Trip Report | Maun | Okavango Delta | Scenic Trip | Botswana | Linx Africa

Gweta to Maun

Distance about 206km.

The drive from Gweta Lodge to Maun was easy and felt quite short driving on the tarmac for a change. Our mission was to shop at Maun and also take a scenic flight over the Delta.

Read on...

Posted on 27 July 2008 by Linx



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From Gweta Lodge to Maun for a Scenic Delta Trip

Maun is considered the gateway to the Okavango Delta. It is situated on the southern reaches of the delta, about 950km from Gaborone, on the Thamalakane River. Maun was originally established in 1915 by the Batawana people. The name 'maun' meanss 'place of reeds' referring to times when water was more plentiful.

The Okavango River starts on the Benguela Plateau in Angola. Once the river leaves the plateau, it flows through an area of Kalahari sand for about 1,300km. When the River enters Botswana, it is guided by and area known as the panhandle, which is about 80km long. The name 'panhandle' is due to the shape of the delta resembling a pan.

When the water crosses the Gumare fault, at the southern 'end' of the panhandle, it forms a fan-shaped delta because of a reduction in the slope of the land. At right angles to the general flow is another fault, the Thamalekane fault.

An estimated 11 billion cubic meters of water is brought down the Okvango River every year, of which only about 3% reaches Maun.

The Okavango Delta (or Okavango Swamp), in Botswana, is the world's largest inland delta. The area was once part of Lake Makgadikgadi, an ancient lake that dried up some 10,000 years ago. Today, the Okavango River has no outlet to the sea. Instead, it empties onto the sands of the Kalahari Desert, irrigating 15,000 kmē of the desert. Each year some 11 cubic kilometres of water reach the delta. Some of this water reaches further south to create Lake Ngami.

The waters of the Okavango Delta are subject to seasonal flooding, which begins about mid-summer in the north and six months later in the south (May/June). The water from the delta is evaporated relatively rapidly by the high temperatures, resulting in a cycle of cresting and dropping water in the south. Islands can disappear completely during the peak flood, then reappear at the end of the season. This process of evaporation was badly understood as late as the early 20th century.

The water entering the delta is unusually pure, due to the lack of agriculture and industry along the Okavango River. It passes through the sand aquifers of the numerous delta islands and evaporates/transpirates by leaving enormous quantities of salt behind. These precipitation processes are so strong that the vegetation disappears in the center of the islands and thick salt crusts are formed.


Maun Airport

Read about our scenic flight over the Okavango Delta from Maun Airport