Cultural heritage tourism is a generally overlooked, neglected and underdeveloped sector in Botswana though it has massive potential to contribute to growth and diversification of offerings in the tourism sector.
A travel around Botswana especially to areas that have heritage sites shows that they have the potential to uplift the lives of the communities living along those areas. Sadly such sites have been left in deplorable states.
Though Botswana is regarded as one of the preferred tourism destination in the world due to its pristine wilderness as manifested by the wildlife and game parks, heritage sites can add more value to that as most of them are along the ‘tourists routes’.
In the past 10 years Botswana, through Botswana Tourism organisation (BTO) has developed leisure tourism including Khawa Sand Dune Challenge, Makgakgadi Epic and Race for Rhino but failed to tap into and integrate the heritage sites into those activities. Below are some of the neglected heritage sites:
Just 50 kilometres from Palapye - on the way to Francistown – lies one of the most breathtaking hills in the country, Tautswemogala Hill.
The elongated flat-topped hill rising about 50 metres above the surrounding flat mophane veld is the captivating hill which can easily be seen from the A1 road.
According to history in the early 1900s Mphoeng Raditladi took some Kalangas to pull the hill to Serowe as Kgosi Tshekedi wanted it.
According to historians and archeologists, Tautswemogala is an Iron Age settlement, which has been occupied on two different occasions. The radio-carbon dates for this settlement range from 7th to late 19th century AD, indicating occupation of more than one thousand years.
The area offers tourists going up north or going down south, a rare opportunity to see and learn more about the people of Tautswe.
Some of the visible remains in the area include house-floors, large heaps of vitrified cow-dog and burials while the outstanding structure is the stone wall. Unfortunately there are no road signs along the road to attract people to the heritage site.
Ngwato Burial Site
For those going through Serowe to Khama Rhino Sanctuary and up north, there is the Ngwato Burial Site where the founding president of Botswana Sir Seretse Khama has been laid to rest.
While in South Africa the house of their former president and liberation struggle hero, Nelson Mandela, is a tourism magnet that of Seretse is just seen as a mere house in Botswana.
If well packaged together with the Khama Rhino Sanctuary, this could boost the economy of Serowe and help to create jobs for young people who will act as tour guides around the historical sites in the village.
This is one area which could help diversify social life in Gaborone and offer those coming to the capital city a place to wind up and enjoy fresh air. Located west of Boatle and just a few kilometres from Ramotswa, Mogonye village is one of the places in Botswana with a breathtaking landscape.
Nestled between Hills, Mogonye village has seven magnificent gorges. To add the cherry on top, the area has a camping area though is clear it has not been marketed well.
Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) Communications Manager Keitumetse Setlang said most of the sites have already listed in the Museums Act and are included in the literature and have curators who take visitors to them.
Setlang said communities living around the sites have been given opportunities to start trusts so that they can benefit from the heritage sites.
“One such place is the Moremi Gorge which we have developed and the Lepokole hills and Livingstone Memorial and Legaga la ga Kobokwe,” she said, adding that these sites are packaged for tours by private sectors that do mobile tours.