As one of the oldest towns in Botswana and site of southern Africa's first gold rush, Francistown, home to 92,500 people, is a typical frontier town. Strategically placed as the gateway to the north, with all the main roads to Gaborone, Zimbabwe, Maun and Kazungula passing through it. It manages to maintain its character despite being Botswana's second-largest urban centre and 'Capital of the North'.
Francistown is still surrounded by the remnants of abandoned mines, and is now a center for industry and commerce. The booming industrial sector has caused the population of this old town to double in the last decade. Accommodation is of international standards and it is close to some of Botswana's most fascinating sights.
Beyond its borders to the South you will find the Tuli Block which consists mainly of Wildlife Reserves and offer many guided walks with Tswana rangers who will show you various Bushmen sites and paintings. Next door to Francistown to the West is the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, which is a white sparkling mystery in the Kalahari Dessert with many fossil sights and ancient Bushman remnants.
History of Francistown
Evidence of human habitation goes back for 80,000 years. In the 1820s, the Ndebele stormed through before coming to rest near Bulawayo, bringing their influences and taxation to the Kalanga territory of north-eastern Botswana. The first European to visit Nyangabgwe (the nearest village to present-day Francistown) was missionary Robert Moffat.
He was followed by Karl Mauch, who discovered gold along the Tati River in 1867, followed soon thereafter with more deposits in the Francistown area itself. Francistown was the site of southern Africa's first 'gold-rush'. The area hailed as the Ophir of Africa, was rushed by prospectors and adventurers alike to stake their claim of fame and fortune, many coming from as far as Australia and America.
With the rapid influx of people, Daniel Francis (after whom Francistown was named)organised the establishment of the town. Initially the town consisted of just one main street lined with bustling western-style saloons and supply stores running parallel to the 'Cape to Cairo' railway line.