It can’t be a trip without a little bit of drama to get your adrenaline rushing right? Well, this trip almost didn’t happen because I couldn’t find my passport. I looked EVERYWHERE, twice… at some point, I was looking in my bathroom drawers for this little green book that would allow me to leave the country. I call George to look in my car and he very calmly tells me this can’t be, why don’t I have my passport at hand? He makes me do that step tracing thing, I mean at this point I am even calling a club I went to the previous weekend and asking if it maybe fell out of my handbag or something – desperation. I call George to look under and behind the car seats and guess what, the passport was in the car the entire time, I lost two good hours I could’ve used productively to drive.
At this point the excitement sets in, I have the glorious beast that is the Mercedes Benz X350d and I’m about to hit the road to Gaborone, for the first time in my life. What a truly stunning drive it was, I drove through Magalies and got to really enjoy the scenery while seeing what that car could do I’ll tell you one thing for sure, it did not disappoint, putting it into Sport mode simply took it to the top for me. Not only is the car comfortable, spacious as well as not sluggish when accelerating, it’s also a head turner. I stopped in a little dorpie for a leg stretch break and the owner of the filling station came out with his jaw on the floor, he wanted to know if the car is new on the market and whether he could have a look at it. The excitement as he did a walkabout was palpable, he even called out the staff to come and see this beast of a Mercedes Benz!
We drove on and arrived at a very busy Tlokweng border post, thankfully I had a trick up my sleeve to expedite clearing the border upon arrival (I had driven with Batswana mates and we didn’t need to stand in the long visitor queue). I eventually arrived at Avani Gaborone Resort and Casino just after 21:00 to a very warm welcome by the extremely friendly front of house staff and I instantly felt at home. I was extremely bushed, so I went straight to my room to shower and call it a night. As I walked into the room was immediately pleased with the wooden floors, most hotels have carpeted floors which can be a nightmare for people like me who suffer from sinusitis so the wooden floors were an excellent touch. Wine stains would be no more!
And just an aside, the hotel room came with two condoms. I’m relatively well travelled both locally and internationally and I had never seen that I thought that was an absolutely excellent touch.
Day Two – Saturday
Saturday morning involved a full day of activities planned by Avani Gaborone. I naturally started off by checking out their wonderful breakfast spread which included everything from freshly squeezed ginger and carrot juice to my absolute favourite; quiche – my day was off to a brilliant start. After breakfast, we were off to Mokolodi Nature Reserve, a short 20-minute drive from the hotel where we were to take a game drive followed by a cheetah interaction. Again (I may not stop saying this) I was taken with the extreme friendliness and politeness of everybody there, just an aside, everybody is referred to as” Mma/Rre” (Ma’am or Sir), when I say everyone I mean just that, even young people referring to each other. I absolutely love it – call me Mma going forward, please!
The game drive was absolutely stunning, and we managed to spot a few kudus, springboks, impala, hartebeests and giraffes. We then went on to the cheetah enclosure for the close-ups with the two cheetahs who were rescued as cubs and brought to the reserve, what magnificent and proud beasts they are. They definitely weren’t shy, and although they live in an enclosure, it was beautiful to see wild animals, in the wild, unlike in a zoo cage.
The nature reserve visit was followed by a visit to the city centre to see the Three Chiefs Monument, this monument features three 5-meter-tall statues of the three dikgosi who played critical roles in Botswana’s independence; Khama III, Sebele I and Bathoen I. The three gentlemen, in 1885, went to England to plead with the Queen for their independence, and although the result wasn’t exactly freedom, it was this request that ultimately led to them being put under control of the crown and keep them out of inclusion of our country’s apartheid regime.
After that, it was back to the hotel to have lunch and relax by the beautiful swimming pool area. While lounging about I got a glimpse into how people in Gaborone enjoy their leisurely options, at least five different people had photographers as they relaxed their day away! I love it!
I got ready for dinner, which was served in the restaurant’s upmarket Mahogany. We were treated to an exceptional dinner in the sophisticated, old world charm set up (it actually reminded me of one of the restaurants in Harrod’s). what a truly perfect Saturday it was.
Sunday came about, and I was sad to remember that I’d be going home. I had booked a massage at the Mosha Spa, an absolutely stunning spa on the hotel’s premises, with treatment rooms overlooking a beautiful scenic pond. I was in heaven, albeit for a one hour massage.
My stay at the hotel had come to an end and it was at this point I was pondering to myself whether I should stay just one more night or not? Unfortunately, it was not practical so off I went with the X350 to have a look at the city that was Gaborone. What an interesting place, most of the time I was not sure whether I was in the township or a suburb and I wondered to myself if we South Africans had become so accustomed to the stark difference between city and township that we believe it is the way it should be? As opposed to what Gaborone looks like where there is not even a shack in sight, unlike Sandton and Alexander…
As I did a walkabout two spots stood out or me, Icon Barber Shop at Airport Junction Mall, which for me epitomized the kind of place a Marvin Man would groom himself – I am yet to see such an incredibly spotless barbershop, with friendly and polite staff. My last stop before I headed home was at Culture Art Café at Molapo Crossing which is a restaurant with a gallery the features the stunning work of local artists. I definitely couldn’t leave without trying at least one local dish, in this instance, it was Seswaa, (pounded/shredded beef), which the café had done in a twist an put in a batter and deep fried it. Absolutely delicious!
I said my goodbyes and off I went. The X350d has a superb navigation system, I inputted my home address and off we went to South Africa. When I say that car moves, I mean just that. It was a magnificent Sunday afternoon drive after the most spectacular first-time visit to the incredibly friendly neighbouring country that is Botswana.
Writer: Palesa Motau