Dangers & Annoyances
Gaborone is a safe city by African standards and a welcome respite from the tension on the streets of some South African cities. Crime does happen here (mostly pickpocketing and petty theft, with occasional muggings) although most visitors encounter no problems. Even so, it pays to be careful.
- Always take cabs at night, especially if you’re a woman or on your own.
- Use drivers recommended by hotels and try to keep their phone numbers, as some people have been robbed in unmarked cabs.
- The main mall is fine to walk around in during the day but is best avoided after dark.
Gridlocked traffic is becoming an increasing problem as more Batswana buy cars and start driving, often for the first time in their lives. Be extremely careful on the road during the last weekend of the month, when everyone gets paid and many people get drunk before getting behind the wheel – a toxic combination.
Emergency & Important Numbers
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Entry & Exit Formalities
Gabs is one of the most liberal places in Botswana, particularly among younger Batswana, but this remains a conservative African country where overt displays of affection (between both gay and straight partners) are almost always frowned upon at best and may attract unwanted attention at worst.
Wi-fi (usually but not always free) is now almost standard in most Gaborone hotels and many cafes and restaurants. Otherwise, most internet cafes rarely last the distance, but there are always a few places scattered along the Mall.
Major branches of Standard Chartered and Barclays Banks have foreign-exchange facilities and ATMs and offer cash advances. The few bureaux de change around the city offer quick service at slightly better rates than the banks, but they charge up to 2.75% commission.
Banks 8.30am–3.30pm Monday to Friday, 8.15am–10.45am Saturday
Post Offices 9am–5pm Monday to Friday, 9am–noon Saturday, or 7.30am–noon and 2pm–4.30pm Monday to Friday, 7.30am–12.30pm Saturday
Restaurants 11am–11pm Monday to Saturday; some also open the same hours on Sunday
Shops 9am or 10am–5pm Monday to Friday, 9am–noon Saturday
Tourist office Moderately useful collection of brochures; next to the Cresta President Hotel.
Travel with Children
Gaborone may have the widest selection of hotels and restaurants in Botswana, but there are very few attractions or activities here that will appeal to families with children; even hotel swimming pools are unusual.
Gabs is fairly representative of the rest of the country when it comes to catering for travellers with a disability – locals are invariably willing to help, but there are very few facilities and next-to-no concessions are made for the hearing or visually impaired, nor for those in wheelchairs.