Botswana is a large landlocked country in Southern Africa with protected natural areas covering around 30% of its territory.
The country is dominated by the Kalahari desert, which covers up to 70% of its land surface, and hosts two important rain basins (Okavango in Northwest, Limpopo in in Southeast) that attract a large variety of animals.
The word “Botswana” can be approximately translated as the land of those who speak tswana.
As the tourism capital of Botswana, Maun is home to the headquarters of numerous safari and air-charter operations that run trips to the Okavango Delta and to the Moremi Game Reserve.
It is considered the starting point to explore northern Botswana, such as Tsodio Hills and Makgadikgadi Salt Lake.
The town has grown quickly and population is beyond 60.000 but it has maintained the look of a village.
Nowadays Maun has got numerous shopping centres, however it still retains its rural atmosphere and you can easily see the local tribesman bringing their cattle into the town’s market or grazing antelopes amongst ubiquitous donkeys and goats on the banks of Thamalakane river.
Maun is the ancient capital of Batawana tribe.
The Khwai River is situated on the Northern side of Botswana, it extends from the Okavango River and forms part of the Northern border of the Moremi Game Reserve. Next to the North Gate of Moremi, there is the village of Khwai, inhabited by 400 river bushmen (“ BaBugkakhwe”).
Archeological evidence suggests that various Basarwa (bushmen) groups have been living in Botswana for at least 22,000 years, but it is not known when the Babukakhwae identity coalesced and when they became attached to the Khwai floodplain.
The elders of Khwai remember leading more traditional lifestyles of hunting and gathering up until the 1960s when they were encouraged to settle into villages. The people of Khwai are developing an eco-tourism and sustainable development program to conserve the area’s unique environment.
Founded in 1967 , Chobe National Park has an area of 10,689 km² and is located in the northwest of the country, near the town of Kasane.
Chobe is by far the most renowned park in Botswana, and one of the best known in all of Africa , due to the variety and abundance of vegetation and animals, and mostly for the unusual concentration of elephants.
The park includes different areas, each corresponding to one distinct ecosystem : the area of Serondela, with lush floodplains and woodland of teak where large herbivores, like elephants and buffaloes, gather ; Savuti marsh area, rich of savannah wildlife; Linyanti marsh, with large flood plains populated by lions, leopards, jackals, antelopes (including the rare sitatunga), hippos, elephants, crocodiles, and a large variety of birds.
Moremi Game Reserve, on the eastern side of the Okavango Delta, was named after Chief Moremi of the BaTawana tribe.
The reserve combines permanent water with drier areas, which create some startling and unexpected contrasts.
In the most wooded areas you can spot the rare leopards.
Although just under 5,000 square kilometres in extent, it is a surprisingly diverse reserve, combining mopane woodland and acacia forests, floodplains and lagoons.
Moremi reserve is home to nearly 500 species of bird (from water birds to forest dwellers), and a vast array of other species of wildlife including buffaloes, giraffes, lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, jackals, zebras and impala. Cape wild dogs inhabit this reserve and have been the subject of conservation since 1989.
Victoria falls is located on the Zambezi river, at the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe : waterfall width is more than 1500mt. and the average height is 128 metres.
Their position, in a deep and narrow gorge, allows us to wholeheartedly admire the whole front of the waterfall from the other bank.
The scottish explorer David Livingstone has been the first European to view Victoria Falls on 17 November 1855: he named his discovery in honour of Queen Victoria of Britain, but the waterfall was already known by locals as “Mosi-oa-Tunya” (“the smoke that thunders”).
The falls are part of two national parks, the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park in Zambia and the Victoria Falls National Park in Zimbabwe, and represent one of the most important tourist attractions in the south of the African continent.
Victoria Falls is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Savuti marsh area is all that has remained from an ancient large lake, then dried by tectonic activity.
Nowadays only Savuti channel, although flowing inconstantly, feeds the pond. In this region there are vast areas covered by savannah and grassland, with plenty of animals (warthdogs, kudus, impala, zebras, wildbeests, elephants, lions, hyenas, cheetahs).
The area is renowned for the fights between lions and hyenas and for the ancient San cave paintings in Gubatsa Hills. Summer rains, from November to March, attract thousands of zebras, elephants and many animals that migrate towards south from the Linyanti in search of pastures.
The rains create water basins that last for a long time, until the dry season, allowing the animals to stay in the area.
The Okavango delta is the second inland river delta in the world and one of the most uncommon ecosystems on the planet. The Okavango river, over 1000 km long, drains about 11 km3 of water into the Kalahari sand every year, forming a large alluvial plain with a complex and changing grid of canals, lagoons and islands.
This remarkable environment gives life, on the edges of the desert, to an exuberant flora and fauna, and has attracted several human settlements. In 1965 a part of the delta territory was declared a natural reserve (Moremi Game Reserve).
The delta is affected by the seasonal rainfalls, with its peak between March and June and a minimum between November and March. Abundant water and vegetation are what attract large number of animals.
Five main ethnic groups live by the delta : Hambukushu, Dceriku, Wayeyi, Bugakhwe and Gxanekwe.
Makgadikgadi salt pan is one of the largest salt flats in the world covering an area of approximately 12.000 km2.
The region once was home to a large lake, Lake Makgadikgadi, dried up over 10,000 years ago, giving way to a vast salty clay land.
A system of salt pans, subjected to floods during rainy season, took its place now.
In this region there are two national parks : Makgadikgadi Pans National Park and Nxai Pan National Pan. The northeastern periphery of Soa Pan, located near the delta of Nata river, is protected by Nata Bird Sanctuary, which is a local community-managed project opened in 1993. Season rainfalls transform the arid land of the salt pans into a vast wetland that attracts thousands of water and wading birds, many of which nest in the area : amongst them flamingoes are the most eye-catching.
Many mammals can be observed in the prairie by the salt pans.
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