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Francistown is situated in the eastern border region of Botswana, close to the border with Zimbabwe and outside the arid Kgalagadi district. Not only does the natural environment resemble that of Zimbabwe, but the Francistown area (called Nyangabgwe earlier) also had close trading and cultural links with the Ndebele people in Bulawayo long before the borders were established by colonial rulers.
Francistown is Botswana’s second oldest town and is also called the “Capital of the North”. The first settlement sprung up as a result of Rhodes’ railway connecting Zimbabwe to the Cape. This little shanty town much resembled the set of a Wild West movie: just one street, a few “saloons” and some shops selling the bare basics. The well-known missionary Robert Moffat was the first European to visit the area. Soon after, Karl Mauch followed. In 1867 Mauch discovered gold along the Tati River and in the Francistown settlement, leading to southern Africa’s first gold rush.
Of course, fortune seekers from all over descended on the town. This prompted one Daniel Francis (after whom Francistown was named) to formally establish the town. Unfortunately, the gold in this part of Botswana is set in narrow reefs, which severely limited the possibility of the small-scale pioneers finding great riches. Today all that remains of that gold rush are abandoned mine shafts and interesting street names. One such street name is “ Blue Jacket Street” (the main street of Francistown) which was named after a legendary prospector, Sam Andersen. Sam walked across the Western Desert in Australia, pushing his prospecting wheelbarrow and wearing his famous blue denim jacket.
Today Francistown is a bustling city experiencing an economic boom. It is a very popular stopover for tourists travelling northwards to the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Chobe, the Okavango Delta, Kasane and Maun. Well-stocked shops make it a very popular destination for shoppers from neighbouring Zimbabwe.
The Supreme Court of Botswana sits both in Francistown and Lobatse, just south of Gaborone. This make Francistown the judicial capital of the north.
About 200 km north of Francistown is a small village known as Nata. This is where the Maun road turn left and the road to chobe and Kasane continue. This is where you will find Nata Lodge which was rebuilt in 2008 to a luxury lodge.ZIMABAWE HOTELS AND LODGES
It is easy to drive in a single day from Francistown to Victoria Falls in Zimabwe. In Victoria Falls you will find a boutique hotel, Ilala Lodge which is also the nearest hotel to the Falls spend at elast three nights here before you continue to Kariba where you can stay at Fothergill Island in Lake Kariba. If you decided to visit the Eastern Highlands you can reach Inn on the Vumba in the Bvuma mountains within a day from Francistown.
If you travel from Cape Town to Francistown you would most likely overnight in Britstown in the Karoo. You can stay in the town in the Transkaroo lodge or on a farm, in Kambro self-catering accommodation 20 km north of Britstown. Alternativaly you can visit the Namaqualand and overnight at Upington Country Lodgebefore you continue with your journey to Francistown.NAMIBIAN LODGES
Francistown accommodation recommends a number of lodges in Namibia. In the south is a reward winning lodge in a small town with the name Grunau. They call this special lodge Grunau Country House simply because everybody feels at home at this place. In the North is Damarland an area wiith facinating plant life and numerous fosills. At Twyfelfontein Country Lodge in Kaokoland formerly Damarland you will see it all but in adition some of the best preserved rock paintings. Francistown strongly recommends a few nights at theWaterberg Plateau National Park in Namibia.
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