Read Caption
The main mall is a locus of activity in Gaborone's city center. (Photograph by Stock Photo)

Tshipidi’s Gaborone, Botswana

Tshipidi Ramaribana has lived in Gaborone, Botswana’s capital, all her life. Though she feels blessed for having been raised in such a lovely place, she also counts herself lucky to have been raised by parents who value travel. But no matter how many countries she visits, nothing excites her more than returning home. Here are a few of Tshipidi favorite things about her city.

Follow Tshipidi’s story on Twitter and Instagram.

Gaborone Is My City

When someone comes to visit me, the first place I take them is to Botswana Craft to sample a delicious traditional meal and peruse the authentic Botswana wares sold in the shop.

September is the best time to visit my city because the beginning of spring has a beautiful effect on the flora, which produce magnificent colors. The weather is also cooler than in the brutal summer months (winter in the Northern Hemisphere). 

You can see my city best from the summit of Kgale Hill during the day or the Absolut Bar at the top of the Lansmore Hotel Masa Square in the evening.

Locals know to skip international fast food joints like KFC and check out Pop Inn, a local supermarket that doubles as a take-away eatery, instead. Tip: Pop Inn is famous for its magwinya (fat cakes) and fried fish.

Botswana Craft  is the place to buy authentic, local souvenirs. As the name suggests, the store sells beautiful handmade artwork, baskets, coasters, and other crafty souvenirs.

In the past, notable people like Botswana’s first president Seretse Khama, 1999’s Miss Universe Mpule Kwelagobe, and Olympic runner Nijel Amos have called my city home.

My city’s best museum is the Botswana National Museum because it holds artifacts that will give you cultural insight into the country’s fascinating history.

If there’s one thing you should know about getting around my city, it’s that it’s small, so people almost never reference street names when giving directions; the locals just know. In the unlikely event that you get lost, have no fear: Gaboronians are very friendly and will help you get where you need to go.

The best place to spend time outdoors in my city is at Jam for Brunch, a massive picnic that occurs the first Sunday of every month at Bojanala Waterfront. Musicians get a chance to showcase their talents throughout the day at this family-friendly event catered by Kwa ga Ncinci.

My city really knows how to celebrate our independence day (September 30). Our patriotic locals love to pay homage to Botswana’s culture and the amazing leadership that led us to be the dynamic country we are.

You can tell if someone is from my city if they know what a combi is. These minibuses are the main source of public transportation in and around the city, and though they are reasonably priced, they’re known for having rather cantankerous drivers.

Just outside my city, you can visit Phakalane Golf Estate to play a round of golf or relax at the on-site restaurant.

My city is known for being extremely hot and quiet, but it really has an endless list of activities to sample. Just ask the locals!

The best outdoor market in my city is the Bull and Bush monthly farmers market, where you can find traditional garments, sample different types of local cuisine, and admire (and buy) beautiful crafts made by regional artisans.

Sanitas Tea Garden is my favorite place to grab breakfast, and Bimbo’s is the spot for late-night eats.

To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, check out AllEvents.In and pay attention to the posters and fliers you see posted around town. Listening to Yarona FM (106.6 FM) informs you of all the latest local events, too.

When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I drink wine at Linga Longa by the Riverwalk. It’s a great place to people-watch but not spend a ridiculous amount.

To escape the crowds, I head to Mokolodi Nature Reserve and take a game drive to see an array of African animals.

The dish that represents my city best is mogodu le phaleche (tripe and maize meal), and gemere (homemade ginger ale) is my city’s signature drink. Sample them both at Sgotti Cocktail Bar and Lounge.

Botswana Craft Terrace  is the best place to see live music, but if you’re in the mood to dance, check out Sky Lounge at iTowers, or the Cigar Lounge in Phakalane.

Watching newly married ladies walk around in their blue and white traditional blankets could only happen in my city. Thursdays are the only day to register for your marriage certificate, so this is a weekly occurrence.

In the spring you should attend the Gaborone International Food and Drink show (October) and the Gaborone International Music and Culture week (September).

In the summer (winter in the Northern Hemisphere), you should enjoy horseback riding at Gaborone Stables.

In the fall you should attend the Maitisong Festival (April) for the biggest arts celebration in the city.

In the winter you should enjoy Fête de la Musique (June), a huge music festival organized by Alliance Francaise.

If you have kids (or are a kid at heart), you won’t want to miss a fun time at Lion Park, on the outskirts of Gaborone.

The best book about my city is the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith because not only does it depict the holistic culture of Botswana in a beautiful way, it also lures you into the storyline and is an incredible page-turner. The film adaptation was shot right here in Gaborone.

The world should heart my city because its a gorgeous fusion of African cultural touches, modern infrastructure, and safari opportunities.