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Published: December 6th 2015
I left Bulawayo by bus and crossed into Botswana. Very rich in diamonds, Africa’s safest and most prosperous country has just over 2 million inhabitants. The language mostly spoken is Setswana and the currency is the Pula. After passing border control the bus continued towards Francistown, the second largest city, for a break where I had lunch. Originally I wanted to visit the north first, but everything seemed pretty expensive there. I guess I’ll have to visit the Okavango Delta another time, when I’m not on a budget. It seems like they don’t want mass tourism and therefore it’s kept expensive and exclusive.
I decided to visit just Gaborone
. Botswana’s capital, called “Gabs” by most people, has about 250.000 inhabitants. That’s much more than Willemstad, yet Willemstad seems like a bigger place. A lot is being built right now in the city and it’s going to change a lot in a couple of years. Especially around the new CBD a lot of construction is going on. My couchsurfing host, Marea, picked me up after my arrival. It was during the week and she had to work. She explained how to get to the places I wanted to go to
and I did all of it on my own. During my stay Gaborone was experiencing a serious drought and often there was no water. Everyone has water stocked up at home though. Temperatures soared to 41°C one day, which was the highest I’ve experienced in nearly 8 years. The same evening I arrived, Marea and I joined some colleagues at a pub in the city where they had a trivia night.
The next day I decided to just explore the city itself. I took a bus towards the CBD and went first to the Three Dikgosi Monument. It consists of three bronze statues of three tribal chiefs who played an important role leading to Botswana’s independence from the UK in 1966: Bathoen I, Sebele II and Khama III. Then I walked through the CBD under construction and along the Masa Square Mall, then crossed over to the “older” part of the city. I took a look a park right in front of the Parliament of Botswana where a statue of Seretse Khama stands, the first president of the Republic of Botswana. I walked through the Main Mall (pedestrian mall) where I took advantage and bought some souvenirs. The
nearby National Museum (free entry) was also an interesting place to get an insight of the people of Botswana and how they’ve survived in the desert and semi-arid conditions in most of the country. The next day I went to the Mokolodi Nature Reserve, just outside of Gaborone. It’s a 30 sq. km reserve containing wildlife. The reserve has several conservation and breeding programmes and also offers accommodation on spot. The short, two-hour safari trip was well worth it and better than I expected. It was the first time ever that I saw giraffes and a zebra in the wild. Unfortunately the zebra was behind some bushes and quickly disappeared so I couldn’t take a picture. The area around the lake was beautiful and we could spot some hippos but they were almost completely submerged in the water. Along the shore there were a lot of kudus too with their elegant, twisted horns. Several wild pigs wander around the reserve too and I also spotted ostriches, monkeys and impalas.
I hiked up the Kgale Hill, 1287m above sea level with views all over Gaborone. Since Gaborone is at an altitude of ca. 1000m, I just climbed about 287m.
It’s a popular place and a lot of locals climb the hill during the hours before sunset. Apparently it’s not safe to visit during other times due to robberies. The view from the top is definitely made it worth the effort. Marea played softball for the Botswana national team and travelled a lot because of that too. Through her I had the opportunity to participate at a softball training with some locals which was a very nice experience. I did my best and it went better than I expected; I batted 5-2. Another day I also hung out with Balingi and his friends, who I met at the softball training, playing Monopoly at his house. During my last night in Gaborone I went out with Marea and a group of her colleagues and it was great to experience a little bit of Gaborone’s nightlife. I didn’t drink much alcohol so Marea allowed me the drive the rest of the night. Marea was a very easy-going, relaxed and smart host and I made her very curious about Curaçao, so I wouldn’t be surprised if she shows up within a few years. Even though it was a very short stay of 5
nights, I did get a “taste” of Botswana my own way!
I left one very early morning by bus to my next destination down south!
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