Ghanzi and the Kalahari Bushmen

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January 23rd 2008
Published: January 25th 2008
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Crossing the border into Botswana from Namibia, we made our way to our campsite near the town of Ghanzi. Here we stayed in grass and mud huts overnight and the next morning were met by a group of Kalahari Bushmen (and women), also known as Khoi-san or "San" people. The San are thought by some scientists to be amongst the earliest (if not the earliest) modern humans.

The San people originally occupied much of Southern Africa until their territories began to be squeezed by the migration of the Bantu peoples which took place starting from around the 14th century. Over time and particularly with the arrival of Europeans in the Cape area of South Africa (which was a major location for the San) they retreated into the more remote desert areas which is where they largely remain today.

Although the San culture is rapidly disappearing, there are still some groups that live a largely "traditional" life though they are finding it difficult to maintain their traditions as the younger generation is more attracted to modern life and the government is encouraging them to go to school instead of learning the methods that the Bushman have used to survive for
Mud and Grass HutMud and Grass HutMud and Grass Hut

This traditional hut is where we stayed during our night in Ghanzi - surprisingly good.

Once we had met our guides (through an interpreter), they took us for a walk for a couple of hours through an arid, desert landscape where they demonstrated the traditional San methods for surviving in what appears to be a very unforgiving environment. Amazingly they demonstrated how they find food, water and various types of medicines by digging up various plant roots - they even make soap for washing from, you guessed it, plant roots!

We also witnessed a demonstration of how to make fire by rubbing two sticks together and saw an example of how hunting with bows and poison tipped arrows (something that is only done on special occasions today).

It was a very interesting experience and a real education on how these very ancient people have lived for thousands of years. I certainly hope that they can maintain their culture and preserve these traditions and knowledge for future generations. Let's face it - if a major catastrophe strikes western 'civilization' these are the people capable of surviving to start over.

Additional photos below
Photos: 11, Displayed: 11


Bushman Tip JarBushman Tip Jar
Bushman Tip Jar

It's good to see we're not influencing them too much..... :-(
Everyone Chips InEveryone Chips In
Everyone Chips In

Even this very cute 2 or 3 year old child is trained in how to dig up roots etc for use by the tribe
Bush IngenuityBush Ingenuity
Bush Ingenuity

This Ostrich egg is used as a container for large amounts of water derived from the bulbous root of a plant - it's amazing how they can find everything they need to survive by digging in what on the surface looks like an unforgiving environment

25th January 2008

Great pictures
Daniel - you should submit your photos to Nat'l Geographic! Great stuff!
25th January 2008

Loving the blog!
We've been slack with comments, but we've really enjoyed reading your blog entries. What a fantastic adventure, and the pictures are incredible. I bet your enjoying every moment! Love Tim, Kate and Tom
25th January 2008

Awesome shots, guys! What an amazing adventure!
2nd April 2008

The camp you stayed in looksa awesome - how did you find it and how would we book there. Is it self-catering and how much was it. How much did you pay for the tour. We are going to Botswana soon and need to do the trip on a shoestring budget - any help or advice would be appreciated. Thanks so much

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