Leave aside the luxury safari camps of the Okavango Delta, with their promise of ‘Big Five’ game sightings and sybaritic indulgence under star-lit African skies, and you are not left with many obvious reasons to visit the sprawling, semi-desert republic of Botswana. Indeed, Lonely Planet suggests that less-affluent travellers might better spend their time in neighbouring countries.However, since Scots author Alexander McCall Smith introduced the charmingly unaffected Precious Ramotswe and her No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency to the world of books (and subsequently, film and TV) even the dusty fringes of Gaborone, the capital, have drawn glimmers of interest from McCall Smith’s growing army of fans. I’d arrived in South Africa with no fixed plans, but soon chafed at being warned not to roam the streets at night. A bus ticket across the border to Gaborone seemed an easy choice.
I didn’t find the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency (after all, it is a figment of the author’s imagination) but in Mochudi, the dusty overgrown village where our unlikely heroine spent her formative years, I took note of the Giggles Hair Salon, Nix Business Services (Company Formation, Biz Consultation, Funeral Programs) and the Club Triple Zero Nightclub, all doing business from tin sheds or mud-walled cabins. More entrepreneurs in the making… (and here are some more pix). And BTW, I did make it by hook or by crook up to big-game country.