Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
In 2000 the former Mabuasehube-Gemsbok National Park was combined with South Africa’s former Kalahari Gemsbok National Park to create the new Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. The result is a 28,400-sq-km binational park that is one of the largest and most pristine arid wilderness areas on the continent.
The rural village of Thamaga is home to the Botswelelo Centre, which is also known as Thamaga Pottery. This nonprofit community project was started by missionaries in the 1970s and now sells a wide range of creations for good prices. Tours must be booked in advance. Buses run frequently from the main bus terminal in Gaborone (P12, one hour).
The historically significant town of Serowe is worth a detour if you’re in the area – ignore the modern town centre and instead spend time in two monuments to the past. In 1902 Chief Khama III abandoned the Bangwato capital in Phalatswe and built Serowe on the ruins of an 11th-century village at the base of Thathaganyana Hill.
Gcwihaba (Drotsky's Cave)
In 1932 a group of San showed Gcwihaba (meaning ‘hyena’s hole’) to a farmer named Martinus Drotsky, who humbly decided to name the cave after himself. Although Drotsky is most likely the first European to have explored the cave, legend has it that the fabulously wealthy Hendrik Matthys van Zyl stashed a portion of his fortune here in the late 1800s.
Straddling the Botswana–Namibia border, the 700-million-year-old limestone and dolomite Aha Hills rise 300m from the flat, thorny Kalahari scrub. Due to the almost total absence of water, there is an eerie dearth of animal life – there are few birds and only the occasional insect. However, the main attraction of the Aha Hills is their beguiling solitude and isolation.
Sowa (also spelt Sua) Pan is mostly a single sheet of salt-encrusted mud stretching across the lowest basin in northeastern Botswana. Sowa means ‘salt’ in the language of the San, who once mined the pan to sell salt to the Bakalanga. Today it is mined by the Sua Pan Soda Ash Company, which sells sodium carbonate for industrial manufacturing.
The ancient hilltop settlements around Gabane date from between AD 800 and 1200, and were built by the early Bangologa people, who once inhabited this area. A more contemporary attraction is Pelegano Village, established in 1982. This wonderful artisan complex offers local crafts such as hand-fired ceramics and wine bottles recycled into dinner glasses.