Botswana nature reserve beckons

IF YOU have not yet decided where to spend your festive holidays, I have a suggestion: go to Gaborone in Botswana.

IF YOU have not yet decided where to spend your festive holidays, I have a suggestion: go to Gaborone in Botswana.

South African Airways recently increased its daily flights from OR Tambo International Airport to Botswana's capital, Gaborone.

If you are not a big fan of long flights, this one is for you. It takes less than 40 minutes. Just as the cabin crew finished serving breakfast, we were preparing to land.

Gaborone Airport is under reconstruction in preparation for the 2010 Fifa World Cup in neighbouring South Africa.

Customs control was also a breeze. In less than 20 minutes we were heading for the Gaborone Sun Hotel. Pure comfort and elegance sums up the high standard of their hospitality and the quality of the rooms.

Our hosts, SAA and Sun International, organised a visit to South Africa's high commissioner in Botswana, Ngconde Balfour, who welcomed us to his beautiful Gaborone home.

Balfour told us of plans to strengthen bilateral and multilateral relations between South Africa and Botswana.

Balfour took us on a brief tour of his house with its distinct mirrors and radios in the shower and bathrooms.

"This is your house. Every time you come to Botswana, please feel free to come to this house and our offices where you can work," Balfour said.

As temperatures rose to more than 30degrees, we had a sumptuous lunch by the pool.

The next day at about 10am we visited the Diamond Trading Company of Botswana, which cuts and polishes diamonds in Gaborone. DTC Botswana is the biggest in the world, contributing to 25percent to the world's diamond market share.

Getting into the facility took us more than an hour because of the strict security system. For every six-metre radius there is a closed circuit camera near your head. Once inside it became completely fascinating.

After the tour of the DTC we went to a restaurant for lunch. After that we were off for a game drive at the Mokolodi Nature Reserve which is just 20 minutes from the hotel. Among the animals at the Mokolodi were elephants, zebras and cheetahs.

The drive through Mokolodi is about two hours long and by the time it was over we were as hungry as the cheetahs we had touched. The free-flowing traffic in Gaborone was a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of Joburg.

Our day was wrapped up with a dinner at the hotel, with beautiful piano sounds warming the room.

While clouds gathered after a hot day, we were fed a lot of meat at Rodizio restaurant before heading to the Fashion Lounge nightclub where I witnessed the shortest miniskirts I've ever seen.

One thing that almost spoiled my trip is that I discovered that my video camera was missing when I reached the hotel. We flew back business class - and what a jol!