Gaborone

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Travel Guide Africa Botswana Gaborone

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Introduction

Gaborone is the capital of Botswana. It is located near the South African border, in the southeast of the country. Thanks to the government's focus on developing the city, Gaborone is one of the fastest growing cities in the world and an icon of African modernisation. The city itself is not much of an attraction and most visitors to Botswana won't start or end their trip here, but rather in the north, where most parks are located. Still, a few places in or just around Gaborone are worth the effort and as it is relatively low key you won't face mass tourism here, thus giving some insight in the local African style of living. Probably one of the most relaxing and safest capitals anywhere on the continent!

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Sights and Activities

Mokolodi Nature Reserve is located very close to the capital of Botswana, Gaborone, and although it is not as impressive or big like many other parks, offers a great experience if you don't have the time or money to go further into the country. Visitors can go on guided game walks and see elephants, cheetahs, leopards and various species of antelope and even some rare white rhinos roam the area.

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Events and Festivals

Maitisong Festival

Gaborone’s major festival takes place in March, and is a performing arts cornucopia of traditional music, dance and theater held all over the city and its suburbs. The event lasts for nine full days and sees the entire population take to the streets in carnival mode.

President’s Day

Botswana’s President’s Day in July is a four-day national holiday across the country and sees inhabitants returning to their home villages for celebrations including speeches, traditional dance and singing.

Botswana Day

The Batswana are proud of the advances their country has made since independence, happily hitting the streets in celebration every year on September 30. Traditional events, street parties and parades are the order of this important day.

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Weather

Gaborone has a semi arid climate with a warm and dry season from April/May to October/November. The rainy season lasts from December to March when high temperatures and humidity make conditions less bearable. Temperatures frequently hit 40º C during the day in October and November, when the first late afternoon thunderstorms occur. From May onwards temperatures are still nice and warm and usually it is dry. Frost at night is possible during the months of June to August.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max32.5 °C31.5 °C30.2 °C27.8 °C25.4 °C22.5 °C22.8 °C25.7 °C29.6 °C31 °C31.5 °C32.3 °C
Avg Min19.4 °C19.3 °C17.4 °C13.4 °C8.3 °C4.6 °C4.6 °C7.6 °C12.5 °C16.2 °C17.9 °C18.8 °C
Rainfall113.6 mm88.6 mm66.1 mm32.5 mm10.7 mm4.5 mm0.4 mm3.4 mm18.7 mm44.4 mm80.2 mm89.1 mm
Rain Days432100001123

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Getting There

By Plane

International
Air Botswana is the national airline of Botswana and is based at Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (GBE), 15 kilometres north of Gaborone. International destinations with Air Botswana from Gaborone include Cape Town, Harare, Johannesburg and Windhoek. Sout African Express flies to and from Cape Town and Johannesburg as well.

Domestic
Air Botswana has domestic flights between Gaborone, Kasane, Maun and Francistown. Fares are expensive.

By Train

A railway operated by Botswana Railway, runs daily between Gaborone and Francistown and Lobatse.

By Car

Tarred roads lead both north towards Francistown and Kasane and across the Kalahari to Namibia. Also, the road south towards the border with South Africa is tarred. Rental cars are available in Gaborone, both downtown as well as on the airport. You need a 4wd if you are planning to drive on roads other than those mentioned above.

By Bus

There are daily connections between Gaborone and Johannesburg in South Africa, Bulawayo and Harare in Zimbabwe and several weekly buses go all the way to Lusaka in Zambia as well. Between Gaborone and Johannesburg minibuses leave when full and take around 6 hours. Buses and minibuses ply the main north-south route between Gaborone and Kasane via Francistown as well.

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Getting Around

Travelers not used to left side of the road driving should exercise caution while driving and crossing the street, as most of southern Africa (Gaborone, Botswana included) drives on the left.

By Car

A cab is a private taxi or a "special" which takes you directly from your origin to destination. This may be a public taxi with a blue licence plate or a privately run cab. Generally you must request a cab by phone. There are several cab companies in Gabs and many display contact information on the cab itself. You can also hail public taxis on the road and request a special. To give directions, its usually better to give Plot numbers or easily identified places rather than street names (which aren't commonly used). If a driver gives you a good rate, ask him for his cell phone number and remind him of the place where you are staying. Using one driver the whole time you are in Gaborone can end up saving you money. Don't worry if you hail a cab with someone inside. Offer to split the fare for the destination and save each other some cash. Don't be afraid to try and discuss lower fares. Most trips should be P 20-30 (e.g. Main Mall to Game City is around P30).

Public taxis are generally small white cars and can be identified by their blue license plates. These cars travel designated routes, generally going to areas/neighbourhoods that combi routes do not. The fare for a taxi is P3.50. Since taxis can only hold a maximum of 5 passengers they also tend to be quicker than a combi in completing their route. You can catch a taxi at many combi stops and ask them to drop you off anywhere along the route. For route information simply ask the driver of the taxi.

By Public Transport

Mini-vans known as combies are the cheapest, although not exactly the most comfortable way, to get around Gaborone. There are set routes that cover most parts of town and they run frequently until about 8:00pm. Most routes pass through the bus rank or the station. One trip costs P3 (approximately US$0.45).

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Eat

Gaborone is not an exciting place to eat – and the city suffers more than most from South African culinary hegemony. However if you keep your expectations low there are some interesting nooks and crannies to interest your taste buds.

  • White box food (sold all over the government district on weekdays). Quick and simple lunch of rice and veg (P10) or rice, veg and meat (P20). Tasty and filling.
  • Cafe Khwest, Queens Road (in the main mall, above Spar). Nice option for slow lunch where you can overlook the bustle of the street whilst tucking in to a pasta, burger or a salad. Is more of a bar in the evenings. Mains around P50.
  • Beef Baron, in the Grand Palm Walmont hotel. Lunch and dinner. Perhaps Gaborone's most expensive restaurant - the Beef Baron serves up excellent and huge meat dishes - including some game - but cow meat is in the ascendancy. Desserts are good also (including the lovely malva pudding). Atmosphere is pretty nice for a hotel restaurant, although there are no windows. Mains from P120.
  • Chutney's (Located next to OK Foods on the Western Bypass, also called the OK Foods Mall). Excellent Indian food also - southern Indian, like dosas. Not much for ambiance but great food.
  • News Café, Village district (At the Mondior Summit Hotel). 6:30AM-10:30PM. Close to the Mondior Summit, News Café is popular even with outside guests. The menu centers on "European style" dishes, but with some interesting twists. The place really shines in the cocktail department, though. On Friday and Saturday nights, the music is often cranked up loud even though there is no dance floor, so sit outside if you want to make conversation. Staff are young and sometimes inexperienced, but most of the time the service is quite good. Prices are somewhat above the regular fare in Gaborone, but then so is the quality. They have Happy Hour from 5PM-6PM. Buy 1 get 1 free on all cocktails.
  • Pavilion Restaurant, Private Bag BO3 (Plot 50381, Moedi Close, Fairgrounds Office Park), ☏ +267 365 1600, +267 3975555, ✉ tmogomotsi@fgh.co.bw. Daily 7AM-10:30PM, including holidays. Upmarket restaurant which serves buffet lunch, a la carte lunch and dinner. It seats 96 people inside and has a terrace which seats 120 people. One can also relax in the Pavilion Bar for snacks and beverages. From P100.
  • Gold Coin (in Africa Mall). lunch & dinner. The only Thai restaurant in the country? Well almost. The Mandarin on the sign lets slip that this is a Chinese resto with a smattering of Thai dishes on the menu and Bangkok posters on the wall. Still if you are craving coconut milk with your curry its the only option in town. P30 for a simple noodle dish. P70 for a green curry & rice.
  • Primi Piatti (in the Riverwalk Mall). Stylish branch of the South African Italian restaurant chain. A wide variety of meat, pizzas and pastas. Mains from P80 up to P120 for a big chunk of beef - but quality is among the best in the city. Free wifi.

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Drink

  • Bull and Bush. English pub in north part of [Gaborone]. A common ex-pat hangout big-screen TV and pool tables. Friday night is usually for the younger kids, Saturday night for the adults. The food is excellent, especially the pizza and ribs. The last Wednesday of the month is quiz night (or quizzo) where teams compete on trivia for prizes. Monday night is Rib night and well worth a visit!
  • Club Satchmo, Ntimbale Road. Jazz club with decent drinks and great music.
  • Gaborone Yacht Club, Off the old Lobaste road near the railway crossing, ☏ +267 72471977. Evenings Wednesday & Fridays, lunch Saturdays & Sundays. Hidden away down a dusty track to the side of Gaborone dam the Yacht Club bar makes a great sun-downer location. Opening hours are limited, simple food available (e.g., steak-burger & chips P45). P10 entrance.

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Sleep

Gaborone compares to South Africa in terms of accommodation choice and costs. There are a handful of large chain hotels costing P800+ offering conference facilities, curio shops, evening restaurants, gyms and bars - and dozens of smaller guesthouses, lodges and bed & breakfasts varying in quality, cleanliness and price. However it is difficult to go much below P400 per night for a room. For those staying for months rather than days there are a handful of relativity expensive serviced apartments, although these are often full. Finally if you have your own car and want to keep away from the city there are some good options out in the bush 15 km to the south of Gabs that cost about the same as a guesthouse in town. There is also one Backpackers hostel in Gaborone.

  • Motheo Apartments, Plot 4710, Moremi Road (off Independence Avenue), ☏ +267 318 1587. Slightly aging compound offering serviced studio, one and two bed apartments and town houses. Daily, monthly and yearly rates available with prices from P9,500 pcm for a studio up to P13,500 pcm for a town house. Book well in advance. Internet is available at a price.
  • Innisfree Apartments, Plot 5004 Boteti Road, The Village (near Riverwalk Mall), ☏ +267 3953603. Comfortable serviced studio and one-bed apartments offering monthly rentals. Wifi is included. P9,000pcm for a double room up to P13,500pcm for a one bed apartment. Pretty popular so book well in advance.
  • Hantom House, G-West Phase 1, ✉ Alan@Gabz.Biz. Long running expat houseshare for multi-month long stays.
  • Mokolodi Backpackers Hostel, Plot 86 Mokoadi Gaborone (10 km south of Gaborone.), ☏ +267-74111164. Camping with own tent. and dorm beds. just off the Gaborone Lobatse highway. has to be the most low cost place to stay in Gaborone. p 120/210 per person.
  • African Home, Nyerere Drive (two streets west of Middlestar shopping centre). Small hotel with a larger wing being constructed out back. Basic but charming design. Staff and amenities are still working out some glitches, for instance assuring that plugs on appliances match outlets. P400/double, including continental breakfast.
  • Linville B&B, Plot 59865, Block 7, ☏ +267 3185622, +267 71498622. Boutique bed & breakfast.
  • Riverside Lodge (first left after crossing the Notwane river on the Tlokweng road, signposted), ☏ +267 3928805. Small lodge comprising about 10 rooms a few minutes from Riverside mall. The grounds are quiet, but it does feel a little like a car park. Rooms have a/c and DSTV. No internet or Wi-Fi. Some rooms only have baths (no shower). Not a bad option if looking for somewhere cheap to crash overnight. The prices on the website are long out-of-date. from P360 including breakfast.
  • Royal Apartments Lodge, Plot 256, Tlokweng (Behind Senn Foods, along Tlokweng Road), ☏ +267 3906033. Good value recently built lodge a 1 km walk from Riverside Mall. Rooms have a/c, flatscreen DSTV, fridge, free wi/fi, and are clean and sunny. There is a small pool and pleasant garden out back, with plenty of birdlife contributing to the atmosphere. Cooked breakfasts also nice. from P400 per room.
  • Oasis Motel (2km past Riverwalk Mall along Tlokweng Road), ☏ +267 392 8396. Opened in 1983 Oasis Motel is one of the older hotels in the city. 110 rooms, good sized pool, internet, a/c and DSTV. Is a bit far from town if you don't have a car, and lots of noise from the road. The Moghul Indian restaurant is on site. From P590 room only.
  • Masa Square Hotel, Plot 54353, New CBD corner Khama Crescent & Western Bypass (In the CBD), ☏ +267 315 9954. Gaborone's flashy business hotel, opened in June 2012 and is already something of a landmark. Architecture is akin to what you find in the financial districts of European capitals. The highlight is the rooftop pool. Rack rates from US$250 (P1,750).
  • Gaborone Sun (next to the golf course east of the city centre), ☏ +267 361 6000. Once the premier hotel in the city, the Gabs Sun is now getting a little old and flabby, with the better staff having been poached by the Monidor and Grand Palm hotels, and hence service can be a bit grumpy and slapdash. Nevertheless it has a lovely pool and bar area (happy hour 6-7PM), and some of the rooms (in particular rooms 203–231 odd numbers) are nice, catching the morning sun glinting off the pool. Facilities comprise ubiquitous casino (read: slot machines), squash courts, small gym, conference facilities, buffet breakfast, pay-as-you-go internet etc. At P900+ a night its poor value, but with most guests being Government or businesspeople it can get away with these rates. From P900 per room per night.
  • Grand Palm - Peermont Walmont (west of the city centre), ☏ +267 3637777. Easily the loveliest hotel in Gaborone. Bordering 5-star status, this hotel is a modern oasis with a modern front entrance, a casino to the left and a gigantic and impressive conference centre (The GICC) to the right, marked by an eagle figure flying over a fountain. Out back the hotel has a large swimming pool and a moderately sized lakes that birds frequent. There is also a pool bar that serves food, a children's playground and further afield there is a boma that does barbecue (braai) events and parties. There is also a tennis court and plenty of lush green grass. Inside there is a squash court and a leisure centre. from P1770 per room.
  • Grand Palm - Peermont Metcourt Inn (west of the city centre), ☏ +267 363777. The cheaper 3 star hotel on the Grand Palm site - but rates are still steep, in part because you can still use all the facilities of the Walmont. Breakfast is served in the F.L.A.G. Café. From P720 per room excluding breakfast.
  • Cresta Lodge, Machel, ☏ +267 397 5375.
  • Cresta President's Hotel, Botswana Rd (Located in the Heart of the city center), ☏ +267 395 3631.
  • Mondior Summit, ☏ +267 319 0600. With small outdoor swimming pool and jacuzzi. Wifi Internet available in all rooms, for a charge.

You can use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

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Keep Connected

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The country calling code to Botswana is 267. To make an international call from Botswana, the code is 00.

Post

BotswanaPost is the national postal service of Botswana. It is operating more than 100 post offices and 70 agencies throughout the country and is fairly reliable, albeit not overly fast. All post has to go overland through Gaborone first and international mail by plane might go via Johannesburg, so count on several weeks for your postcard or letter to be delivered to places in Europe or North America. You can use them for parcels as well, though faster and more expensive services are available by companies like TNT, UPS or DHL.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: -24.657
  • Longitude: 25.9089

Accommodation in Gaborone

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This is version 19. Last edited at 10:16 on Jul 31, 19 by Utrecht. 17 articles link to this page.

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