Entries in Kalahari Desert (1)


Southern Africa's Original Tribe: Botswana's San Bushman

botswana safari

For 80,000 years the San people, known as the Bushmen, have thrived in the Kalahari Desert. These traditional hunter-gatherers are believed to be the original inhabitants of southern Africa, spanning across Botswana, Namibia, Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. The San are one of the populations from which all modern humans descend, and their culture is just as vibrant today.

The Bushmen communicate through a variety of distinct languages that are all based on clicking sounds, which can be represented in writing using a variety of symbols. Women often act as the leaders of their family unit and are not required to be gatherers -- many hunt too! It is an incredibly important part of San upbringing that their children’s only responsibility is to play and explore, because they view youth as an important time to enjoy life’s many offerings.

One of the San’s best-known rituals is the Trance Dance which allows, through trance, the ability to harness spiritual powers that can be used to heal sickness, bring luck to hunting, and even command rain to end a drought. It is believed that the dancing and traditional ornaments they wear, such as dancing rattles, draw in spirits from the night. A great deal of ancient San depicts this exact tradition, proving the Bushmen’s long-term trust in its powers.

While the San Bushmen are lively people who honor their culture, they are not completely free from modern struggles. They have been oppressed time and time again, being evicted from their land and feeling the force of society to conform to more modern practices. Regardless, they continue to protect and live off the incredible land they love and have called home for thousands of years, the Kalahari Desert.

Visiting the Bushmen

San Camp: With white fabric tents dotting the incredible multicolor skyline of the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, San Camp is certainly one of the most chic and remote locations in Botswana.  The land itself is the remnants of a lake that was once larger than Switzerland, but dried up thousands of years ago. It left behind one of the world’s largest salt flats, an absolutely stunning natural wonder. Guests are allowed to accompany the San Bushmen on an authentic hunt and observe the ritualistic methods that are used as well as the colorful spirit of the people.

Jack’s Camp: This camp is an uber luxurious oasis amidst the remote wilderness and heat of the Kalahari Desert. Jack’s Camp offers walking tours that meld the curiosity of world travelers with expert knowledge of the Bushmen. They share their favorite local places to spot meerkat families, hyenas, and other fascinating wildlife that inhabit this glorious desert. You will also have the opportunity to visit a remote cattle post to learn more about traditional Botswanan culture. When it comes time to settle in at the lodge, enjoy the grand 1940’s Hemmingway style plush decor and private, spacious tents overlooking the expansive landscape.

Tau Pan Camp: Located in the center of the Kalahari Game Reserve, this campsite provides an eco-friendly stay on the edge of an ancient sand dune. With its rare views and fantastic history, Tau Pan is for those who want a fully immersive experience. Enjoy a nature walk with the Bushmen who will expose you to some of Africa’s best game viewing, and teach you their tried and true ways of surviving in this intense climate. Get the chance to see a local watering hole and the abundance of wildlife that flock to it!