When we think of travelling to the African continent, cities like Cape Town, Nairobi, or Marrakeck might first spring to mind. But in the southern part of Africa, a hidden gem gleams with promise and untold stories—Gaborone, the capital city of Botswana. Bursting with a vibrant mix of modern developments, wildlife, and rich culture, Gaborone often surprises first-time visitors with its unique allure.
The Urban Jungle
Gaborone, fondly known as “Gabs” by the locals, sits between Kgale and Oodi Hills, in the southeastern corner of Botswana. Named after Chief Kgosi Gaborone of the Batlokwa tribe who migrated to the area from South Africa during the 1880s, Gaborone has undergone immense transformation since it was declared the capital city of Botswana in 1966.
Today, Gaborone is the economic, cultural, and administrative hub of the country. The skyline is dotted with modern architecture that whispers of its rapid development, such as the Three Dikgosi Monument, a statue depicting three tribal chiefs instrumental in Botswana’s road to independence. But amid this bustling cityscape, you’ll find that Gaborone maintains its connection to history, culture, and nature. The city is also incredibly family-friendly with recreational facilities catering to both adults and children.
A Culture Immersed in History
The city is renowned for its rich culture and history. The Botswana National Museum, located in the city centre, offers an immersion into the country’s heritage, boasting a collection of traditional musical instruments, artefacts, paintings, and sculptures. Here, kids can enjoy interactive displays and children’s workshops, making it an educational yet fun family outing.
For art enthusiasts, Thapong Visual Arts Centre serves as a platform for local artists to showcase their talent and contributes to promoting visual arts in Botswana.
The Wildlife Wonderland
Botswana is famed worldwide for its exceptional wildlife and biodiversity, and Gaborone upholds this reputation. On the outskirts of the city, you’ll find the Mokolodi Game Reserve, home to an abundance of wildlife such as impala, zebras, giraffes and a rich variety of bird species. Kids will marvel at the sight of these magnificent creatures, making the game reserve an exciting and educational family excursion.
For a day filled with water-based fun and birdwatching, Gaborone Dam, the largest man-made body of water in the country, is a must-visit spot.
The Heart of the Diamond Industry
Gaborone plays a prominent role in the diamond industry. Botswana is one of the world’s largest diamond producers, and Gaborone hosts the Debswana Diamond Company. The city houses the world’s largest diamond sorting and valuing company, the Diamond Trading Company Botswana (DTCB). Although not directly accessible to the public, it is part of the pulsating life of the city, and its influence on Gaborone’s economy and lifestyle.
A Fusion of Tastes
Finally, the culinary scene in Gaborone caters to all tastes, with a wide array of restaurants that are kid-friendly. Traditional cuisine is widely available and features dishes such as “seswaa”, a slow-cooked shredded beef, and “bogobe jwa lerotse”, a melon and sorghum porridge. At the same time, due to its international cosmopolitan status, Gaborone boasts a wide range of international cuisine, ensuring everyone in the family can find something they’ll enjoy.
From its rich culture and history to wildlife adventures, Gaborone is not just a bustling capital city but a wonderful destination for family-friendly travel. It is a city that offers both learning and fun, ensuring every member of the family, from the youngest to the oldest, will find something to cherish.