Final Updated 6th June 2018
Our initial quit in Botswana was the Dqae Qare San Lodge close to D’kar, in the Kalahari area, around halfway involving the Buitepost-Mamuno border crossing with Namibia and Maun.
I’d just completed my initial Rock My Namibia Adventure tour (which was outstanding btw – you need to unquestionably come on the subsequent one particular) and had a couple of weeks off in involving tours, so Jessi (my correct-hand lady, who runs some of my tours for me), our buddy Thomas and I decided to employ a vehicle and road trip by means of Botswana to Zambia.
I’ve visited Botswana a couple of instances just before, undertaking safaris in Chobe and the Okavango Delta, but I was eager to see additional of the nation and find out about the different cultures right here, in particular the San individuals who are one particular of the oldest (if not the oldest) tribal groups in the globe and the original inhabitants of southern Africa, with archaeological proof displaying that they have lived on the land for 30,000 years. It is believed that all modern day humans are the descendants of the San individuals which is fairly impressive.
We booked onto the complete day San Knowledge at the lodge, not genuinely being aware of what to expect…
We have been picked up at the lodge early in the morning by our San guides, Kgakgam (her name suggests ‘drinking mouth’, she stated her mother need to have been really thirsty) and Xgaiga (his name suggests ‘chest’) and they along with a couple of other folks took us into the bush and started our introduction to the tribe. We decided to do the complete day San Knowledge which I have to say is one particular of the most enjoyable tribal meetings in all my years of travelling in Africa.
Traditionally the San are nomadic hunter-gatherers and are also recognized as the ‘Bushmen’ due to their outstanding know-how of the plants, animals and their surroundings. When I was in Namibia, I overheard somebody saying that you shouldn’t use that term any additional as it is now classed as derogatory, having said that the San individuals (which includes the girls) at Dqae Qare San Lodge referred to themselves as ‘Bushmen’ so I guess it depends on who you speak to and the context in which the term is made use of. It definitely wasn’t a term that the San individuals I met identified offensive.
As we walked, Kgakgam and Xgaiga showed us animal tracks which includes these of the brown hyena, zebra and giraffe and pointed out the distinct types of poop we have been seeing. It was so fascinating to see how ‘at one’ with the organic globe – some thing which I really feel requirements to be treasured and protected for all our sakes.
We asked lots of concerns as we walked and our guides have been additional than pleased to answer them and actively encouraged us to take photographs while proudly displaying of the plants they’d identified.
Just about every now and once again we would quit to forage for roots. The initial took a even though to dig out and was a bit like a giant sweet potato. The second was a water plant, which, as you’d visualize contained a lot of water and is valuable for maintaining hydrated in the desert. Every person got a piece of the plant to share, which includes us. It didn’t taste of considerably, to me it had the texture of a juicy pear, but with a fraction of the taste – but hey, if it keeps you alive in the desert then it is excellent sufficient for me. The third was a bush potato, which I didn’t attempt, but am told is extremely tasty when roasted.
We discovered that the San are monogamous and the guys just take one particular wife and even though it made use of to be the case that the parents would opt for the wife, these days they are permitted to opt for for themselves. For a dowry and to prove his worth, a potential husband need to kill an eland (significant antelope) and show that he can make fire.
There is no ‘hierarchy’ as such, so as a result a really democratic society having said that the elders do have a specific influence.
These days the San are low in numbers and spread out largely in Botswana and Namibia, with some in Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. They have now largely been removed from their ancestral lands in the Central Kalahari, but they are campaigning to return.
Soon after a rest in the middle of the day, we headed to the ‘village’ to find out how to hunt by setting traps, make ropes from plants, make jewellery, listen to standard music, hear stories and play games.
We discovered that really couple of San reside in the standard way and have to have permits if they want to hunt as their ancestors did, so most San individuals reside in additional modern day settlements, which includes these who we met at the farm. They have been really open about the reality that the village we went to wasn’t their ‘real village’ (most reside in nearby D’kar, pronounced ‘deekar’) but additional of a representation of standard San culture and that the lodge now delivers very important revenue for the San individuals who function there.
Saying that, they have been nevertheless really proud of the reality that the standard san expertise are passed down by means of the generations currently and nevertheless made use of exactly where attainable.
The greatest factor about the entire factor, each on the San Knowledge and at the lodge, was the individuals. The San individuals have been extremely friendly, welcoming, open, warm and funny. At no point did I really feel that we weren’t welcome or that we have been intruding on their day to day life or that it was staged in any way. They have been really open about anything and we have been just element of the gang.
Inside the group, there was a different man, also called Xgaiga (I’ll refer to him as ‘the elder’ and our guide Xgaiga as ‘the younger’ despite the fact that he wasn’t that considerably younger) who I completely loved. He has such an open face and was really enthusiastic about anything displaying us their standard hunting procedures. By the finish of the day I was in particular fond of him.
Soon after dinner at the lodge, we gathered about the fire, this time joined by additional individuals who had arrived that day as properly as the entire San neighborhood who function at the lodge.
The San are magnificent storytellers and entertainers and Xgaiga (the younger) was a correct showman. He regaled us with stories of the Lion and the Clever Hare, speaking in his personal language of Naro (which is one particular of the click languages), acting out the story as he went, while one particular of the other ladies translated for the rest of us.
The greatest element for me was watching as the rest of the San sat and listened and laughed hysterically at his story. I felt like we have been merely flies on the wall of a standard, energetic, flamboyant and wonderfully comedic San storytelling session.
The final element of the evening involved standard San singing and dancing. The girls preserve the rhythm by clapping (despite the fact that they sometimes got up to dance) and the guys move in a circle, chanting in a trance like state.
Through the final song of the evening, Xgaiga (the elder) broke away from the circle and came more than to me, considerably to the astonishment of the rest of the group, who have been likely asking yourself why I had been singled out for particular therapy. He place his hand on my reduced stomach, smiled and stated “Doctor”, then started chanting just before placing his hand on my head. Jessi and I looked at every other, she smiled sympathetically as my eyes started to fill with tears.
The San are recognized for their healing practices, in particular when in this trance like state and the week prior, I had been diagnosed with a kidney infection which seemed to come about soon after a really bumpy road in northern Namibia. It was extremely painful, and soon after a week or so of antibiotics, I was nevertheless feeling some discomfort (which didn’t really feel kidney associated to me) so I went back to the hospital for tests.
An ultrasound revealed that I also had significant fibroids in my uterus… it is been an emotional couple of weeks, let’s place it that way and I am nevertheless possessing intermittent discomfort from the fibroids, in particular when standing for extended periods of time, as I had performed when going to the village earlier in the day.
Xgaiga (the elder) was healing me. It was a really moving a profound practical experience. I do not even know how to describe it.
At the finish of the evening, he walked more than to me once again, touched my reduced abdomen initial, then my shoulder and lastly my head, just before clicking his fingers above me as if to banish any poor power. He then did the similar to Jessi, Thomas and a couple of the San individuals in the circle.
After we’d stated goodnight to our San pals, we set up our cameras to attempt a bit of evening photography as the Milky Way was sparkling above us in all her glory… what a evening!
The time we spent at at Dqae Qare San Lodge was outstanding. The hospitality we felt was immense and the practical experience will stick in my memory forever.
For causes I cannot clarify, I felt like we genuinely had a excellent connection with the San individuals we met that day and Xgaiga’s (the elder) blessing was one particular of these magical moments in life that only comes about when in a blue moon.
We hired a vehicle from Europcar. Driving from Windhoek, Namibia to Kasane, Botswana. You do not ‘need’ a 4×4 to do the route we did, having said that some of the lodges we stayed at (including Dqae Qare San Lodge) have been down sandy tracks. Most of the most important roads we made use of are sealed and you can constantly take tours into the components of the nation that do need a 4×4 or park someplace close to the most important road and get your lodge to choose you up if it is just a brief distance.
The lodge is about 7km down a dirt road off the A3 road which lies involving Ghanzi (about 20km away) and Maun. There is a sign to inform you exactly where to turn so you shouldn’t miss it, but you need to also be in a position to enter it into your GPS method also.
The road is pretty sandy, having said that our Toyota Corolla two-wheel drive (that we nicknamed Botswana Billy) did just fine navigating the track despite the fact that you might want to verify the road situation just before you try the road.
If you do not have your personal automobile (or a appropriate one particular), the lodge can arrange choose-ups from nearby Ghanzi or D’kar for an additional expense.
Ideally, I’d recommend that you get there just before nightfall as navigating the road in the dark could be a tiny confusing. The drive from Windhoek (with the border crossing – which was fast and painless – and a quit for purchasing and a Hungry Lion takeaway in Gobabis on the Namibian side) took about 7 hours.
Just try to remember you are not permitted to bring any meat, dairy or fruit goods into Botswana from Namibia, so you might be far better to do your purchasing on the Botswana side of the border in Ghanzi.
You can book your spot at the lodge by means of their web site right here.
Guests can either camp utilizing their personal gear or you can keep in the farm residence like we did. I would book in advance, in particular if wanting to keep in the lodge. The rooms are fairly simple but comfy and the shower was constantly hot.
Rates for accommodation and activities can be identified right here. You do not have to do the complete day San Knowledge as we did, you can just take element in specific activities, but I’d unquestionably advocate the complete day if you can and to devote two nights minimum at the farm. I could have stayed considerably longer.
We went in early September and booked a day just before we arrived, having said that if you can, book earlier, as they do occasionally book up with major tour groups.
We booked in on a half board basis, with bed, breakfast and dinner but you can also add lunch for an additional 80 pula. If you are camping and fancy a break from cooking, you can book meals at the lodge.
The breakfast consisted of cereals, yoghurt, toast, jam, beans, bacon and scrambled egg with tea and coffee.
The 3-course dinner was excellent. For starters, we had quiche and curried egg salad, mains consisted of meat (we had chicken and oryx steak while be have been there), with vegetables, potatoes and salad and for dessert we had fruit with custard. It was all scrumptious!
You can get soft drinks, water and alcohol (consider they had beer, cider and wine – despite the fact that I was off the booze at that point) utilizing an honesty bar method.
Ghanzi has a couple of supermarkets (which includes a Spar – likely your greatest choice), petrol stations and other shops if you want to stock up just before you arrive.
For the san practical experience, I would advocate some thing comfy with extended trousers and closed footwear as there are lots of spiky plants and thorns on the ground. On my top rated half, I just wore a t-shirt and a hoody. Evenings can be cold, so a fleece and down jacket are encouraged, in particular if you go in winter (September) like I did.
On the stroll, take sunscreen, water, your camera and an inquisitive and open thoughts. You will come back to rest in the middle of the day.
At the lodge, they have a tiny shop promoting a couple of curios (San jewellery, dolls, magnets and so forth) having said that there is also the Kuru Art Project in D’kar which showcases and sells excellent nearby artwork.
In Ghanzi you will discover Gantsi Craft a San cooperative which supports a quantity of San settlements across the Kalahari and is an amazing spot to choose up souvenirs at a affordable price tag.
Want to come and practical experience this for oneself? Come on the Rock My Botswana & Zambia Adventure tour in 2019 – COMING Quickly!
Do not fancy Botswana & Zambia? Then verify out the other Rock My Adventure tours to Morocco, Malawi, Kenya, Tanzania & Zanzibar, Mount Kilimanjaro, Sierra Leone, Namibia, Uganda, Rwanda & the DRC, South Africa, Swaziland & Mozambique.