San bushman
San bushman
San bushman

An experience with the San Bushmen:

An experience with the San Bushmen can be quite different depending on where and how you do it, but it’s one which we’d recommend taking if you get the chance.

Some lodges, such as Tau Pan Camp in the Kalahari,  employ San Bushmen trackers, where they wear the lodge uniform rather than traditional dress and have a smattering of English (some much better than others) but are also translated for by the safari guide.  They are utterly fascinating to be with and obviously know their terrain like the back of their hand.  Under their guidance you will be watching gemsbok one moment, then find yourself learning about where to find water in the midst of the desert.  In case you’re interested it’s an underground tuber which they shred then squeeze until the water runs from it.  You will also watch while the guides show you how to set a trap out of grasses twigs to catch small creatures.  But the thing which fascinates guests most is the absolute charm of their San Bushmen hosts. They are gentle, funny and hugely warm people with whom it is a pleasure to spend time.

In a different experience in the Makgadikgadi Pans, you will meet a San Bushmen family or group, who are employed by the lodge to give their guests an insight into San Bushmen culture and ways of life.  They will wear traditional dress, show you their traditional grass huts, and even take you out into the nearby bush to show you how they start fires, find water, forage and hunt.  Obviously this is a way of life which is coming to an end for many San Bushmen, but they are proud of their heritage and pleased to give visitors an insight into their culture.

Some visitors will thoroughly enjoy this chance to find out about the traditional lives of the San Bushmen and simply accept that the group might not always dress traditionally and don’t always use these skills on a day to day basis any more, but others will find it a bit uncomfortable given the lack of English (though there are translators with you) and the fact that this is done specifically for the visitors.  However the group also understands that there is interest in their culture and you might want to take photographs which they usually happily agree to.

You need to decide which kind of experience you’d prefer, but either way it’s an experience which nearly everyone comes away from the richer.

To include this experience in your Botswana safari holiday

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Holidays that include this experience:

Where:

Botswana’s Central Kalahari Game Reserve and the Makgadigkadi Pans. (Also take a San Bushmen guide to the sacred site of Tsodilo Hills).

When:

This is something you can do at any time of the year, though roughly June to October tends to be far too hot for most people in the Kalahari Desert.

By Amanda Marks, director of Botswana Specialists.