Francistown is the site of Southern Africa's first gold rush and is one of the oldest towns in Botswana. It is a town with great history and still retains elements of a frontier town’s character. With a population of 150,000 it is Botswana's second largest city and is sometimes known as the 'Capital of the North'. Francistown is big enough to have a vibrant city culture, with sophisticated shopping, nightclubs, parks and markets.
Francistown makes a great stopover for people who are interested in learning about the modern culture of Botswana. It has a very welcoming atmosphere and any traveler will be met with true African hospitality. It boasts excellent shopping, a fun nightlife, fancy hotels, a casino, wonderful markets and well-tended parks. Francistown has grown as a centre for export of goods into Zimbabwe and the gold boom has started again!
Supa Ngwao Museum
The museum has exhibitions showing the history of the area as well as an art exhibition where you can see a good selection of local art. The museum hosts variety of cultural events such as drama, dances, talks, films, and outings. (Opens Mon-Sat, 9am-5pm).
Birds and Game Botswana
This is an animal orphanage for all kinds of animals, among the highlights are birds of prey and crocodiles. They are also breeding ostriches and zebra. (Opens everyday from 10am-12 noon & 2pm-4pm).
Old Baobab (Mowana)
In 1997 its diameter was 6.15m, it is said that a baobab grows an average of 0.5cm per year in diameter this makes the age of the tree over 1200 years old. Baobabs are a very important part of Southern African culture. They can store up to 100 000 litres of water in their trunk during the wet season, and produce a fruit that is a great source of nutrition and is used in traditional meals.
Evidence of human habitation in the Eastern region known as the Tati can be found dating back to the Iron Age of around 800 to 1000 CE (locally referred to as the Zhizo and Khami Periods). There are fascinating rock paintings, and archeological sites and artifacts found in this region.
Francistown was named after Daniel Francis who came to the area in the 1860s. It was known as ‘the city of Gold’ as it was the site of Southern Africa’s first gold rush. This place has always had a unique tradition and culture. The people of this place belong to a great heritage with roots spreading to time immemorial. It has developed over the last century from a gold mining boom town to a key industrial centre and as such is a fascinating combination of old and new, still retaining elements of a frontier town’s character. When moving around Francistown, keep an eye out for charming street names like 'Jim's Luck', 'Bonanza' and 'Blue Jacket'. These names are a reminder of Francistown's origins as a frontier town, and many of them have interesting stories behind them, of real people who lived in the area.
Life in Francistown is laid-back and relaxed. Nothing happens in a hurry! The locals expect courtesy and respect from the visitors. Expatriate families living in Francistown come to a mall in the centre of town during weekends, which has several restaurants including Nandos and several clothing stores.
By Car: A1 Connects Francistown to Gaborone in the south and to Zimbabwe in the north. A3 Connects Francistown to Nata and Maun to the west.
By Bus: There are buses about every hour to and from Gaborone to Francistown and the trip takes 5-7 hours. Francistown connects to most other villages and towns in the northern part of the country. Direct buses travel to tourist destinations like Maun and Kasane.
By Plane: Francistown has its own International airport which is served commercially by Air Botswana. It offers two daily flights to Gaborone, and flights to Johannesburg, South Africa on Tuesdays and Thursdays.