On the 7th of January the famous and beloved Chapman’s Baobab fell. It is not as yet clear what caused Chapman’s to fall, or whether the tree is still alive. The National Parks and Museums Authority of Botswana are sending a team of Botanists and Archaeologists to investigate the reasons it fell. Guides from Uncharted Africa and guests visiting Makgadikgadi Pans will continue to visit the site and we will keep you updated on any new developments as they support the National Parks and Museums team in solving this mystery.
I first visited this baobab with a group in 2005 and stood in awe of this historic tree, made famous by early adventurers. This and Green's Baobab, on the fringe of the world’s largest network of salt pans, were historically used as stopovers by traders, hunters and missionaries. Driving through the Mopane veld, past Gweta village, countless kraals and the odd set of elephant foot prints, you can spot these 'mowanas' from a good distance. Green’s Baobab is the first tree on the route, but it’s Chapman’s tree that wins admiration. A big game hunter in the 1860s, James Chapman owned one of the first cameras in Southern Africa and joined Baines and Livingstone on their trip to the Victoria Falls. He never shared Baines’s fame as his photographic equipment seized in the moist forested area, but he still gained mowana mogul status, sharing his name with the 500-year-old tree on the outskirts of Ntwetwe Pan. The baobab is riddled with bullet holes and messages left by travellers who used its trunk as a post office.