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Maun, Botswana

 

 

 

Although officially still a village, Maun is the fifth largest town in Botswana. It is an eclectic mix of modern buildings and native huts. Maun is the "tourism capital" of Botswana and the administrative centre of Ngamiland district. It is also the headquarters of numerous safari and air-charter operations who run trips into the world-famous Okavango Delta.

Maun has developed rapidly from a rural frontier town and has spread along the Thamalakane River. It now boasts good shopping centres, hotels and lodges as well as car and 4-wheel drive vehicle hire. It still retains a rural atmosphere and local tribesmen continue to bring their cattle to Maun to sell. This community is now distributed along the wide banks of the Thamalakane River where red lechwe can still be seen grazing next to local donkeys, goats and cattle.

 

Maun is today a thriving, chaotic tourist town, infamous for its infestation of donkeys and to a lesser extent goats. These animals can be seen standing around town as the local farmers arrive in the innumerable taxis to sell their wares on the kerbside.

With the influx of tourism dollars, the typical traditional rondavels have been mostly replaced by square but modestly sized cinderblock homes roofed with tin and, rarely, tiles. It in not unusual to see mud rondavels with satellite dishes. Likewise, mobile phone service in Maun is excellent out to about 20 to 25km.

 

A somewhat familiar Maun scene!


Opposite the main shopping strip which has grown around Rileys Garage, air-conditioned shopping centres are incongruously surrounded by potholes and dusty or muddy car parking lots, also inevitably a marketplace for whoever wishes to sell. There are four major chain supermarkets (Shoprite, Spar, Score and Choppies) and a Nandos.

Maun is also becoming a regional transhipment hub for materials and tradespeople who service both the local camps and safari centres and the burgeoning mineral exploration camps in northwestern Botswana. There are a wide variety of variously reliable services in Maun, from tyre retailers, air conditioning service centres, diesel and vehicle mechanics, electricians, agricultural and hunting (weapons) supply stores, innumerable local entrepreneurs with welding ventures operated from the back of a cart.

Tourists fly into the Maun International Airport, opposite the Cafe Bon Arrivee. They stay at the local lodges including Maun Lodge, Rileys Hotel, Audi Camp, Crocodile Camp or other safari lodges. Often, these tourists take the road to the Moremi Game Reserve, Nata, or otherwise fly to several tourist camps in the Okavango Delta.

Maun, like most areas in southern Africa, has a protracted aviation history. See Aviation history of Maun

 

The name Maun is derived from the San word 'maung', which translates 'the place of short reeds'. The village started in 1915 as the capital for the Tawana people. The capital was transferred from Toteng after victory over Ndebele King Lobengula.

 

Goats wandering in front of Maun's old 'Duck Inn' (Photo by Lee Ouzman)

 

 

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This web page was last updated on: 27 June, 2013