GaboroneGaborone is the capital of Botswana. It is in the south of the country, near the border to South Africa.
There is a definite city centre based around the train station and the government enclave of Khama Crescent. However, numerous shopping malls are dotted all over the city, diluting the prominence of the downtown area.
Gaborone's nomenclature confuses most new arrivals. Different parts of town are called blocks, extensions, phases, etc., and there can be several names for the same place. Below is a rough guide:
- The Extensions - to the east of the railway line radiating out from the Government Enclave. Extensions 9 and 11 are probably the wealthiest parts of Gaborone. Extension 15, out near Riverwalk Mall is known as 'the Village'
- Gabs West - the inner blocks to the west of the railway line, inside the Western Bypass. Gabs West is sub-divided into Phases 1, 2, 4 and industrial.
- The Blocks - to the west of the railway line, outside the Western Bypass. The blocks number 5 - 10 running south to north (although Block 9 is an outlier being the southernmost of the blocks, and there is a Block 3 directly north of the downtown area). Some maps (including Google Maps) label the Blocks as high numbered Extensions (e.g. Block 8 is made up of Extensions 35 & 36) but everyone will refer to an area by its block number.
- The Central Business District refers to a patch of undeveloped land in the centre of the city that is being developed into overly modern hotels and offices (including the new Lansmore hotel)
- Phakalane a new-build suburb 12 km north of the centre of Gaborone - based around a golf estate - on the east side of the A1 Francistown road. South-west of Phakalane is the still to be developed Glen Valley
- Gaborone North - a developing suburb out towards the airport to the west of Phakalane.
- Broadhurst is an older suburb to the northeast of the centre. On the southern edge of Broadhurst are Partial and Maru-a-Pula
- Tlokweng a poorer suburb to the east of the Notwane river, home to several nice guesthouses.
Knight Frank, a real estate agent with an office near the Shell Garage on the Main Mall, has a useful map of the city.
- Air Botswana, in the Main Mall, Phone: 395 1921. Provides services international connections to Harare (Mondays, Wednesdays, Saturdays) Johannesburg (daily), Lusaka, as well as domestic flights to Francistown, Kasane and Maun. Typical fares from Gabs are in USD 200 - 400 range.
- South African Express, Offices in the Game City Mall, Broadhurst Mall and Riverwalk Mall, Phone: 397 2397 (Game City), 309 5740 (Broadhurst), . Flies in from Johannesburg. SAA has non-stop service from JNB. In order to fly from Cape Town, it is necessary to connect through JNB.
- Air Namibia flies in from Windhoek on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.
- Air Kenya flies in from Nairobi on Mondays, Wednesdays and Sundays providing a useful alternative to Johannesburg for connections to the rest of the world.
Taxi rides from the airport to the city center cost P150 (pula). It costs less going to the airport, P60-80.
DomesticYou can get to most big cities by bus. However, do arrive at the bus station early, as the buses can fill up very quickly, and sometimes just leave as soon as they are full. Bring water, as the buses are often not air conditioned, and if you do not manage to get a seat, it is likely you will have to stand until at least halfway to your destination, particularly on week-ends.
To and from South AfricaThere is a daily bus that connects Pretoria, South Africa with Gaborone, Botswana. The bus is operated by Intercape and the tickets can be booked online at or purchased at one of their offices. The bus departs from Pretoria Station on Paul Kruger & Scheiding Street at 13:15 and arrives at the Kudu Shell Service Station in Gaborone at 21:10 (an 8-hr bus ride). This bus makes a brief stop at the Johannesburg bus station to pick up passengers. As of June 2011 the bus fare was 195 rand) per person.
The bus is pretty nice: tourist class, reclining seats, and a working bathroom. However, be prepared for the Christian materials on-board. Basically, all the movies that are played on the Intercape bus have overly religious messages in them.
The border crossing between South Africa and Botswana is pretty straight forward. The passengers get off the bus (without the luggage, just the documentation) at the South African immigration check point to get their exit stamps, then they walk over to the Botswana side to get their entrance visa stamps. Be careful, buses sometimes do leave passengers stranded in the border without telling them.
Botswana Railways operates two daily trains, one day and one overnight service, linking Gaborone with Francistown as well as Lobatse, near the border with South Africa. is on Station Rd, behind the huge Station mall.
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 taxiPublic 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 P5. 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. If you need to go to a particular destination not on the taxi route then ask for a "special", see cab section below.
By cabA 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 P20-30 (e.g. Main Mall to Game City is around P30).
- AB Cab, tel. 390 2147.
By combiCombis are white vans that are like mini-buses. Combis cost P4. There are no route maps but there are different lines, so just ask the driver if that line passes where you need to go. If you know the direction you need to go, start walking there combis will honk at you as they are passing to let you know they're behind you.
Botswana National MuseumShowcases traditional art and craft as well as the history of the country.
The Hindu hallA large Hindu temple and a major landmark. Major Hindu festivals are celebrated here.
Three Dikgosi MonumentThree bronze statues of the chiefs Khama III of the Bangwato, Sebele I of Bakwena and Bathoeng I of Bangwaketse, who travelled to the Great Britain in 1895, to ask the British to rule Botswana directly rather than letting it be incorporated into the British South Africa Company and Southern Rhodesia. The monument was a gift from North Korea and inaugurated in 2005.
Statue of Seretse KhamaStatue of the country's first president.
National Botanical GardenOperated by the National Museum, here you can see indigenous plants from all six ecological regions in Botswana.
Modern architectureGaborone was constructed as a planned city in the 1960s, much like Brasilia. Therefore you will find a great deal of modern architecture, in particular in the Government Enclave. Such buildings include:
Southern African Development Community headquarters
New Ministry Building
Debswana (mining company) Headquarters
Kgale HillDo not forget to make the pleasant climb up Kgale Hill, one of Botswana's highest hills (at 1,287 m elevation). It provides a magnificent view over the city and surrounding areas. Be careful of the baboons, though, and do not stray off the path. There are no guides, and there is no entrance fee to worry about. Do go - but only when there are other cars in the parking lot. The best time is M-F 4PM - 6PM. The middle of a weekend day is not a good time. Going up without other cars in the lot near the quarry risks being robbed by knife.
phone: +267 71811472Actually a mountain biking rather than cycling club.
Gaborone DamThe Gaborone Dam is the only large body of water near Gaborone, the source of water for the city and a recreational area. There are yacht and fishing clubs based here, as well as playgrounds and parks. It's a great place for activities such as birdwatching, windsurfing or angling, but unsuitable for swimming due to the risk of bilharzia and crocodiles.
CinemasMovies typically cost P40 per seat (February 2012). It is assigned seating, so tell the cashier your preference when buying the ticket. Theaters usually show big-name movies (as a small theater in the US would). There are three cinemas in Gabs, one in Riverwalk Mall, one in Game City Mall and one in Masa Centre.
MokolodiThe highlight of many people's time is a cheetah visit where you can actually pet a cheetah. On a two-hour game drive you might see baboons, giraffe, wart hogs, zebra, elephant, hippo, etc. The guides are always very nice.
Gaborone Game Reservephone: +267 318 4492address: MaalosoOne of the smaller game reserves, if you have a car you can just drive yourself around. Mostly birds, but some monkeys, wart hogs and ostrich. Recently zebras, wild boars, kudus have been added. It has got picnic spots, but be careful of monkeys and ostriches.
That said there are a smattering of arts villages and local workshops that buck the trend, and a visit can make a pleasant diversion for an afternoon.
Oodi WeaversEstablished in 1972 by Swedish apartheid refugee Peder Gowenius this small enterprise produces pleasing tapestries of village scenes and the like (P1,000 for a good-sized piece). Any visitor will be encouraged to see the workshop and chat with the weavers.
- Wood carvings and colorful prints are high quality and reasonably priced; most are imported from other African countries. There are very high quality.
Game StoreGame store in the Game City Mall is the largest super store in Botswana and has got variety of low-cost, medium quality items.
address: Nakadi Street, Broadhurst IndustrialCuriously located in the middle of an industrial estate, Botswana Craft is a little oasis comprising a handful of little cafes and art shops. It's a little too Arikaaner flavoured for some, but an interesting place to browse if you are passing. If you want to buy a Buddhist statue or some scented candles this is the place to go.
phone: +267 71306146address: Macheng WayGreat little bike shop selling refurbished cycles shipped over from the US, together with fancy new mountain bikes and accessories. Considerably more professional than nearby Gaborone Garage and Cycles.
The restaurants below are organised by compass point from the city centre.
White box foodQuick and simple lunch of rice and veg (P10) or rice, veg and meat (P20). Tasty and filling.
Cafe Khwestaddress: Queens RoadNice 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.
Deli'sOne of the best lunch places in down. Real Italian food. Imported products. Amazing pastas and pizzas. Beef lasagne especially - P55 for huge portion.
Fresh CafeNice lunch place, overpriced coffee, free wifi. Lots of expats.
Funyama Holdings Chinese Restaurantphone: +267 3957254Authentic and good value Chinese with an extensive menu, including such delights as Crispy Pork Intestines with Hot Dry Chili. Also covers more standard 'beef in black bean sauce' type dishes. The Devil Soup at P10 and the noodle dishes at P30 are particularly good value.
Bull & BushBar & restaurant serves up a range of meat-centred dishes – and does a pretty good job.
Par 5 Indian Restaurantphone: +267 3912299address: PhalaUnfussy south Asian cuisine serving a range of meat and veg dishes, including several daals. Nice setting overlooking the golf course, with indoor and outdoor seating. Closed Mondays. Mains P40-60.
address: in the Grand Palm Walmont hotelPerhaps 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.
Chutney'sExcellent Indian food also - southern Indian, like dosas. Not much for ambiance but great food.
CaravelaOne of the few suburban house restaurants in the city. Nominally Portuguese menu including a good selection of seafood, and Mozambican beer. The outdoor patio area has a very nice ambiance. Open for dinner 7 nights a week. Food is a little hit and miss, and the prices are in expat territory, but worth giving a try.
SanitasA hidden gem. Actually a garden center but with a large cafe for breakfast, lunch, or brunch. Has a children's playground also.
address: Village districtClose 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.
phone: +267 365 1600, +267 3975555address: Private Bag BO3Upmarket 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.
Gold CoinThe 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.
Primi PiattiStylish 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.
SpursA grade beef, try the one by Riverwalk
EmbassyExcellent Indian food - located in the Riverwalk Mall. Note: food can take up to one hour, especially if with large group. Mains around P60.
Abyssinia Ethiopian CafeBotswana's only Ethiopian cuisine. On Fridays through Sundays this cafe serves up pretty good injera with all the trimmings for P80. Also does great coffee and is cleaner and quieter than Equatorial Coffee around the corner. Closed evenings Sunday-Thursday.
The Moghulphone: +267 397 5346address: 171 Tlokweng RoadSet under a thatched roof at the back of the Oasis Motel this place serves up flavoursome Indian & Pakistani cooking. However, perhaps because of its hotel location, prices are a little steep and portion sizes disappointing. Takeaway and delivery possible.
Cafe DijoFree wireless, great coffee, delicious and healthy food. A great place for catching up on e-mail or chatting with friends on a lazy Saturday morning. Frequented by expats. Inside Game City.
Mugg & BeanSouth African chain coffee and lunch place. Located upstairs in Game City Mall, makes for a noisy indoor shopping mall vibe with adequate coffee.
Chain restaurants with multiple outlets
Nando's ChickenNando's is a bit spicy, and much better chicken than that found a KFC. Costs about P50 for a meal (chicken, soda, chips). It's in the African Mall, Game City Mall, BBS Mall and Riverwalk Mall, one is under construction in the Main Mall, at the east end adjacent to Orange. For a different taste, try Barcelos which is just across from Nandos in African mall.
Pie TimePies are flaky dough filled with meat or vegetables (called Patties in some other parts of the world). Costs about P5.50 for a pie, P6.75 for a soda. Wide variety of fillings.
Debonairsaddress: 13141 Segoditshane WayA popular pizza restaurant that also does deliveries.
Cherry Pepperphone: +267 7631 4797address: 6 Nakedi RoadSetswana cuisine for the European palette. Excellent lunch option. They serve 3 different dishes each day for P25 - P35 and hence is great value. Try the sauteed goat on Wednesdays of the fried breem on Fridays.
- Prices for Western goods are at EU prices; local goods (corn meal) are inexpensive at grocery stores.
- Choppies and OK Foods are local chains - they have the cheapest prices and are located in all areas of Gaborone.
- Woolworths is in several of the main malls and has much higher quality produce and more European food selections. If you want exotic fruits or vegetables or good cheese, definitely the store to go to.
- Pick-and-Pay, South African Chain, has better quality and is more expensive than Choppies.
- ShopRite, South African chain has stores all over Gaborone with lower prices.
- SPAR in the Main Mall seems to be the cheapest for juices (about P5.25 for 1 Litre of 100% fruit juice).
- For a budget, buy a pie at Pie Time and then a drink at Spar! (P8.25 for a full meal).
- In all super market malls, there is a grocery store.
Bull and BushEnglish pub in north part of . 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 Satchmoaddress: Ntimbale RoadJazz club with decent drinks and great music.
phone: +267 72471977address: Off the old Lobaste road near the railway crossingHidden 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).
ClubsCovers range from P20 to P100. Many have dress codes. And like most places, the popular nights at each place vary. Check with local Batswana (people from Botswana) for time relevant information.
Notwane ClubUsed mainly to host private or special DJ events.
BudgetIf you travel on a shoestring or are staying in Gabs for weeks or months the following may be of interest.
phone: +267 318 1587address: Plot 4710, Moremi RoadSlightly 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.
phone: +267 3953603address: Plot 5004 Boteti Road, The VillageComfortable 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.
address: G-West Phase 1Long running expat houseshare for multi-month long stays.
phone: +267-74111164address: Plot 86 Mokoadi GaboroneCamping with own tent. and dorm beds. just off the Gaborone Lobatse highway. has to be the most low cost place to stay in Gaborone.
African Homeaddress: Nyerere DriveSmall 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.
Linville B&Bphone: +267 3185622, +267 71498622address: Plot 59865, Block 7Boutique bed & breakfast
phone: +267 3928805Small 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.
Royal Apartments Lodgephone: +267 3906033address: Plot 256, TlokwengGood 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.
phone: +267 392 8396Opened 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.
phone: +267 315 9954address: Plot 54353, New CBD corner Khama Crescent & Western BypassGaborone'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.
phone: +267 361 6000Once 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.
phone: +267 3637777Easily 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.
phone: +267 363777The 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.
Cresta Lodgephone: +267 397 5375address: Machel
phone: +267 395 3631address: Botswana Rd
Mondior Summitphone: +267 319 0600With small outdoor swimming pool and jacuzzi. Wifi Internet available in all rooms, for a charge.
Stay alert when driving in cars for smash and grabs when using mobile devices near traffic lights (talking on the phone without a handsfree kit is illegal anyways).
Beware when walking at evenings/night in street corners as muggings occur, displays of wealth and property make you a target, particularly tempting objects such as mobile phones, laptops.
Crowded public areas are a heaven for pickpockets. Be cautious especially if you are a woman with a handbag. Areas often affected by such crimes are near Old Naledi, Mogoditsane, Broadhurst, Phase I and II.
Police are honest and helpful but sometimes can be late to respond.
When driving to rural areas be extra careful as cows and wildlife often walk in the middle of the road. Be prepared to stop for a herd of goats. Do not drive at night unless you know what you are doing. Drunk driving on weekends and holidays is common and dangerous. Drivers do not look out for or give way to pedestrians. Be very cautious when crossing any street day or night. Do not immediately get out of your car if bumped/hit from behind - drive to a public place (service station/restaurant) to inspect for damage. Do enjoy the beauty!
Police: dial 999 for the helpline or 351161
Fire Brigade: 998
HealthGaborone Private Hospital
Emergency number: 997
Bokamoso Private Hospital
Tel: 369 4000
Princess Marina Hospital
Tel: 362 1400
Med Rescue ambulance (+267) 3901601
Emergency number: 992
Mascom Cell phone Emergency: 147
If you are headed to the north of Botswana like the Okavango Delta and haven't packed any anti-malaria pills, it is possible to get a prescription and have it filled in Gaborone. Try Capital Medical Center at the Riverwalk Shopping Center, Dr. Banu Khan (narrow glass door on the left-hand side of the Pharmacy that is right behind the stairs that go up to the second floor), for a drop-in appointment. The consultation visit to get a prescription will cost you P165. As of June 2011 the cost of an anti-malarial drug called Doxycycline was P1.00 pula per pill, and Malarone was P44.33 per pill. Tel: 370-0066/7
Consulates and embassies
- phone: +267 395-3982address: Embassy Drive
Otse VillageOtse village commonly known as "Letsekela" by its inhabitants of Balete origin is surrounded by hills with Manyelanong on the East and Baratani hill on the West.Manyelanong is one of the only two sites that one has the opportunity to see Cape vultures. Because of its height, difficulty to navigate and cliffs, it provides a perfect breeding ground for vultures. Hence the Mannyelanong Game reserve , established solely for the purpose of protecting these endangered vultures. Baratani hill is popularly known for its one of the most outstanding stories of young lovers who were in a forbidden relationship. They decided to elope and hid in a nearby hill but never came back.Residents ever since then have never climbed this hill for fear of not returning.
The village has many stories about its people, one outstanding story is of the brave woman "Bosetlha" who killed a 3-m python which had wrapped itself around her body. Though she is now old but still active, Nkuku Bosetlha confirms she got attacked by the snake on her way coming from the lands, the snake wrapped itself around her body. After unsuccessful shouts for help, she desperately fought for her life by tightly opening the python's mouth wider for approximately 30 minutes until good samaritans passed by and cut the snake head with a knife.
- Kanye, 100 km south, accessible by bus.
- Francistown is a 5-7 hour bus ride away, there is also an overnight train service.
- The South Africa border is a little more than 10 km away. Nearby destinations in South Africa include Rustenburg, Pilanesberg National Park and Sun City. Johannesburg is about 8 hours away by bus.