Camping in Francistown

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.

Matobo National Park & Matopos Hills

Known as the Matobo National Park, the Matopos National Park, is a worthwhile destination for a day trip from the surrounding Zimbabwe hotels, and is the oldest park in Zimbabwe. The area has a long and interesting history, varied species to view and several sights of historic importance. The Matopos Hills found within Matopos Naitonal Park, are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Formed over 2 million years ago, the Motopos Hills encompass some 3100 square kilometres of Southern Zimbabwe, close to Bulawayo, and were first inhabited by the San about 2000 years ago.  Reminders of their presence such as rock paintings, clay ovens and cave dwellings have been discovered here and faithfully preserved for visitors to marvel at today. Continue reading

Cultural Tourism in Botswana

Botswana is approximately the size of France, and is the 48th largest country in the world, with about 70% of its land made up of the Kalahari Desert.  It is a country with great ethic variety, and diverse, interesting people. To gain insight into the myriad of colourful customs and traditions that are incorporated into the daily lives of those living within Botswana’s landlocked borders, visitors should embark on one of the many enlightening cultural tours available.

Guests can also do a cultural trip to meet the BaYei people of the north-west district of Ngamiland.  This Bantu-speaking tribe have many survival skills, including novel fishing methods which are used in conjunction with skilful canoe building techniques, which they brought with them from Zambia.  The people of the baYei tribe are also very good at understanding the language of plants and their medicinal benefits, and on the tour you can learn which plants are believed to work best for particular ailments.

There are interesting past hunting skills to be learned, and guests will be able to get a better understanding of the traditional practices of initiation at the Initiation School.  Here you will find out more about the important transition from puberty to adolescence and ultimately manhood, through traditional dancing which interprets the two life stages.

Visit the oldest inhabitants of this area, the San, who have for thousands of years, lived off the harsh semi-desert environment of the Kalahari.  Tours will take you to meet the San people and learn about their hunter-gatherer lifestyle which has been held together for centuries through the ancient art of story-telling.

A fantastic way to immerse yourself in San culture is to experience the Kuru San Dance Festival, which is a 3-day celebration of San culture.  The festival has been held in the small village of D’Kar every second year in August since 2008, and welcomes Bushmen from the whole Kalahari region.  This includes not only Botswana, but its neighbouring countries of South Africa and Namibia as well, who make music, sing, take part in healing dances and socialise around the fire together.

It is a fascinating experience, and the experience of seeing these thousand year old traditions being practiced will make a lasting impression on you.

 

PALAPYE – THE EDUCATIONAL, MINING AND INDUSTRIAL HUB

Morupule Coal Mine

It was established in 1973 and is owned by Debswana which is a partnership between the government of Botswana and De Beers. It was established to supply the Bamangwato Concession Limited Company which mines copper and nickel in Selebi Phikwe. The mine also supplies both the local and regional market such as the Morupule Power Station nearby which has helped in the reduction of deforestation in the area form the traditional use of firewood for heat in the chores of everyday life. It is located just 15km form the village of Palapye.

 

Morupule Power Station “B”

 

It was born out of the need for Botswana to supply her citizens with electricity (self-sufficient). The station was and is to supply electricity since Botswana’s main supplier Eskom pulled back in assisting Botswana with electricity

 

BIUST (Educational Hub)

 

This is short for Botswana International University for Science and Technology was established by the government of Botswana to focus on Science, Technology and Engineering with its lectures from all over the world. It is the first of its kind in Botswana and it is just located behind Kurumela ward which is opposite the Water Treatment Plant for Water Utilities.

Botswana Railways Station

 

It offers seamless, rail-based transport solutions to consumers who need to move a series of merchandise for the mining sector and primary industries. It has been operational since 1897. It is located in the heart of Palapye popularly known as Old Mall.

 

 

 

 

Debswana – Celebrating 45 Sparkling Years

Debswana plays a vital role in Botswana’s economy. It employs more than 4000 people along 4 mining sites. On top of this, Debswana also creates jobs for over 5000 fixed term contractors, but this large set-up did not happen overnight.

In 2014 Debswana celebrates 45 sparkling years, and here is a bit of insight into where it all started.

Continue reading

Harare Nightlife

When the sun sets on Harare, the music gets turned up and the streets buzz with people taking advantage of the nightlife that pulses though the city streets.

Not too long ago, the sun was rapidly setting on Harare’s nightlife, and bars and clubs were closing down with alarming regularity.  Fortunately, with visitors from around the world returning to explore this part of the world once again, there has been a new injection of life into Harare at night, and exciting new clubs are being opened, while old favourites have been renovated and the restaurant silverware polished up once again.
Continue reading

Africa States Bowling Tournament

The honour of hosting the 2014 Africa States Bowls Tournament has been awarded to Botswana. The African tournament is rated as one of the largest and most esteemed international competitions in Africa. The mining town of Jwaneng will host the tournament, which takes place in June, and seven African countries are taking part.

The countries taking part in the Africa States Bowls Tournament include Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, Malawi, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The game will be divided in four categories, namely Singles, Pairs, Triples and Fours.

The Botswana Bowling Association is the organiser of the events and are currently in the final stages of rebranding. This rebranding is mainly to make the association more relevant and attractive to the public and corporate world. The association’s public relations officer, John Gabourtwe, shared with the media that they are “happy and…look forward to hosting the African States tournament next year.

The rebranding is mainly to attract more local players to the Botswana Bowling Club. The process entails a new logo, motto and values. The association’s name will also change to Bowls Botswana (BoBo.). The new image associated with their Logo is a Woodpecker bird. This forms part of the entire new brand, which is should be launched soon. The Association will also adopt a school and run grassroots coaching clinics in an effort to draw in younger people.

Bowls is a universal game, not too expensive to take part in and also a game that people of any age can enjoy. It is a good game to bring people together and the African States Tournament would also be a good platform to improve the image of bowls in Botswana.

The Association’s chairperson, Kitso Robers, feels confident that they will finalise everything. If you plan to attend the Bowls Tournament, whether to support or to participate; or just to experience the festive atmosphere, remember to add a Botswana Safari Lodge to your trip, as well as a safari at the Jwana Game Park and a tour of Jwaneng Mine.  It is also a good opportunity to explore other highlights of Botswana, like Chobe National Park and the Chobe River.

Toyota Desert 1000 Race

The 2014 Toyota Desert 1000 Race promises to be filled with plenty of added thrills and spills with a revamped course and a brand new events team.

The Desert 1000 race started running in 1975 and has been hosted in Botswana since 1991. It is one of a kind as the only marathon event under the Donaldson Cross Country Championship flag. The Donaldson Cross Country organising team is made up of the South African National Off Road Racing Association (SANORA), who are hoping to strengthen bonds with Botswana Motorsport in order to ensure the success of all future events.

Continue reading

HIFA 2014 Higlights

The HIFA, or Harare International Festival of the Arts, has become an international draw card. It brings six days of art, poetry, live music, dance, theatre, street fashion and even circus acts to Zimbabwe. The list goes on, but most of all, it is a festival where birds of a feather – art fundi’s and friends are drawn to celebrate the good stuff in life.

The largest festival yet, 2014 HIFA festival was rated as the biggest cultural event in Zimbabwe. Although some performances were better attended than others, there was no lack of enthusiasm and support.  From the Battle of the Guitarists to Jazz sessions – where some were even turned away due to sold out tickets.

Continue reading

Visiting Palapye

Palapye is a relatively large town located between Francistown and Gaborone in Botswana.  It has an ideal location between Southern Africa’s main north-south rail and road route, which connects all the major towns and cities all over Botswana to each other.  Palapye is also the principal source of Botswana’s electricity, powered by the Morupule Colliery.

The town is believed to have been the first settlement of the Bamangwato people, ruled by Kgosi Khama III.  The capital of this settlement was Phalatswe, also known as Old Palapye.  Old Palapye forms one of the town’s main cultural attractions, where the ruins of its church, built in 1892, are still visible.  The actual name Palachwe or Palapwe, which became Palapye, refers to the Impala antelope.

The Old Palapye ruins site is one of many well-known tourist attractions in and around the town.  However, its best-known attraction is probably the Khama Rhino Sanctuary, only 15km outside of neighbouring Serowe, which is about 50km from Palapye.  Here you can view the endangered black and white rhino.

Other sites of historical significance are the Tswapong Hills and Moremi Gorge, where the Lotsane River flows.  The Moremi Gorge is a beautiful area with permanent waters running through it.  The Cascades connecting the pools at Moremi Gorge is also where raptors and vultures can be spotted in their cliff-top nests.  Although not considered safe for swimming, you can follow one of several rocky paths up the Gorge for spectacular views and raptor sightings.

Although Palapye may not be the best-known town in Botswana, it literally plays a central role in its infrastructure in terms of electricity and mining.  With its noteworthy historical sites as well as beautiful natural settings, it is worth your while to stopover in Palapye during your visit to Botswana.