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Annual Events

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National Music Eisteddfod The Maitisong Festival Flamingo Fiesta The Tsodilo Hills
Search for the Hidden Treasure Flowers in the Kalahari Desert

National Music Eisteddfod

The National Music Eisteddfod is a grand occasion to hear customary Botswanan music. Schools, colleges, and choirs journey from all over the country to perform in Selebi-Phikwe, between Gaborone and Francistown. Expect to see traditional dances and music from all regions of Botswana. There are hunting dances and dances for particular celebrations such as weddings, coming-of-age ceremonies and births.

Selebi-Phikwe is located in the middle of Botswana's most inhabited area. It is a purpose-built mining town, not very attractive in itself but a good base from which to appreciate the fascinating surrounding villages, or to visit the private game parks in the area. Botswana's highlights include the Okavango Delta, famous for its wildlife and scenery, and the Kalahari Desert - the little-visited homeland of the San Bushmen. July
 

 

The Maitisong Festival

The Maitisong Festival is Botswana's biggest and vibrant annual festival of performing arts. It takes place in several venues around the capital city of Gaborone and there are no holds barred - so expect the unusual

The free outdoor programme of theatre, music and dance takes place on stages in four different locations with an amazing variety of performances, where the classical often shares the same space as the modern. Also on offer is traditional dance, choir and marimba music and solo singing. Even in the intervals, the entertainment doesn't stop - impromptu musicians, dancers and comics get up on stage to keep everyone happy!

The indoor programme takes place in Maitisong and the Little Theatre at the National Museum and features the better-known artists - including an increasing number of big names from all over Africa. These events have an entrance fee.

There is a real buzz throughout Gaborone during the festival. Stalls serve food and drink and the streets are alive with spectators and performers alike.
 

 

 

Flamingo Fiesta

Witness the ground turn pink as flocks of flamingoes converge at the Makgadikgadi Pans, towards the end of the rainy season. The vivid flamingoes are the most colourful, visitors can also expect to see pelicans, cranes and all kinds of ducks and geese.

The Pans are the remains of an ancient inland lake. During the dry season they form vast expanses of blue-grey clay stretching for hundreds of kilometres in different directions. It is difficult to tell where they end and the sky begins, so visitors are surrounded by a limitless expanse of subtle blues and greys. After rain, they transform into shimmering shallow lagoons. Climb onto one of the rocky outcrops that interrupt the pans and gaze over glimmering mirages on a virgin landscape treasured for thousands of years.

The Pans are a true wilderness, only ventured on during dry weather by experienced 4x4 enthusiast or visit the Makgadikgadi Pans Game Reserve in the north-west of the area. The reserve is a land of sweeping grasslands. It is best to visit during the dry season (June-November) when you're likely to see roaming herds of zebra, wildebeest, antelope and ostrich.
 

The Tsodilo Hills

The Tsodilo Hills rise out of the sweeping plains of north-west Botswana. They have always been a sacred place. The local !Kung people call them the "copper bracelet of evening" because of their rich colour when the sun sets. They are also covered with Africa's greatest collection of rock art.

The San people are the descendants of Southern Africa's original inhabitants. They were drawn to the rugged beauty of the Tsodilo - from the top of the hills you get a limitless panoramic views of Africa. They decorated the four hills with hundreds of paintings - animals, dancing figures and abstract patterns, some of which could well date back 20,000 years.

The Tsodilo are one of the few opportunities for hiking that Botswana has to offer. Visitors need their own 4WD to get there, can hitch a ride for the 40km from the Shakawe. Once there, camp and experience the powerful atmosphere of the hills for yourself. Guides can be hired in nearby villages, to show you the best of the paintings and explain the desert way of life. Shakawe is also the ideal point of departure for the hills, it has electricity and phones and is the place to stock up on supplies before you head for the hills. May - Aug

 

Search for the Hidden Treasure

Legend has it that there is treasure buried in the Gcwihaba Caves. The caverns are a test for any spelunker. They are located about 650km north-west of Gaborone, the Botswana capital, near the northern Namibian border. There is no public transport available therefore you will need to arrange a fully prepared expedition to get there - 4WD, water, food, petrol and all your caving equipment.

Arriving there you are assured of exploring a cave system in complete peace. There are no lights or guides - it's all up to you. Take your pick from the two entrances and work your way through the darkness, negotiating a few difficulties here and there - scrambling down the odd precipice and battling your way past the bats. Once you're past them, stand back and marvel at the massive stalactites and stalagmites in secret chambers.

At the end of your day, camp out in the wilderness and plan your next attempt to find the treasure. The best time of year to visit Botswana is the dry season, between May and August, when the heat is bearable. (Land Cruiser Club SA) May - Oct
 

 

Flowers in the Kalahari Desert

The Kalahari Desert is one of the most hostile places in Africa. It is a place to wonder at the surrounding desolation and the vastness of Africa. During the rainy season it is transformed into a startlingly beautiful, never-ending meadow. Khutse Game Reserve is a good place to catch this fantastic display.

The Kalahari covers more than two-thirds of Botswana. It is classed as a desert because of the low rainfall it receives, but underground reserves mean that it is mostly scrubby grassland rather than the typical sandy desert.

Visitors to the area need to bring all their own equipment and need to be experienced in 4WD driving. San guides can be hired at the entrance to the park who will show visitors how to survive off the desert and the best places to observe the flowers and animals in the reserve.

Khutse doesn't have the concentration of game that the other parks have, but visitors are still likely to see herds of antelope and ostrich as well as many smaller animals. Look out for the kori bustard, the world's heaviest flying bird. You can get pretty close before it bothers lifting its massive weight into the air. Nov - Dec