Like most working-class people in Botswana, I have never had the chance to tour any tourist attractions in the country mainly due to time and financial constraints. So for me the tour was a great treat.
The familiarisation tour started at Fairgrounds Mall where Isago is based. Our tour guide for the day was Maureen Linchwe, whose chatty ways and friendly smile made all of us feel most welcome. She explained that our journey would start with a tour of Gaborone.
As the minibus pulled away, someone asked Linchwe about what tourists would normally expect from them as tour operators.
"A gaba nke ba batla go ja nama ya tonki?" loosely translated, "Don't they ever ask you to provide donkey meat as part of their meals?"
Somebody let out a hollow laugh. Journalists, I think to myself, can't they just put away their journalism just this once and behave like tourists?
"Pitse ke yone e e monate. (Horse meat is tastier)," somebody said and a few people burst into laughter.
"Ke eng le sa ba apeele nama ya katse?" another journalist said jokingly to the amusement of the group.
Linchwe explained that tourists, especially those from European countries like interacting with locals and enjoy sampling Setswana cuisine. A pedestrian cause an offence as the minibus snaked its way through Bontleng.
"Tswa motseleng tlhe monna o tla a re golega," one of the 'tourists' shouts.
We proceed to Government Enclave where we get to see the statue of the first president, Sir Seretse Khama and some monumental pillars erected in honour of fallen heroes. We then go to the Main Mall. Here we are told that tourists have an opportunity to visit Ko Sethareng.com where local music CDs are on sale and also to interact with local vendors who sell anything from sweets to traditional food.
From the Mall we drive past the National Museum where Linchwe said their guests learn about Botswana culture and see exhibitions. Directly opposite the museum, there is the Catholic Cathedral where sometimes tourists stop to worship.
The highlight of the Gaborone tour is the visit to the Three Dikgosi Monument where tour guide Samuel Sebabi takes visitors through the history of Botswana, from the time of Difaqane/Mfecane in the 1800s to the time of independence in the 1960s.Towards the end of Sebabi's lecture, everybody is itching to go to our next destination, Bahurutshe Cultural Village.
It is the first visit for most of the 'tourists' but not Mmegi photographer Kebofhe Mathe and me. The place, which is run by Mmankudu Glickman and Victoria Massey, was set up to preserve the culture of the Bahurutshe in 2005.
The 'cultural village' is one of the best stops for tourists because it is a place where the Setswana traditional life is showcased. A Kgosi sits dignified at the Kgotla welcoming visitors to the village by greeting males first and then female according to the Sehurutshe culture.
"Dumelang borra, dumelang bomma," he says.
After the brief welcome at the Kgotla, the next stop is ntlo ya mathibelelo where a traditional wedding is staged by staff. The well-ventilated hut is a makeshift structure made of mainly dry branches and poles.
Glickman explains that ntlo ya mathibelelo is a typical hut where traditionally young newly-weds first lodged before they were build a permanent home for themselves.
Elderly women of the morafe took it upon themselves to counsel (go laya) a newly married woman and teach her a wife's responsibilities that included cooking for the family, cleaning, decorating the court-yard (lelwapa), stamping grains and nursing the children.
Glickman says that in a typical Sehurutshe wedding, a ngaka-ya-Setswana (traditional-doctor) would be called to the yard of the newlyweds to 'bind' the marriage and 'sniff' out those who are against it.
Unfortunately, the 'ceremony' is cut short because time has run out as most of the journalists have other assignments back in the city. But the hospitable Glickman and Isago Tours and Safaris do not allow us to go back on an empty stomach. As we tuck in sumptuous traditional cuisine such as seswaa, diphaphatha, bogobe ja mabele, fried koko ya Setswana and morogo (wild-spinach), we chat among ourselves.
Our temporary escape from city life is short-lived as we drive back to Gaborone where we re-adjust to our normal life of running around looking for stories.