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What’s good in the hood, BTO unpacks fun and adventure

Every year, Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) rolls out a few social activities aimed at promoting local tourism. This year is no different as BTO looks to encourage diversification in the tourism product through events based tourism and has in its kitty a wide range of fun and enjoyable activities aimed at tickling every citizen’s fancy.

According to the Minister for Environment Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, Tshekedi Khama, these events look to drive diversification of the tourism region to include areas not traditionally associated with tourism, such as Khawa or Sowa or Gaborone. Furthermore, these events seek to drive the diversification into new tourism such as Sport and Adventure and Culture and Heritage.

Minister for Environment Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, Tshekedi Khama (helmet) at one of the past Khawa events.

“The events also ensure BTO’s mandate of destination awareness, for example through the international airing of World’s Strongest Man to over 470 million households, in over 70 countries. Botswana is on the map as a host to an international sporting event, as well as a destination of choice. These events look to encourage locals to travel more in their own country, spectate and participate in exciting activities which in turn generate wealth for the local economy,” Khama said recently when briefing the media about the upcoming BTO events.

Minister for Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, Tshekedi Khama.

First on the tantalizing BTO platter is the Khawa Dune Challenge and Cultural Festival which takes place in Khawa, a forlorn village several kilometres away from the comfort of the capital city, Gaborone situated in the Kgalagadi District.

Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) in collaboration with the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture and Botswana Motor Sport (BMS) will on Friday 26th to Sunday 28th May 2017 host the Khawa Dune Challenge & Cultural Festival at Khawa, a village approximately 167 km southwest of Tsabong in the Kgalagadi District. Activities at the event, which is now in its sixth year, will feature:

His Excellency President Ian Khama taking part in one of the races at Khawa.
  • Quad and motor bike challenges (P50.00)
  • Quad and motor bike fun rides (P150.00)
  • Fun Camel rides (P100.00)
  • Helicopter rides (Scenic viewing) – (P500.00)
  • Cultural performances and exhibitions and sale of arts and crafts from the Kgalagadi area.
  • Other activities to be found at the event include the following sporting activities; soccer, dodge-ball, netball and sand dune racing
  • Sand Boarding – Free
  • Motor Bike Stunts
  • Contemporary Festival
  • Tug of War – the public is encouraged to come up with their own teams and partake in the activity
  • Polka Dance, organized by MYESC
Former Miss Botswana Sumaiyah Marope riding a camel in Tsabong en route to Khawa.

This event is one of its kind in Botswana combining both motorsport and culture adding a new dimension to tourism product development. Of particular importance is the introduction of Camel activities as part of the event in order to add value and to enhance the sustainability of the camel-centred tourism product. As the Camel Park in Tsabong is nearing completion, activities centered on camels as a tourism attraction, therefore, enhancing the Camel Product and ensure its commercial exploitation and sustainability. The festival, is a family-oriented event involving a Quad and Motor Bike Challenge traversing the Khawa Sand Dunes, a Camel Race, cultural activities showcasing the cultures of the Kgalagadi, as well as fun Camel rides.

BTO Communications Manager, Keitumetse Setlang (brown tee) spotted at one of the past Khawa events.

The event also offers short term employment to all volunteers in all aspects of running the event. Local businesses are also given an opportunity to have Vending Stalls for their Small businesses. Other business enterprises en-route to Khawa also benefit substantially.

#BotswanaUnplugged Editor and Blogger, Moses ‘Rudeboy Necta’ Maruping entering Khawa village in 2015.

The Khawa Dune Challenge & Cultural Festival is one of the tourism product diversification initiatives aimed at diversifying the tourism product and stimulating domestic tourism market demand. Over the past five years since its inception in 2012 the event has grown in leaps and bounds with additional activities introduced every year to make it more appealing.

BTO Marketing Manager, Jillian Blackbeard (L) seen at Khawa.

According to BTO, the Khawa Dune Challenge continues to yield positive outcome in terms of spectator turnout and level of satisfaction. The event continues to contribute to the development of local communities, providing support to those who pursue business opportunities by significantly boosting their sales. It has made a key contribution to cultural development of the host communities by providing them with a platform to showcase their cultural dance and song through Polka.

An aeriel view of Khawa campsite during one of the Khawa Dune Challenge and Cultural Festival.

Khawa village has secured a prominent place on the map and has gained recognition as one of the tourism attractions in Botswana. BTO has developed a land use plan for the village and has assisted the village trust to secure a campsite plot for use in generating sustainable income for the community.

The BTO annual affair buffet also includes an event aptly tagged ‘World’s Strongest Man.’

Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) will once again host the highly televised event dubbed the “World’s Strongest Man”, in Gaborone from the 20th – 28th May 2017. The event was successfully held in Kasane last year.

2015 champion, Brian-Shaw-Car-Walk. Picture credit (World Strongest Man Website)

This year, Gaborone will host the two (2) legged events on the following dates;
1st Leg – Qualifying round: 20th – 23rd May 2017
2nd Leg – Finals: 27th – 28th May 2017

Event 1: 20th May 2017 @ 0647hrs – 1738hrs:  Load & Drag, Log Lift    (Venue: Government Enclave)
Event 2: 21st May 2017 @ 0647hrs – 1737hrs:  Squad Lift, Fingal Fingers, Truck Pull (Venue: Grand Palm)
Event 3: 22nd May 2017 @ 0648hrs – 1737hrs:  Deadlift, Basque Stone Lift (Venue – Bahurutshe Cultural Centre and)

Event 4: 23rd May 2017 @ 0648hrs – 1737hrs: Toss, Elephant Carry & Last Man Standing (UB Stadium)
Event 5: 27th May 2017 @ 0650hrs – 1736hrs: Flip & Drag, Squad Lift, Viking Press (The Three Dikgosi Monument – CBD)

Event 6: 28th May 2017 @ 0651hrs – 1735hrs: Plane Pull, Deadlift for Max & Atlas Stones (SSKI Airport & Parliament Building-yet to confirm)
The public is invited to attend for free the daily activities.

Every year, motorsport fans look forward to the highly popular Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race, popularly referred to as Mantshwabisi. The exciting motor race is usually the most anticipated event within the comprehensive BTO list of options:

Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO), Botswana Motor Sports (BMS), Southern Africa National Off-Road Car Racing Association (SANORA), MASCOM and Jwaneng Town Council (JTC) will this year host the annual race in Jwaneng from the 23rd – 25th June 2017, in Jwaneng.

The event has over the years experienced growth and continues to grow in status, therefore, safety continues to be BTO’s major concern, and this year’s event is no exception, as the organisation continues to preach the annual sermon for Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race through the ‘Don’t Spoil it’ Campaign.

23rd June 2017 – Prologue
24th June 2017 – Official Opening
25th June 2017 – Final Race & Awards Ceremony
Campgrounds will be provided. Information relating to accommodation packages will be communicated on various mediums.

Expected Outcomes:
* An increase in local travel & tourist arrivals from regional markets and the world.
* An Increase in awareness of Botswana as a prime tourist destination of choice.
* An increased awareness of specific tourism destinations within the country.

Flipping through the pages of the BTO menu further, one will also note an event dubbed ‘Race For Rhinos’

Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) in partnership with Gaing-O Community Trust and Matsieng Flying Club will host the third navigation, aviation Race for Rhinos event in Sowa Town (yet to confirm), Botswana from the  29 June 2017 – 2 July 2017. The Race for Rhinos is used as an awareness builder for Botswana’s policy of Safe/Save. The auction will raise money for Tlhokomela’s Centralised Rhino Operations Centre.

This event is important to the organisation as a way to increase aviation tourism into the country, as well as generate new events that are interesting for our local and regional tourists’ interested in adventure and sporting events. The main feature of the Race for Rhinos will be the race itself, with at least 100 light aircraft expected to participate, taking off and landing directly on the hardened salt plains next to Lekhubu Island.

* Fun Quad Rides
* Makgadikgadi Pans Aerial Excursion
* Aviation stunts
* Sky-diving stunts 

If you’re an adventurous thrill seeker like us, please be sure to diarize 9-12 August 2017, as you would not want to miss this year’s Makgadikgadi Epic.

Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) in partnership with Parachute Association of Botswana (PAB), BOTASH and Nata Bird Sanctuary will host the fourth annual Botswana international Skydiving event in Sowa Town (yet to confirm), Botswana from the  9th – 12th August 2017.

The event will feature:

* Professional Skydiving
* Tandem Jumps
* Fun Quads rides
* Scenic Flights

  • Accommodation:
    Tented Accommodation (Packages will be communicated at a later date).

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