Best things to do in Botswana
Find out more about those top places in Botswana
Gaborone is one of Africa’s fastest growing cities, an emergent force in African tourism. The city of Gaborone named after Chief Gaborone of the Tlokwa tribe is the heart of the nation. It is the nation’s economic and cultural capital, located between Kgale hill and Oodi hill, on the Notwane River in the south-eastern corner of Botswana. The city has a growing population of over 250,000 people. A visit to Botswana without passing through Gaborone is an incomplete one. Filled with attractions such as the Three Dikgosi Monument, Mokolodi Nature Reserve, Kgale Hill and Matsieng Footprints.
Located in the Central Business District of Gaborone are the bronze statues that depict three Dikgosi (tribal chiefs). The statues serve as a reminder of the three chiefs (Sebele I of the Bakwena, Khama III of the Bangwato and Bathoen I of the Bangwaketse) who traveled to Great Britain to ask Queen Victoria to separate the Bechuanaland protectorate from Rhodes’s British South Africa Company and Southern Rhodesia, the trip is significant because it led to Botswana’s independence.
The Three Dikgosi are Botswana’s most visited tourist destination according to a study conducted between January and August 2007 by the government.
The Matsieng Footprints are engraved petroglyphs found in Matsieng, southeast of Botswana. According to local folklore the site was said to be used for rituals, it is littered with footprints that are human and feline-like in design. According to archaeological studies the footprints are said to date back to between 3,000 to 10,000 years. The Matsieng footprints shares its name with popular African folklore character “Matsieng the hunter”. It is believed that the first humans were created in Matsieng and these are the footprints they left behind.
For outdoor enthusiasts and lovers of wildlife this a must visit. Mokolodi Nature Reserve is a private non-profit game reserve situated 15 km south of Gaborone. The nature reserve spans over 3700 hectares in size and its home to indigenous African mammals, reptiles and birds. According to the Mokolodi Wildlife Foundation the main aim of setting up the reserve is for conservation and education, the foundation has set in place special activities for tourists such as rhino and giraffe tracking, conferencing and guided walks to make the visit worthwhile.
Since its establishment in 1998, the Thapong Visual Arts Center has been focused promoting visual arts in Botswana. Situated in the former magistrate’s house, it is the number one spot for art lovers. It offers exhibitions, outreach workshops and residencies for international artists and if interested visitors can buy some works displayed.
Nicknamed the “sleeping giant” the hill is the highest point in Gaborone at a height of 1,287 meters. The hill used to be home for a television repeater but now a popular tourist destination. For hikers seeking to climb up to the peak it takes about an hour to do so depending on the trail chosen (there are three trails to pick from).
First set aside as a wildlife reserve in the 1930s, Chobe National Park is one of Africa’s greatest wildernesses. Famed as the home to some of the world’s largest herds of elephants, the park also has all of Africa’s iconic safari species including numerous big cats. The park’s centerpiece is undoubtedly the Chobe Riverfront, which is home to Botswana’s densest concentration of wildlife and is the watering ground for Africa’s largest elephants. What is more, recent developments have seen Chobe National Park open two new areas to the public: the vast Linyanti Marshes, which spread across the border into neighboring Namibia, and the unspoiled ocher-colored landscape of Savuti.
As Botswana’s first designated national park, Chobe is unsurprisingly host to the country’s most diverse range of animals, including one of the world’s densest concentrations of big game. The best way to watch Africa’s iconic safari species is through an early morning safari tour, as it is before the full heat of the day that the animals are most active. You will be able to get up close to the park’s famous elephant herds at the Chobe Riverfront, spot big cats, including lions, prowling the savanna and marvel at gaudy tropical birds all the accompanied by expert guides.
The northern border of Botswana’s Chobe National Park pushes up against the frontiers of Zimbabwe, Zambia and Namibia, much of which is formed by the mighty Zambezi River. For those wanting to push beyond the park itself, two day rafting excursions are available that see expert tour guides help you navigate the thrilling rapids of the Zambezi, including the world-famous Boiling Pot and the Oblivion. Once your inner adrenaline junkie has been satisfied, head for one of the many riverside beaches to feast on a well-deserved barbecue and catch a breathtaking view of Victoria Falls.
The reason for Chobe National Park’s overwhelming abundance of wildlife is the Chobe River, which slowly meanders through the reserve. To get the best look at the vast numbers of elephants, big cats, antelope and buffalo that congregate on its banks head to the water for a river cruise where you can get a close view without causing any disturbance. If you can take your eyes away from the riverbanks, make sure to watch for the hippos and crocodiles that inhabit the murky depths.