While shopping is unlikely to be your main reason for visiting Botswana, it will probably be something that you indulge in while you're there. After all, local markets are great places to soak up local culture and colour, as well as being the ideal hunting ground for finding the perfect memento so you can remember your trip long after you get home. Art, handcrafted jewellery, textiles and basketry are among the most sought-after items when shopping in Botswana.

Shopping Advice and Etiquette

In general, shops in Botswana open between 8am and 6pm during the week and between 8.30am and 1pm on Saturdays. Shops are usually closed on Sundays and some smaller stores may close for an hour or two at lunchtime. Gaborone is not only the capital city, but also widely considered to be the capital of shopping in Botswana. From the Main Mall to the more modern Games Mall, visitors are never too far from an opportunity to shop, whether for locally made crafts or daily supplies. Outside of Gaborone, souvenir hunters will certainly not be disappointed either. In Botswana's towns and villages, traditional craft workshops abound, selling everything from handmade jewellery to basket work and textiles. Haggling is not standard practise in shops but is commonplace in markets, but remember, it’s bad form to grind vendors down too far. You’ll also win a lot more smiles by handing over a little extra.

Responsible Shopping

Illegal items often make their way into Africa's marketplaces, and knowing how to avoid them is important. Souvenirs made from animal products are often a problem, as are those made from indigenous hardwoods; look out for products made from tortoiseshell, ivory and the fur, skin or body parts of protected species. Items like these are prohibited and will be confiscated at customs where you could also be liable for a hefty fine. When shopping in Botswana, try to shop in a way that benefits the country. For example, many conservation organisations and welfare charities have adjoining souvenir shops whose proceeds directly benefit the associated cause. Safari operators also offer village visits as an opportunity to meet local people, learn about their culture and understand their way of life, and these can be great opportunities to purchase locally crafted items.

What to Look for When Shopping in Botswana

Local Crafts

The real gems of Botswana’s shopping scene are its homemade crafts. Woven baskets and bowls made with palm fronds are a speciality and Batswana women living in the north of the country are renowned for their skill at crafting baskets from trees. The large, lidded baskets are traditionally used for storage, carrying objects on their heads or for sieving chuff by thrashing grain, a process called winnowing. In addition, look out for authentic bushman crafts such as carved wooden masks. Try and buy from local markets or directly from communities to ensure your souvenir has not been imported and is supporting local artisans. In terms of gift stores and curio shops, some safari lodges stock their own locally made crafts which are usually sourced from communities in the area.

Traditional Textiles

Beautiful, bright, bold textiles can be found all over the country, and make wonderful souvenirs. The craftsmen in the south-east of Botswana are renowned for producing artistic weaves including tapestries, carpets, bed covers and jackets. Take the time to visit one of the out-of-town workshops where you can see your textiles (and other items) being made and support local craftspeople at the same time.

Handmade Jewellery

Jewellery in Botswana has long been associated with the use of basic elements such as stone to produce beads and ceramics. However, pieces using precious gems are beginning to feature in the local crafts industry. Consider treating yourself to a necklace made of ostrich shell beads – a traditional adornment of the San. There are jewellery shops all over the country but the bigger towns and cities, particularly Gaborone, offer the widest choice.


Another popular purchase, if your budget allows it, is diamonds. From the discovery of the first diamond in Botswana in the late 1960s, to today where the nation is the world’s largest producer of diamonds by value, the country has done what few others have – responsibly harness its natural wealth for the good of its citizens and its environment. The government works alongside diamond mining companies to create community programmes through their Building Forever platform. Of course, it is advisable to do your research beforehand or take a trustworthy and knowledgeable guide with you when buying to make sure you are getting the real deal.

Modern Bushman Art

Art was one of the first forms of craftsmanship in Botswana, as depicted by the rock paintings in Tsodilo Hills, which are the oldest in the world. The San are celebrated for their paintings that depict hunting, animal and human figures and Batswana produce great paintings and sculptures inspired by the country's beautiful landscapes. Art includes indigenous and modern paintings found in curio shops and exhibitions and should you find yourself in the capital, the Thapong Visual Arts Centre in Gaborone is a cultural centre that showcases the works of local artists, including paintings, sculptures and handicrafts.

Poo-nique Stationery

All those elephants mean a lot of waste, and the resourceful Batswana turn the giant piles of dung into (non-smelly) paper. For a truly distinctive gift, buy a journal or a writing set, and support local craftspeople and elephant conversation during your time in Botswana.

Contact one of our Botswana specialists