Buses run between Francistown to Maun, stopping in Nata and Gweta en route.
A bus from Maun costs P55 and takes about three hours. Hitching is also a possibility and chances of catching a ride are increased on the main highway, 2kms from the village centre.
The village of Gweta is quite small and can be covered on foot.
Tours of Gweta Village are offered by Gweta Lodge (situated next to the town square, near the Post Office). Village walks include visits to the Kgotla, local school, traditional doctor, past local traders and traditionally built houses.
There are a few baobab trees in the village and on the road out of town. A large Marula Tree sits in the yard of the first school on the left when entering the village.
Do as the locals do and people watch in the post-office, hospital and at the bus station.
Self-drive or take a tour through Gweta Lodge by 4WD (B750 for a half-day tour) or quad bike to the Makgadikgadi Pans. These salt pans are the largest in the world and greater in size than the country of Switzerland. Once a large river-fed lake, the Makgadikgadi Pans now lie saline and empty. The pans are littered with stone tools and artefacts dated from between 2,000 to 500,000 years old! During the wet season 35-75,000 zebra and wildebeest migrate into the area with regular sightings of lion, cheetah and other predators who follow in their wake. The zebra and wildebeest migration across the pans is southern Africa’s last surviving zebra and wildebeest migration and the second largest in the world. Hundreds of thousands of flamingo also appear to feed as long as the water lasts. The pans are also a permanent haven for desert species such as the meerkat and the elusive brown hyaena, the third rarest carnivore in the world.
Self-drive or take a tour to the historically significant baobabs in the area. Greens Baobab, 27kms south of Gweta was inscribed by the 19th-century hunters and traders Joseph Green and Hendrik Matthys van Zyl as well as other ruthless characters. About 11km further south of Green's Baobab is the turn-off to the far more impressive Chapman's Baobab, which has a circumference of 25m and was historically used as a navigation beacon. It was also used as an early post office by passing explorers, traders and travellers, many of whom left inscriptions on its trunk.
In the south of the Nxai Pan National Park are the famous Baines' Baobabs, which were immortalised in paintings by the artist and adventurer Thomas Baines in 1862. Today, a comparison with Baines' paintings reveals that in almost 150 years, only one branch has broken off. Baines, a self-taught naturalist, artist and cartographer, had originally been a member of David Livingstone's expedition up the Zambezi, but was mistakenly accused of theft by Livingstone's brother and forced to leave the party. Livingstone's brother later realised his mistake (but never publicly admitted it), yet Baines remained the subject of ridicule in Britain.
The enormous crescent-shaped dune known as Gabatsadi Island has an expansive view from the crest that has managed to attract the likes of Prince Charles. (He went there to capture the indescribably lonely scene in watercolour, but the paints ran because it was so hot!). The island lies just west of the Gweta-Orapa track, about 48km south of Gweta.
Along the southwestern edge of Sowa Pan is Kubu Island, a ghostly, baobab-laden rock, which is entirely surrounded by a sea of salt. In Setswana, kubu means 'hippopotamus' (because there used to be lots here) and, as unlikely as it may seem given the current environment and climate, this desolate area may have been inhabited by people as recently as 500 years ago.
On one shore lies an ancient crescent-shaped stone wall of unknown origin, which has yielded numerous artefacts. The island is now protected as a national monument, with proceeds going to the local community. There is also a small camp site with pit toilets, though you will have to carry in your own water.
Tracks to Kubu Island begin in Gweta Village.
Makgadikgadi & Nxai Pans National Park
Makgadikgadi & Nxai Pans National Park is administered by the Department of Wildlife & National Parks (DWNP), so camping is only allowed at designated camp sites, which must be booked in advance at the DWNP office in Gaborone or Maun. You will not be permitted into either park without a camp-site reservation, unless you're on an organised tour.
West of Gweta, the main road between Nata and Maun slices through Makgadikgadi Pans Game Reserve and Nxai Pan National Park, which protect large tracts of salt pans, palm forests, grasslands and savannahs. Since both parks complement one another in enabling wildlife migrations, Makgadikgadi Pans Game Reserve and Nxai Pan National Park were established concurrently in the early 1970s and combined into a single park in the mid-1990s.
Locally made woven baskets. Gweta Villagers sit in the shade in the town square opposite the post office weaving baskets for sale.
A curio-shop is due to open next to Gweta Lodge by early 2012 which will offer locally produced arts and crafts for sale.
Maano Supermarket next to the bus stop sells lunch packs, usually consisting of meat, vegetables (such as moroko) and papa.
Thebekgwaana Supermarket/Bar off the main road in the village, behind the Kgotla also sells food.
Gweta Lodge offers meals to walk-ins. Lunches off the menu are usually burgers or toasted sandwiches with chips or salad from 35 pula. Dinner must be ordered in advance but is possible if arranged with lodge staff.
Thebekgwaana Bar is the local bar of choice for Gweta's villagers.
Ask in the front yards of houses behind Thebekgwaana to sample the locally made marula wine.
The lodge is situated in the centre of town, next to the post office and town square. Accommodation consists of secure camping up to family chalets. Lodge facilities include bar, lounge, tv room, swimming pool and wi-fi. The lodge can organise excursions to any of the nearby attractions as well as local escorts for self-drivers to the attractions nearby (ie. pans and baobabs) at a daily rate.
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