In an effort to protect Botswana’s natural treasures, the government decided to follow the example of Rwanda and Kenya where plastic bags have been banned for several years. The ban of plastic bags in Botswana will be effective from the 1st of November 2018. Banned are plastic carrier bags and flat plastic bags with or without fasteners. An offence will attract a fine of up to USD 500 or a prison term of up to 30 days or both.
Plastic waste is a significant threat to nature and Botswana has been trying for years to reduce the use of plastic with educational programs, but with little success. For that reason the decision was made to ban plastic bags all together and make the use punishable.
What does that mean for those traveling to Botswana? Possibly not too much depending on how you pack. The fines and jail time set out as punishment for violations are targeting manufacturers and importers of plastic bags, not the average tourist travelling with personal belongings in a Ziploc bag. Luggage may be searched on entry and any kind of grocery store type of bags will be taken away, so best not to put shoes in one of these bags.
Alternative options for plastic bags are reusable bags such as recycled and bio-degradable bags. Photographers often like to use all sorts of Ziploc bags to keep the equipment sorted and easy accessible. It is not expected that this will be a problem, however, alternatives could be the pouches that are part of the camera packaging and/or using camera bags with compartments keeping also small parts of equipment in place and sorted. In order to keep the equipment protected from water, seal bags and backpack covers are available in outdoor stores.
The detailed press release of the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism can be viewed here.
The information on the plastic bag ban is also included in the Roho Ya Chui Travel Kits, which all guests receive with their booking documents. Besides that, the brochure provides more practical safari travel information about health on safari, visa and passport requirements, luggage restrictions, packing list and more.
Travel information is also available with the Roho Ya Chui Travel App, which can be downloaded here for Android and Apple users.
Should questions remain unanswered or should this information has raised new questions, please contact us.