A little reserve with more to offer than meets the eye.
Although it is small, less than 600 hectares, Gaborone Game Reserve is the third most visited reserve in Botswana, largely due to its close vicinity to the centre of Gaborone. To add to the attraction the park is reasonably priced. It is only P10 per person to enter, P10 for a vehicle, and P10 for the option to use the picnic facilities.
Established in 1988, all roads in the reserve are accessible by 2WD, and there are two well equip picnic areas with plenty of picnic tables and chairs. It also has a visitor’s education centre, and a game hide (that has seen better days). There is one entrance on the Eastern edge of the city. A route map is supplied at the entrance gate, if any have been printed that day, but do not worry if not, you will not get lost.
At one time the reserve did have Rhino, but visitors can now expect to see Impala, Kudu, Vervet Monkeys, Ostrich, Warthog Wildebeest, Zebra, Gemsbok, Eland, and Bushbuck.
As with most of Botswana, this area is popular with bird watchers. From thorn scrub and reed marshes, to woodland forest, the diversity of birds is some of the best in southern Botswana.
Most people laugh when they hear how frequently I visit the reserve. The truth is, the extent of wildlife in the small area often means you get close encounters, as a result creating some fantastic photographic opportunities.
The bird life there really is fantastic. With a constant source of water at the sewage lagoons on the northern edge of the reserve, birds flock here in large numbers. At most visits you can expect to see; Fish eagles, Black Winged Stilts, Spoonbills, hottentot Teal, Red-Billed Teal, Cape Glossy Starling, Crested Barbet, Guinea fowl, Cape Teal, Ostrich, Forktail Drongo, Yellow Billed Hornbill, Sacred Ibis, Egyptian Geese, and Brown Hooded Kingfisher. Some special sightings have been Brubru, Cape Shellduck, and Black Heron.
The reserve opens at 6:00am and closes at 6:30pm. This means in winter months it is possible to stay in the park until sunset, providing fantastic opportunities for backlit sunset shots of the Zebra, Ostrich, and warthog who frequent the largest open pan area.
Above is possible my favourite image of all time, and surprisingly it was taken at Gaborone Game Reserve. During spring the reserve is full of activity, from Dung Beetles crossing the road to baby Ostrich, it really is a fantastic time to visit the park.
Like most areas of Southern Africa where parks are frequently visited, the monkeys have become cheeky. Largely sticking to the picnic areas they do provide some fantastic comical moments, but watch your food very carefully!
During the dryer periods watch your hands as you turn on the taps as you will be swarmed by thirsty Vervet Monkeys fighting for a drink. Below is a collage of three photos taken on my phone.
This goes to prove you should not underestimate the opportunities that can be had at the quieter parks. Just because the big five are not present does not mean you cannot get incredible experiences, and photographs.
I hope this gets anyone in the area to give Gaborone a chance, you may be very surprised!
All of the images in this collection are available to purchase as prints, key rings, mouspads and more at: www.photoboxgallery.com/williamsteelphotography