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An Exclusive 7-Day Walk with the San Bushmen from 7-13 June 2024

A guided 7-Day Walk of Ancient Wisdom

Embark on a 7-day journey across Botswana’s Makgadikgadi Pans from 7-13 June 2024, soaking up ancient wisdom with the San people. Learn traditional practices, medicinal plant knowledge, and spiritual beliefs deeply rooted in their connection to the land, while supporting the San’s sustainable living initiatives and local wildlife conservation.

Join Ralph Bousfield, Aleksandra (n/aisa) orbeck, and the San People on a 7-day walk of ancient wisdom across the Makgadikgadi pans in Botswana.

This superlative safari experience is not just about wildlife conservation but also about exploring the rich cultural heritage of the San people, who have lived in harmony with the natural world for thousands of years. As you walk across the expansive salt pans, your guides will share their knowledge of the land and its inhabitants, from the smallest insects to the majestic elephants that roam the area. You will learn about the San people’s traditional hunting and gathering practices, their intricate knowledge of medicinal plants and their spiritual beliefs that are deeply rooted in their connection to the land.

This journey is not just about sightseeing and learning but also about making a difference. Money raised from this exclusive safari will go towards supporting the San people and their sustainable living initiatives, as well as wildlife conservation efforts in the area.

Day 1: San Camp

Arrive at San Camp – surely one of the most romantic camps in Africa. Imagine a smattering of billowing white tents, shaded by desert palms and surrounded by a thousand acres of shimmering nothingness. San Camp offers a serene atmosphere and beautiful views of the endless Makgadikgadi Salt Pans.

Once settled in, join your guides Ralph and Aleksandra for afternoon tea in the tea tent. Ralph will explain the geological formation of Botswana and the salt pans to you, as well as the connection between the environment and how/why we have evolved. This will set the scene for the days ahead and all the secrets you will uncover walking with the San Bushmen in the magical Makgadikgadi Pans. After an evening game drive with your two guides, return to camp for a lamp-lit dinner in the elegant mess tent. You’ll find antique display cases crammed with interesting collections of bones, pottery, stone tools and beadwork. After dinner spend a little time reading and relaxing in the small library section before bed time.

Day 2: Meet the San People

Set off in the morning to visit some of the Kalahari’s most fascinating inhabitants, the meerkats. As a meerkat’s wake up time is weather dependent, breakfast might be enjoyed in camp on cooler and rainy days, or as a picnic on warmer, sunnier days. Due to an ongoing habituation programme, it’s possible for guests to get up close with these captivating creatures.
The Makgadikgadi Salt Pans is a desert and intriguing landscape, the Pans form a large part of the Kalahari Basin and this shiny salt-baked setting is iconic in its beauty and size. You might think at first glance that not a soul could survive in the bizarre environment – but spending your days here will uncover a myriad of wonder and wildlife. This is a corner of Africa where little has changed for thousands of years.

This afternoon you’ll be taken through the bush to meet the Bushmen at the traditionally built Bushmen village, where the community gathers during the day. The huts provide shelter from the harsh Kalahari environment but are not the community’s permanent accommodation. On arrival, the elders of the community will meet you in a traditional manner after which you will walk out into the bush with the men, women and children. The focus of this afternoon’s walk will be to provide a gentle introduction to the Kalahari and Bushmen way of life.

Day 3: Fly Camping with Bushmen

Today you start with an early breakfast and departure on the Bushmen walk. You will be joined by a San Bushmen
family, including men, women and young children. The purpose of the walk is not to cover long distances, but to go out and see and understand the environment through the eyes of the Bushmen who have been living in this environment for the past 35,000 years.

The group will point out the distinct ecological characteristics of this area and its animal and bird species. Spontaneous
gathering and discussions about the uses of plants and wildlife by your Bushmen guides provide the link between their culture and this wild environment. Arrival at fly camp. Time to relax and enjoy a delicious and refreshing lunch. Afternoon siesta amongst the gigantic palms of the Makgadikgadi grassland. In the afternoon another walk will focus
on the gathering of medicinal plants. Traditionally in the Bushmen community the women are the gatherers, while the
men are in charge of the hunting. Return to the fly camp for dinner and drinks. The main area of the fly camp is shaded
with comfy cushions and rugs where guests can relax. Tonight you will sleep in mosquito net tents on bedrolls. The bathroom has a hot water bucket shower and a short drop loo.

Day 4: Fly Camping on the Salt Pans

After breakfast spend time with the Bushmen and watch the men prepare bows, arrows and quivers. You may be introduced to traditional games that are a form of entertainment for families and also a way to develop hand-to-eye coordination. Some of the women will show you how they make beads from ostrich eggs and the simple, but striking jewelry that they make from porcupine quills, seeds and ostrich eggs. Leather is also decorated with both glass and ostrich beads to a complex and beautiful effect. Time for lunch and siesta. In the afternoon walk toward the edges of the salt pans where guests will find the quad bike and, led by Ralph and Aleksandra will go on an exploration of the salt pans, watch the sunset and the stars rise. This is one of the only places in the world where the silence is so complete you can hear the blood circulating through your ears. There is not one visual landmark to be seen and one swiftly loses one’s sense of perspective – 16,000 square kilometres
of expansive ancient salt pans.

Day 5: Jacks Camp

Early in the morning comb the edge of the extinct lakeshore to find some of the many stone tools and fossils that litter the pan surface and learn of the origins of early man. You’ll head back to Jack’s Camp in time for a delicious brunch. After some down time, enjoy a decadent high tea before heading off to enjoy a game drive in the reserve early afternoon.

Return back to camp for dinner and overnight. Jack’s Camp offers more space, unfathomable comfort for desert life, luxury fit for a maharaja and heaps of adventure. The main mess tent is where everyone meets for meals along a vintage 36-seater dining table, surrounded by a world of unimaginable style. Persian and North African rugs underfoot, cool cotton sheets and mahogany and brass campaign-style kit from the family safari stores form a striking contrast with the rugged wilderness viewed from the comfort of one’s own veranda.

Day 6: Makgadikgadi National Park

Today we head to the Makgadikgadi National Park to delve deeper into the secrets of this salt crusted lunar like landscape. Join your guides for breakfast before driving out in search of some unique desert species such as aardvark, bat eared foxes, aardwolves, and the elusive brown hyaena, which is the third rarest large carnivore in Africa, with only about 8,000 in the wild.

Return to camp for a relaxing afternoon. After tea in the tea tent (mouth-watering treats are a must), you’ll head off for an evening-turned-into-night game drive. With the aid of a spot light, look for nocturnal desert inhabitants such as aardvark, bat eared foxes, aardwolves, porcupine, honey badgers and perhaps even a black maned Kalahari Lion. You’ll arrive back in camp in time for your last dinner.

Day 7: End of Journey

After breakfast we bid you farewell in preparation for your onward journey….

Today, an estimated 100,000 bushman remain, but only small communities in isolated pockets live close to their traditional land.

In this article
  • A guided 7-Day Walk of Ancient Wisdom
  • Day 1: San Camp
  • Day 2: Meet the San People
  • Day 3: Fly Camping with Bushmen
  • Day 4: Fly Camping on the Salt Pans
  • Day 5: Jacks Camp
  • Day 6: Makgadikgadi National Park
  • Day 7: End of Journey

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