Attractions in Botswana

The Okavango Delta
The Okavango Delta in Botswana is a large inland delta formed where the Okavango River reaches a tectonic trough in the central part of the endorheic basin of the Kalahari and is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa.

The Okavango Delta is home to the lechwe antelope with more than 60,000, 71 fish species including Tigerfish, Tilapia and Catfish, Large herds of buffalo and elephant totaling about 30,000 and home to Chief’s Island, the largest island in the delta.

Chobe National Park
Chobe National Park is located in Chobe covering an area of 11,700km²

The park is widely known for its spectacular elephant population,  It contains an estimated 50,000 elephants, being the highest elephant concentration of Africa.

The Botswana National Museum (the National Museum and Art Gallery)
The museum is located in Badiri Extension 5, Gaborone Botswana and is a multi-disciplinary institution that includes the National Art established in 1967 and has an exhibit hall of display cases depicting Botswana’s history and is cultural diversity.

The Museum is home to a permanent collection of wildlife exhibits, as well as crafts and paintings by local artists, dating from the 1960s onwards. This purpose-built gallery also hosts a number of exhibitions, many of which are aimed at showcasing the work of local artists.

Kasikili (Sedudu) Island
Kasikili Island (Sedudu Island) is an island in the Chobe River on the border between Namibia and Botswana, near the Botswana town of Kasane. It was once a disputed territory between the government of Namibia and Botswana, after which Botswana won the Court suit in 1999. The island is inundated for several months of each year by overbank flow from the Zambezi. During the dry season large numbers of elephants, buffalo and other game congregate on the island. The game on the island and along the Botswana banks of the Chobe further upstream are a major tourist attraction, and game viewing by boats on the Chobe is a flourishing tourist industry.

Tsodilo
Tsodilo is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (WHS) located in Ngamiland in northwestern Botswana with one of the highest concentrations of rock art in the world, Tsodilo has been called the ”Louvre of the Desert”. Over 4,500 paintings are preserved in an area dating between 850and 1100 C.E. of only 10 km2 of the Kalahari Desert.

Tsodilo is also rich in archaeological finds of three rock shelters namely White Painting Shelter, Depression Shelter and Rhino Cave, have been excavated. More than twenty mines and the remains of two villages, Divuyu and Ngoma, dating back to 800C.E. have been uncovered. Bolts, metal spearheads, stone tools, glass beads and fish bones have been found and help to form a picture of ancient life at Tsodilo. The hills are home to the diminutive Tsodilo rock gecko that is found nowhere else. These are some of the features of Tsodilo that resulted with it being listed as a world heritage site in December 2001.Others are healing waters, offering and prayer sites, rainmaking places and pilgrimages by people of several religious denominations. The place is also good for archaeological, rock art, geological, seismic, zoological, botanical, paleo-environmental and anthropological research.

The archaeological record of the area gives a chronological account of human activities and environmental changes over at least 100,000 years. Local communities in this hostile environment respect Tsodilo as a place of worship frequented by ancestral spirits.

Lake Ngami
Lake Ngami is an endorheic lake in Botswana north of the Kalahari Desert. It is seasonally filled by the Taughe River an effluent of the Okavango River system flowing out of the western side of the Okavango Delta.  In 1849 David Livingstone described it as a “shimmering lake, some 80 miles (130 km) long and 20 km wide”. 

Gcwihaba Caves
The Gcwihaba caves are a network of caves in limestone hills located in North West Botswana in the Ngamiland District.

The Gcwihaba Caves have been part of the Kalahari landscape for at least the entire Pleistocene epoch, some 2 million years ago. The cave contains sediments useful for the regional paleoclimatic reconstruction. This was found out during the first scientific research undertaken by Cooke and Ballieul (1974).

The Caves are rich with speleothems – stalactites, stalagmites, flowstone, helictites, soda sraws, cave pearls. Bat colonies.

Baine’s Baobabs
This is a group of 7 enormous baobab trees forming a group rare occasion located by a turnoff from the main Nxai Pan access road, 20 kilometres from the main Maun-Nata road and 17 kilometres from the main entrance. Trees got their name due to the fact that painter Thomas Baines painted them in 1862.

Lepokole Hills
The Lepokole Hills located 25 km north-east of Bobonong are the southernmost extension of the Matopos Hills in Zimbabwe, and are made up of the same immense granite blocks, often piled high into tall castles of fissured rock.  It is in these hills that the last of the San people in eastern Botswana took refuge from the encroaching “civilization”. Their presence here over the last 300 years is recorded in the paintings found in the caves and rocky overhangs of the kopjes. In addition to the Bushman rock paintings, the Lepokole Hills also contain a wealth of archaeological treasures, from Stone Age tools and ancient pottery to stone walls and mud granaries all left by long-forgotten people.

Lepokole Cave
This cave is adorned with prehistoric paintings which have been made in the early first millenium AD. Offerings are left in the cave up to this day.

Matsieng Footprints
Group of prehistoric (3 – 10 thousand years old) rock engravings – mostly engraved footprints located in Kgatlenga District in southern Botswana north of the capital city Gaborone. Water from these footprint engravings is considered to be holy.

The site contains up to 117 engravings and three natural rock-holes dating back between 3,000 to 10,000 years

Mmamagwa Ruins (Motloutse Ruins, Mapungubwe Hill)
This is an Archaeological heritage site with ruins of settlement built in the Late Iron age, 9th – 13th century AD. Settlement was inhabited by several consecutive cultures: Zhizo, K2, Mapungubwe and much later – in the 18th century – by Sotho and Venda people who built most of stone structures seen today. The site has some of the world’s oldest art rock dating back AD 1050.

Orapa Diamond mine
The Orapa diamond mine is the world’s largest diamond mine located in Orapa, a town in the Boteti Sub-District of Botswana about 240 kilometers west of the city of Francistown. The unusually wide resource, the world’s second largest diamond-producing kimberlite pipe, is actually made up of two separate pipes (or intrusions) that coalesced near the surface about 93 million years ago.

The mine is located on two kimberlite pipes that converge near the surface, covering 1.18 square kilometres at ground level. Orapa operates seven days per week, and produces 20 million tons per year of ore and an additional 40 million tons per year of waste rock. Currently, the Orapa mine annually produces approximately 11 million carats (2200 kg) of diamonds. 

Toutswemogala Hill (Toutswe Mogala)
This is an archaeological site located at Maope near Palapye in the Central district of Botswana. This elongated, flat-topped hill, standing about 50m above the surrounding flat ground, is one of the earliest states in Southern Africa and was established before the rise of Mapungubwe in South Africa and Great Zimbabwe in Zimbabwe. Toutswe marks the beginning of state formation in Botswana.

In 7th – 19th century AD here was located Iron Age settlement. This site marks development of the first city states in this part of the world. Some remains of houses and cattle enclosures are visible now. Archaeological remains found at the site include glass beads and cowry shells imported from the Indian Ocean rim, providing evidence for early trade networks

Mamuno Monument (Kangumene Rock Engravings)
Mamuno Monument (Kangumene Rock Engravings) is located at the Ghanzi District, about 5 kilometres northwest of the Mamuno border post.

Engravings that occur at Kangumene include foot prints (animal and human), handprints, geometric designs (line, grid and oval) and weapons. They are similar to those found at Olifanskloof (Xanagas). Grooves similar to those created from sharpening knives and spears are also found at Olifanskloof farm. At present, there are only five petroglyphs sites known in western Botswana, all located near Mamuno. These are similar to a number of engravings that have been studied in Namibia. However, they are ambiguous, unlike those in Namibia, which are mostly trance based. The art found at the Mamuno sites is distinct from the Shamanistic form found in eastern Botswana. The engravings have a high tourism value because of their location near the border post.

Domboshaba Monument
Domboshaba is located in Kalakalamti village along Francistown-Nata Road in the Northeast District.

Domboshaba principally consists of dry stonewalls. It was occupied towards the end of the Great Zimbabwe period (1250-1450AD). It was a regional centre in the Khami phase (1450-1690AD. The first part of the site is on hilltop. The second part is at a lower level, on a valley. There are six enclosures on the hill and one at the lower level. It is believed that the chief lived on the hilltop with some of his assistants. His wives probably lived on the southern side in a big enclosure with a lot of daga floor structures. Domboshaba is a sacred site for local communities. There are annual ceremonies conducted at the site. Excavations there have revealed imported Chinese porcelain goods, which were probably given to chiefs as gifts. The items indicate that Domboshaba was part of the Eastern coast trade network going as far as Mozambique. Therefore this site was a major catalyst in state formation in the region.

Old Palapye
Old Palapye is situated in the northwest of the Tswapong area in Eastern Botswana, 5 kilometres southeast of the Malaka village.

Old Palapye is a composite site with material culture encompassing Middle Stone Age, Late Stone Age, Early and Late Iron Age as well as the 19th century. The site is well known because of the remains of the Ngwato capital, which was established there in 1889, during the reign of the famous Kgosi Khama III. The Bangwato were moving from Shoshong where there was environmental degradation including water shortage.They also moved there to consolidate political power and safeguard their boundary in the area. The Amandebele and the British South Africa Company (BSA Co) were threatening to take their land. The establishment of the town played a major role in defining the boundaries of this country. Old Palapye was one of the largest towns in Southern Africa in 1889, with about 30000 inhabitants. It is an example of organized state formation in Southern Africa at the time. Archaeological remains at the site include circular foundations, verandas, several stonewalls, red ochre pottery, iron implements and remains of the London Missionary Society church. Other sources of attraction include waterfalls, rock paintings, graves, stone Cairns and remains of granary bases.

Majojo monument
This site constitutes ruins situated on the eastern end of Majojo Hill. They were a Muzinda, the residence of a chief or “Kgosi”, between 1300-1650AD. The walls are considered an extension of the Great Zimbabwe tradition. This stretches from the High Plateau of Zimbabwe into the Northern Province of South Africa. Majojo Monument is one of the 105 known Zimbabwean Tradition elites in eastern Botswana, stretching from Nkange and Sua Pan to the Limpopo river. There are more than 550 known stonewalls in southern Africa. Majojo ruins constitute a sacred place for contemporary local communities. They are considered a spiritual home for their ancestors. Religious healing ceremonies and offerings are conducted at the site. As a result, there are clay pots, some candles and coins placed in the enclosure. In addition to their connection with religious activities, the architectural patterns of Majojo stonewalls bears testimony to the great technological, economic and political success of African civilizations prior to the advent of colonialism.

Manyana Rock Paintings Shelter
Manyana rock painting shelters are rare rock paintings situated on the outskirts of Manyana village in Gaborone South east of Botswana

There are several paintings scattered around the cliffs in the village believed to have been created as part of religious activities.

Manyana is also one of the few rock art sites with black paintings and  have potential for carbon 14 dating.

Lekhubu Island
Lekhubu Island is a dry granite rock Island situated in Makgadikgadi Pan Area of Botswana about 42km from Mmatshumo and about 100km from Gweta. The entire Island is a national monument and is considered a sacred site by the indigenous people of the area

The Island is thought to have been a shrine where offerings were left. Bits of pottery, ostrich egg shell and beads have been found here as well as stone tools dating back over 2000 years.

Lekhubu lies in the remnants of the Ancient Lake, Makgadikgadi, once one of the largest inland lakes in Africa. About 20 000 years ago drier climatic conditions occurred and the lake gradually filled up with sand and sediment. Today, Sua Pan, a sheet of salt encrusted clay, is only covered with a few centimeters of water during the rainy season. The rocky Lekhubu outcrop is surrounded by this sea of salt. The island has granite boulders and giant baobabs (Mowana, Adanonia digitata), the African star-chestnut with its large, round fruit and silver-red stems, the common commiphora (commiphora pyracathoides) and wild asparagus species with red berries.

http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/5558/
http://www.wondermondo.com/Botswana.htm
http://www.gov.bw/en/Visitors/Topics/Monuments/Mamuno-Monument-Kangumene-Rock-Engravings/

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John Muhaise-Bikalemesa (JMB), is the founder of Muhaise.com blog and bigdrumassociates.com company. Learn more about him here and connect with him on his social medias below

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