Gaborone - Abbey Travel, Ireland



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Welcome to Gaborone


Gaborone, the capital city of Botswana, may not be big on tourist attractions but it is a vibrant, if small, sprawling modern city that provides several international hotels (two with casinos) and all the souvenir shops, restaurants and services that visitors, drawn to the country for the abundant wildlife, will need. There are also a few sights to see and excursions to enjoy for those who only have a day or two in which to experience the country.

Pride and joy of Gaborone is its University and National Museum, which features some outstanding exhibits. One of the most striking of the modern tall buildings is Orapa House, where Botswana's diamonds are sorted and dispatched to markets around the world.

The old part of the city, known as the 'Village', is where one finds remnants of Botswana's colonial history, such as the remains of the old Government Rest House, where the infamous Jameson Raid was believed to have been planned and where Cecil John Rhodes sometimes stayed.

Information & Facts


The climate of Gaborone is semi-arid, meaning it is hot and dry for most of the year. There is little distinction between average summer and winter temperatures, although in winter months it can be chilly at night. Rain is erratic, but falls mostly in summer in heavy localised downpours that are followed quickly by a return of strong sunshine. Summers are extremely hot with high humidity in the mornings. The best time to visit Gaborone is during spring or autumn when the weather is warm and dry.

Getting Around

Public transport within Gaborone is somewhat limited. Licensed taxis are identified by their number plates, which have a blue background. These are usually shared and carry up to five passengers. Minibus taxis are also available and usually travel a specific route, usually circular, and pass through the station or mall. These are easily hailed and passengers usually tell the driver to stop when they want to get off. There are also train services between Gaborone and Francistown and Gaborone and Lobatse. Four-wheel drives are a popular choice for exploring outside of the city and Gaborone has several car rental agencies. Gaborone's roads are tarred and usually in good condition, but drivers have to be on the look out for stray animals.

English is the official language but Setswana is widely spoken.

The unit of currency is the Botswana Pula (BWP), which is divided into 100 Thebe. The word 'Pula' means rain and 'Thebe' means shield. The shield appears on the national coat of arms. Major credit cards are widely accepted, and travellers cheques and foreign currency are accepted at most large hotels and lodges. There are banks and exchange bureaux in all the main towns, as well as ATM machines. Surcharges are often high on travellers cheques, and it is best to carry cheques in US Dollars or Pounds Sterling.

GMT +2.

At 20,380 square miles (52,800km²), the Central Kalahari Game Reserve is larger than some European countries, such as Denmark or Switzerland, and is bigger than Lesotho and Swaziland put together! Indeed, the reserve is the second largest game reserve on earth and its sand dunes, saltpans, riverbeds, mopane forests and vast open plains are home to an array of fascinating wildlife species, as well as settlements of local Basarwa or San tribes - an exciting combination of both environmental and cultural experiences for visitors.

The third busiest game reserve in the country, the small Gaborone Game Reserve provides a popular escape for city dwellers with picnic sites, a bird and game hide, and a network of game viewing roads. The park is home to rhino, ostriches, zebra, a variety of antelope, and a rich bird life.

The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, located in both Botswana and South Africa, extends over 15,000 square miles (38,000km²) of the southern Kalahari Desert. About three quarters of the park lies in the extreme south-west of Botswana, locally known as the Gemsbok National Park. Visitors to the park can witness the fragile balance between migratory animals and their predators in this harsh, semi-arid environment, a true African safari experience. There are campsites available for visitors but other tourist facilities are very limited in the park.

Established in 1971, the Khutse Game Reserve encompasses 965 square miles (2,500km²) of semi-arid Kalahari bush savanna in the Bakwena tribal lands. Boreholes have been sunk into this undulating terrain to provide more water and encourage wildlife to stay in the area year-round. Visitors are now drawn to this undeveloped wilderness to see a wide range of herbivores including giraffe, gemsbok and wildebeest, as well as predators such as lion, leopard and cheetah, and birdlife ranging from wild ostriches to little browns. Visitors may only camp in areas marked as campsites and there are no other tourist facilities available in the reserve.

This 300-hectare reserve is just nine miles (15km) from Gaborone and contains examples of most of the local flora as well as an impressive collection of indigenous animals such as the white rhino, mountain reedbuck, various antelope, zebra, giraffe, hyena and warthog. The reserve was created by a non-profit organisation for the purposes of conservation and education, and was established in 1994. It offers thatched self-catering chalets for those wishing to spend a night or two, and game drives and guided walks with experienced rangers.

The outstanding National Museum is situated near the centre of town and houses important collections of traditional crafts and paintings by local and regional artists. It also serves to preserve Botswana's natural and cultural heritage. The multi-disciplinary facility encompasses the National Art Gallery, National Library and Octagon Gallery, as well as recently created Botanical Garden.

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