Although it was built to provide the nation’s capital with a reliable water supply, the dam also provides a recreational area for many local water sports clubs. It is also the largest man-made body of water in Botswana.
With its fine location on the Notwane River, the area has great potential for tourism and there are plans to make it even more attractive.
The Gaborone Yacht Club was established in the 1960s on the eastern side of the dam but secured a lease for its present site in the middle of the dam in 1985. When the water level was raised in 1988 the site became an island, which now benefits from a causeway to allow year-round vehicle access.
The club is popular with yachtsmen and guests who can enjoy the open-air bar, swimming pool and a restaurant serving good food.The clubhouse is situated on top of the island koppie, providing excellent views reminiscent of the Okavango Delta. The building has outside and inside function areas as well as a lapa and a meeting room. Its unique setting and versatility make it a popular venue for corporate seminars and workshops and for major sporting and social functions such as the regionally popular Subaru Kalchal Boutique Mountain Bike Race and the Gaborone Iron Man Challenge.
In addition, some of the scenes in the television series ‘The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency’ were filmed at the club.
There is a series of races throughout the year including the Gaborone Yacht Club Spring Regatta, which takes place in August – generally the windiest month of the year – and the Botswana National Sailing Championships in October. This has become popular with sailors from South Africa and attracts more than 30 boats each year. The club is also a driving force in promoting youth sailing in Botswana and ensuring that the country is well represented in international sailing events around the world.In addition to sailing, the club offers canoeing and rowing as well as being an ideal place to socialise. Visitors can watch the sun set behind Kgale Hill or view the herons and flamingos that visit the dam.
The club also hosts an annual charity raft race. This race has been held since 1986 and has become a calendar favourite for corporate companies and schools. The competition has been structured to promote team building in a fun-filled and safe environment.
The dam is popular, too, with birders, anglers and windsurfers. Swimming is not recommended because of crocodiles and the possibility of contracting schistosomiasis.The shores of the lake are home to many other clubs and recreational areas. The Waterfront, an entertainment venue, is located on the north bank, while the south bank is home to the Kalahari Fishing Club, for members only, as well as a public facility called City Scapes offering picnic sites, a boat jetty and a children’s playground.