Downtown Gaborone, Botswana: A Shy and Quiet Capital City

You could be forgiven for forgetting you were in a capital city while staying in Gaborone. That’s exactly the shy and quiet charm of the Botswanese capital.
Gaoborone’s centre piece is a street called The Mall. It’s the city centre, and despite a few shopping centres cropping up in various parts of the city, all the main traditional stuff is here on The Mall. I was staying just a 5 or 10 minute walk away, at Brackendene Lodge. I found a few quiet paths like the one above which led me to The Mall.
Early morning in The Mall.
One of the highest buildings and hotels in The Mall.
I was in The Mall very early morning before even the shops and market sellers were out.
Some kind of council offices near The Mall.
This was on Queen’s Road. Some council offices.
The National Bank. I actually relied on a few banks and in particular Money Gram while in Gaborone. 
A Shell Petrol Station near the Mall in Gaborone. This doubled up as an international bus station. I caught my bus back across the border into South Africa from here (and arrived at the same spot).
Queen’s Road, Gaborone. Rush hour.
The Mall gets busy and lively during the day with market stalls.
When you walk around The Mall as a white person, you are the ONLY white person in sight. In fact, apart from a couple of guys in a pub and a girl on my bus journey in, I saw only black people in Botswana. Here in Botswana I was staying with locals, mingling with locals and enjoying the spirit of the locals.
Market stands in Gaborone. It’s all a bit drab, boring and shy. But this is Gaborone, Botswana. That’s what it’s like.
The cash points have a wall to cover others – it’s all quite secure.
I swapped over ALL my foreign money here in Gaborone – money was tight and I grabbed all I could before the banks shut. Luckily I got a transfer from my Mum on Money Gram later on (by the skin of my teeth!).
The local Co-op Bottle Store.
My Botswanese Pula – I got them on the first morning to cover my expenses until I got my Money Gram transfer.
I popped to an internet cafe with a view overlooking the Mall. This was it.
A few more shots of downtown Gaborone. The sun was beginning to shine.
The Central Post Office. Kid brother would be getting yet another postcard, from another city, from another country.
His postcard. The most popular tourist thing to do in Botswana is to go on safari and see the zebras! I was there to see friends just because I was so close to the border. If I had the choice of zebras or friends, I’d choose my friends again. But maybe next time I can see the zebras WITH my friends…
T shirts are the main items on sale in The Mall. I didn’t buy anything except a postcard.
The local shop on The Mall. This was a Spar. The staff were incredibly friendly in there.
The Spar on the left.
The central Police Station in Gaborone.
A signpost for Robisonson Road, reminded me of Robinson Road in Marlo in Bangor where I once lived.
The tourist information was very helpful and my two days in Gaborone were a bit manic! Here I photographed a receipt from Best Break in Bournemouth, only to prove that it has been to every continent since I left Bournemouth. The map of Gaborone City they gave me was free and very detailed. It’s not a big city.
Street by the hostel/Guesthouse. Brackendene Lodge on Tati Road.
Guesthouse Reception. A bit posh for me if I’m honest, but I wanted to be close to the city centre especially for my bus, and the only backpackers was 10 kilometres out of the city (I dare say I’d have spent more on taxis anyway by staying there).
My map of Gaborone. See how close it is to the border of South Africa at Tlokweng.
St. Louis Lager Light. Cold and refreshing, even at 3.5 %.
Breakfast cereal and orange juice in Gaborone.
Botswanese eggs and sausage on toast plus a cup of tea. Dream breakfast the world over.
Tati Street, almost “downtown Gaborone!”
The plush Brackendene Lodge. I loved it and it’s probably the most luxurious place I’d stayed in years.
I’ll do a separate report on the touristy stuff in Gaborone and concentrate this one on the downtown part of the city, but here’s a few of the things I got up to. Above I visited the National Stadium, which was closed for renovation at the time. Botswana reached the African Nations Cup in 2012 for the first time.
The walk up to Parliament along the colourful fence. Certainly no tourists about…
National statue of Khama – first president of Botswana. I read about this on the bus journey across the border.Fascinating stuff. Seretse Khama ran the country from 1966 to 1980 (when he died). This statue is close to the Botswana Parliament and they have also named the international airport after Khama.
A reunion with Louis Baseki and Fingi Makgaleme. I studied with them around 2003 – 2005 in Bournemouth in England. Here they are pictured in front of the famous Debswana Building. This is the diamond company of Botswana. Great friends.
At the Botswana Parliament in Gaborone flying the Northern Ireland flag.
A visit to a souvenir shop and lots of diamonds.
The city’s posh hotel and Casino resort. Gaborone Sun.
Primi Piatti was the Italian style restaurant at City Walk Shopping Mall for our reunion dinner.
Dinner with my old Botswanese friends from Bournemouth – Louis and Fingi. Pizza, pasta, bread, beer and wine.
City Walk Mall in Gaborone. One of the shopping centres outside the city centre!
Very local pub on route to a mega Botswanese house party!
Getting mauled by the wonderful Botswanese girls at the House Party. My friend Allan Molefhe from Botswana is the other guy in the photo.
Botswanese house party in the suburbs of Gaborone.
I hate mobile phones of course and believe they destroy travel, but I needed to make a call to my family and bought a few of these. 10 Pulas each, about a pound to phone home.
1 Pula and 2 Pula. About 10 and 20 pence I believe.
Botswanese coins – Pula and Thebe. Pula means “rain” in Setswanese – rain is very scarce in Botswana.
One of many banks that was shut when I was trying to get my Money Gram transfer. At The Square.
Another shut bank. It was Saturday 12.30 pm.
Taxi ride with my taxi driver Aaron – a good local lad. Like a diamond he took me to all the right places at all the right times, before dropping me back off at my hostel to meet my friends again later on.
Market Stalls on the outskirts of Gaborone. I love capturing life as it happens, especially in Africa.
This foreign exchange was my saviour in the end. 3 minutes before they shut I found a Money Gram venue!
Another of the many shopping centres in Gaborone, Botswana, this one was River Walk.
The Pula I got in Botswana ended up being enough for another 2 – 3 weeks of travel until I landed back home in Parramatta in Australia.
The reunion with Allan Molefhe in Gaborone.
My amazing bed in Gaborone, Botswana.
My view from the hostel window – typical of a hostel in the city centre of a capital city in Africa to look out into wilderness.
Linga Longa Bar At Night – I had two decent nights out in Gaborone.
Linga Longa is part of a Shopping Mall.
News Cafe – another cool bar for a night out in the capital.
My first St. Louis Lager in Gaborone, Botswana. It was in the News Cafe.
Enjoying my first beer with Rems in The News Cafe in Gaborone.
Where I stayed, Brackendene Lodge lit up at night.
A surprise was in store on my first night out in Gaborone, as in this bar, the Bull and Bush, they had a Northern Ireland flag up on the ceiling in one of the bar huts! This was outside and it made me proud. It was up beside the Botswana flag too. I had my NI football flag with me so whipped it out a few times.
Botswana and Northern Ireland flags together up in the Bull and Bush pub in Gaborone. Amazing!
A night on the beers and ciders with the Botswanese lads Rems and Allan.
Typical vibrant busy night in the Bull and Bush Pub in Gaborone.
Drinking with the local girls in the Bull and Bush, Gaborone.
The Bull and Bush, Gaborone.
My short affair with Gaborone came to an end when I boarded this Intercape Bus back out of the city. Gaborone had been particularly enjoyable, and I rank it up with Asuncion, Montevideo, Belfast and Hanoi as a fantastic capital city. I will go into more detail on the sightseeing, the hostel and the nights out in future reports.
Leaving behind Botswana and Gaborone at Tlokweng border point. It’s a wonderful country. It’s a shy and quiet capital city. It’s people are friendly and charming. It’s one of the safer parts of Africa. I dearly hope I’ll be back. You can also check out my top 5 things to do in Gaborone post.
City – Gaborone, BOTSWANA
Population – 232,000
Transport Used – Bus, Mates Cars, Taxis
Where I Stayed – Brackendene Lodge, Tati Street
Distance From South African Border – 15 kilometres
Strange Currencies – Pula and Thebe
Nationalities Met – Botswanese, Dutch, Australian, South African
Pronounced – HABBA RONNIE (Gaborone)
Key Song –
SHY RONNIE 2 – RONNIE AND CLYDE (featuring Rihanna):
My Videos –
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