This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Learn more

Skip to main content

Talk to an expert 1-800-242-2434 Lines now closed

User menu
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) travel to Botswana

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) travel to Botswana

LGBT Travel in Botswana

We are occasionally asked "What's Botswana like for LGBT travellers?" or "Is Botswana gay-friendly?" – so here we'll cover what we know.

We have been organising trips to Botswana for our travellers since about 1996 and in that time we’ve booked many trips for LGBT travellers. The vast majority of Botswana’s people are very friendly to visitors, and we have never heard of any issues experienced by our travellers, or other travellers in Botswana, due to their sexuality.

To put this in context, Botswana has long been recognised as one of Africa’s most stable countries, with a generally positive human rights record and the longest continuous multi-party democracy in Africa. Botswana’s constitution implies freedom of individuals and expression, and in general Botswana has a relatively open society. Although there remain some laws against homosexuality, these are rarely enforced for Botswana citizens and we aren’t aware of them ever having been applied to tourists on holiday.

That said, it's important to be aware of both the law and the current climate of opinion. So read on and do please check your government's latest travel advice before you go.

The legal framework for LGBT travellers in Botswana

Until 2019, there were a number of contradictions in Botswana’s legal approach to homosexuality.

Until very recently, there were still laws in force – dating from the colonial era (1885) – against same-sex sexual activity (male and female) which carried a maximum prison sentence of seven years. Equally, same-sex relationships currently have no recognition in Botswana law.

Botswana has since 2000 been party to the ICCPR (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights), which prohibits discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. In 2012, an amendment to the Employment Act prohibited termination of an employment contract on the grounds of sexual orientation (or HIV status).

In 2014, Botswana’s first gay rights group (LEGABIBO) finally won legal recognition. Since then, Botswana’s High Court has consistently ruled in favour of LGBT rights in the country. Most recently, in 2019, it struck down colonial-era laws banning homosexuality, making it one of the few African countries to have such protections for LGBT people.

LGBT travellers in Botswana

All over the world, people in traditional, rural communities tend to have more conservative attitudes than the residents of more cosmopolitan cities, and the people of Botswana are no exception. Thus, as in many other African countries, non-straight sexual identities (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) are considered a taboo subject by many Botswana citizens.

Although it’s acceptable for same-sex friends throughout Botswana to wander around hand in hand without a second thought, such behaviour has no sexual or relationship connotations. In conservative areas, however, public displays of affection or overtly sexual behaviour between any two people, whether heterosexual or LGBT, are strongly frowned upon. Any clear indications of an LGBT relationship would be regarded as taboo in these areas, where traditional views prevail. So we advise all our travellers, gay or straight, to avoid overt displays of affection or sexual behaviour, as these could cause offence.

Although Botswana is very forward moving when it comes to LGBT rights, such traditional views are particularly prevalent in rural parts, which are still inhabited by a large number of the population. You'll still find strands of this conservative thinking in the larger towns and cities, too, but there are also many people here with more liberal views – and in cities such as Gaborone some individuals are openly gay.

In the tourism industry, and especially in Botswana’s more remote camps, lodges and hotels, staff have been dealing for decades with a wide variety of guests with different backgrounds. It's notable that rooms are almost universally configured with double or single beds, as requested, without fuss.

Even if some members of staff have personal views that are relatively conservative, it is almost unheard of to learn of someone who isn't tolerant and relaxed in their professional capacity.

Further sources of advice

Whatever your background, we hope that this advice is helpful, but do feel free to call us if you need further advice or reassurance. Alternatively, one of the following may be able to help:

Our top picks for holidays to Botswana

We'll always tailor-make your Safari for you. Here are some of our favourites to inspire you.

Itinerary image

Wild Dog Safari

13 days • 5 locations

An in-depth discovery of northern Botswana’s wilderness, from Chobe and the private Kwando Reserve to the Moremi and iconic Okavango Delta with a great variety of activities and wildlife.

US$10,500 - US$18,330 per person

Itinerary image

Porcupine Safari

11 days • 4 locations

Visit dramatically contrasting landscapes boasting a variety of species during this exploration of Botswana’s top-safari destinations. A combination of national parks and private reserves allows for a range of activities.

US$9,300 - US$14,450 per person

Itinerary image

Spring Hare Safari

9 days • 3 locations

An authentic and diverse safari to Botswana combining the Chobe Forest Reserve, Savuti Marshes and the Okavango Delta. Strong wildlife viewing, a variety of activities and excellent value camps.

US$6,570 - US$11,430 per person

Itinerary image

Large-spotted Genet Safari

9 days • 3 locations

A luxury safari exploring the Okavango Delta and Linyanti–Savuti, two of the best wildlife viewing areas in Botswana, staying at three top camps renowned for their guiding for a first-class experience.

US$10,150 - US$20,540 per person

Itinerary image

Red Lechwe Safari

9 days • 3 locations

Superb guiding from three fabulous camps full of character in three contrasting areas for a fabulous safari to the Okavango Delta and Kalahari Desert.

US$10,800 - US$25,210 per person

Itinerary image

Steenbok Safari

9 days • 3 locations

A classic Botswana safari exploring the Moremi, Chobe National Park and Okavango Delta. Excellent wildlife viewing and a variety of activities from three of our favourite traditional tented camps.

US$6,720 - US$11,410 per person

Itinerary image

Pangolin Safari

8 days • 3 locations

Three relaxed, local feeling camps in pristine settings – the Kwando Reserve and Okavango Delta. Guided by a driver and tracker at each, this a great trip for spotting Botswana’s top predators.

US$7,380 - US$13,710 per person

Itinerary image

Bushbuck Safari

8 days • 3 locations

Discover three of Botswana’s best game-viewing regions with stays in the private Linyanti, Chitabe and Vumbura reserves. Intimate, smart camps offer a range of activities by which to discover these stunningly varied habitats.

US$12,250 - US$26,620 per person

Itinerary image

Reedbuck Safari

8 days • 3 locations

Focussing on the Okavango Delta and combining the crème de la crème of Botswana’s camps – Zarafa, Vumbura Plains and Mombo – this is one of the finest safari experiences in Africa.

US$16,840 - US$34,050 per person

Itinerary image

Tsessebe Safari

7 days • 3 locations

Visit three sister-camps in and around Moremi Game Reserve during this thorough exploration of the Okavango Delta. A range of activities provide excellent opportunity to observe the local birdlife, mammals and fauna.

US$5,400 - US$11,050 per person

View all holidays in Botswana

Inspire me

Need inspiration?

Let our trip chooser narrow down the options for you

Inspire me

Login to Expert Africa

Sign in with password

Sign in with email link

New to Expert Africa? Create an account

Forgotten your details?

It's free & quick to set up

  • Save your wish-list
  • Send us an enquiry
  • Pay online for your trip
  • Subscribe to our newsletter
  • Give us feedback on your trip
  • Full site benefits of the site

Need some help? Talk to our team