A Guide To Filming In Botswana

This extensive guide to film in Botswana compiled by our Film fixers in Gaborone Angola offers responses to commonly asked queries about filming in Botswana. You’ll find all the relevant information you need to plan your shoot in Botswana, hiring a film fixer in Angola, or production field assistants in Gaborone. This guide walks you through the various processes involved in getting location permits, getting media credentials, hiring a local fixer or producer, and much more. You will also discover how to hire talent and crew, obtain equipment clearance from customs, and make use of all the additional services that fixers offer to assist you in organizing a productive shoot in Botswana.

Botswana is a landlocked country in Southern Africa, Botswana has an enthralling scenery dominated by the Okavango Delta and the enormous Kalahari Desert. Aptly dubbed “The Land of a Thousand Elephants,” this country is a top travel destination for intrepid travelers due to its wealth of natural beauty, rich cultural legacy, and exhilarating adventures. Botswana is a prime destination for filmmakers.

Film Fixer In Botswana

Are you interested in filming in Botswana, At Africa Fixers, we are pleased to offer a range of filmmaking services for your upcoming feature or documentary.  Our local Botswana film fixer also looks at other important considerations when planning a shoot. Are you looking for a Bostwana film fixer to assist you with press credentials, work permits and visas, kit customs clearance, travel, housing, and filming authorization? For all of your filming needs, look no further than Africa Fixers, where you can get the most experienced and reliable film fixers.

What Is Needed To Get Permission For Filming In Botswana

If you are interested in filming in Botswana, you have to apply for a filming permit that takes 30 days duration to be processed and issued. Once the application form is filled in, it is sent in for vetting and all successful applicants are required to sign a memorandum of agreement with the Botswana Government for the permit to be issued out.  In addition to the Filming application form, you are required to submit a certified copy of a passport of everyone on the crew. The permits are issued out by the Ministry of Environment, Tourism & Wildlife. This application process requires you to use the services of a local fixer for this process to go smoothly.

Visa Requirements Of Botswana.

Botswana has different types of visas for different purposes, and these include the business visa, tourist visa, study visa, and work visa. For film makers, usually the work visa and tourist visa work best. Visa application for Botswana can be done through your embassy or consulate. You will fill in the application forms and submit it to the embassy in your country. It takes about 1 to 2 weeks for the visa to be approved so consider applying in time. The following will be needed for your application to be successful.

  • Certified copy of pages 1 and 2 of passport showing validity period not less than six (6) months.
  • Two recent colored passport-size photos.
  • Covering letter indicating reasons for visit.
  • Flight itinerary and accommodation bookings or residential address in Botswana.
  • A re-entry permit to the country where the applicant is ordinarily resident if such a permit is required by that country.
  • Trip itinerary.
  • Proof of Intent to depart Botswana after your trip.

Equipment Importation In Botswana

Botswana is a part of the ATA carnet system for those interested in importing equipment into the country. Should you intend to travel with filming equipment, you will have to declare it at the border and might have to pay taxes or customs charges. Obtaining an ATA Carnet, an international customs document that streamlines the customs process for temporary imports is advised.

Hiring Equipment In Botswana

Botswana has a sensible size pool of equipment available for hire. In order to know what is available, you have to send us your desired list of equipment and then we can be able to identify what is available and what is not and also provide alternatives. What can’t be gotten in the country can be sources from South Africa For big shoots that requires specific gear we recommend that crews fly in with their equipment and we can help with customs clearance at entry.

Drone Importation In Botswana

As per the civil aviation guidelines, you need to submit an application for an importing permit and the following paperwork at least ten days before your arrival. You have to submit the following with your application;

  1. A photocopy of your driver’s license or passport. 
  2. Fingerprints with Botswana Police Services clearance stamp 
  3. Payment proof (Private-P250; Commercial-P500) is required for each application. 
  4. The completed vetting form (DIS Form) (To be completed at CAAB) 
  5. A copy of the RPA user manual is available at the CAAB offices. 
  6. Authorization letter from the property owner (For commercial operation).

Requirements 2 and 6 can be resolved only by the operator in Botswana. In addition to that You will be required to travel to Gaborone or possibly Maun for a security interview with the Department of Intelligence Service (DIS). They will request that you bring your drone for inspection and complete the application process. This step cannot be avoided as it is set by civil aviation for permission to be granted.

Rules And Regulations Of Drone Filming In Botswana

In addition to getting permission to import and fly drones in Botswana, there are other rules and regulations that have to be followed to avoid any complications with authorities and these include:

  • The CAAB requires that all drones be registered. 
  • While flying, drone pilots must maintain a direct visual line of sight with their drones.
  • Drones can fly up to 400 feet above ground level and a maximum distance of 500 meters (1,640 feet) from the drone pilot. 
  • Drone pilots are not permitted to fly more than one drone at a time. 
  • Drone pilots must be at least 18 years old. 
  • Do not fly drones within a radius of three kilometers (two miles) of any airport or airfield. 
  • Drones must relinquish this right to crewed aircraft. 
  • Do not fly Drones at night.
  • Do not fly the drones in restricted areas. Please contact a local fixer to know the restricted areas in Botswana.

Filming Locations In Botswana

Botswana, a flat country renowned for filming big African wildlife, boasts the Kalahari Desert, Okavango Delta, Makgadikgadi Pan, and part of the Limpopo River Basin. The country has several locations that pick the interests of filmmakers. These include;

The major city and capital is Gaborone. The Botswana National Museum, the Gaborone Hindu Temple, the Gaborone Train Station, Sir Seretse Khama International Airport, the Parliament Building, and the Gaborone Game Reserve—which is home to migrating birds, impalas, and wildebeests—are among the filming locations. Mansudae Overseas Projects, based in North Korea, designed the Three Dikgosi Monument. The Mokolodi Nature Reserve, which is situated not far from Gaborone. A sizable diamond mine called Jwaneng Mine.

Maun, a city in the north, which is within a few hours’ drive from national parks and nature reserves Chobe National Park. The grasslands of Nxai Pan National Park are renowned for the baobab trees, acacia bushes, and roving giraffes that dot the landscape. Moremi National Park. Large grasslands, lagoons, and the distinct culture of the native San people are some of the stunning features of the Okavango Delta. One of the world’s biggest salt plains is the Makgadikgadi Pan. Makgadikgadi Pan is home to very little wildlife during the dry season, but during the rainy season, zebra and wildebeest migrate through the area. One of the world’s largest concentrations of rock art can be seen in the Tsodilo Hills. Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Namibia converge at the African Quadripoint, the only location in the world where four countries’ boundaries intersect, and lastly, the Orapa diamond mine.

How should one conduct themselves when filming in Botswana?

Observing proper etiquette is crucial when filming in Botswana. Ensure to follow the rules and regulations set by the government of the country in order to have a smooth shoot.  It is customary to respect everyone. Show respect for the local environment by avoiding wasteful practices.  Adhering to these cultural norms fosters positive interactions and mutual respect during your time in Botswana.

Are there any limitations on the type of content that can be filmed in Botswana?

Please note that when filming in Botswana, Anything considered harmful to moral image of the country prohibited. Most of the filmed content should have no negative effect on the country’s government to avoid any backlash on your project.

Best Time To Film In Botswana

The ideal time to see game is in the late winter, when the dry season is extending and animals start to congregate around water sources. November to April is considered summer. Week-long rainfall and hot heat are its defining characteristics. Filming the change from the lengthy dry spell to the green that appears after the first rains is best done in November. When filming in Botswana, you have to put into consideration the public holidays and the festive seasons.

Languages Spoken In Botswana

English is a main language used in Bostwana so this should make it easy for communication while on shoot in the country. In addition to English, two other languages are spoken known as Ikalanga and Setswana.

Setswana (or Tswana) is a language spoken by over 8.2 million people in Southern Africa. It maintains great cultural and historical relevance, particularly in Botswana, where it serves as the national language.

Ikalanga, also known as ChiKalanga, is a Bantu language spoken primarily in Botswana in the North East District and some villages in the Central District. The language also boasts a rich history and cultural significance.

Filming Wildlife In Botswana

If you are interested in filming wildlife, you will have to get supplementary permits for the national parks and the locations. Supplementary Permit is issued from the Department of Wildlife and National Parks. For you to get the supplementary permits, you have to have applied for the general filming permit first. . In addition to this, you have to follow the respective rules and regulations that are put in place to protect the wildlife. When filming wildlife, a code of conduct must be followed. Some regulations include keeping a safe distance from the animals, not damaging the environment, refraining from animal disturbance, etc.

Safety Precautions When Filming In Botswana

The country is generally safe, but be aware of any potential threats and keep up with local security developments. Seek advice from knowledgeable experts or local authorities to ascertain what safety precautions and procedures are required for your shoot. It is generally advisable to have a local fixer with you, particularly in isolated places.

Local Transport Services In Botswana

Local transport services are available and reliable for use in Botswana. The transport system is very efficient and safe. You have several options to choose from. This choice will depend on your budget, crew size, equipment, and any other preferences you may have. Africa Fixers provides these transportation services with professional and well-versed drivers in Botswana’s local areas.

Local Crew In Botswana

Botswana has a good number of local producers, camera operators and crew to work on your shoot. Although the filming industry is still growing, you can be able to find worthy candidates to work with on your shoot. It is advised to at least have one or two members from your side to fly in and be a part of the production if you decide to hire the crew locally.

Access And Affordability

The main ways to reach Botswana are by air into the country. Once you leave the airport, the main roads deteriorate further, therefore keep in mind the vast distances that must be covered. The state of the roads is both Marram and tarmac roads. Traveling by car in a country where you are vulnerable to “local law” and attempted bribery is not the safest option, especially for foreigners. It is usually advisable to travel with a local fixer who has the technical know-how and will help you deal with the political and social bonds in the country. Using a 4×4 or a vehicle with adequate clearance is always advised.

Projects Filmed in Botswana

Filmmakers have been drawn to Botswana for decades due to its breathtaking scenery and rich cultural heritage, which has led to a wide variety of projects being shot there. Here are a few noteworthy ones: The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency (2008), A United Kingdom (2016), Whispers: An Elephant’s Tale (2000), Okavango: The Wild Frontier, African Moot (2022), The Amazing Race and so many more. 

Why Use Africa Fixers For Your Shoot In Botswana

Africa Fixers is an African fixing company. We support production companies and filming companies in Botswana and other countries that are listed on our website. Over the years, we have worked with many production firms on several projects, making us quite experienced in this area. We manage all fixer services required with our skilled staff of local fixers. We have all required relationships with various service providers and government authorities in Botswana to ensure that accreditation and filming permissions are processed fast. For further information and other necessary specifics for a successful filming experience, get in touch with us.