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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It’s well worth a stroll.
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.
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: