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Pilgrimage in the pans
Pilgrimage in the pans
Pilgrimage in the pans

Travel

Pilgrimage in the pans

  • The immortal beauty of Baines Baobabs

The site where the iconic Baines Baobab trees stand dates back roughly 128, 000 years, a time when 45 percent of Botswana was covered in water.

Makgadikgadi, as affirmed by the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, was historically one of the largest inland seas in the world covering 27, 500 square kilometres.

The alluringly beautiful seven giants, towering above an endless encrusted landscape, were immortalised by the paintings of a British landscape artist, Thomas Baines, who encountered them in 1862.

Perched majestically in Nxai Pans National Park, on a barren, flat expanse that stretches as far as the eye can see, the baobab trees are estimated to be over 1, 000 years old, making them some of the oldest in the world.

According to Pan View tour guide, Moeteledi Chabaya, the ‘celebrity’ trees, also known as ‘Sleeping sisters’, have earned a reputation across the world, becoming something of a pilgrimage for nature lovers.

“This place used to be submerged in water, and due to tectonic movements water was eventually misplaced,” said Chabaya.

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The guide explains the channels that fed the Okavango Delta used to reach what is known today as Makgadikgadi, creating a massive a lake.

“The country lost its water; what remains is this white crust you see in this area,” he said.

The tectonic movements dealt Botswana a deadly blow, emptying its biggest source of water; the evaporation has left an iconic landmark that today is the envy of many across the world.

“We lost the water, but gained this beautiful landscape covering over 30, 000 square kilometres with the three salt pans of Nxai, Sowa and Ntwetwe,” he said, noting each has its own distinctive features.

“While tourists go to Sowa Pan for its birdlife, and Ntwetwe for its expanse and famous ruins, they come to Nxai for the historic Baines Baobabs,” Chabaya chuckled.

He further stressed that while the place looks desolate in winter, it springs back to life in summer, with the baobabs shooting leaves and fruits.

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“The lake also re-appears, even if it’s just for a brief moment,” he added.

The mobile camps within Nxai Pans offer tourists open views, a unique experience in an eerily quiet area.

The canvas bathrooms and pit toilets in the lurking danger of wild animals adds to the excitement and make a visit to Nxai all the more worthwhile.

#visitmakgadikgadi #countdowntoepic2022 #iloveBotswana

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