Ghanzi is also known as ‘The capital of the Kalahari’ and is situated amongst a flat and featureless terrain, with bushes, thorn trees and grasslands coming alive in the rainy season. It is some 200km to the Namibia border post to the east or 300km to Maun to the west. The tarred roads are excellent and Ghanzi is served by its own airfield. Ghanzi is also a stopover point for travellers en-route to the Okavango Delta and Moremi Game Reserve.
Ghanzi has a couple of banks, of which one of them has an ATM. There are also 3 shopping centres and a couple of bottle stores. The Airfield garage just off the highway is the most convenient refuelling station. For those wishing to stay there are a few hotels and lodges in the Ghanzi area.
Employment in Ghanzi centres around cattle farming that supplies the Botswana Meat Commission with most of the required beef produce. There are also several RAD (Remote Area Development) settlements in the area, providing basic social services like schools and health facilities. Training in handicrafts, textiles, carpentry, dressmaking, livestock rearing and arable agriculture is also organized. Another development project in Ghanzi is Ghanzicraft, located on the main street in town, near the post office.
Bushmen (Basarwa) once dominated the region. Their survival strategies had been perfected over the centuries for living in such an inhospitable environment. They were joined later by the Bakgalagadi and gradually left to live in the Kalahari villages such as Ncojane, Matsheng and Kang.
After the Bushmen, it was the turn of Hottentots to settle in the Ghanzi area, tending large herds of cattle. In 1874, the first white settlers arrived, led by Hendrik van Zyl, a flamboyant character whose legend lives on in Ghanzi, as does the remains of his once magnificent house. Boer trekkers followed in the late 1890’s, lured by attractive business propositions. It turned out that the farm leases had been fraudulently acquired from Tawana Chief Moremi in Maun by Cecil Rhodes’ ‘legal advisers’.
But a commitment to cattle ranching was established in the early 1900’s and today there are over 200 cattle farms. The abundant supply of groundwater that feeds nutritious grasses, combined with improved ranching techniques, enhances the local experts boasts that Ghanzi ‘has the best cattle country in the world’.