Situated east of Palapye, the imposing Tswapong Hills rise almost four hundred metres above the surrounding plains. These one-billion-year-old titans extend 60 km west of the village of Moremi and measure 20 km in breadth. Tswapong Hills hold numerous fascinating and beautiful archaeological, historical and natural history sites. Some of the earliest traces of Bantu speaking people in Southern Africa have been found in the gorges at Tswapong. These sites are littered with beautifully decorated pottery fragments dating back to the first millennium. Collapsed and buried iron smelters give evidence of the iron-smelting in the gorges, and red ochre paintings can be seen under rocky overhangs.
Big game animals formerly occupied this area, but now the hills are home to rock dassies, baboons, brown hyena and leopard. Over 350 species of birds have been recorded in the area, including the endangered Cape Vulture, the Black Eagle, the Black Stork and the beautiful Meyer's Parrot, and over a hundred butterfly species.
One of the biggest draws is the lush, wet vegetation and a series of waterfalls – uncharacteristic of Botswana's generally dry climate.
Natural freshwater springs rise throughout the hills, turning to streams and in times of higher rainfall - waterfalls that collect in beautiful lagoons.
Tswapong is an ideal weekend getaway for residents of and visitors to Gaborone or Francistown. Access doesn't require a four-wheel-drive vehicle, and camping is allowed near the site. However, visitors should arrive prepared as the site is currently not serviced. Plans are underway to develop camping and ablution blocks, trail signage and elevated wooden pathways.
For bookings to the place call +267 71247225.
Moremi Gorge, situated deep within the hills, accessible on foot through a steep climb, is the source of three permanent waterfalls. The first two are smaller but fan out into large waterholes. The uppermost falls are ten-metres high, cascading over rocky outcrops and collecting in a deeply hidden, lushly vegetated lagoon.
Moremi Gorge is of great religious and spiritual importance to the local community and designated National Monument by the Department of National Museums and Monuments. The surrounding area is co-managed by the Moremi-Mannonye Conservation Trust and Botswana Tourism Organisation. This project involves local residents in the development of non-consumptive eco-tourism activities.
Before venturing into the hills, you should request permission from the local headman as a matter of courtesy. A National Museum guide is available at Moremi village.