A (Brief) Guide to Gaborone
Botswana’s vibrant and international capital city, Gaborone is home to around 250,000 permanent residents. Well worth a day or two to visit if you’re in Botswana already, Gaborone has a number of amazing tourist attractions including:
- Ancient Temples
- Typical African Shopping Malls
- A Cathedral
- Tea Gardens
And many game reserves and safari parks within a few dozen miles distant. Being the cultural hub of the country, Gaborone also hosts performing arts and crafts festivals throughout the year including Maitisong Festival in late March. The Maitisong Cultural Centre on the other hand, is open all year and hosts Botswanan musical performances, local art works and more.
A Meaty Treat
If there’s one thing you’ll find a lot of in Gaborone, its great places to eat meat. Beef jerky, steak and all other kinds of cow meat are part of the natural culture here. From traditional Botswanan restaurants such as Sanitas and Mokolodi to the popular Brazilian chain Rodizio, keen carnivores will find many a tasty place to eat out at in the capital. Being a modern African capital however, all kinds of diet options are catered for in Gaborone. However, vegans and those with other extremely specialised diets (such as gluten or dairy free) may find less choice than you might be used to in Europe or America.
Somewhat strangely, one of the most visited sites by foreigners coming to Gaborone is the Sri Balaji Temple in the city centre. A Hindu shrine, this temple is also open to non-worshipping visitors throughout the year. However, it is travelling South-African Hindus who use the temple the most. By many accounts, just over 1% of South Africa’s population are Hindu descendants of Indian workers brought to the African continent from the British Raj during colonial times. Many of these people will make the journey into Botswana to visit Sri Balaji as it is the largest and most architecturally impressive Hindu temple in Africa.
Also worth a visit is the Gaborone Dam and reservoir, which has majestic views of the surrounding countryside from atop its 3-mile-long and 82-foot-high parapet. Apparently, the sunsets here can be some of the prettiest sights in the area, and you can also see wild impalas and warthogs on occasion – if you’re lucky.
For a more urban experience, those interested in a bit of local history may want to check out the Three Chiefs Statues that mark the very centre of Gaborone city. These statues commemorate Botswana’s freedom from apartheid and colonial control, as well as some of the key figures in their rich history.
A tour guide is recommended for the full experience, and they are not hard to come by – although you may have to wait a while during tourist seasons. Travellers leaving online reviews also warn that the huge public square that hosts these statues is very open and without shade. So, make sure to bring a parasol and plenty of water if you are old, with young children or otherwise heat averse.