On the north-west fringe of the Kalahari Desert are the honey and rose colored granite cliffs of the Tsodilo Hills. These hills, which were sacred to the Bushmen, are world famous for their Bushman paintings.
Stone Age tools, beads and pottery fragments abound in the area. But most fascinating of all Tsodilo’s treasures are the cliff-face galleries of more than 2 000 paintings. The earliest paintings, thought to be at least 4 000 years old, depict individual animals in silhouette. Later works show whole herds of game, and the most recent show men hunting game. Bushmen still live near Tsodilo – the only place known where they and their paintings can be found together. But today’s Bushmen no longer paint, and appear to know nothing of the techniques of their ancestors. The Tsodilo Hills are extremely remote and difficult to reach and traveling over the desert road, can take 14 hours or more and water is sparse. Despite all the hazards, every year more intrepid travelers journey to see the great heritage left by the desert painters of old.
The Tsodilo Hills is one of the most historically significant rock art sites in the world with 500 individual sites charting thousands of years of human habitation. There is a small San encampment nearby as well as a village near the Male Hill inhabited by the Hambukushu people.
Ecosystems: scrubland, pans, cliffs
When to go: Anytime
Highlights: Hiking, rock paintings, archeological remnants