There’s no shortage of taxis in Botswana. Taxis in Botswana fall in three categories; blue plates, taxi companies and unregistered taxis. All three are safe to use and depending on where you look, fares are generally reasonable.
These are registered with and closely regulated by the Department of Roads. The government therefore sets the fares they charge. However, some of them can be cheeky and will push their luck by over-charging. For a very long time I was paying through my nose because until three years ago I was living in England and was easily fooled.
Botswana is small, so I guess the taxis I used knew could tell I was new and clueless. I made the mistake of always asking them what the fare was, and would pay it without questioning it. I was gullible and never thought they’d dare do something like that.
There are no metered taxis in Botswana, so it’s easy to be over-charged, especially if you’re not familiar with the local fares. Because the blue plates are registered with the government and are ensured, I’d recommend that visitors use them as opposed to unregistered taxis. They are easily found at the station, the bus rank, some malls and around town.
These are safe and have set fares, which you can determine before you order a taxi. They are ensured and are probably safer to use if you’re new to Botswana. They are fairly reliable, but I personally don’t use them because they always seem to be busy when I call them. The waiting time is generally long, but the fares fair. They are easy to spot because they are usually branded.
You can find the list of local taxi companies in the telephone directory or via Google.
As the name suggests, they are not registered and do not have blue registration plates or branding. They basically look like any privately owned car, and are therefore not easy to spot. I’m made to understand that some malls have banned them, but they can usually be seen hanging around malls such as Game City and Riverwalk shouting taxi! In fact, you don’t see many blue plates at Game City, Riverwalk and Airport Junction malls.
What you do see is unregistered taxis approaching you for business. The ones at Riverwalk are generally reasonable, while Game City and Airport Junction ones can push it, especially if they realise you’re not familiar with the fares. I actually don’t like Game City ‘taxi drivers’ because they can get a little too aggressive in their desperation to get as many customers as possible.
Although there are some bad eggs, they are generally decent.
No Taxis exist from Sir Seretse Khama airport into Gaborone. I have never seen any blue plates there, so what you may see are the unregistered ones offering their services. However, the fares are very high. I was once charged P90 to get from the airport to Airport Junction, which is literally minutes away. I think the ‘taxi drivers’ feel they can get away with it because there are no taxis there. I would therefore suggest you have someone pick you up or pre-arrange a taxi service prior to your arrival.
Fares vary depending on the length of your journey. If you ‘take a special’, to use the local lingo, you basically don’t share the taxi and pay a special fare, which can be anything from P20 up. There are some shared taxis that go up and down the city, picking and dropping passengers off. For those, you only pay P4, regardless of how long the journey is. These may take a little longer to take you where you need to be, but are handy if you aren’t in a rush. But you do need to confirm if it’s going your way before you hop on.
Ask around to ensure you’re paying the right fare. Some taxi drivers have been known to take advantage of people who are blissfully unaware of the fares by charging them extortionate fees.
Also ask your local friends to suggest taxis you can trust to avoid being ripped off and to stay safe.
*Look out for a piece I’ll be doing soon on the best taxi drivers I’ve been using over the past three years.
Build relationships with a small handful of taxi drivers who you trust and stick with them. Take their contact details and use them regularly. The more you use them, the more they’ll prioritise your needs and give you discount fares.
Always agree a fare before you get in the taxi to avoid being caught out and having to pay an unreasonably hefty fare.
Keep small denominations to make things easier for your taxi driver as well as yourself. I always carry P10 and P20 notes and coins to ensure I have the exact amount of money required for my journey.