Thursday, August 17, 2006

In Search of Baobab Beauties

We all know why visitors come to Botswana - lions, elephants. hippos, birds, desert, culture, friends... What about trees? Less than two weeks ago, seven of us camped overnight in the Gwebe Hills, about 180km from Maun. Along with climbing two of the hills to enjoy the views, seeing eight kudu spring across an open plain and keeping intouch with the group, I keep looking at these amazing Baobabs.

There are more famous places in Botswana for viewing baobabs, like Kubu Island in the Makadikadi Pans. For pure numbers, the Gwebe Hills are hard to beat. My guess, from one visit, is there are more than a 1,000. All configurations are there - the lone baobab, the entertwined couple and the family groupings.

Hard to forget the old baobab once you see one. The kind of look upsidedown, with a bad hair day. The age of an individual tree is a good discussion for around the campfire, after dinner - 1,000 years sounds like a minimum for a big baobab. They are so fat because they store water for the periodic droughts that occur.

At the end of the day, for me, the baobab is mystical - they just give me a special feeling and sense of reverence. Of course I feel that way about all big trees and also like the local jackelberry tree. Once it takes more than 4-5 people to stretch around a tree, your into something special.

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