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Places of Interest
Located within the Nxai Pan National Park, seven huge gnarled Baobabs are situated on an island overlooking Kudiakam pan. Painted by Thomas Baines in 1862, they have changed little in the intervening years. This is a great place for a picnic when visiting Nxai pan or when passing (if time permits). A 4x4 is required.
Dating back to the 15th century AD, Domboshoba was the court and residence of a chief who ruled the area on behalf of the King of Great Zimbabwe. An 8 ha site that includes several enclosures and the remains of bulkheads, the site contains excellent examples of stone walling. Domboshoba is an important national monument that is an easy day trip from Francistown. Located along the Masunga ? Kalamati road, it can be reached without a 4x4.
Gwichaba (formerly known as Drotskys caves) is a wild and remote destination. There are no official guided tours nor is there any development although plans are underway to develop the area. The caves area labyrinth of linked passages with fantastic stalagmite and stalactite formations as well as flowstones that appear to be waterfalls of rock. Lion, Leopard and wild dog have been seen in the area. The area is accessible only by 4x4. The area is very remote; take all fuel and provisions with you.
Jutting out from a dazzling white salt pan, Kubu Island with its giant pinkish grey boulders and Baobab trees paintings an almost surreal picture, especially at sunrise and sunset. This is a spectacular destination definitely worth a visit. There is little wildlife, but the attraction is the eerie loneliness and spectacular beauty. Pleased note that camping is now no longer allowed at Kubu Island but day visits are permitted. Although the campsites have been moved, it is possible to overnight in the area. Note that you must bring all provisions including water with you. Access to Kubu Island is limited by the conditions of the pan. Be very wary of planning a visit anytime near the rainy season and try to travel in at least two vehicles.
The Lepokole Hills are comprised of massive granite blocks often piled on top of each other. An extension of the Matopos hills in Zimbabwe, the Lepokole Hills are approximately 25km northeast of Bobonong. The fabulous scenery and incredible views attract hikers and climbers. Rock painting can be seen as well as walled in ruins built in the same style as those at Great Zimbabwe. There are plans in place to develop the area through the Mapanda conversation trust. At the moment there is a campsite but no facilities. Please request permission from the village headman before camping in the area.
Located in the now Northern Tuli Game reserve, Mapungubwe was a prosperous Iron Age city located on the banks of the Limpopo River. The capital was located on Mapungubwe Hill, accessible by one of two twisting, very steep paths. Various artefacts have been uncovered by archaeologists. The area is vey scenic set amongst Mopani woodlands and sandstone formations. The area is rich is wildlife including rhino, elephant, lion and leopard.
Situated deep within the Kalahari Basin, the Okavango Delta is often referred to as the 'jewel' of the Kalahari. This is one of the most sought after wilderness destinations on earth, providing a spectacle of wild Africa that dreams are made of. The excitement of big game viewing, the tranquillity and serenity of lagoons, the eternal beauty of a water wonderland are what attract visitors this Eden in the desert. A journey to the Okavango is like no other. Moving from wetland to dry land, traversing the meandering palm and papyrus fringed waterways, passing palm-fringed islands, and thick woodland, resplendent with lush vegetation and rich in wildlife ? reveals the many facets of this, the largest intact inland delta in the world. It seems remarkable that the Okavango exists at all located as it is deep within the Kalahari thirst land. Shaped like a fan, the Delta is fed by the Okavango River, the third largest in southern Africa. Swollen with floodwaters from the summer rains, the Okavango River travels from the Angolan highlands, crosses into Botswana at Mohembo in the Caprivi, then later spills over the vast, fan-shaped Delta. Just as the waters from the summer rains disappear (April, May), so the floodwaters begin their 1300 km journey through the Kalahari sands ? revitalising a vast and remarkably diverse ecosystem of plant and animal life. The water's flow, distribution and drainage patterns are continually changing, primarily due to tectonic activity. An extension of Africa's Great Rift Valley, the Okavango is set within a geographically unstable area and regularly experiences tremors and minor quakes. By the time the water reaches Maun, its volume is a fraction of what it was. As little as two to three percent of the water reaches the Thamalakane River in Maun. The flow doesn't stop in Maun. It may drain west to fill Lake Ngami or continue east to the Boteti River, to fill Lake Xau or, in years of high inflow, the Makgadikgadi Pans. There are three main geographical areas: the Panhandle, the Delta, and dry land.
The fan-shape of the Delta emerges at Seronga and the waters spill over the Delta, rejuvenating the landscape and creating channels, lagoons, ox-bow lakes, flooded grasslands and thousands of islands different of shapes and sizes. Many of the smaller islands are made by termites, whose mounds are so large they eventually became islands. The Delta region varies in size from 15 000 square kilometres during drier periods to 22 000 square kilometres during wetter periods. Its dominant plant species are reeds, mokolwane palms, acacia, sycamore fig, sausage trees, rain trees and African mangosteen. At the Delta's lower reaches, the perennial swamps give way to seasonal swamps and flooded grasslands. To the southeast the third vegetation region becomes evident, as it changes to true dry land. Here: the Matsebi Ridge, Chief's Island and the Moremi tongue are the major landmasses. Vegetation is predominantly mophane, acacia and scrub brush with dotted pans. The Okavango provides an incredible number of birds and animals ? recent counts record 444 species of birds, 64 species of reptile, 122 species of mammal and 71 species of fish. No wonder then that the major tourist attraction of the Delta is game and bird viewing which, when combined with a traditional mokoro ride provides the complete Okavango experience. With the successful reintroduction of rhino, the Delta is now also a Big 5 destination. Major species to be seen include: elephant, buffalo, giraffe, zebra, hippo, crocodile, rhino, red lechwe, waterbuck, reedbuck, duiker, impala, kudu, steenbok, wildebeest, hartebeest, sable, roan, tsessebe, lion, leopard, cheetah, genet, serval and caracal, along with an immense variety of birds both land and water, resident and migratory. A trip to the Okavango Delta is a must do for anyone with a yearning to experience nature at its most spectacular in a pristine African environment.
Accommodation is the Okavango Delta consists primarily of luxury lodges situated in private concessions. All of these lodges adhere to very high standards and offer wonderful safari experiences. For the budget conscious traveller there are a few less expensive lodges. The most affordable option is self drive camping in the Moremi reserve. Lodges on the edge of the panhandle offer more affordable accommodation. The panhandle is discussed in greater detail below.
The Panhandle is the top part of the Okavango, so named for its resemblance to the handle of a pan. Beginning at Mohembo, it extends down for approximately 80 kilometres. The area is bordered by two fault lines through which the river meanders south westerly. Here the river runs deep and wide and the swamps are perennially flooded. The dominant vegetation is vast papyrus beds and large stands of phoenix palms. The main tourist attractions of the Panhandle are fishing, birding and visiting the colourful villages that line its western fringes. This is an area of the Okavango that offers affordable accommodation, and one can even take mokoro rides from some of the lodges. Located on the "Cattle side" of the buffalo fence, game viewing isn't the best; however the visitor can often see elephants, hippos, crocodiles, Lechwe and Sitatunga. Tsodilo Hills are also near the panhandle, enabling the visitor to enjoy both attractions. Many of the lodges in the region can be reached without a 4x4, making it an easily accessible destination.
This important multi cultural historical site contains artefacts from the middle stone age, late Stone Age, early Iron Age and up to the 19th century capital of the Bangwato who occupies the area form 1889 ? 1902. Water supplies dwindled causing the Bangwato to move their settlement to Serowe. The front and back of the London Missionary Society church built between 1891 and 1894 can still be seen as well as stone walls, middens, rock paintings and the remains of a prison, market centre and graves. Old Palapye is situated near the village of Malaka and is a National Monument.
Supa Ngwao Museum
Located in Francistown, this museum contains exhibitions on the culture and history of the Kalanga people. It also has a photographic exhibition on the early history of Francistown and Botswana. Authentic crafts can be purchased from the Museum craft shop. The museum serves as the Francistown Information centre and also conducts walking tours. Tel: +267 240 3088
Rising abruptly from the Kalahari the Tsodilo Hills are a unique and mysterious UNESCO world heritage site. Offering around 4000 well preserved rock paintings, the hills have a magnetic power that captivates the visitor. A visit to Botswana is not complete without visiting these hills, especially when the setting sun lights the hills in a glowing copper hue. There are three main hills, Male, Female and Child and there are several walking trails to explore the paintings. The most famous panel being the Van der post panel. There is a small museum and camp sites are located around the hills. It is worthwhile to spend a night here to feel the ancient spiritualism of the area. The hills are easily reached via good gravel road from Nxamaseri on the main Shakawe ? Sehitwa tar road. A 4x4 is not necessary; the road can be driven by any vehicle with good ground clearance. There is neither fuel nor provisions available at Tsodilo hills. The visitor must be self reliant or stock up from villages along the panhandle; Shakawe, Etsha or Gumare.