The town of Maun has long shed its image as a “Wild West” frontier town and is today one of Botswana’s biggest tourism centers. Maun - established in 1915 as the capital of the Botswana people - has earned itself the name of Gateway to the Okavango Delta.
Maun means ‘Place of the short reeds’ - referring to the reeds growing in the nearby Thamalakane River. The rise of the tourism sector in the town has led to the replacement of traditional thatched rondavels with new cinderblock homes with tin roofs. Despite this very obvious sign of progress made through tourism, Maun is probably best known for the many donkeys and goats roaming around.
One of the fine lodges in Maun is Riley’s Hotel, established in 1910 when the town was the meeting place for big game hunters on their way to and from the hunting area to the north. Back then it took a grueling 35 hours to travel from Francistown to Maun. By the time the men reached Maun, all they could think of was rest and something cold to drink (maybe not necessarily in that order…). Harry Riley saw the gap in the market - and the rest is history!
Riley’s Hotel, in the center of Maun, is to a large extent a symbol of the days when Maun was an isolated frontier town. Island Safari Lodge, to the north of Maun, is another landmark of those early days.
The Gateway to the Okavango does have an airport - considered one of the busiest airports in Southern Africa.
Another place in Maun worth a visit is the Maun Game Reserve. It is small, covering only 8km˛, but there are many walking trails. Island Safari Lodge The original ‘place of the short reeds’ is situated in the reserve.