Botswana-UPenn Partnership

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Botswana is known to have the highest elephant population in Africa. Photo by Ryan Littman-Quinn

Botswana Travel

About Botswana

The landlocked Botswana located in Southern Africa is approximately the size of France with a widely disbursed population of 2 million people. Botswana is an upper middle-income country, with English as an official language, a long history of good governance and democratically elected leadership. Botswana also has the 3rd highest HIV prevalence rate in the world and, like many African nations, a shortage of physicians. Botswana has both national health and education systems that have been funded by the nation’s significant diamond wealth.

Please read through each section below to help you prepare for travel to Botswana.

BUP Services

BUP can provide certain services and guidance to visitors who are traveling to Botswana on Penn business.

Summaries of BUP services are available for Penn Visitors and External Visitors (individuals who are not students or employees of Penn or CHOP). Please click the links provided. Penn faculty and staff who would like to utilize the services for Penn visitors should complete this questionnaire. External visitors who would like to utilize the services for non-Penn visitors should read the section towards the bottom of this webpage titled External Visitors.



Travel Requirements for non-Botswana Citizens

The government of Botswana has specific requirements for visitors who carry out work in country. These requirements apply to most of Penn’s visitors (clinicians, faculty, students, staff) coming to Botswana through BUP.   

To determine what requirements apply to you, please follow these instructions. The requirements described in this document are enforced by the government of Botswana and therefore all BUP visitors must abide by them.

Most of our visitors need to apply for a Permit Waiver so please read the instructions to make sure you understand what is required for that application. Any visitor who will be clinically active in Botswana, must register with the Botswana Health Professional Council (BHPC). Please refer BHPC Registration Guide for additional guidance.


General Travel Guidance

Guidance for Penn travelers going to Botswana.

For the latest copy of the BUP Handbook, contact Amy Gastinger, Operations Coordinator. Additional travel recommendations and guidance can be found on CGH's website.

Penn Medical Students

Any Penn medical student planning to travel to Botswana must be registered with the Center for Global Health. Please read these instructions carefully. Registration must be submitted at least six weeks advance.

International SOS

The University of Pennsylvania provides (at no cost to you) International SOS (ISOS) benefits. Through International SOS, Penn provides members of the Penn community who travel abroad on a Penn-affiliated activity, 24-hour worldwide assistance and emergency evacuation services. This includes pre-trip planning advice, access to country-specific travel/health/safety/security information, and in-country medical and personal assistance. For more information, read this summary of benefits. Register your trip with Penn's Global Activities Registry to be automatically registered for ISOS. Make sure to print your membership card to carry with you on your travels.

Travel Health & Safety

Even for a short stay in Botswana, it is wise to make plans to safeguard your health.

  • Penn Students - Make an appointment for a travel consultation, immunizations, and prescriptions at Penn's Travel Services in Student Health Services (SHS), at least three months before your departure.  See the SHS Pre-Travel Form for more detailed information.
  • Penn faculty/staff - Visit Penn Travel Medicine to find a physician who can prepare you for your travel abroad or treat you for illnesses related to travel.
  • Go to the CDC's Health Information for Travelers to Botswana website to find specific recommendations on how to prepare for travel to Botswana.
  • Advice on Botswana from the US Department of State can be obtained on their website.


BUP Accommodations

Pilane Court is a three-unit residential complex leased by the University of Pennsylvania and provided to support the mission of the BUP. Bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchens are intended to be shared similar to a hostel. Guests stay at Pilane Court at the discretion of the BUP.

Location and Amenities

Pilane Court is conveniently located within a ten-minute walk to Princess Marina Hospital and 45-minute walk to the main BUP office on UB’s campus. Also, located within easy walking distance (2-3 blocks): secure bank ATM, two large grocery stores, SIM card and air-time vendors, coffee shop, various restaurants and taxis and public transportation (combis).

Pilane Court's amenities include:

  • Daily cleaning services, including weekday laundry service
  • Night security guard
  • Personal key to accommodations, to be returned at end of stay
  • Access to full kitchen, WIFI, library and two desktop computers
  • Items provided: hand soap in bathrooms, one bottle of water upon arrival, bed linens, pillow, towel

Please note: It is important for guests to understand that these accommodations are more similar to a hostel than a hotel. Spaces such as bedrooms (two to four guests to a room), bathrooms, and kitchens are shared with other guests.


Pilane Court accommodations are available only on a space-available basis and reservations must be made in advance. Reservation requests should be made no less than one month prior to your arrival. For Penn-affiliated guests, email Liza Rissik to request a reservation.

External visitors, who would like to stay at Pilane Court, must complete the External Visitor Protocol Form. Please refer to the External Visitor section further below on this webpage for more details. Once the completed form and supporting documents are submitted, the external visitor will be notified if their request for a reservation at Pilane Court was approved.

If a guest requires a private room, BUP will charge the private room rate. During busier times at Pilane Court, private rooms may not be available. Private rooms are not offered to students, fellows, or residents.


The table below shows how each guest type will be charged for their accommodations. The rates listed below are subject to change to correspond with the current operating costs of Pilane Court and BUP.

Guest Type Shared Room Rate Private Room Rate*

Penn DOM Residents participating in Global Health Elective Rotation

$1,200/ rotation period

Not available

Penn Nursing Student participating in Community Health Clinical Rotation

$1,200/ rotation period

Not available

AA Derm Residents’ International Grant Recipients

$40/ night or $1,200/ month

Not available

CHOP Peds Resident Rotations

$1,200/ rotation

Not available

Other Penn Students, Residents or Fellows

$40/ night or $1,200/ month

Not available

Penn Faculty or Staff

$40/ night or $1,200/ month

$90/ night

Family Members of Penn Guests

$45/ night

Not available

External Visitors

$50/ night

$110/ night*

 *Subject to availability. Not offered to students, fellows or residents.


There are three options to pay for accommodations at Pilane Court – internal transfer at Penn, credit card or check.

Internal Transfer (Available to Penn-affiliates only)

If a guest is paying for accommodations with an internal transfer from another Penn department, the  26-digit account number of that department needs to be included in the reservation. Funds will be transferred electronically. An invoice will be issued at the time of reservation. Payment is due 30 days from the invoice date.

Credit Card or Check

If paying by credit card or check, an invoice will be issued at the time of reservation. A 50% deposit is due at the time of reservation. The balance payment is due 30 days from the invoice date.

Have questions? Please see our FAQs for more information about Pilane Court.


External Visitors

If you are an external visitor (an individual who is not directly employed by or formally affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania or BUP), we want to ensure that you understand what steps you need to take before you arrive in Botswana.

Here is a summary of services that BUP may provide to external visitors and their associated fees. If an external visitor would like to request any of those services, they must complete the External Visitor Pre-Arrival Form at least one month prior their arrival.