Francistown, founded in 1897, is the second largest city in Botswana, and is often referred to as the capital of the north. Once a gold mining mecca, named after Daniel Francis, an English mining concessionaire who acquired prospecting licenses in the region in 1869, the town is dotted with abandoned mines reminiscent of its glory days.
Today Francistown is a hub of textile milling and leather manufacturing, but is often used as a stopover for travellers through Botswana, and is a particular favourite for those who love the outdoor camping style, with the two most popular spots being Marang Hotel and the Woodlands Stopover.
While it may seem strange to camp at a hotel, Marang Gardens offers the best of both worlds. It has perfectly manicured lawns and offers shady campsites. There are rustic tables and chairs set out under the trees for when the weather is good and you want to eat your meals ’al fresco’. The shared ablutions are clean and comfortable. There are two separate rates for camping, and for electricity, but the convenience of having the electricity far outweighs the nominal fee for it.
Your safety is number one priority here, so you will see guards patrolling the grounds 24 hours day and night.
If leaving behind all creature comforts is not your idea of a great camping experience, then this spot is perfect for you. The pool bar offers televised sports action and drinks, and there is internet access from the hotel reception should you be unwilling to cut your ties with the outside world.
The Woodlands Stopover campsite is covered in lush grass and the sites are well spaced. There is a swimming pool close to the campsite – a welcome respite for those who have travelled far, particularly in the summer months. Electricity is paid for separately, and the ablutions here are clean and offer hot showers throughout the day and night.
Friendly staff is always on hand to assist you with any queries and each site has their own braai facility.
While there is not a lot to do in Francistown, camping here certainly offers plenty of opportunity to relax and take in the breath-taking scenery of the surrounding African landscapes.