The plains of the Kalahari hold incredible stories, best told by those that have walked them for centuries, the Bushmen.
The San Bushmen are an indigenous hunter-gatherer group considered to be the first nation in Southern Africa and one of the oldest people in the world. Their long presence in the Kalahari is evidenced by the many stone tools and rock art paintings found here that date back over 70 000 years. Traditionally semi-nomadic, the San moved according to the seasons and availability of water, game and plants they brought.
The San have had to overcome many obstacles to hold onto their language, culture and belief system in today’s modern world, a testament to their strength and resilience. To be guided through the Kalahari landscape on foot by a local San Bushman is a privilege that offers an authentic perspective of the rich culture, knowledge and understanding of these indigenous people.
Walking through the bush with your guide, you will have an opportunity to see the surrounding landscape through the eyes of those most knowledgeable about the area. You will get to learn about the interconnection of the environment and that even the smallest insect has an important part to play in maintaining the health of the Kalahari ecosystem.
These are some of the special insights of the Bushmen’s way of life that you can learn while on a Kalahari safari:
Water finding expeditions
Bushmen hold a wealth of indigenous knowledge of the flora and fauna of Southern Africa and are experts in finding and preserving water within the seemingly parched Kalahari. Once located, tubers are dug up out of the ground, shards of the plant shaved off and then deftly squeezed with a thumb pointing towards the mouth. From this, they manage to force a trickle of tuber juice from their hand and down the thumb. Water is also preserved in used ostrich shells, which the Bushman will plug with plant matter and then bury the shells for future use in very dry times.
A focal point in San life is fire. Men carry two sticks with them at all times, which they rub together until a spark lights dry grass. Not only do fires provide warmth, light and a way to cook, they also bring the group together to share stories, dance and sing. Spending time with San Bushmen is an experience filled with laughter, interesting tales and fascinating facts about the bush around you, which may never have known before.
Along with meeting San Bushmen, a Kalahari safari can include game drives to find the famous black-maned lions as well as amazing stargazing in one of the places on earth with the least light pollution. Contact us about creating a safari in Africa that incorporates a cultural experience, like that of meeting the San Bushmen.
Images courtesy of Natural Selection.