Gaborone is Botswana’s capital city and its commercial hub. It’s located in a valley on the Notwane River, in the south-east corner of Botswana, close to the border of South Africa. Gaborone was named after Kgosi (Chief) Gaborone who led the Batlokwa tribe into the area in the 1880’s. The small town grew into the administrative center of Bechuanaland, a British protectorate (1885 -1966). When Botswana gained independence in 1966, Gaborone became its capital.
Gaborone is a fairly affluent city, with shopping malls, restaurants, some nightclubs, decent hotels and a University. It’s a small city, not very lively or vibrant but quite safe, tidy and relaxing.
Gaborone Game Reserve: Possibly one of the few national reserves to be situated inside a city, this relatively small (5 square kms) but well stocked park is home to a number of Botswana’s indigenous species, including zebra, eland, gemsbok, red hartebeest, blue wildebeest, impala, kudu, steenbok, vervet monkeys, warthog and rock dassies, as well as numerous resident and migrant bird species, best viewed from the small dam in the park. Terrain includes tree savanna, riparian woodland, marsh and rocky outcrops. The park is popular for weekend outings and picnics, with two wellappointed picnic sites. There are also animal and bird observation hides and a visitors’ centre; and pre-booked educational tours can be arranged for both school children and visitors.
The recently opened National Museum Botanical Gardens is a welcome addition to the city of Gaborone. It features walking trails (with labeled trees and plants), exhibits on the flora of Botswana, a library of botanical books, and historical buildings, including a colonial guest house. This is a pleasant place for a family outing, also providing an educational perspective on the country’s flora.
Crossing the railway tracks over the flyover, and turning into a newly developed Central Business District, the Monument of the Three Chiefs is another impressive historical statue that marks an important turning point in the history of Botswana.
Gaborone’s warm, sunny weather makes it an ideal venue for sports enthusiasts; and the city boasts a number of modern sports facilities. These include tennis courts, squash courts, boating, yachting, cricket, rugby, football, horse riding, golf, netball, softball, volleyball and of course swimming. There are a number of well equipped fitness centres that offer weight training, aerobics, yoga and dance. One-off visitors are welcome.
One of the greatest attractions of living in, or visiting, Gaborone is its dynamic music and dance scene. The happy, infectious, soulful music of Botswana, and southern Africa, is everywhere, and is one of the most exciting aspects of culture to experience here. And it is rarely performed without fabulous dancing. Regularly staged performances in traditional, rock, pop, jazz, classical – just about every kind of music imaginable – can best be seen at the Maitisong Cultural Centre, situated at Maru a Pula Secondary School campus.
A variety of cuisines are served in hotels and restaurants from local favourites and game meat, to continental and Asian dishes. There are also plenty of fast food outlets and small restaurants/takeaways offering local dishes. Hotels in Gaborone are modern and most have little personality.
Getting there: Botswana’s main international airport, Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (airport code: GBE) is located 9 miles outside of Gaborone. Airlines that operate include: Air Botswana (to/from Harare, Johannesburg, Lusaka, Nairobi, Victoria Falls, Windhoek), Air France, Air Zimbabwe, South African Airways and British Airways.Long-distance buses to Gaborone are available from Johannesburg and Pretoria on the Intercape Mainliner. You can also reach Gaborone from other cities and towns in Botswana, either by mini-bus or intercity coaches, some operated by Seabalo.