“Casino and Surf” might sound like an intriguing combination, drawing up images of sun-drenched beaches and exciting card games. However, in Botswana, a landlocked country in Southern Africa, the reality is quite different. Here, the government has imposed prohibitions on gambling and casinos, aiming to control illegal activities and maintain societal harmony. Despite this, Botswana still has plenty of thrills to offer visitors, from its spectacular landscapes to vibrant culture, all while being steadfastly committed to responsible tourism.
Surf in Botswana could refer to the region’s extraordinary variety of water-based activities. Nestled in the heart of the Kalahari Desert, Botswana is home to the Okavango Delta, one of the world’s largest inland water systems. These lush, flood-soaked plains are a haven for wildlife, best experienced through mokoro canoe trips or motorboat safaris. There’s an unexpected thrill to it, akin to riding the waves of the ocean on a surfboard, challenging the mainstream notion of ‘surfing.’
Traversing the waterways, visitors might come across a heart-thumping sight of hippos splashing around or serene sightings of elephants taking a dip. The enchanting birdlife, including majestic African Fish Eagles and vibrant Kingfishers, add to the richness of the experiences. Moreover, seasonal floods bring along ‘surfable’ waves on the Thamalakane River, a lesser-known but exciting surfing opportunity for adventurous tourists.
Away from the waterscapes, Botswana’s landscapes are astonishing in their diversity. The surreal, expansive salt pans of Makgadikgadi seem otherworldly, mimicking a vast shimmering surf of white. In stark contrast, the Chobe National Park ripples with emerald waves of grass, teeming with the largest concentration of elephants in Africa.
Amid all this natural beauty, the prohibition of casinos might seem secondary to most. However, Botswana’s capital city, Gaborone, has an exciting nightlife scene that can replace the need for casinos. Bustling bars, lively music festivals, and thrilling dance parties keep the spirit of entertainment alive even without glistening casino lights.
Traditional games serve as a enticing substitute for casinos. One such game, called “Mhele,” akin to chess, showcases Botswana’s rich culture. Similarly, ‘Diketo’ functions like a dynamic game of jacks and ‘Morabaraba’, a two-player game, is as strategic as any casino card game.
Instead of hitting a casino, tourists can immerse themselves in Botswana’s rich cultural tapestry through its arts and crafts. Oodi and Thamaga are well-known for their pottery, and the woven baskets of Etsha and Gumare are not only beautiful but also carry deep cultural symbolism.
Moreover, numerous festivals are held throughout the year in Botswana. Noteworthy among these are the Tjilenje Cultural Festival, which showcases Ndebele music, dance, and arts, and the Maitisong Festival, Gaborone’s premier arts festival. Through these fests, one could witness the cultural depth of the nation minus the flashy allure of casinos.
While Botswana does not offer casinos in the conventional sense, it stands as a testament to the idea that entertainment can take multiple forms outside of standard gambling activities. Despite the prohibition on casinos, the country’s unique ways of ‘surfing’, its natural splendor, diverse wildlife, and rich cultural heritage form an enriching jackpot for visitors.
The prohibition of casinos in Botswana is a good reminder that there are many ways to live on the edge, to catch a thrilling wave of adrenaline. Whether it’s navigating the waterways of the Okavango Delta or joining a traditional music festival, Botswana is a ‘casino-free’ paradise where the adventures are manifold and the winnings are the priceless experiences you collect.