In the northern part of the country there is a popular saying that the North West District’s Capital Village, Maun is what it is because of the Thamalakane River.
The statement support the expression that the recent return of the river which has been dry for almost two years has brought the village back to life. The jubilant manifestation of Maun residents and other people familiar with the village when the river started to flow support all this. Many are extremely happy that the river is finally back. When the river goes dry, Maun is not vibrant as it is known as far as entertainment lifestyle and tourism is concerned. Thamalakane River has always been among the main source of attraction for tourists and revellers who travel to Maun especially during holidays. The village is the tourism capital of this country and also a gateway to the prestigious mighty Okavango Delta.
Not only thamalakane river is an attraction for fun it is also a source of revenue for other economic livelihoods. This include fishermen, farmers, boat-cruisers, tour operators, community trusts and hotel/lodge owners among others who are economically benefiting from it.
Interestingly the return of the river has also ignited another tourism feature, Matlapana Old Bridge as the place is now becoming another favourite spot for tourists and revellers. The refurbished bridge throughout the week attracts a number of people who come to enjoy a great river view. The number increases during the week and is anticipated to further increase during the holidays. Positioned from the bridge one can enjoy a broader view of the Thamalakane River. Not only that one also get to witness crocodiles and hippos around the area. The animals have also been saved by the return of the river. When dry the animals were struggling surviving on the water pumped into river ponds either by wildlife department or any other good samaritan for their survival.
The Matlapana Old Bridge was constructed in the 1930's as a point of transit across the Thamalakane river. The bridge was used by for recruitment of migrant labourers from neighbouring countries such as Zambia, Zimbabwe and Angola. The bridge was recently refurbished to a tune of P2 million . The project was financially supported by the Kavango Zambezi Transfortier Conservation Area (KAZA) and the Government of Germany. The refurbished bridge will be used by Matlapana Community Development Trust for eco-tourism activities. It can also be used by local community for recreational, wedding photography, selling of art and crafts and related activities.
Some tour operators have also already started to include visiting the bridge in their upcoming holiday packages. “The bridge is quite a very beautiful place to visit for leisure, take pictures and also to witness the flow of the river especially in the evening,” Black Prince Travel and Tours Director, Emmanuel Tumelo Petros also concurred in an interview with The Patriot Lifestyle.
Petros said the new developments will add up to other leisure features which are already there in Maun such as the famous Big Tree as well as the Matlapana beach. In their billed July packages Black Prince Travel and Tours has also included a visit to these features. According to Petros, people usually visits the prominent entertainment spots mostly during weekends for leisure and to unwind from their busy schedule. Meanwhile the North West District Council is also engaged in a process to develop these prominent spots to make them more appealing to the general public.