Makgadikgadi Epic euphoria grips nation
Arguably one of the most exciting local events, taking place at one of the country’s most scenic regions, Makgadikgadi Pans, the annual Makgadikgadi Epic gets underway this Friday until Monday in Sowa Town.
Up above the over 12, 000 square km of a white alluring sea of salt, skydivers will be performing death defying stunts, while down below on the endless dry crust, fun lovers will raise the dust on quad bikes and horses.
Makgadikgadi Pans remain one of the largest salt complexes in the world, comprising of two large pans, Sowa and Ntwetwe, and a myriad of smaller ones.
The area has been growing in stature as more tourists are lured in by the scenic landscape, vegetation and climate.
With events such as Makgadikgadi Epic, the region has suddenly become one of the country’s most talked about tourist destinations.
The initiative has had a massive impact on both large and small business in nearby villages such as Nata, Dukwi, Mosetse and even Tutume.
According to Botswana Ash Managing Director, Kangangwani Phatshwane since the event came to the mining town in 2016, there has been significant improvement for businesses within the town.
“The improvement isn’t just about the large volumes of people coming to Sowa Town, it has also been qualitative. People will talk about the experiences they had at the eastern Sua Pan,” noted Phatshwane.
He further said although their role is simply to facilitate, as the event is owned by Botswana Tourism Organisation, they however got involved with tourism to improve the management of the wetland system in the region.
“One of the issues which motivated us the most is the fact that tourism from the western side was booming whilst the eastern side was somewhat neglected,” he said, adding that they wanted something to compliment the Nata Bird Sanctuary.
“This is why we thought of making the Eastern beach of Sua Pan available for tourism activities,” he explained.
Phatshwane said they realised they had to find a way for tourists, particularly Batswana, to experience the various water sports made possible when the pans flood.
“This is the best place for gliding and skydiving. It is just excellent for aviation and water sports. We have a vast pan, which when it has enough water you can go for 40km. We are open to business for tourism agents to come to us and speed up tourism so we don’t have once off events. Makgadikgadi Epic has been a start and we want it to grow in leaps and bounds and add meaningful contributions to the country’s coffers,” he stressed.
Sowa Town Council Principal Economist, Dimpho Sedumedi said the number of small businesses directly benefiting from the event has doubled this year.
She admitted Sowa doesn’t have much economic activity, with residents regularly travelling to Nata and Francistown for their shopping.
“However with an event of this magnitude, the informal sector and Small Micro Enterprises (SMME) make a better turnover,” said Sedumedi.
“We have come a long way – when we started even the community classified the event as just for Botswana Tourism. However they have now come on board,” she concluded.
Meanwhile, BR Express have confirmed it will be running a special service leaving Gaborone from 7pm on Friday arriving in Sowa the following morning. There will also be a return journey leaving Sowa at 6pm on Monday, arriving in the capital at 6am Tuesday. Entertainment will be provided with a DJ on board.
Date: 12th – 15th July
Venue: LAPA – Sowa Town Park
Entrance: P50 (Friday – Monday) – Under 12, Free Entry
NOTE: Gate to Open @ 0600 hrs (Every day for Public AND Gates to Close @ 1800 (Every day for Public)