Francistown is one of the oldest towns in Botswana. It is site of southern Africa's first gold rush. Francistown, home to 92,500 people, is a typical frontier town. The town is strategically placed as the gateway to the north. It has all the main roads to Gaborone, Zimbabwe, Maun and Kazungula passing through it. It manages to maintain its character despite being Botswana's second-largest urban centre and 'Capital of the North'.
Francistown is still surrounded by the remnants of abandoned mines. It is now a center for industry and commerce. The booming industrial sector has caused the population of this old town to double in the last decade. Accommodation is of international standards and it is close to some of Botswana's most fascinating sights for those on Botswana safari tours.
The second largest city in the country welcomes you with a handshake and a “Dumilani” (hello/good morning!). Francistown is home to many Kalanga natives and often referred to as the Capital of the North, Francistown is a vibrant destination perfect for an overnight during a luxury African safari to Botswana.
The city was named after the British prospector and miner Daniel Francis, who acquired prospecting licenses in 1869, eventually becoming director of the Tati Concessions Company. Francis and other prospectors often used ancient gold shafts as guiding points for their prospecting, or they simply carried on the mining which had been started in those shafts generations ago. The city is still surrounded by old, abandoned mines.
Today the remains of the Botswana gold rush tell a story about the discovery in the city and can be viewed at the museum. This Botswana city is close to the Tati and Inchwe River confluence. This is but a few kilometres from the Zimbabwe border. The city can be self-explored and is home to restaurants and supermarkets. The main road northwest of Francistown gives passage to Maun and the Okavango Delta, Kasane and Chobe National Park, Livingstone, Zambia and Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.
Attractions in Francistown Botswana
Beyond its borders to the South you will find the Tuli Block which consists mainly of Wildlife Reserves and offer many guided walks with Tswana rangers who will show you various Bushmen sites and paintings. Next door to Francistown to the West is the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, which is a white sparkling mystery in the Kalahari Dessert with many fossil sights and ancient Bushman remnants.
Tachila Nature Reserve
Spreading over 8,000 hectares of donated land just under 5km from the Francistown city boundary, Tachila Nature Reserve is a broad-based community project that offers natural, archaeological, historical and cultural attractions unique to Francistown and North East District. Tachila is a Kalanga name meaning ‘savior of all living things’.
Wildlife species include leopard, hyena, kudu, impala, bushbuck, steenbok, klipspringer, rock dassie and warthog. Eventually, rhino, sable and roan antelope, cheetah, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest and eland will be introduced.
A luxury lodge, with conference centre and restaurant will be built in the reserve; and all structures will be eco-friendly, utilizing renewable energy, recycling programmes, grey-water reticulation and organic gardens. Whilst still in the development stages, visitors can now enter the reserve for game drives. This is on a self-drive basis, and on arrangement only.
This historic site is situated in the northeast of the country, along the Masunga- Kalamati Road, Domboshaba contains excellent examples of cement-less, stone walling and enclosures; some have been reconstructed by the National Museum archaeologists. It was one of the first National Monuments to be gazetted in the country – in 1938.
The stone wall site dating back to 1450AD, is a conservation area with the most striking, even walls that despite their massive width (some are 2 metres thick) and their beautiful decorative motifs and stylistic variations, both underlining the absolute precision and aesthetic considerations with which they were built. Despite the fact that no cement was used in their construction, some walls have survived intact for centuries.
Further up the hill, the floor plan of what is believed to have been a headman’s or chief’s residence can be seen. And the circular remains of houses that once dotted this community reveal earthen floors with stone edgings.
Many walls have collapsed and the National Museum has prioritized this site for further restoration and development, including improved trail signage, camping and ablution facilities. An easy return day drive from Francistown that doesn’t require four-wheel drive, Domboshaba gives entrance to one of Africa’s greatest empires, and an important cultural heritage of the nation.
Supa Ngwao Museum
Aptly named Supa Ngwao (‘to show culture’ in Setswana), culture vultures can rejoice as the local museum offers exhibitions on the culture and history of the Kalanga people, as well as visuals from the early years of Francistown and Botswana. Located in an old government camp, the Supa-Ngwao Museum serves as an important repository of northern Botswana’s heritage. Its collection includes pottery, woodcarvings, basketry and musical instruments.
Authentic, hand-made crafts can be purchased at the Museum’s Craft Shop, which supports approximately 200 craftsmen/women mostly from the surrounding areas.
The Museum also serves as information centre for Francistown and conducts guided walking tours of the city, covering most of the important historical sites.
History of Francistown Botswana
Evidence of human habitation goes back for 80,000 years. In the 1820s, the Ndebele stormed through before coming to rest near Bulawayo, bringing their influences and taxation to the Kalanga territory of north-eastern Botswana. The first European to visit Nyangabgwe (the nearest village to present-day Francistown) was missionary Robert Moffat.He was followed by Karl Mauch, who discovered gold along the Tati River in 1867, followed soon thereafter with more deposits in the Francistown area itself.
Francistown was the site of southern Africa's first 'gold-rush'. The area hailed as the Ophir of Africa, was rushed by prospectors and adventurers alike to stake their claim of fame and fortune, many coming from as far as Australia and America.With the rapid influx of people, Daniel Francis (after whom Francistown was named)organised the establishment of the town. Initially the town consisted of just one main street lined with bustling western-style saloons and supply stores running parallel to the 'Cape to Cairo' railway line.
|Languages spoken||English, Setswana|
|Currency used||Botswana Pula (BWP)|