Located in the western section of the Republic of Botswana in southern Africa is the town of Ghanzi. When the 2011 population census was conducted, there were approximately 12,167 people residing in the town, with a further 861 close by. It is the administrative hub of the Ghanzi District and is referred to as the ‘Capital of the Kalahari’.
The Ghanzi District spreads over 117,910 square kilometres and is bordered in the north by Ngamiland, in the east by the Central District, and to the south by the Kgalagadi and Kweneg Districts. Its western border is shared with Namibia. The name ‘Ghanzi’ is believed to have stemmed from the Naro language word Gaentsii meaning ‘swollen buttocks’, referring to the good health of the antelope and cattle of the region.
The first Afrikaans settler in Ghanzi was Hendrik van Zyl, who established a small hunting and trading business in the area around 1870. However, the first considerable Boer migration into Ghanzi started around 1897/1898. Ghanzi was initially called Kamp, with Kalahari Arms Hotel and Barclays bank being amongst some of the first businesses to be established in the town.
The region’s landscape consists mostly of slowly rolling sandveld, which lies between 1,100 and 1,230 metres above sea level. The Kalahari is the biggest continuous stretch of sand in the world, spreading over approximately 2,500 square kilometres. Karoo residues, covered by younger basaltic lavas, underlie majority of the Kalahari sands, as well as around half of Botswana. The sands in the Kalahari range in depth, from 5 to 200 metres.
Ghanzi’s climate is semi-arid, with average maximum daily temperatures of about 33-45 degrees Celsius in January. During the winter months, temperatures can fall to -5 degrees Celcius. The average yearly rainfall is approximately 375 millimetres, though this does differ from year to year. Both the climate and soils are generally not ideal for farming, but small cultivation still occurs around the region.
The yearly Mosono ka nyokothern Africa is a fantastic event where all people of Ghanzi gather to celebrate. Ghanzi is a popular stopover site for travellers hoping to visit the beautiful Okavango Delta. It is for this reason that various accommodation types are available throughout the town, as well as a Shell gas station. This is the only filling up point between Kang and Maun, which spans a distance of about 500 kilometres.
There are plenty of interesting things to see in Ghanzi as it is essentially a Bushmen town. Kuru contains a small shop where you can purchase a variety of handcrafted Bushmen pieces. There are a couple of sightseeing places in Ghanzi from which you can spot lion, cheetah and wild dogs. There is also a place called ‘Ghanzi Gat’ which is a hole that was created whilst the tar road was being constructed in the town. Whilst using dynamite to blow the rock open for this tar road, the workers accidentally opened a water vein which filled the 40 metre deep hole.
Ghanzi is mainly a farming community that provides the Botswana Meat Commission with majority of the required beef produce. The town is steadily developing as more and more South African farmers move here to farm. The town has plenty of intriguing activities to offer, and some incredible sights to see, making it a prime stopover for anyone paying a visit to this region during their South African travels.
Image courtesy of Live for Photography