Maun

Travel Guide Africa Botswana Maun

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Introduction

With a population of around 45,000 Maun is the fifth largest town in Botswana. The name Maun is derived from the San word 'maung', which means 'the place of short reeds'. It is set along the Thamalakane River and serves as the gateway for many trips to the Okavango Delta.

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Sights and Activities

Maun itself lacks a lot of sights and activities, but is a good way to visit nearby Okavango Delta.

Okavango Delta

The Okavango Delta, a massive inland delta and world famous natural park, is the biggest draw in the area. Flights over the delta, as well as longer safaris can be arranged in Maun. The safari/game drives are the key activities in this region. With the Okavango Delta and the nearby Moremi Game Reserve, wildlife enthusiasts will be in 7th heaven. There are several safari tour operators in Maun. Most of the lodges/camp sites also offer activities such as game drives, mokoro (dugout canoe) rides and bush walks.

Some of the safari service providers are:

Nxai Pans National Park

Around two hours from Maun on the Maun - Francistown road, close to Gweta is the Nxai Pans National Park entrance. The salt pans are surreal and it is a privilege to see the 3,000 year old baobab tree called the Chapman's baobab or the Seven sisters. The zebra migration seasons are spectacular to watch as are the friendly meerkats that are present the year round. The Nxai Pan is part of the larger Makgadikgadi Pans in northeastern Botswana and was added to the National Park System to enlarge the bigger Makgadikgadi Pans National Park thus providing an enlarged contiguous area of natural protection. The Makgadikgadi and Nxai Pans together form a 2,500 square kilometre big park, located only 37 kilometres north of the main Francistown to Maun road.

Souvenirs

For those interested in souvenir shopping, there is not much on offer as Botswana as a country has not invested much on souvenir production targeting tourists. However, en-route to the Okavango Delta from Maun by road, one passes the Shorobe village where one can buy directly from the weavers, like the intricate Shorobe baskets.

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Events and Festivals

Maun Festival

Traditional poetry, music and dance are the hallmarks of the Maun Festival, held over a two-day period in April. The visual arts also have their place in this celebration, which is held for the benefit of local schools, as well as honoring northwestern Botswana’s rich tribal culture.

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Getting There

By Plane

Maun Airport (MUB) has flights with Air Botswana to Gaborone, Johannesburg and Kasane and with Air Namibia to Windhoek.

Delta air undertakes chartered flights from Maun into the Okavango Delta.

By Car

With public transport in Botswana fairly limited, hitching is much more common here than in other parts of the world - though remember the usual safety caveats. In particular, there are plenty of tourists seeing the major sights in southern Africa by car so, as Maun is on that tourist trail, you may be able to hitch directly from as far afield as Windhoek in Namibia or Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.

By Bus

There are daily buses from the bus rank in Gaborone to Maun at 5:30AM, 7AM, and 11:30AM (recommend catching the 5:30AM one, if you wish to get to Maun before dark). However, it’s a good idea to double check with the locals if the departure times have changed. As of June 2011 the bus fare was P 150.00 pula per person (about $23 USD). There are no ticket counters at the bus rank, so the tickets cannot be purchased ahead of time. The ticket payment is collected right on the bus. The bus ride takes about 9 to 10 hrs. Buses to/from Francistown cost about 90 pula and take about 5 to 6 hours, departing Francistown about once an hour from 07:30 to around 15:30.

If you're traveling to/from Namibia, smaller buses between Maun and Ghanzi cost about 50 pula and take about 4 hours; in Ghanzi you can connect with another bus to/from the Namibian border at Charles Hill/Mamuno (P40, 3.5 hours), but there is no organised transport from there towards Windhoek so you will have to resort to (probably paid) hitchhiking. If you get the first (8:30AM) bus out of Maun you will probably make it through to Windhoek in one day. There are also buses from Maun towards Shakawe and the Caprivi Strip.

If you want to travel from Maun to Kasane, it's best to get a Francistown/Gaborone bus and get off at Nata, where you can catch a northbound bus towards Kasane. The same thing works in the opposite direction; either way you'll need to start out as early as possible to be assured of making the connection.

The buses on major routes are pretty nice compared to many other African countries, but still not exactly luxurious: 5 non-reclining seats in a row, little leg-room and no bathrooms (however, they generally make frequent stops that are long enough to use a bathroom at the bus station). Smaller buses are even less comfortable and more likely to fill up completely. If travelling during the winter (Jun, Jul, and Aug) make sure to dress in layers, since it is freezing cold in the morning and toasty hot in the afternoon.

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Getting Around

The core of Maun, say from Riley's Hotel to the airport, is walkable, but usually hot. Further out than that — and a number of popular camps are to the north-east of town — you will want to get a ride.

There is a roundabout just a few hundred metres northeast of Riley's Hotel and the Tourist office. It is a useful reference point. From here, Tesheko Tsheko road runs southwest past Riley's to the bus station and market (at Tsaro St, ~1.5km). Sekgoma Road runs southeast, crossing the Thamalakane River, past the Maun Education Park, and on to Francistown. Moeti Road runs northwest. And Sir Seretse Khama Road runs north to the Maun airport (~2.5km), and thence to the popular camps, to Moremi, and to Shorobe.

Taxis and combis have blue license plates. (Expect to pay BWP 30 for a taxi to the camps north of town.) In this area, especially on relatively high-speed roads, available taxis will honk gently once to see if you are interested. To show that you want a taxi, stick your arm out parallel to the ground, perpendicular (and towards) the road, palm-down, and flap your fingers. (Raising your hand will probably also work, but the finger-flapping is the way the locals do it.)

Note that taxis do not have a central dispatch system. Thus, if you want to call a taxi to fetch you from somewhere a bit remote, you need to have the mobile number of a taxi driver. Also note that driving after dark is dangerous (due to animals on the road), so there will be fewer taxis running after dark.

Combis (vans) run from the bus station along ten specified routes.

  • Route 1 north to the airport, and the camps north of town
  • Route 7 southeast to Maun Educational Park

The following companies offer cars for hire. Note: car hire typically carries a per-km charge. If you are coming from outside Southern Africa, you may be able to get unlimited km allowance by making your reservation with an international company on their website.

  • Maun Self Drive 4x4. Kitted out 4x4s equipped for camping at affordable rates. Backed up by in-country support, with extensive unparalleled knowledge of onroad and offroad routes, campsites and accommodation within Botswana.
  • Avis (Opposite the airport, on street corner next to Kalahari Kanvas), ☏ +267 6860 039, +267 6860 258, fax: +267 6860 596, ✉ avismn@botsnet.bw, botswanares@avis.co.za. Local office of the international chain. 4x4: BWP550/day plus per-km charge and insurance.
  • Budget (Opposite the airport, next to Delta Air), ☏ +267 6863 728. Local office of the international chain.
  • Holiday Safari 4x4 Hire, ☏ +267 6862 429, fax: +267 6862 429.

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Eat

Try local dishes such as papa (maize meal- the staple food), magunya (Fried dough balls- available for around 50 thebe), seswa (shredded meat- usually beef or goat), morogo (green, leafy vegetable similar to spinach). These foods are available ready made at most supermarkets or at local eateries such as "Choice" across from Riley's Garage. If you're feeling adventurous, in season, mopane worms (the caterpillar of the mopane moth) are also available in many different forms- dried and salted, stewed or fried.

Bon Arrivee is just across the street from the airport. International breakfasts, lunches, dinner and a full range of refreshments await you. Audi Camp has a great open kitchen, where you can watch your meal being cooked. You eat under one of the largest thatch roofs you may ever see. Try Hilary's Coffee Shop near the airport - cheap and cheerful, a regular lunchtime spot for locals because the menu is full of delicious homemade dishes. The menu shows real imagination. Whether planning to eat outdoors on the verandah or inside get there early to enjoy the greatest selection. Sports Bar is good for a more formal, European style dining experience. Food is also available at River Lodge, The Bridge Backpackers, Tamalakane Lodge, and Crocodile Camp all of which, along with Audi camp, are popular places to stay for backpackers.

  • French Connection on Mophane Avenue serves bistro style food, croissants etc. Don't be put off by the simple-looking entrance and sign - this place is awesome. The owners are very friendly, and they grind all their own herbs and spices and prepare all food from scratch. Their shawarmas are to die for and coupled with their home-made lemonade there is nothing better you could ask for in the sunshine. The eating area is well shaded and relaxed, with basic furniture and serene atmosphere.
  • RAW serves smoothies, wraps and other healthfood. Nice, different concept for Botswana, doesn't feel like it is in the middle of an African village.
  • Sedia Riverside Hotel. Have a delicious meal either in the Dining Room or relax at their Poolside Terrace.
  • Arts Cafe, Motsana - Matlapaneng (on the Moremi RD before Audi Camp turnoff), ☏ +267 72241444. Petite coffee shop offering a variety of food and drink. Patrons sit in an open courtyard set in the center of a unique piece of architecture, Mauns Castle.

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Drink

  • Trekkers Nightclub - Is popular primarily with the locals. Ex-pats will warn you not to go, but is perfectly safe if you're reasonably cautious.
  • Okavango River Lodge
  • Audi Camp
  • Bar 2000
  • Back to the Bridge Backpackers
  • Sedia Riverside Hotel. Sedia Riverside Hotel - Maun offers rooms, chalets, accommodated camping and conference facilities. They have an internet cafe, craft shop, large pool and terrace bar. It combines the best of African Values and World Class Value. Come and experience the unique ambiance provided by our staff and facilities.
  • Wine and Dine. Great way to try a lot of different local dishes at one time! As well as a Mopane worm if you are up for the challenge!

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Sleep

There are a couple of hotels (most notably Riley's) and some unimpressive B&B's in Maun proper. A number of campsites and hotels popular with travellers are clustered on the road to Moremi and Shorobe, about 6-10 kilometres northeast of Maun Airport. The landmark for this cluster is a roundabout on the south side of the Thamalakane River, just after the road crosses from the north side. A combi ride into Maun costs about BWP 3, while a tax costs about BWP 30.

  • Sango safari camp is located in the Okavango delta, overlooking the Khwai river bordering the Moremi reserve and takes about 3 hours in a 4x4 from Maun. A very scenic drive that takes you through the south gate of the Moremi Game Reserve and out of the North gate of the reserve and through a Bushman village.
  • Maun lodge is located in Maun very close to the town centre.
  • Planet Baobab is located around two hours from Maun on the Maun-Francistown road, after passing the town of Gweta. The road or air transfer from Maun can be organized through Planet Baobab. The place is quite a cool place with offering African rondavels as accommodation. Campers can also camp out in the premises at a reasonable price. The staff are very friendly and helpful, especially the manager and the kitchen staff.
  • Sedia Riverside Hotel, Shorobe Road (on the road to Shorobe and Moremi, 6 km NE of airport), ☏ +267 6860-177, ✉ sedia@info.bw, info@sedia-hotel.com. In large grounds on the banks of the Thamalakane River. The rooms have ensuite bath but also colourful African decor. Chalets have one or two bedrooms with air conditioning and satellite TV. There is also a campsite. They also offer the largest swimming pool in town, a terrace bar, an indoor bar, and a dining room. Plenty of birds to watch. camping BWP 120/person; discounts for locals.
  • Audi Camp, ☏ +267 6860-599, fax: +267 6865-388, ✉ info@okavangocamp.com. Offers camping, bedded tents, and a self catering house for larger groups. Restaurant on site. Makes an effort to employ local businesses and return wealth to the community. Transfers to town, safaris, and excursions available. Skype: okavangocamp camping BWP 45/person; tents 150-300/2 people (inc bkfst); ensuite tents BWP 490/2 people (inc bkfast); house for 2, 4, or 10 people at BWP ~200/person (inc bkfast).
  • Okavango River Lodge, ✉ info@okavango-river-lodge.com. Simple accommodation, camping, trips into the Okavango Delta. Good if you enjoy a party but can be noisy.
  • Back to the Bridge Backpackers, ✉ thebridge@botsnet.bw. A unique, comfortable and historic surrounding and friendly owners. Bar can be noisy. dorm p 155.
  • Crocodile Camp, ☏ +267 680 0222, ✉ sales@crocodilecamp.com. Beautiful chalets, peaceful atmosphere and campiste for overlanders/backpackers.
  • Motsentsela Tree Lodge. Perfect if you are looking to get away from it all. In a bush setting, peaceful, luxurious and pristine.
  • Riley's Hotel. Mauns oldest hotel is centrally located and ideal for the business traveller with conference rooms etc. it has a small pool with an abr and plenty of seating. The restaurant does amazing traditional meals and also the regulars. Oxtail and pap or chicken mayo sandwiches with chips - absolutely delicious. There is also a curio shop at reception, and the hotel is only a stones throw away from Riley's garage and a couple of the local shops.
  • Motsebe Backpackers Hostel, Plot 11159 Koro Road Wenela Maun, ☏ +267 6860803. Camping with own tent and dorm beds. p 100/180.

You can use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet access in the centre costs P30 per hour.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The country calling code to Botswana is 267. To make an international call from Botswana, the code is 00.

Post

BotswanaPost is the national postal service of Botswana. It is operating more than 100 post offices and 70 agencies throughout the country and is fairly reliable, albeit not overly fast. All post has to go overland through Gaborone first and international mail by plane might go via Johannesburg, so count on several weeks for your postcard or letter to be delivered to places in Europe or North America. You can use them for parcels as well, though faster and more expensive services are available by companies like TNT, UPS or DHL.

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Accommodation in Maun

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Maun searchable right here on Travellerspoint.

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This is version 19. Last edited at 10:09 on Jul 31, 19 by Utrecht. 13 articles link to this page.

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