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Meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions tourism (MICE tourism) is generally taking shape in Botswana as promoted by the Tourism Policy of 2021. MICE tourism is a type of tourism in which large groups, usually planned well in advance, are brought together either at Meetings, conferences, and exhibitions.
In the last two weeks, Kasane has witnessed two such international conferences. While MICE tourism is taking shape in the country, adventure tourism should also be promoted. The old Hunters Road is used by many adventure tourists, but this is not given attention nor do communities in the area benefit from it as much of it is taking place in their area. The Old Hunters Road was established by Westbeach between 1871 and 1881.
Westbeach established the “Hunters’ Road” trade route from Tati/Francistown to Lesoma, along with a network of trading posts that in addition to Pandamatenga included stores at Lesoma, Kazungula, and Sesheke in Lozi country (presently Zambia). In 1881-82 Westbeach further extended his road from Lesoma to the banks of the Zambezi.
Wagons from the south stopped at Lesoma, where they were offloaded with their goods being portered to the river for crossing. The Hunters Road was subsequently used to demarcate the Botswana-Zimbabwe border. The Hunters Road linked the Victoria Falls with Botswana. The Victoria Falls became the place that every hunter, trader, artist, photographer, missionary, and adventurer worth his salt had to see. There is evidence therefore that even though the Victoria Falls is outside Botswana and is in Zimbabwe/Zambia, early characters travelled through this country to get there, most of them using the Hunters’ Road.
Today, the Hunters’ Road is a romantic name for what is still a romantic place especially adventure and cultural tourists. Although it was eventually abandoned in favour of a better route to the east, it was, in its heyday, the most direct route to the Victoria Falls via Tati, a town that existed before Francistown. Early travellers came up the Tati River to Maitengwe then turned north onto Nata following the border of present-day Zimbabwe and Botswana.
The track or road survives today because it became the international boundary between Botswana and Zimbabwe. Westbeach used large numbers of African or Boer hunters to shoot elephant on a big scale and transported up to 11 000kg of ivory south of the Pandamatenga using the Hunter’s Road. Westbeach’s settlement at Panda-ma-Tenga became a regular stopping-point for many travellers bound for the Zambezi and the Victoria Falls.
Some of the tourism accommodation facilities and lodges such as Woodlands Stop Over and Lodge, Adventure Bike and Rider and Tlouwana Camp have artifacts in their facilities to market Hunter’s Road to adventure tourists. These facilities market the route on websites and provide information on where adventure tourists can stay for accommodation over the night.
Adventure tourists who use Hunter’s Road therefore get accommodation at the following: Lephalale (Machauka Lodge), Nata (Elephant Sands Eco Camp) and Kasane (Senyati Safari Camp). The historical significance of Hunter’s Road is that it is used by adventure tourists who prefers adventure from just outside Nata to Kasane. The off-road track along the border runs parallel to the Nata-Kasane Road and passes through many hunting concessions, forest reserves, and villages.
It gained its name as a road used by wagons in the late 19th century, as traders moved goods from South Africa to Kazungula, on the banks of the Zambezi. Since much of the Hunters Road is found in the PALEKA (Pandamatenga, Lesoma & Kazungula) Community Trust area, they can take advantage to establish adventure tourism, accommodation facilities along the route and various tourism activities to benefit from adventure tourists who use this route.