The second-largest city in the country welcomes visitors with a handshake and a "Dumilani" (hello/good morning!). Home to many Kalanga natives and often referred to as the Capital of the North, Francistown is a vibrant destination perfect for an overnight stop as part of a luxury African safari.
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-mining shafts as guiding points for prospecting or simply carried on mining shafts dug generations before.
Today the remains of the Botswana gold rush tell the story of the city's discovery, which can be viewed at the Museum. Located close to Tati and Inchwe rivers' confluence and a few kilometres from the Zimbabwe border, Francistown is a convenient waypoint when travelling north. Whether you are heading to Maun and the Okavango Delta, Kasane and Chobe National Park, or The Victoria Falls, Francistown is an excellent half-way point from Gauteng or Gaborone.
Birds and Game Botswana
Birds and Game Botswana, an animal orphanage established by Uncharted Africa, has served as refuge for injured or orphaned wild animals for the past twenty years. A popular outing for local residents and a venue for school trips has also helped educate the public about its wildlife heritage.
Tachila Nature Reserve
Spreading over 8,000 hectares of donated land just under 5 km from Francistown, Tachila Nature Reserve is a community project that offers natural, archaeological, historical and cultural attractions unique to Francistown and the North East District. Tachila is a Kalanga word meaning 'saviour of all living things'.
Wildlife species found in the nature reserve include leopard, hyena, kudu, impala, bushbuck, steenbok, klipspringer, rock dassie and warthog.
Whilst still in the development stages, visitors can now enter the reserve for game drives, but this is on a self-drive basis and must be pre-arranged.
Construction of a luxury lodge, with a conference centre and restaurant, is planned for the reserve. Plans include building using eco-standards, utilising renewable energy, and implementing recycling programmes, grey-water recycling and organic gardens. Eventually, rhino, sable and roan antelope, cheetah, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest and eland will be introduced.
Situated in the northeast of the country, along the Masunga- Kalamati Road, the historic site of Domboshaba contains excellent examples of cement-less, stonewalling and enclosures. It was one of the first national monuments to be gazetted in the country – in 1938.
Dating back to 1450 AD, the stonewall site is a designated conservation area with the most striking and evenly-constructed walls, up to two-metres thick. Despite their massive dimensions, they feature beautiful decorative motifs and stylistic variations, underlining the absolute precision and aesthetic considerations with which they were built. Even though 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 or chief's residence can be seen, surrounded by the earthen floors of circular houses that once dotted this community.
While in good condition, many walls have collapsed, and the National Museum has prioritised this site for further restoration and development. Additional developments planned include improved trail signage, camping and ablution facilities. An easy return day drive from Francistown that doesn't require a four-wheel drive, Domboshaba gives an insight into one of Africa's ancient empires.
Supa Ngwao Museum
Aptly named, the Supa Ngwao ('to show culture' in Setswana) Museum offers exhibitions on the culture and history of the Kalanga people as visuals through 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 history and 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 an information centre for Francistown. It conducts guided walking tours of the city, covering the most important historical sites. To book a tour, call +267 240-3088 or email firstname.lastname@example.org