Fifty years ago, Gaborone was a dusty one-horse town with little character. Today, it is a continually-growing city that is home to over 400,000 people. Known to the locals as simply “Gabs,” the capital is safe, clean and a great jumping-off point for further exploration of southern Africa.
The National Museum, Monuments and Arts Gallery provides an interesting overview of Botswana’s history and culture. Exploring the small but diverse collection is a nice way to spend an afternoon, particularly if you enjoy taxidermy. Stuffed wildlife is the biggest draw, but there are also many ethnographic exhibits that focus on the precolonial and colonial eras. The permanent collection of European and traditional African art is also intriguing.
If you are traveling with a group, arrange a tour of the Orapa House, where diamonds from the largest mine in the world are graded and sorted. Solo visitors are not welcome, but groups who are not put off by red tape can usually score a tour with persistence and a little bit of luck.
The real highlight of any trip to the capital is Gaborone Game Reserve. Established in the late 1980s, the reserve gives the public a chance to experience Botswana’s abundant wildlife in an accessible and natural location. The reserve’s 5 square kilometers are teeming with wildlife, including kudus, zebras, impalas, warthogs, elands, gemsboks, ostriches and wildebeests. Many species of birds are easily seen from the observation areas, including hornbills and kingfishers.
To catch a glimpse of traditional life in Botswana, visit the Otse Village just outside the city. Known as “Letsekela” by the Balete people, the village is nestled among lush hills usually topped with groups of Cape vultures. The height of the village makes it an ideal breeding ground for the birds, and the Manyelanong Game Reserve was established to protect the endangered species.
If you are adventurous, trek up Kgale Hill, one of the largest hills in the country at about 1280 meters. From the top, visitors can enjoy magnificent views of the capital and the outlying areas. Stick to the paths, and watch out for the baboons.
Gaborone is one of southern Africa’s greatest shopping destinations. There are shopping malls throughout the city, and nearly every major African chain store makes an appearance somewhere in the capital. Even with the recent influx of chain stores, independent shops still thrive in Gaborone. Visitors can shop for recycled and natural products at the many green shops, browse local crafts at covered markets and visit workshops featuring local artists that weave pleasing tapestries of village scenes.
There are a handful of pubs and clubs in the city, most of which offer cheap drinks and friendly atmospheres. The popular night clubs charge a small entrance fee, and visitors are encouraged to dress their best.
Your taste buds will rejoice in the wide variety of cuisines available in the capital. In the city center, travelers can dine on cheap and tasty fare, like curry, and the north-east area of the city is home to a number of Asian restaurants. The best restaurants are in the north-west and south-east corners of the capital, where visitors can dine on good Indian food, indulge in huge meat dishes at fancy restaurants and enjoy European-style dishes in lush gardens.
Gaborone Geographical Location
Gaborone is located in the southeast of Botswana on the Notwane River, between the Kgale and Oodi Hills.
Gaborone is Botswana’s largest city with a population of approximately 192,000 people.
English is the official language of Botswana but Setswana is most widely spoken.
Gaborone Predominant Religion
- 71.5% Christian
- 20.5% None
- 6% Badimo
- 2% Other
Muslims, and Hindus account for most of the “other” category in addition to a small population of Baha’is.
The Pula is the official currency of Botswana.
Gaborone experiences hot summers and warm winters with little rain. It is sunny throughout the year although the summer does experience some rainfall.
Gaborone Main Attractions
- Gaborone Game Reserve
- Kgale Hill
Other Attraction in Gaborone
- Gaborone Dam