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On the map (or from the sky), Botswana looks like an untamed wilderness, home to nothing more than beautiful parks & reserves, incredible game and a few camps.
But believe it or not, Botswana has a number of cities and towns, most of which are set in the southern part of the country.
However, for safari and adventure purposes, it’s Maun - the ‘Gateway to the Okavango Delta’ and Kasane - on the border of Chobe National Park and Zimbabwe that are the travel destinations for overland adventurers.
Although the modern city of Gaborone in the extreme southeast is Botswana’s capital, very few travellers pass through that city en-route to Botswana’s parks and reserves in the north. Rather, it is Maun that generates the most towards the tourism industry.
Ideally located just south of the 15 000 sqkm wilderness that is the Okavango Delta, Maun’s greatest draw cards are its safari and air-charter operations providing a way for travellers into the Delta where Botswana activities like mokoro trips are renowned.
Most Botswana travellers are likely to head to Maun from Kasane on the northern border, or from Moremi Wildlife Reserve in a 4x4, but many choose to fly directly from Victoria Falls or Johannesburg in South Africa.
The name Maun is derived from the San word ‘maung’, meaning the place of short reeds. However, Maun is not an attractive town; few trees stand, the roads are a bright, white concrete and the sun is hot. But a number of hotels, restaurants, bars and camp sites offering ice-cold beers and cool drinks make this the perfect introduction to Botswana for overland travellers.
Just 80km from Victoria Falls, the tiny and rather insignificant village of Kasane is found in the far north, near the Zimbabwe border post and close to Chobe National Park.
This strategic location as the meeting point between Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia means Kasane sees a whole lot more Botswana travellers than other towns its size.
Kasane lies on the banks of the Chobe River, making a boat trip on the river a must do if you’re staying overnight. Overlanding in Africa is always an exciting and challenging experience, and with no boundary fences between the park and village, elephants are frequently seen wandering down the main street.
Watch out for crocs!