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Cities and Towns A - Z
First centred at Tati town, approximately 50km away, Francistown came to prominence during the gold rush of the 1860's. It was named after Daniel Francis, a British prospector who acquired mining licences in 1869 and eventually went on to become director of the Tati Concessions Company. The second largest city in Botswana, Francistown is home to approximately 115 000 inhabitants. The city has undergone rapid and continual expansion over the last few years and now boasts modern malls, shops, hotels and restaurants. Despite modernisation, Francistown still retains a lovely African flavour with distinct and colourful markets dotting the city. Whilst accommodation primarily is aimed at the business traveller, given its convenient location as a stopover destination to the northern parks and reserves, there are a number of accommodation options catering to the leisure traveller.
Gaborone is the Capital of Botswana, named after Kgosi (Chief) Gaborone, the chief of the Batlokwa people. Situated on the Ngotwane River, the city has experienced continual growth since its humble beginnings as "Gaberones Village" in 1963. Now home to some 300 000 inhabitants, it's hard to remember the dusty little village that started with the construction of the Dam in 1963 and the town proper in 1964. From a new capital in the African bush which housed only 1,000 inhabitants, Gaborone has grown into a bustling metropolis with all amenities and boasting, amongst others, American style shopping malls, accommodation and restaurants for all budgets, an international airport and numerous sporting facilities. What makes Gaborone unique is that whilst the visitor can enjoy all the familiar modern conveniences, once need only drive 15 minutes out of town to be in an African bush environment.
Gaborone has numerous attraction and activities including; Three Chiefs Monument Located in the newly developed central business district the monument of the three chiefs is an impressive historical statue that commemorates an important turning point in the history of Botswana. In the late 1800's Cecil Roads wished to take over Bechuanaland for his British South Africa Company. Three senior chiefs ? Chief Khama III of the Bangwato, Chief Sebele I of the Bakwena and Chief Bathoen I of the Bangwaketse travelled to London in 1885 to petition Queen Victoria for protection. This was granted with the forming of the Bechuanaland Protectorate being established thus preventing the countries incorporation into the BSAC. Using a photograph of the three chief, North Korean artists sculpted the monument which was unveiled in 2005, the countries 39 anniversary of independence.
Sir Seretse Khama Statue Sir Seretse Khama (1921 ? 1980) was the founding father and first president of Botswana. Leading the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) to victory in 1965, Botswana established a unified democratic, multi party and multi racial society. He won the respect and admiration of his people and that of European and African leaders through his honesty, tolerance, sense of humour and, not least of all, his keen political acumen. The statue, unveiled in 1996 on the 20th anniversary of independence faces the National assembly. The statue was sculptured and cast in Britain by artist Norman Pearce before being flown to Botswana for its unveiling.
Government Enclave The attractive Government enclave set amongst gardens with trees and flowers is open to the public. It contains the National assembly, the Office of the President and a number of ministry offices. There are two statues worth seeing. The first commemorates those Batswana that service in WWII. Te second honours the Botswana Defence Force soldiers who died in the Rhodesian war of liberation. Insiders Tip: Always ask permission before taking photographs of Government buildings. If in doubt, rather just take memories.
National Museum and Art Gallery Located near the mall, this is an attraction definitely worth a visit. Having celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2008 the National Museum and Art Gallery has gone from strength to strength. The museum has registered and documented over 100 000 artefacts, 40 000 insect specimens and 20 000 slides. Colourful indoor and outdoor displays beautifully chronicle the natural and cultural history of Botswana. The adjoining art gallery was opened in 1975 and continually stages quality exhibitions of arts, crafts and photography.
Town Centre Gaborone's first mall ? referred to as the Main mall ? is a pedestrian only commercial and business centre, home to some of the city's oldest shops. Shoppers will enjoy browsing the many outdoor stalls that line the main walkway offering African crafts, arts and curios. Botanical Gardens Recently opened the Botanical gardens feature walking trails, exhibits on the flora of Botswana, historical buildings and a library. This is a pleasant option for a family outing.
Gaborone Dam The Gaborone dam is peaceful retreat from urban Gaborone. There are basic facilities on the east side of the dam. The yacht club, located on the south end of the dam is open to the public and offers canoeing, yachting, picnic and bushwalks. Insiders Tip. Leave the motorboat at home. No motorised craft are allowed on the dam except under special circumstances. Lately there have been reported incidents of muggings particularly on the western edge of the dam, closet to town. Please keep this in mind when planning any activities.
Kgale Hill Kgale Hill provides a beautiful panorama of the city. It is popular with climbers and picnickers and has clearly defined routes up and down taking on average 1 hour either way.
Casinos Gaborone has three casinos located at: Grand Palm, Gaborone Sun and Gaborone Hotel
Day trips from Gaborone Mokolodi Nature reserve. A small private nature reserve outside Gaborone, Mokolodi is home to a Rhino breeding project. Guests are able to camp or stay in Chalets. There is a restaurant and one can enjoy guided or self drive game drives in the park. Lion Park resort Approximately 15 km south of Gaborone, the newly opened Lion Park Resort adds a new dimension to family outings. There are water slides, valley of the waves, swimming pools and other water features. Picnic facilities are also available. This offers a great alternative activity, perfect for hot summer days.
Otse is a picturesque village with wonderful climbing and hiking options in the area. Flanked by the Otse Mountains and Botswana highest Peak at 1491m, Otse is well worth a visit where one can visit the cheese factory or relax at the Camp hill tea garden. A main attraction at Otse is the Mannyelanong Game Reserve home to resident cape vultures. Click here for more information on Mannyelanong.
Gabane, Approximately 15 km from Gaborone on the Kanye Road is the lovely village of Gabane. Set amongst hills, it is perfect for walking and exploring on foot. It is home to the Pelegano Village Industry, a development that houses various village ventures including a glass factory, metal works and sorghum milling plant. The well known Pelegano pottery factory shop sells unique tableware, vases and decorative items. The veldt Products Research centre promotes the sound management of veldt products within the SADC community and is well worth a visit.
Kolobeng was the site for David Livingstone's third and final mission station. This historical site is accessible only accompanied with the resident custodian. There is also a beautiful weir further up the dirt road which is ideal for a quiet picnic. Ask the custodian for directions.
Manyana, Situated in Manyana village, the Manyana rock paintings are spread over five separate areas of rock cliff face. Images depicting giraffe, antelope and human figures as well as geometric designs are visible. Access is allowed only with the resident custodian. At the south end of the village stand Livingstone's tree. The great explorer Livingstone is said to have rested under this massive old fig tree.
Oodi Weavers Approximately 20 kms out of town on the Francistown Road is the village of Oodi. Here is Lentswe la Oodi weavers. The weavers produce hand woven wall hangings, tapestries, runners, napkins, cushion covers jackets and bedspreads. All have been designed by themselves and are made from hand woven and dyed wool.
Matsieng Footprints Past Mochudi on the Francistown road one finds Matsieng Footprints. This national monument consists of a sandstone slab pierced by two deep holes as well as engravings. Legend has it that Matsieng, the first ancestor of the Batswana, climbed out of the hole followed by his people, their domestic animals and wildlife. Access is allowed only with the resident custodian.
Ghanzi is the centre of the cattle farming industry. The area is regarded as one of the best cattle ranging areas in the world, renowned for the high quality free range beef it produces. For many years Ghanzi was a small centre serving the farming community with little else. With the development of the Trans Kalahari highway however, the area has fast transformed into an important tourist centre. Ghanzi has a fair range of accommodation establishments. The community is an eclectic grouping with ethnic groups from the San and Bakgalagadi, Herero, Batawana and Afrikaans communities. Ghanzi is a good stopover point to refuel and re-supply whilst on route to the CKGR or the Northern Game reserves. There are fuel stations, supermarkets and various other shops. Fresh meat and produce is readily available.
Gweta is 100km from Nata and 200km from Maun, it is an important tourist town due to its proximity to the Makgadikgadi pans. Fuel is available as well as a grocery store and bottle store.
Hukuntsi is 112 km south of Kang. Fuel is available as well as a grocery store. Hukuntsi is a good place to refuel before exploring the Kgalagadi Parks and Wildlife management areas.
Jwaneng means "a place of small stones". This is a fitting name for the richest diamond mine in the world. Owned and operated by Debswana, Jwaneng has been in operation since 1982. The mines township is open and tourists can drive through and make use of its facilities such as filling stations, restaurants and accommodation. Members of the public are welcome to have a mine tour or visit the nearby Game Park. Please note however that bookings need to be made in advance through the Jwaneng Mine public relations officer on +267 588 4245.
Kang is an important stop on the Trans Kalahari highway being approximately mid way between Lobatse and Ghanzi. Fuel is available as well as overnight accommodation and basic commodities.
Kanye is a large traditional village scenically nestled amongst hills and rocky outcrops. The capital of the Ngwaketese, Kanye is 83km south of Gaborone. The Polokwe viewpoint about 10km north of Kanye on the Thamaga road gives a breathtaking view of the valley particularly at sunrise and sunset and is a great picnic spot. Kanye, being the longest continually occupied village in Botswana has many interesting places to see. These include walks through the gorge, the Kgotla and several old churches. The small dam is also a pleasant place to have a picnic.
Kasane is a beautifully situated village spreading from the Chobe River to the kasane plateau. Kasane, despite having sizeably grown over the years still retains a frontier town feel. This comes from it being at the junction of where Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Namibia meet and also from Chobe National Park being right on its doorstep. Elephants and other large game are frequently encountered on the streets of Kasane! Located at the entrance to Chobe National Park and only 80km from Victoria Falls, Kasane is an ideal base for exploring the area as well as refuelling and re-supplying. These days fuel, fresh produce and meat are easily available. Kasane is a top destination that can be reached by sedan car via tar road. The lodges and camps arrange all activities which include boat cruises, fishing and game viewing. 4x4 drivers are of course always welcome to self drive into the park. Kasane also has an international airport allowing one to fly and stay at any of the lodges. One of the highlights of Kasane is a boat cruise which can be organised by any of the lodges. The late afternoon light is always special and photographers can often get very close to Elephants and Hippo. The sunsets are spectacular and it is for this reason that a boat cruise in Kasane is one of our highly recommended activities in Botswana.
Letlhakane as the southern gateway to the Makgadikgadi Pans, Letlhakane is important as it is your last place to re-fuel and get water for a trip to Kubu Island. There are supermarkets and takeaways in town. Accommodation caters primarily to business travellers dealing with nearby Orapa and Letlhakane mines, however facilities are clean and the traveller is always welcomed.
Lobatse situated 65km south of Gaborone Lobatse is best known for housing the High Court of Botswana and the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC). Just outside town on the Mafeking road one can find rock painting of wildebeest ? however now quite faded ? that were most likely painted by Khoe herders dating back to between 1000 to 1700AD. St Marks Church with its stone walls and thatched roof is worth a visit when in town. Fuel, fresh meat and produce are all easily accessible in Lobatse.
Mahalapye is the Headquarters for Botswana railways and is useful for re-fuelling if travelling in from Sherwood on your way north or south. Fresh produce is also easily available.
Maun The place of reeds is an exciting dusty town on the fringes of the Okavango Delta. The whole town revolves around tourism and there are always 4x4 vehicles full of guides, scouts and tourists either heading to or from their safaris. Mau has long had an image as being a frontier town but today is easily accessible by tar road. The access however hasn't taken the spirit away and Maun remains a favourite with locals and visitors alike. Like any tourist town, petty theft has become a problem. The accommodation establishments in Maun have recognised this and have security measures in place ensuring your stay is uneventful. Take the same measures you would at home i.e. locking your vehicle etc are all that's needed. Once you are in the bush however, there are no problems. Maun is approximately 1210 km form Johannesburg and 932 km form Gaborone. It is the place to stock up before heading into the northern parks of Moremi, Savute and Chobe. All requirements form Fuel to fresh meat and produce to vehicle repairs and camping equipment is readily available. You can reach Maun by air or road. There are scheduled flights from Johannesburg, Gaborone, Windhoek, Kasane, and Victoria Falls.
Mochudi is located 42 km from Gaborone off the Gaborone ? Francistown road. Mochudi is a scenic village set amongst hills and is a good place to visit as a day trip form Gaborone. A tour of the village is best started at the Kgotla signposted on the main road through the village. Nearby there are two beautifully maintained ronadavels, good examples of how traditional village housing once looked. A small path leads to the Phuthadikobo Museum. Well worth a visit for its historical photographs and records of cultural change in Botswana, it also has lovely views of the surrounding countryside.
Molepolole referred to as the gateway to the Kalahari, Molepolole is the last large settlement one passes on the way to Khutse Game reserve. Located 50km from Gaborone on tarred road, this town is very suitable for an interesting day trip. These are many historical and archaeological sites in the area including: The Aloe forest, located to the west of town, according to oral tradition the aloe forest helped the Bakwena when they were fighting the Boers. The Boers supposedly mistook the aloes for a massed Bakwena ambush and fled, letting the Bakwena win the battle. Sadly, due to urban expansion the aloe forest is shrinking however there are still some good specimens to be seen. Kgosi Sechele Museum deals with cultural heritage of the Bakwena. Open Tuesday to Saturdays. The building was originally used as a police station and was constructed in 1902. Kobokwes Cave, Although some Bakwena deny the tale, according to oral tradition witches used to be thrown into this cave. London Missionary Church, built in the 1900's is visible at the junction turn off to Khutse Game Reserve. Ntsweng ? located 5km to the south of Molepolole this sued to be the capital of the Bakwena between 1863 and 1937. The royal graves and Kgosi Sebele II's office remain.
Nata is a good tourist stopover as it is located at the junction where one continues to the tourist centres of Maun or Kasane. It offers fuel, takeaways and a variety of accommodation. One can arrange trips to the Makgadikgadi Pans with local lodges and also view the seasonal flamingos.
Palapye is 206 km north of Gaborone. Formally known as the site of Botswana largest coal reserves, Palapye is also the site for Botswana second university. Palapye is well situated for the tourist traveller to stop and refuel with takeouts and supermarkets in town. Once can continue to the northern parks via Francistown, or take the route via Serowe to Orapa and onwards to the CKGR. Palapye has a variety of accommodation options.
Rakops located as the gateway to the Central Kalahari Game reserve, is important to tourists. Here one can purchase fuel and last minute basic provisions before embarking on a CKGR safari. Until recently fuel was still pumped from a hand pump but sadly technology has now consigned this small attraction to history. Rakops is accessed by tar road from Maun or Serowe.
Selebi Phikwe was established due to the copper and nickel mines in the area. Serving mainly the business traveller, Selebi Phikwe has a good selection of accommodation establishments. The town has the usual amenities of shopping centres and an airport. Nearby attractions are Letsibogo Dam and Lepokole Hills
Serowe is probably the most important town in Botswana from a cultural perspective. It is the birth and final resting place of Botswana's first president Sir Seretse Khama and the traditional centre of the Bangwato. The graves of King Khama III, Sir Seretse Khama and his wife Ruth Khama are on Thataganyanba Hill and are open to the public. Make sure however to first ask permission form the police station at the Kgotla. One can also visit the Khama II museum. Serowe is a good location to refuel as well as to stock up on fresh meat and produce form its well equipped supermarkets. Approximately 25km north of Serowe is Khama Rhino Sanctuary, a 4300 hectare sanctuary for white rhino and other animals.
Shakawe is a sleepy village just across the Mohembo border with Namibia. Fuel and basic foodstuffs are available. Shakawe is best known for its nearby lodges but has seen an increase in development in recent years.
Tshabong is the last settlement before entering the Kgalagadi Transfrontier national Park. It is therefore a good place to refuel and stock up on last minute basic commodities. Also, the route form Cape Town via Tshabong has become the quickest way to reach the trans Kalahari highway from Cape Town.