Backpacking in Botswana: Top 5 Things to Do in Gaborone

Vegetation in Central Gaborone, backpacking in Botswana

Vegetation in Central Gaborone, backpacking in Botswana

Most travellers and backpackers heading to Botswana are there to see zebras. Yes, the zebra may be Botswana’s national symbol and the safari tours are cool. But away from the famous Okavango Delta and the deserts of Botswana, sits a charming and prosperous capital city by the name of Gaborone. The good news is it’s really worth checking out as well as being a decent city to party in!

Partying in Botswana's kick ass capital - Gaborone

Partying in Botswana’s kick ass capital – Gaborone

After a bus from Pretoria and crossing into Botswana from South Africa  at Tlokweng, I based myself in Gaborone for a few days. I have about 3 or 4 friends from Botswana and it was a big reunion time!

Backpacking in Botswana, flying the flag in Gaborone.

Backpacking in Botswana, flying the flag in Gaborone.

I partied with Allan and Rems on the first night and had dinner with my friends Louis and Fingile on the second night, as well as attending a massive house party, where I was the only white guest and was treated like royalty. Unreal. We had a good night out in Gaborone to kick things off though.

Reunion dinner with Louis and Fingi in Gaborone, Botswana

Reunion dinner with Louis and Fingi in Gaborone, Botswana

So my advice is when you’re backpacking in Botswana, try and get a visit to Gaborone to check out these top 5 things that I personally enjoyed. Gaborone has international bus routes to South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Walking up to the parliament in Botswana's capital

Walking up to the parliament in Botswana’s capital

1. Botswanese Parliament
In an area known as the government enclave, sits the elaborate Botswanese Parliament. It sits in a leafy area and the colours of the Botswanese flag adorn even the roadside pillars.

gaborone botswana backpacking

Outside the Botswanese Parliament in Gaborone

There are statues in the parks and boulevards and some visitor information. First President of the nation Sir Seretse Khama sits proudly in the path that leads to the parliament.

backpacking botswana

Sir Seretse Khama statue in Gaborone, Botswana.

2. Debswana Diamonds
For those that don’t know, Botswana is famous for diamonds. Indeed three of my mates from Gaborone work in the diamond industry. Tours are available at the Diamond Trading company.

Diamonds in Botswana: My friends Louis and Fingile outside Debswana's offices

Diamonds in Botswana: My friends Louis and Fingile outside Debswana’s offices

You will not quite believe it until you’re here, but Botswana is a world leader in diamond mining. The economy in Botswana is strong because of this, the fluency of English speaking is also fantastic, Setswana and English are both widely spoken.

diamonds gaborone backpacker

Diamonds in Gaborone, Botswana

3. Botswana National Football Stadium
If you follow my adventures you’ll notice a trend, I “big up” football stadiums. I love them. When I was in Gaborone, Botswana had just qualified for their first ever African Cup of Nations.

botswana football stadium

Flying my Northern Ireland flag at Botswana National Football Stadium.

Nicknamed the zebras, football is the national sport and a trip to the national football stadium was one of my targets when I backpacked in Gaborone. It was actually closed for renovations. Botswana have never made it to the World Cup, but remember there are over 50 countries in Africa and only 5 places up for grabs so it’s competitive.

4. The Mall
Or should I say “The Mall”. Rather than an elaborate shopping mall, Gaborone’s “The Mall” is an outdoor precinct with everything you expect from an African market. Fruit, football shirts, ball point pens and meat.

mall gaborone

The Mall in Gaborone, Botswana.

It’s well worth a stroll.

gaborone mall

The Mall in Gaborone, Botswana.

5. Party With The Locals
Perhaps the biggest surprise from my time in Botswana was how crazy the locals are for dancing, drinking and partying. As the only white guy at a house party of over 40 people, I drank ice cold St. Louis (the local beer) and danced with a load of local girls.

party botswana gaborone

Partying and dancing with the local girls at a house party in Gaborone.

The girls are all over you in a flash when they see a white guy, it’s just crazy. I had a night out with the lads in Gaborone too. I visited bars like the News cafe, The Bull and Buch and Linga Longa.

OK so those are my personal top 5 tips when backpacking in Botswana’s capital city of Gaborone. There’s also the National Museum, a game reserve, a golf course and a load of swanky bars to see. Gaborone is definitely worth a few days and I promised my friends I will return sometime and go to the Okavango Delta with them. I need to head back to Africa in 2015 I reckon, so who knows!

Some of my videos from backpacking in Botswana’s capital Gaborone:

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About Jonny Blair

I'm Jonny Blair, a travelling Northern Irishman. Since leaving my hometown a decade ago I have managed to visit over 100 countries and over 600 towns or cities across all 7 continents. Along the way I have worked in countless jobs! Join my journey on Don't Stop Living - a lifestyle of travel as I provide you with tips and inspiration to live your travel dreams! Safe travels! Follow me on Jonny Blair Google Plus
This entry was posted in Africa, Botswana, Gaborone, Lists, My Top 5s, X tips. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Backpacking in Botswana: Top 5 Things to Do in Gaborone

  1. Pingback: Downtown Gaborone, Botswana: A Shy and Quiet Capital City - Don't Stop Living

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  4. David Cochrane says:

    Was in Gabarone 15 yrs ago, mates were teaching English so went to visit them. Spent many a good night in the Bull and Bush as well as sneaking into the Gabarone Sun to use their pool. First place I visited in Africa and it left a lasting love of the continent. Took the train to Bulawayo which took 14 hrs and I think stopped at every hole in the hedge .
    We went to the Okavango Delta for two days , certainly saw things that you would never see in Coleraine.

    Fantastic country and one I will definitely be back to visit some dy in the future.

  5. Jonny Blair says:

    Hi David, Great story there and glad you liked it. Believe it or not, I never made it to the Delta as I was there more for a reunion to meet old university Botswanese friends and I headed back across the border into South Africa a few days after meeting them so I really only got to see Gaborone and the suburbs. Great place though. Safe travels. Jonny

  6. David Cochrane says:

    South Africa is a great country as well. If your back in that area would recommend Harare , Bulawayo and Victoria Falls.
    Keep posting the blogs mate, love reading and getting inspiration for my own travels .

  7. Jonny Blair says:

    Hi David, That sounds great man. I just visited a few countries in that region (Botswana, Swaziland, South Africa) but would love to see the likes of Zambia and Zimbabwe too. No worries, I’ll take a wee Christmas break to myself here in Kazakhstan! Safe travels. Jonny

  8. Pingback: World Borders - How to get to Botswana from South Africa

  9. Pingback: Waiting For Grace At Park Station: Gaborone to Johannesburg - Don't Stop Living

  10. Those diamonds are beautiful! I’m glad you wrote more about Botswana than zebras, Jonny.
    Agness of eTramping recently posted…Into the Unknown: Preparing for the Trip of a Lifetime to North KoreaMy Profile

  11. Jonny Blair says:

    Hi Agness, thanks for the comment as always and best wishes on your upcoming travels. Jonny

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