Welcome to Gaborone, the vibrant capital city of Botswana! Nestled in the southeastern part of the country, Gaborone is a modern metropolis that offers a unique blend of urban charm, cultural diversity, and natural beauty. As Botswana’s largest city and economic hub, Gaborone showcases the nation’s growth and development while preserving its rich heritage.
Gaborone is a relatively young city, having been established in the 1960s. It was chosen as the capital of Botswana due to its strategic location and proximity to essential resources. Over the years, it has transformed into a thriving center of commerce, administration, and education.
As you explore Gaborone, you’ll discover an impressive skyline adorned with modern buildings and architectural landmarks. The city’s infrastructure is well-developed, with wide avenues, bustling markets, and a range of amenities that cater to both residents and visitors.
Despite its urban nature, Gaborone is surrounded by breathtaking natural landscapes. The city is nestled in the midst of the picturesque Kgale Hills, offering opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, nature walks, and birdwatching. The nearby Gaborone Dam is a popular recreational spot, where you can relax, enjoy water sports, or simply appreciate the tranquil surroundings.
Gaborone is a melting pot of cultures, and its residents proudly embrace their diverse heritage. As you explore the city, you’ll encounter a vibrant blend of traditional and modern influences. From colorful traditional attire to lively music and dance performances, Gaborone provides ample opportunities to immerse yourself in the rich cultural traditions of Botswana.
The city is also home to various museums, galleries, and cultural centers that offer insights into the country’s history and artistic expression. Visit the National Museum and Art Gallery to explore exhibitions on Botswana’s archaeological finds, cultural artifacts, and contemporary art. Engage with local artists and craftsmen in the Thapong Visual Arts Centre, where you can witness the creative spirit of Botswana come to life.
Gaborone’s culinary scene is diverse and dynamic, with a range of international cuisines and local specialties to savor. From traditional dishes like Seswaa (a slow-cooked meat dish) and Morogo (wild spinach) to international delicacies, the city offers a delightful culinary journey for food enthusiasts.
Shopping in Gaborone is an exciting experience. Explore the bustling markets and modern shopping malls, where you can find traditional crafts, handmade jewelry, vibrant textiles, and souvenirs that reflect Botswana’s culture and creativity. Don’t miss the opportunity to purchase locally crafted items, such as woven baskets and pottery, which make for unique and meaningful keepsakes.
Gaborone is known for its warm and welcoming atmosphere. The locals, known as Batswana, are renowned for their friendliness and hospitality. Engage with the residents, learn about their traditions, and embrace the opportunity to connect with the local community.
With its blend of modernity, natural beauty, cultural richness, and warm hospitality, Gaborone offers a memorable travel experience. This travel guide will provide you with insights and recommendations to make the most of your visit to this vibrant capital city. So, get ready to immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and flavors of Gaborone and create lasting memories of your journey through Botswana.
Gaborone City Guide: A Brief History Of Gaborone, Botswana
Gaborone has a relatively short but fascinating history that showcases Botswana’s journey from a humble village to a thriving capital city. The area where Gaborone now stands was originally inhabited by the Tswana people, who established settlements along the Notwane River.
In the mid-19th century, European explorers and traders began venturing into the region, attracted by the abundant wildlife and natural resources. The area around Gaborone was part of the territory of the Bangwaketse, one of the main Tswana tribes.
The village of Gaborone was established in the 1880s by Kgosi (Chief) Gaborone, after whom the city is named. At that time, it was a small settlement inhabited by Tswana farmers and cattle herders. The location was strategically chosen as a meeting point for different tribes, providing a place for trade and interaction.
In the early 20th century, Gaborone began to grow as a result of the expansion of the railway network in southern Africa. The British colonial administration recognized its potential as a transportation hub and decided to develop the village further. Gaborone became a major stop along the railway line connecting South Africa with present-day Zimbabwe.
Botswana gained independence from British colonial rule in 1966, and Gaborone was selected as the capital city. The decision was based on its central location within the country and its potential for development. The establishment of Gaborone as the capital brought rapid growth and transformation to the city.
In the early years of independence, Gaborone faced numerous challenges, including limited infrastructure and a small population. However, with the government’s focus on economic development and investments in education and infrastructure, the city began to flourish.
Over the years, Gaborone has undergone significant urbanization and modernization. It has attracted foreign investments, multinational corporations, and international organizations. The city has experienced rapid population growth, becoming the largest urban center in Botswana.
Today, Gaborone is a bustling capital city that showcases Botswana’s economic progress and political stability. It serves as the administrative, commercial, and cultural hub of the country. Gaborone’s skyline is marked by modern buildings, shopping malls, and government offices, while still preserving its unique blend of traditional and contemporary influences.
As you explore Gaborone, you’ll encounter traces of its history through landmarks, museums, and cultural events that celebrate the nation’s heritage. Gaborone’s transformation from a small village to a thriving capital city is a testament to Botswana’s remarkable journey, making it an intriguing destination for travelers seeking to understand the country’s development and culture.
Gaborone Top Attractions and Best Places to Visit in Botswana
Seen by many international tourists as a sleepy town of no significance, the Botswanan capital of Gaborone has more to offer visitors than a place to sleep after or before a long international flight.
While it is only home to a little bit over 200,000 people, this chilled out city has a number of diversions that will hold your attention and entertain you if you find yourself with some time to kill at the start or end of your Botswanan adventure.
A popular stopover for overlanders traveling north/south across the African continent, you will find that there is more to this place than it appears at first glance.
Start your time in Gaborone and Botswana by learning about its past history at its National Museum. While this institution may pale in comparison to what other national museums look like in other countries around the world, this humble place still has a number of exhibits on Botswana’s human and natural history.
In addition to this, it is accompanied by an art gallery, which contains a number of works of European and African origin, and the exterior is home to the national botanical garden as well.
Next, make your way to the central business district of Gaborone, where the Three Chiefs’ Statues are located. Known locally as the Three Dikgosi Monument, it depicts three tribal chiefs (Sebele I, Khama III and Bathoen I) who played an instrumental role in the getting Botswana independence ratified by separating the present-day territory from South Africa and Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).
This allowed a sense of nationhood to grow within the partitioned territory, leading to Botswana’s eventual independence in the 1960’s.
Another noteworthy cultural highlight in the Gaborone area is ISKCON Gaborone, which is the country’s primary Hindu temple. An elaborate house of worship that stands out from the surrounding area, its salmon coloured exterior, impressive stupas, and its rich interior will make for a wondrous hour of wandering around in this visually-rich environment.
Being home to Hare Krishnas, be sure to stick around for a meal, as it will give you a chance to chat and get to know the locals of this city in a down-to-earth setting.
Other Cultural Attractions: Trip to Gaborone, Botswana
Haven’t quite got enough of the animals that roam the wilds of Botswana? Satiate your desire to spot rhinos, cheetahs, giraffes and more at the Mokolodi Nature Reserve. Located only 10 kilometres south of Gaborone, this park specializes in being the place where the country is attempting to re-breed the threatened white rhino to healthier numbers.
As such, it is a great place to spot these rare breeds, and others that have been hunted to near extinction up to the present day. If you are brave enough, there are five camp sites that allow you to spend a night in the outdoors of Botswana with these formidable mammals, and there are guides that will allow you to go on a mini-safari of sorts if you are traveling on a backpacker’s budget.
Feeling lucky? Want to try to win back the money you spent on a fancy week-long safari in the hinterlands of Botswana? The Gaborone Sun casino might appeal to you in this case, as this resort has plenty of games of chance where you can attempt to ride a wave of luck to a fatter bank balance.
Traveling with children during your trip in Botswana? If you are here during the hot season, a trip to Lion Park Resort will prove to be a wise decision during your trip’s early or last days. While this park is a touch on the small side compared to similar park’s found in other countries around the world, facilities are modern and the staff are courteous and professional.
A number of tame water slides, wave pool and splash pads define the water portion of this attraction, while a roller coaster with an inverted loop, a giant swing and other midway attractions can be found in the amusement park portion of Lion Park Resort.
source: The African Script on YouTube
Top 44 Things To Do in Gaborone, Botswana For Visitors
Here is a list of 44 of the top things to do in Gaborone:
1. Visit the National Museum and Art Gallery to explore Botswana’s history, culture, and artistic heritage. Immerse yourself in the exhibits that showcase archaeological finds, traditional crafts, and contemporary art, providing insights into the country’s diverse heritage.
2. Take a stroll through the Gaborone Game Reserve, a sanctuary in the heart of the city where you can spot wildlife such as zebras, wildebeests, giraffes, and various bird species. Enjoy a guided walk or a game drive to get up close with Botswana’s natural inhabitants.
3. Explore the Mokolodi Nature Reserve, located just outside Gaborone, and embark on a game drive or guided bushwalk to encounter native wildlife such as rhinos, cheetahs, and antelopes. Learn about the reserve’s conservation efforts and enjoy the tranquility of the natural surroundings.
4. Discover the traditional arts and crafts at the Thapong Visual Arts Centre, where local artists showcase their talent through exhibitions and workshops. Engage with the artists, witness their creative process, and even purchase unique artworks to take home as souvenirs.
5. Visit the Botswana Craft Center to browse a wide selection of handcrafted items, including traditional pottery, intricate beadwork, jewelry, and textiles. Support local artisans and find one-of-a-kind pieces that reflect Botswana’s cultural heritage.
6. Explore the picturesque Gaborone Dam, where you can enjoy water sports such as boating, fishing, and kayaking. Relax on the shores, have a picnic, or take a leisurely walk along the dam wall, appreciating the serene beauty of the surrounding landscape.
7. Take a cultural tour of the MmaMokgosi Homestead to learn about the customs and traditions of the local Batswana people. Experience the warm hospitality of the homestead, participate in traditional activities, and gain insights into the daily life of a typical Batswana family.
8. Attend a live performance at the Maitisong Festival, an annual event that celebrates arts, music, and culture in Gaborone. Enjoy captivating theater productions, dance performances, and music concerts featuring both local and international artists.
9. Explore the Gaborone City Council Park, a beautifully landscaped park where you can relax, go for a jog, or have a picnic. Enjoy the green spaces, meandering pathways, and serene atmosphere away from the city’s hustle and bustle.
10. Learn about Botswana’s rich mining history at the National Museum’s Geological and Mining Museum. Discover the significance of minerals like diamonds and copper to the country’s economy, and explore the exhibits that showcase mining equipment and geological formations.
11. Visit the Botswana National Stadium, a modern sports facility that hosts various national and international sporting events. Catch a football match, rugby game, or athletics competition, and experience the electric atmosphere as passionate fans cheer on their teams.
12. Enjoy a round of golf at the Phakalane Golf Estate, a scenic golf course known for its challenging layout, stunning views, and lush surroundings. Tee off amidst the tranquility of the estate and revel in the beauty of the manicured fairways and greens.
13. Experience traditional Tswana cuisine by dining at a local restaurant and savoring dishes like Seswaa (slow-cooked meat), Morogo (wild spinach), and Bogobe (maize porridge). Indulge in the authentic flavors and culinary traditions that have been passed down through generations.
14. Discover the vibrant nightlife scene in Gaborone by visiting popular entertainment venues, including clubs, bars, and live music venues. Dance to local and international beats, enjoy live performances, and mingle with locals and fellow travelers.
15. Take a cultural tour to one of the nearby traditional villages, such as Mochudi or Manyana, to experience the rural lifestyle and learn about the local customs. Engage with the villagers, participate in traditional activities, and gain a deeper understanding of Botswana’s cultural heritage.
16. Visit the Botswana Defense Force Museum to learn about the country’s military history and see displays of military equipment, vehicles, and artifacts. Gain insights into Botswana’s defense forces and their contributions to national security.
17. Explore the Molapo Crossing Shopping Mall, where you can shop for local and international brands, enjoy a meal at a restaurant, or catch a movie at the cinema. Indulge in retail therapy, sample delicious cuisine, and immerse yourself in a vibrant shopping experience.
18. Attend a traditional dance performance to witness the energetic and rhythmic movements that are an integral part of Botswana’s cultural heritage. Be captivated by the colorful costumes, expressive choreography, and infectious beats that showcase the nation’s vibrant traditions.
19. Take a day trip to the Gaborone Game City Mall, the largest shopping center in Botswana, offering a wide range of retail outlets, restaurants, and entertainment options. Shop for fashion, electronics, and souvenirs, enjoy diverse cuisines, or catch a movie for a relaxing day of leisure.
20. Explore the vibrant African markets, such as the Gaborone Main Mall and the African Mall, where you can buy fresh produce, traditional crafts, and unique souvenirs. Engage with local vendors, practice your bargaining skills, and immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere of these bustling marketplaces.
21. Visit the Botswana Parliament Building, an impressive architectural landmark, and learn about the country’s political system and governance. Take a guided tour to explore the building’s grandeur, gain insights into Botswana’s democracy, and understand the significance of the parliamentary process.
22. Attend the Kgalagadi Jazz Festival, an annual music event that showcases local and international jazz artists. Enjoy live performances in a vibrant outdoor setting, experience the rhythm and soul of jazz music, and celebrate Botswana’s thriving music scene.
23. Explore the Botswana National Botanic Garden, a serene oasis where you can enjoy a leisurely walk among indigenous plants and trees. Admire the colorful blooms, relax in shaded areas, and learn about the country’s diverse flora and their ecological importance.
24. Discover the unique flavors of Botswana’s cuisine by sampling street food delicacies from local vendors. Try boerewors (sausages), seswaa-filled vetkoek (fried bread), or morogo sandwiches (wild spinach) for a taste of the country’s culinary delights.
25. Take a day trip to Mokolodi Scenic Reserve, located just outside Gaborone, where you can go on guided game drives to observe wildlife such as rhinos, giraffes, zebras, and antelopes. Experience the thrill of spotting animals in their natural habitat and learn about conservation efforts in Botswana.
26. Attend a traditional wedding ceremony to witness the vibrant celebrations, colorful attire, and cultural rituals that are an integral part of Botswana’s social fabric. Experience the joyous atmosphere, taste traditional wedding cuisine, and engage with the locals to gain a deeper understanding of their customs.
27. Explore the history and legacy of Sir Seretse Khama, Botswana’s first president, by visiting the Seretse Khama Memorial Museum. Learn about his significant role in Botswana’s independence movement and his contributions to the country’s development.
28. Join a guided walking tour of Gaborone’s street art scene to discover colorful murals, graffiti, and urban art installations that showcase the city’s creative spirit. Engage with local artists
, learn about the inspiration behind their works, and capture Instagram-worthy photos.
29. Visit the iconic Three Dikgosi Monument, a tribute to the three chiefs who played crucial roles in Botswana’s journey to independence: Khama III, Sebele I, and Bathoen I. Learn about their contributions to the country’s history and the enduring legacy of Botswana’s traditional leadership.
30. Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of a local market, such as the Gaborone Farmers Market, where you can buy fresh produce, traditional food items, and handmade crafts. Engage with local vendors, learn about traditional ingredients, and experience the authentic flavors of Botswana.
31. Take a scenic drive to the Mmamotshwane Picnic Site, located in the Mokolodi Nature Reserve. Enjoy a picnic surrounded by nature, take in the panoramic views, and appreciate the tranquil beauty of the Botswana landscape.
32. Attend a traditional storytelling session to hear ancient folk tales and legends passed down through generations. Listen to captivating narratives that provide insights into Botswana’s cultural heritage and oral traditions.
33. Visit the Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) to learn about the country’s commitment to science and technology education. Explore the campus, attend lectures or seminars, and engage with students and faculty members.
34. Join a cultural workshop to learn traditional skills such as pottery, basket weaving, or beadwork. Engage with local artisans, gain hands-on experience in traditional crafts, and create your own unique souvenir to take home.
35. Explore the Mogonye Gorge, a scenic natural attraction just outside Gaborone. Enjoy a hike along the gorge, marvel at the rock formations, and take in the breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.
36. Visit the Botswana National Library and Archives to explore a wealth of information on Botswana’s history, literature, and cultural heritage. Browse through books, manuscripts, and archival materials that provide valuable insights into the country’s past.
37. Take a cultural tour to a traditional cattle post, where you can learn about the importance of cattle in Botswana’s culture and economy. Engage with local herders, observe their daily activities, and gain a deeper appreciation for the significance of livestock in Botswana’s society.
38. Join a traditional music and dance workshop to learn the rhythmic movements and melodic tunes of Botswana’s traditional music. Embrace the vibrant energy, explore different dance styles, and immerse yourself in the country’s musical heritage.
39. Volunteer with a local community organization to contribute to meaningful projects and engage with the local community. Participate in initiatives related to education, conservation, or social development and make a positive impact during your time in Gaborone.
40. Attend a traditional cattle auction to witness the lively atmosphere and economic importance of livestock trading in Botswana. Observe the bidding process, interact with buyers and sellers, and gain insights into the cultural and economic significance of cattle.
41. Join a photography safari in the nearby Mokolodi Nature Reserve or other wildlife areas around Gaborone. Capture stunning images of wildlife in their natural habitats, guided by experienced photographers who will provide valuable tips and guidance.
42. Discover the cultural diversity of Gaborone by visiting the various ethnic community centers, such as the Tsholofelo Community Centre or the Hindu Sabha Cultural Center. Learn about different cultural practices, traditions, and festivals celebrated by Botswana’s diverse communities.
43. Take a guided tour of Gaborone’s architectural landmarks, such as the Botswana High Court Building or the National Assembly Building. Learn about the unique architectural styles and the symbolism behind these important structures.
44. Immerse yourself in the local music scene by attending a live performance of Botswana’s popular
music genres, such as Kwaito, Afro-pop, or Gospel. Enjoy the infectious rhythms, dance along with the crowd, and experience the vibrant energy of Botswana’s music culture.
With these 44 activities, you can fully immerse yourself in the vibrant culture, natural beauty, and unique experiences that Gaborone and Botswana have to offer. Whether you’re exploring wildlife reserves, indulging in local cuisine, engaging with local communities, or experiencing the city’s arts and entertainment scene, Gaborone will provide you with unforgettable memories and a deeper appreciation for the rich heritage of Botswana.
Gaborone Travel Guide: Final Thoughts
As you conclude your Gaborone travel guide journey, you’ll carry with you the vibrant memories and enriching experiences of Botswana’s capital city. Gaborone’s unique blend of modernity, cultural heritage, and natural beauty offers a diverse range of attractions and activities that cater to every traveler’s interest.
From exploring the city’s museums, art galleries, and cultural centers to immersing yourself in traditional dances, music, and local cuisine, Gaborone provides a glimpse into Botswana’s rich history, vibrant arts scene, and warm hospitality.
The city’s proximity to nature reserves and scenic landscapes allows for exciting outdoor adventures, whether it’s spotting wildlife in game reserves, exploring the picturesque Kgale Hills, or enjoying leisurely picnics by the Gaborone Dam.
Gaborone’s shopping and entertainment scenes offer a mix of modern malls, lively markets, and vibrant nightlife, allowing you to indulge in retail therapy, savor diverse cuisines, and experience the city’s lively social atmosphere.
Throughout your visit, you’ll encounter the genuine warmth and friendliness of the Batswana people, who take pride in sharing their cultural traditions and making visitors feel welcome.
As you bid farewell to Gaborone, you’ll carry with you a deeper understanding of Botswana’s rich heritage, cultural diversity, and commitment to progress. This travel guide has provided you with insights and recommendations to make the most of your visit to Gaborone. So, embrace the spirit of exploration, immerse yourself in the city’s history and culture, and let Gaborone’s unique blend of modernity and tradition leave an indelible mark on your journey through Botswana.