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Botswana

Main attractions

Giraffes, Botswana
Giraffes, Botswana / Stefan Magdalinski, Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0.

Most of Botswana is covered with desert or dry savannah, this is one of least inhabited countries in the world.

In spite of this Botswana has diverse interesting landmarks including fine prehistoric rock paintings and ruins of medieval settlements.

Main tourist attractions of Botswana - wast areas of wilderness with countless large animals, such as Okavango Delta and Makgadikgadi salt pans - are not a subject of Wondermondo descriptions, because their area is too large. Highlights of Botswana are:

  • Rock paintings - diverse, sometimes high quality artworks left by San people and (possibly) older cultures. These drawings are a part of contemporary life as well - offerings still are brought to some of these.
  • Heritage of Tswapong Hills. These hills have deep gorges, waterfalls and untypically lush vegetation. Local people here still are following the traditions, here are found secretly guarded shrines.

Natural landmarks

Cliff formations

Solomon's Wall, Botswana
Solomon's Wall - basalt dyke / Kelsie DiPerna, Flickr, CC BY 2.0.
  • Moremi Gorge - Central. Spectacular gorge in Tswapong hills, sacred site. The deep gorge contains three waterfalls, the tallest is 10 m high. Gorge is rich with vegetation, what is not typical for Botswana, here are two endemic species of butterflies.
  • Phothophotho Gorge - Central. Impressive gorge in Tswapong hills, with permanent pools and cascades.
  • Solomon's Wall - Central. Unusual geological formation - basalt dyke, which rises like a wall from the ground. Some fragments of this wall are up to 30 m tall, in earlier times it formed a waterfall on Motloutse River.

Caves, sinkholes

  • Gcwihaba Caves - North-West. Network of caves in limestone hills. Caves are rich with speleothems - stalactites, stalagmites, flowstone, helictites, cave pearls. Bat colonies. Caves have up to 7 m thick sediments which contain information about the climate of last 2 million years. Above the caves grows the endemic Namaqua fig (Ficus cordata) which seems to depend on these caves - its roots reach the caves with their humid air. Some caves are sealed to preserve original air.
  • Livingstone Cave - Kweneng. Legendary cave, reportedly inhabited by spirits. Davind Livingstone has visited this cave.
  • Waxhu Caves - North-West. Two sinkholes, northern is 70 m deep and southern - 50 m deep.
Baine's Baobabs, Botswana
Baine's Baobabs / Ralf Ellerich, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

Giant baobab trees

  • Baine's Baobabs - Central. Group of 7 enormous baobab trees forming a group - rare occasion. Trees got their name due to the fact that painter Thomas Baines painted them in 1862.
  • Chapman's Baobab - Central. Enormous tree with a circumference of 25 m (at the base - further up it becomes larger), used as a navigational beacon. Named after explorer James Chapman, may contain carved initials of David Livingstone.
  • Kubu Island (Ga'nnyo, Lekhubu Island) - Central. Approximately 1 km long and up to 20 metres high granitic island in the middle of vast Makgadikgadi Plains - giant salt flats. Area of eerie, unusual beauty, adorned with a group of giant baobabs. Remnants of prehistoric structures - large stone wall and hundreds of circular stone cairns.

Man made landmarks

Prehistoric drawings

Matsienga Footprints, Botswana
Matsienga Footprints - prehistoric carvings of footprints / Samantha Marx, Flickr, CC BY 2.0.
  • Lepokole Cave - Central. 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.
  • Manyang Rock Paintings - Kweneng. Prehistoric paintings in five groups, contain a well known painting of a group of four giraffes in yellow and orange colors.
  • Matsieng Footprints - Kgatlenga. Group of prehistoric (3 - 10 thousand years old) rock engravings - mostly engraved footprints. Water from these footprint engravings is considered to be holy. Site contains also three holes in the rock.
  • Motlhabaneng Rock paintings - Central. Group of rock paintings which show hunting scenes, animals, people, mythological creatures.
  • Tsodilo - North-West. Group of hills with a very rich collection of prehistoric rock paintings. In total here are more than 4,500 paintings. Important cult site for local people, site of legends. Oldest paintings may be 24,000 years old. Shelters in the area inhabited for more than 100,000 years. Endemic species of plants and animals, found only in these hills.

Other man made landmarks

Mapungubwe Hill, Botswana
Mapungubwe Hill - site of the first capital in southern part of Africa / Marius Loots, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Komana of Moremi - Central. Important shrine of Bapedi people. This shrine is strictly and secretly guarded by local people, the tradition of priesthood and shamanism is still alive here.
  • Mmamagwa Ruins (Motloutse Ruins, Mapungubwe Hill) - Central. Archaeological site: ruins of settlement built in the Late Iron Age, the 9th - 13th century AD. Possible precursor of Great Zimbabwe, first analoque of capital city in southern part of Africa. 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.
  • Orapa Diamond mine - Central. World's largest open pit diamond mine over two kimberlite pipes. Every year it provides 2,200 kg of diamonds.
  • Toutswemogala Hill (Toutswe Mogala) - Central. Elongated hill, rising up to 50 m tall above the surroundings. In the 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.

List of described attractions by districts

Botswana is divided into 9 districts.

Central
ArrowKubu IslandEcosystems, Prehistoric and ancient shrines
Ghanzi
Kgalagadi
Kgatleng
Kweneng
North-East
North-West
Southern
South-East

Map of Botswana

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