The Bushman, also known as San, were the very first indigenous folk of Southern Africa. They inhabited the land, cultivated it, and lived off it. They left clues about their location, movements, customs and characteristics in the forms of cave paintings and artefacts left behind for us to discover generations later.
When South Africa was colonised by Europeans in the 18th and 19th centuries, many of these Bushmen were either killed in battles for the land, or they eventually elected to change their rural way of life and become more integrated into the western cultures and communities.
However, hidden in the heart of the Kalahari Desert, there remains a small population of Bushmen people. Although their cultures and customs are threatened by the ever-quickening pace of this world, they retain their clutch on their unique traditions.
Walking and tracking with an authentic Kalahari Bushman guide is a very special experience indeed. These tours comprise a trip through parts of the desert, headed by a Bushman guide that will share his insights, experience and knowledge with you.
This education has come from spending his entire life amongst the fauna and flora of the South African desert, rather than from being taught theoretically in a school. Therefore, the information is unique and fascinating. He will also likely impart stories from his own experience as well as some legends that have filtered down through the generations. He will teach you to identify different animal tracks; a skill that they have had to refine for their own survival.
To walk with this Bushman guide is to get a glimpse into the life that he enjoys. This way of life entails listening, seeing, tasting, touching and smelling the earth. It involves a relationship with and understanding of nature that transcends simply enjoying its picturesque qualities.
The winter months are the best time to go on one of these memorable safaris. These extend from June to August in South Africa. Summer months are extremely hot and uncomfortable in the Kalahari. However, if you do choose to go in summer, remember that most of your activities will be restricted to dawn and dusk, rather than in the heat of the day.
You will also visit a local craft village in which you can watch the Bushmen people at work as they create beautiful items (including jewellery) from natural materials.
There is plenty of accommodation in and around the Kalahari Desert. Campsites and chalets are available within the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.
To book your tour, contact the South African National Parks Central Reservations desk at +27 (0)12 428-9111.
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