Botswana‘s capital city, Gaborone rises in a very quiet region. It had always been so. In the past, it used to be the land of wandering shepherds who took their herds along the shores of river Notwane. In the point where this river met river Seshane ruled the Tlokwa tribe, which was famous for the wise chief Gaborone. This man made the history of his time and though his funny name – meaning “it does not fit that bad” – he was a star. His people dedicated a village to his memory, what the first European settlers called Gaborones (short form for Gaborone’s Village). A quiet country place, the village changed definitely in the 1960s.
Gaborone, birth of a capital
When Botswana became independent, in the early 1960s, it needed a new capital city. But the many tribes would fight hard for the privilege, so the young government decided to find a place far from the tribes’ disputes. Gaborone’s region was that place. Set on the southernmost border line with South Africa, in a land no one would care for, the village of the quiet Tlokwa people was perfect for the birth of the new capital.
Besides the village, there were the remains of an old 19th-century colonial fort built by the British. The new town started to grow all around those stone walls. Other advantages of Gaborone were: water – the meeting point of the two rivers, the railway that connected it with Pretoria in South Africa. In less than 5 years, the village had become a town and 10 years later the capital was a large and modern city. The plan of the city included many green spaces, parks, large streets and squares.
What to see at Gaborone
If you come to Botswana looking for wild safaris, or looking for adventure in deserts and parks you might never come to Gaborone. The capital is far from the standard tourist routes, you must go there on purpose. It can be a part of a larger African itinerary, though, including South Africa for example. In any case, if you can, do not miss Gaborone. There are many strange, beautiful and interesting things to admire.
Take a relaxing walk through the streets of “The Village”, or “The Gabs” as locals call it: this is the historical core of the city, the famous ancient country village where it all started! Now it is a lovely and very touristic area of the city, with shops, old houses, restaurants. The Gabs belongs to the quarter called Extensions, on the east side of the railway, which is the place of rich people. Boardhurst and Tlokweng are also old and traditional areas of Gaborone. The Gabs also hosts the National Museum and Art Gallery, the Thapong Visual Art Centre and a weird and colourful Hare Krishna Temple!
Do not miss the romantic Otse Village, on top of the hills surrounding the city, the panoramic point of Kgale (you can also get there by mountain bike itineraries) and the view from Mmopane Hill. There are many beautiful gardens in Gaborone. Just to name some: the Waterfront, surrounding Gaborone’s Dam; Mokolodi Zoo Park – where wild animals live free; Somarelang Tikologo Ecologic Park. Not far from the city you can go on short safaris at the Gaborone Game Reserve, where you will admire zebras, monkeys, hogs, wild boars and hundreds species of birds.
More about Gaborone
The best period in the year to visit Gaborone: June and July, that is Botswana’s “winter time” with temperatures going from 10° to 20°C.
How to get there: Gaborone has an efficient International Airport, Sereste Khama (25 km away from the city) connected with the centre by bus services and a special railway line. If you come by train you will arrive at Gaborone’s Station. You can also get there by bus from Francistown, Maun and Pretoria.
How to move: moving around is very easy. You can use taxis, shared taxis, “combi” (minibus), local bus services.
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