Mahalapye – Place of Lights
Located in the Central District of Botswana, Mahalapye, which means Impala, is mainly used by long distance truck drivers and motorists as a stopover for fuel and to stretch their legs for those on their journey between the capital city Gaborone and Botswana’s second largest city Francistown. It is here too that the headquarters of the Botswana Railways is situated, where the rail line lies almost exactly halfway between South Africa’s Mafikeng and Bulawayo in Zimbabwe – a perfect commuter resting place.
Situated on a plateau close to the Kalahari desert, most of the towns approximately 42 000 inhabitants still live in mud huts relying on the rainy season and enduring the dry seasons to make their living through raising cattle and mixed farming, mainly beans, sorghum and wheat, although textile and tool making industries do account for a share of the towns economy and employment.
Over the past few years however, the town has slowly seen an increase in urban development, with more hotels and fast food restaurants as well as filling stations being built as businesses have begun recognising it as an ideal meeting destination between South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe, as well as for those travelling between the three.
Mahalapye offers a few places of interest to visitors, but the most interesting is the fact that this town is home to one of the country’s meteorological stations, as well as a branch of the National Library. Most notably though it is known for a monument built just outside the town which lies on the Tropic of Capricorn exactly 23 degrees south of the equator – this is significant because each year usually around December 21st or on the summer solstice the sun reaches its highest point in the summer sky, casting no shadow around the monument or anything which lies on this line of latitude. This happens every year and is quite interesting to see.
Cresta Hotels has opened its doors in Mahalapye earlier this year, and offers the perfect stopover for the business and leisure traveller.