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Gweta, Botswana

Gweta is a relatively small village located in Botswana, around 205 kilometres away from Maun, and approximately 100 kilometres from Nata. It is generally known to be the gateway to the Makgadikgadi Pans. Gweta got its name from the sound of croaking bullfrogs that bury themselves in sand until the rainy season comes round again, encouraging them to come outside and mate.

The vast area of the Makgadikgadi Pans is larger than Switzerland. There was once a time when the Pans were filled as a massive river-fed lake, but now they lie vacant and salty. The Pans are dotted with stone tools and artefacts that age from 2,000 to 500,000 years old.

Throughout the wet season, up to 75,000 zebra and wildebeest make their way into the region, bringing along with them lion, cheetah and other predators who shadow the migration. The zebra and wildebeest crossing the pans is southern Africa’s last remaining zebra/wildebeest migration, and is the second biggest in the world. Hundreds of thousands of flamingo also emerge to feed as long as the water lasts. The Pans also act as a constant sanctuary for desert animals, such as the meerkat and the elusive brown hyena – the third rarest carnivore in the world.

In the region surrounding Gweta, national monuments appear in the form of Baobab trees. Greens Baobab, located 27 kilometres south of Gweta, was inscribed by early 19th century hunters and traders, Frederick Thomas Green and Hendrik Matthys van Zyl, as well as various other ruthless characters.

Approximately 11 kilometres further south of Green’s Baobab is the turn-off to the incredibly impressive Chapman’s Baobab, which boasts a circumference of 25 metres and was historically utilised as a navigation beacon. It was also used as an early post office by passing explorers, traders and travellers, many of whom left personalised inscriptions on its trunk.

Gabatsadi Island is a massive crescent-shaped dune boasting an amazing panoramic view that has drawn tourists from the world over, including Prince Charles himself. The island is situated just west of the Gweta-Orapa track, around 48 kilometres south of Gweta. Kubu Island lies along the south-western edge of Sowa Pan, and is a baobab-laden rock that is completely encircled by an ocean of salt.

If you are simply making a stopover in Gweta, be sure to ask your local guide to take you on a tour of the area, during which you will be able to sample some of the local sorghum beer, which is somewhat of an acquired taste. Bushwalks are conducted around the village, including a short guided hike that lasts around two hours and leads you through the surrounding vegetation, where you will learn about the environment, the traditional uses of fauna and flora, as well as the history of the region and some local tales.

In the middle of the dry landscape, far away from the busy city lies an incredible camp – Planet Baobab. Named after the ancient baobab tree, this camp is located on the road between Francistown and Maun. Planet Baobab is the trendiest camp in the whole of the Kalahari, ensuring that all guests have an exquisite camping experience.  Here, you can light your own campfire, or gather round the communal flames in the lelwapa whilst sipping on a cool drink and enjoying some Pan-African cuisine.

Tours to Botswana

Image courtesy of All Posters

About Bronwyn Paxton

Article by: Bronwyn Paxton
on September 20, 2013
Filed under  Africa Blog • Botswana • Destinations 
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