Botswana — Attractions
The best way to see everything this unique destination has to offer depends on two factors – time and money. For those with lots of the latter, private flights are the best ways to cover the most ground and reveal stunning landscapes in their full glory while following herds of wildlife as they roam. For those with time to spare, game safaris and exploration of the prehistoric sights can be drawn out as you may unearth different attractions each day. For less extravagant holidays, combination tours by road are the best bet for a well-rounded trip, plus several days of orientation in Gaborone and maybe a cultural tour of the 20,000 years of San Bushmen’s history.
Botswana’s capital has developed by leaps and bounds over the last 50 years and is the thriving commercial heart of the country. The modern city center lies around the now inactive rail station and includes the government area and shopping malls set around town. Phakalane, the newly build suburb seven miles from downtown includes a golf resort, perfect for fanatics who can’t miss a game, even on holiday. Kgale Hill overlooks the city and gives magnificent views, but visitors should watch out for the baboons.
Address: Southwestern Botswana
The tribal capital of the Batswana indigenous peoples, Maun is tourist heartland for its location close to the Okavango Delta. It’s a unique mixture of native huts and modern buildings set along the Thamalakane River and offers modern hotels, shopping centers, car rental and many tour operators, all in a relaxed, rural atmosphere. Local tribal farmers still bring their cattle to sell in its market as they’ve done for a hundred years. The grazing grounds on the edge of town are home to donkeys, cattle and passing wildlife.
Address: Northcentral Botswana
Khama Rhino Sanctuary
Established in 1992 to protect the swiftly declining rhino population of the region, this trust-based wildlife project is a community enterprise which also offers economic assistance to local tribe people. Eco-visitors can stay in comfortable chalets or use the campsites and their facilities, sharing the small game reserve with 34 endangered white rhinos and two representatives of the almost extinct black rhino species. Nearby is the Serowe tribal village for a cultural awakening.
Address: Near Francistown
Opportunities to spend time in non-touristy authentic tribal villages are rarer than in other African destinations, and most visitors will only get to see specially-organized dance and similar events. However, there are San (Bushman) communities where traditional life continues, and which welcome strangers for whom understanding and communicating is paramount. The Tsodilo Hills hold several such opportunities, such as the Xai-Xai, and a visit here is sure to become a long-lasting memory.
Address: Northwest Botswana
Botswana National Museum
Located in Gaborone, this museum complex includes the National Art Gallery and a botanical garden. Its multi-discipline displays showcase the traditional artworks and crafts of the Batswana people, and there’s a section on the museum’s conservation work in the prehistoric rock paintings of the Tsodilo Hills.
Address: 331 Independence Avenue, Broadhurst, Gaborone
Grand Palm Hotel Casino Resort
If you’re feeling lucky or simply must stay in upscale surroundings, this Las Vegas-inspired complex four miles from Gaborone’s center is the perfect getaway. It’s a mini-city with restaurants, bars, a cinema, spa and a casino as the centerpiece.
Address: Molepolole Road, near Gaborone
If life underground is as fascinating as above ground to you, a visit to these spectacular caves in northwestern Botswana is a must. Water dripping for 1,000 million years over the dolomite marble has created magnificent stalagmites and stalactites, incredible rock formations and frozen waterfalls. Visitors can camp at this remote location to experience day and night cave life.
Address: Northwestern Botswana
Orapa Diamond Mine
Orapa town is located 150 miles west of Francistown and holds the largest open-pit diamond mine on earth. Security is obviously tight, but a visit gives a chance to see where the sparkling gems that men (and women) murder over originate. Around 18 million carats of precious rocks are extracted annually, and a visitors’ permit is essential. Tours of the mine show massive trucks and the blue-grey core of the diamond-bearing stratum.
Address: Orapa, Central Botswana