Maun, the gateway to the beautiful Okavango Delta, the 1000th UNESCO World Heritage site, is a very special place that has captivated domestic and international tourism in almost equal measures. Over the past few years, the town has been attracting thousands of fun lovers over the holidays and through-out the year. This festive season, once again many of those who wish to take time out of their busy schedules and unwind will be casting their eyes to one of the many river frontages that are spread through the North West district capital.
Beckoning with her beautiful scenery, and the many attractions that lie in wait for those who wish to have a good time, Maun has everything for everyone. River sands, nature, wildlife. Maun ka Monatji as most people can attest, when one goes to Maun, they know for sure that they are guaranteed to have the time of their lives.
Staging as natives love to say is what Maun is best known for. And with events such as the My Maun Experience, the popular and colourful Wine and Whisky Jamboree event, as well as the other events such as the inaugural Maun Colour Jam, and the Monate ko Motjing events are just some of the events that are fast turning Maun into one of the hippiest places in Botswana.
Tumie Sebego tells this publication that Maun is a unique town as it serves as a tourism frontier town and the gateway to the world-famous UNESCO heritage site, the Okavango Delta. She explains that Maun is also in close proximity to other tourist attraction areas such as the Moremi Game Reserve, Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Makgadikgadi Pans, Nxai Pans, Tsodilo Hills and the Okavango Panhandle. This typically means that tourists are spoilt for choice when it comes to nit-picking where they want to go for leisure and spend their money.
She also explains that one of the reasons that makes it a hit with tourists is the fact that it has good accommodation and a reliably mad mix of bush pilots, tourists, campers, volunteers and luxury-safari travellers. “For tourists, it is a great base to stay for a day or two, especially self-drive campers who wish to take a short break and get supplies in the local supermarkets. Batswana absolutely love to spend some time during long weekends and holidays at Maun as it is off the beaten track of the busy commercial towns and cities dotted on the eastern borders of the country,” she explains.
She also notes that the tropical feel of white sand, palm trees and giant trees offer a different perspective from the rocky savannah in the rest of the country. “In general, Maun has a very relaxed feel with a safari buzz as you will regularly see tourist overladen trucks, fully equipped safari car rentals, assortments of game viewing trucks and safari kitted people buzzing around town all year round,” she explains.
Sebego further says that the best and main attraction include the Thamalakane River which runs through the town which is strung out over a few kilometres. The river, she says offers more than just a water source but a beautiful view with lots of activities offered here such as motorized boat cruises, Mokoro trips (dug-out canoes), fishing and for the locals waterfront entertainment spots.
“The next attraction is the close proximity of Moremi Game reserve where people do day trips to view the abundant wildlife – these trips can be booked with most local operators and lodges. Most people visiting Maun for a few days will even opt for camping for a few days in the Moremi Park or in the Makgadikgadi pans. One of the best ways to see the Okavango delta is to do a fixed wing of helicopter scenic flight which can be booked with any of the air charter companies situated in close proximity to the airport,” she explains.
And what about entertainment, she notes that it is mostly self-made and involves some local restaurants, pubs, cafes and bars.
“There are some that are more popular than others which may bear some significance to some attractions such as The Old Bridge backpackers which has a popular bar and restaurant set on the river banks with sandy ground and rustic thatched structures. Motsana Arts and Culture centre offers a great one stop shop as it offers a quirky building with some craft shops, a relaxing café, health spa, some occasional flea markets and occasional performing art concerts. Another favourite local spot is just a spot on the river bank named Big Tree which just offers a beautiful area opposite the local park where people will regularly see some giraffes, zebras and impalas,” she highlights.
A renowned photographer, Thalefang Charles, who has explored the length and breathe of Botswana, explains that there is no place like Maun in Botswana. He explains that it is one of the few places in Botswana where one can have fun without going to the bars. He also adds that the people of Maun with their exotic language know how to host visitors.
“The fact that Maun is a tourist town, and that the residents have interacted with them means that they are always ready to welcome visitors into their town,” he says. He also notes that besides the beaches, visitors can embark on exhalating trips into the Moremi Game Reserve or the Okavango Delta (either day trip/night trip).
“There are a lot of tour operators who ply their trade there,” he says. According to a local host, Ryan Livingstone Kentshitswe, Maun is peculiar to Botswana in many respects. Firstly, it is Maun’s multi-ethnicity which he believes influences her being cosmopolitan. He also says that the fact that it is located in a district endowed with natural beauty and an international destination area has a lot more to do with Maun being as cosmopolitan as it is and that in its way enhances a unique type of energy amongst both inhabitants and visitors alike.“In Maun it is quite easy and natural for one to pick a spot anywhere around or in the outskirts of Maun, pull out a camp chair and a cooler box and have a picnic. This is excluding your different ‘beaches’,” he explains.
He also notes that the multi ethnicity also contributes a lot to the magic of Maun. “We have an easy-going nature hence folks from all over will always feel welcome in our mist. So, in that sense it is quite easy to see why Maun remains Botswana’s favourite go to place every other holiday,” he says.
Kentshitswe further says that besides the natural wonders such as the river which shelters many a ‘beach’ spots, the magic of Maun can also be credited to their creativity in both the entertainment and food scenes, which he believes rivals that of any place in the country. He reveals that before there was a club in Maun, it was quite natural to set up speakers and a DJ and of course beverages by the river and get an all-night picnic going. Trending places to look forward to includes popular spots such as Luna Bar and Pub 24/7.
“These are the trending bars at the moment but options extend beyond bars,” he notes.
One of the events to look forward to these holidays is none other than the inaugural Maun Colour Jam slated to take place on December 30th at the Metro Farm. Kentshitswe, will host the chillas event with the focus being to bring out that summer spirit. The dress code for the event is bright coloured clothes. The venue for this event, he explains is a private farm with a luxury chalet and several fully furnished porta cabins and a camp site. Highlights to look forward to include hammocks, volleyball, ping pong, hubbly smoking and Tswana games as part of the activities.
“Food forms a big part of the event. On the menu, we have braai (chicken, beef, pork, kebabs etc) as well as interesting side dishes like chicken feet and necks, gizzards and a bit of mexican foods and many more. We also have a camping package running from Dec 29 to 02 Jan.”
He points out that the difference between the Maun Colour Jam and other events is that revellers can look forward to a number of activities. He also says that others focus more on sale of liquor and food but hardly provide activities such as water slides, modern and traditional games. Those who are interested to learn more about the event can visit the events FB page Metro Farm. Besides the Maun Colour Jam event, one other event that has been transforming Maun and drawing multitudes is none other than the Wine and Whiskey Jamboree.
The event is held on January 1st, and it takes place at the Lek-a-Valley Farm (30 kilometres from Maun in Chanoga). Event organiser, Mochaena Kepadisa explains that the event is in its fourth year. The event, he says was conceptualised four years ago, and started off as a small event for family and friends. But it soon grew, and transformed into the brand that it is today. Highlights to look forward to include wine tasting, boat cruises, and horse riding activities. On the line-up, HanC of Rejection and Perion of Lejebejebe hit will keep revellers on their toes. He explains that they have engaged the village leadership, and that the VDC is also involved. On the day, the VDC will have a stall where they will be selling indigenous foods such as Tswii, and fish.
“We are anticipating that a lot of people will be coming through, and we want them to sample some of these dishes,” he explains. Tickets are on sale for Pl50 per person, or P2500 for four friends, inclusive of a bottle of wine, and snacks or P750 per person, inclusive of a bottle of sparkling wine, and food.
Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) on Wednesday shut down the Borolong plant in Maun, to start the works of replacing the malfunctioning Actifio Clarifier pump and filter unit.
Acting Corporate Communications Manager at WUC, Beauty Mokoba told Botswana Guardian that the new works at the plant are expected to resolve the discerning colour currently observed in Maun. She said the works would be done jointly with the plant contractor, Veolia Water Technologies and is expected to complete mid this month.
Mokoba said WUC procured the components and equipment required to undertake the works from South Africa at the tune of P1.4 million. She said that Delta water tends to be different from perennial and ephemeral rivers as the water is subject to drying up and flooding.
She said this consequently makes the water quality to change with the flooding of the river as turbitides and colour tend to be enhanced. Asked if the plant water plant station was inspected before the plant came into operation, Mokoba responded in the affirmative.
“All major projects undertaken by WUC are subjected to Environmental Assessment which basically informs the impact of the projects on the environment,” she said. She explained that, however an analysis of raw water is carried out to inform the design of the plant while the water demand on the other side informs the size of the plant.
Mokoba said that as a result of the plant closure, water shortage is expected in Maun during the maintenance period. She explained that this is because the water will be supplied drawn from boreholes which only produce five million litres of water per day, down from the 11 million litres of water that is currently supplied to Maun when Borolong Plant is in operation.
“As a mitigation measure, the corporation will ration the water in line with the drawn rationing schedule,” explained Mokoba. Borolong plant is located in Borolong ward near Maun General Clinic and it supplies water to more than 60 percent of the Maun village.
Afro Botho will host an intimate session this weekend in Maun. The retreat seeks to give about 15 participants a chance to rejuvenate their bodies, tap into nature and meditate, breath and be able to reset their lives for the next quarter of the year. The session, titled Pause, Breath & Reset Mindfulness weekend, will start on Friday evening, and end on Sunday after brunch.
According to the organiser, MotherK Masire highlights that the event will include meditation at a special spot along the river, as well as other activities that will rejuvenate them. Masire points out that this is a relaxed retreat, and that those who are attending it, don’t have to worry about being exhausted or doing anything hectic. She explains that they want the session to be as intimate as possible. “The retreat comes on the backdrop of the fact that people lead hectic lives nowadays, chasing deadlines and doing a bit of this and that.
This often means that they never get time to do a simple thing such as breathing,” she says.
Mindfulness is a state of active and open attention on the present. When one learns about mindfulness, it feels like having an out of body experience, but it happens on your mind. It allows one to study their own self, mind, study their thoughts, feelings, friendships and your environment. Once one is in sync with everything around them, they gain spiritual fulfilment and can find peace. “The practice of Mindfulness helps us recognise our thought patterns as we learn to be the observers of our minds,” she said in a previous interview.
Afro Botho is conceptualised by Dr Didi Biorn and Masire. The duo is presently based in Maun. In the past, Afro Botho organised events such as marking the World Mental Health Day under the tagline Heal the Healer.
Thousands of spectators graced the glitzy 2017Mascom Derby this past weekend and watched local jockeys dominate the event this year. Locally bred horses took turns in dominating most of the races in Maun, which is a stark contrast to previous years when foreign beast from Namibian and Lesotho jockeys stole the show.
Namibian horse which has been competing in the Mascom Derby since 2012 left their followers disappointed this year by not attending after failing to register on time due to unknown circumstances.
Nevertheless it was the horse from Charleshill named Antarctic Call and its talented jockey Khase Qama who salvaged local pride when it was crowned champion of the main event 2400 meters grand finale. The dominant thoroughbred beats also took position one in 1600 meters respectively. Another speedy horse named Jon Douglas from Charleshill came in second, followed by the aptly named Double Action in third place.
Most of the horses that made podium finishes were from the Charleshill area and garnered a lot of support from local fans. First position was scooped by local jockey Isaac Danny Simon from Charleshill with the prominent John Douglas horse while William Afrikaner from Namibia came in second with Back to Bowler and third position was scooped by Jwaneng jockey, Joe Roman with his crowd pleasing horse, Body Builder.
Last year’s race saw Namibian named You Touch My Heart winning the race while John Douglas from Charleshill came second. In this year’s race, Charleshill continued to shine as most horses got position one, two and three respectively.
This time the derby had horses from Botswana and Lesotho only with 88 horses competing in 11 races. The event featured two categories - Tswana and Thorough breeds while races ranged from 800 meters to 24 000 meters. In an interview with this publication the owner of the champion, Antarctic Call, a joyful Joseph Kananguizi applauded the derby organisers for the improvements made at this year's event adding he deserved to win because he had worked very hard for the event.
‘We prepared very well for the race with the aim of taking the Mascom derby cup from Namibia and back to Botswana where it belongs”, he said.Another participant from Charleshill who also owns the popular horse called HE or His Excellency, Willy Ping also applauded the show for transforming many horse owners’ lives. Ping joined horse racing in 2012 with a Tswana breed horse until he realised the need to race through breed horse in order to make money.Ping said organisers could do better by giving horse owners race lineup prior to the event unlike surprising them when they arrive for the race.
“The time has now come for the youth to invest on unique sports like horse racing, government should now introduce initiatives to help the youth come up with projects that will promote horse racing in Botswana,” Ping said.“To maintain and to train a horse for a race is very expensive, so the government should help the youth that are willing to invest on horse racing with funds”, he said.
Among improvements made this year, Mascom Brand and Communication Manager, Kushatha Mosojane said availing tickets throughout the country even at the annual horse race.Mosojane said they have also partnered with local station, Khuduga HD to stream the event live on the Mascom Facebook page for those who were unable to come to Maun to catch up on all the excitement.They also cleared a field next to Shashe horse race track to reduce congestion on the road to the horse track, to provide secure parking and ease traffic in and out of the farm.
Spirit Squad Team has won this year’s Diretse Tough and Dirty Time Championship after beating the other 13 teams they competed against last weekend.
The 2016 mud race was bigger and better event that attracted teams from as far as Maun. On Saturday, all the 14 teams competed in the 2.5 km, 5 km and the10 km races from which the top seven finishers proceeded to the finals. The following day represented the final selection of the winners, where the top three were awarded gold, silver and bronze prizes respectively. As the main purpose of the mud race is to promote team spirit, the aptly named Spirit Squad team simplified this meaning for all the spectators. They started their race at the same time and assisted each other along the way and arrived at the start-finish ahead of all at the same time.
Delta Force, a Gaborone based team from Block 7 got position two, while Mega Size College emerged position three. Delta Force participated in last year’s mud race, and acquired the same position, while Mega Size College had no position last year. Speaking at the opening ceremony of the event, Gaborone City Council Clerk Mpho Mathe encouraged people to participate in sporting activities like the mud race, saying that they promote teamwork within communities. He also applauded the participants and encouraged the race organisers to keep up the good work.
Spirit Squad captain, Desire Kutlapye was humbled by their victory. “We only heard about the competition two weeks before and started preparing, so we expected a tough time here, but we are glad that we are the conquerors,” he said. Event organiser Tebogo Kgaodi said their aim is to make the mud race an international standard event. He said that this year’s race was challenging as they had greater heights as compared to last year, and also had an open space.
“We had limited space at Bonnington Farms last year, but today’ space was impressive as it challenged every participant to work hard on a wider space with more strength compared to last year,” said Kgaodi. There were more spider webs and the huge mud pit filled with water and more crawling was involved.
On the other hand, he encouraged women teams to take part in the next event to prove that it is not just an activity for men only. He applauded Unique Tiles team, as their team was a mixture of men and women. Diretse mud race will henceforth become a quarterly event with the next edition slated for August.