the currency used is the Tanzanian shilling.
One of the homes to the magnificent Victoria Falls, which is the largest waterfall in the world and an UNESCO World Heritage Site, Zambia offers a wide variety of activities such as bungee jumping, white water river rafting, and canoeing. With its 10 provinces, the climate in Zambia varies. Generally, there is a rainy, summer season, which lasts from November until April, whereas the dry, winter season from June to October. However, the dry season is usually cooler in the first half of the season. The weather is ideal for wildlife to flourish, a fact you can take advantage of at South Luangwa National Park via one of their game drives. Zambia also provides an amazing opportunity for intercultural discussions, as its population consists of around 73 ethnic groups. Their common currency is the Zambian kwacha.
A diverse land both culturally and geographically, Zimbabwe is home to approximately 13 million people and is divided up into 10 provinces. With stunning rock formations and ancient ruins among some of the five UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Zimbabwe is sure to surprise you. This country has a tropical climate with the dry, winter months starting in April and ending around October, whereas the rainy, summer months are from November to March. Each province’s climate varies slightly due to altitude. One region is the semi-arid rural Matabeleland, which is home to approximately 12,000 people, 45% of whom are under the age of 15. Five percent of the local population is known to be HIV+, and 22% of the local children have lost one or both parents to AIDS. There are approximately 300 children who are a “double orphans” (have lost both parents) and are living in what are known as “child headed households” within the community.
Their currency is the Zimbabwean dollar.