A time with the first people: The Old Ways.
Have you ever wondered how people survived in the harsh, mostly waterless semi-arid environment of the Kalahari? Famously, the Kalahari San pioneered and explored incredible ways to exist under the baking sun. Edible roots, fruits, nuts, tubers and bulbs would form a large part of their diet along with meat supplements when the hunting was good. Foraging parties made up mostly of women and older children would set off to gather and collect nutritious treasures as well as seek out plants that have medicinal qualities. Through the passage of time, certain plants were identified for use to cure or relieve ailments within the family groups. Headaches, diarrhea and period pain for example could be treated based on The San’s deep and extensive knowledge of the lands they call home – The Kalahari.
The men in turn, would leave their camp in search of wild animals to hunt. Light weight bows, arrows and digging sticks would be the little they would carry. The hunting party would lug a limited water supply in Ostrich egg shells and additional moisture would be found in underground tubers along the way. Because their bows were lightweight, The San found out that the larvae of a certain beetle in the Genus Diamphidia would serve as a very effective poison to quickly incapacitate an animal at close range. Getting close to antelope like Oryx or Eland called for incredible tracking skills and the ability to stalk without disturbing the target. To this day, The San are well recognized to be some of the greatest hunters and trackers on Earth.
The old ways of the nomadic Kalahari Bushman hang in a balance as modernization reaches the far corners of the World. Still proud of their culture and heritage, the people continue to pass down language and skills to the next generation. There must be something to be said for the intimate knowledge they carry in terms of the use of plants. For example, the hunting parties had found a plant (The Hoodia plant) that suppresses appetite and as the hunters would leave for days on end, needing less food allowed the hunters to focus on the hunt. This discovery has recently been used to treat people with obesity in the west. One has to wonder what other miracle plants may be out there and how this could help humanity.
At our Gham Dhao Lodge deep in the Kalahari, visitors may get a glimpse of the culture of the San and the old ways. Set off on a bushman walk to discover the incredible Kalahari as interpreted by our resident San guides. It is a fascinating experience that will leave you with an insight of survival in this harsh part of Africa.
Daniel Crous has been lucky enough to call Botswana home for his entire life. His folks ran safari camps in the 80's and his early childhood was spent in the heart of the Okavango Delta. Life outdoors has always been his calling, safaris in Botswana are one of the purest forms of such a life. His Dad handed him his old film camera when he was about 12, documenting the wilderness around him has grown from passion to profession. He is equally passionate about the conservation of the land we live in and all of its creatures, including its people. He now takes extreme pleasure in leading others to some of the incredible experiences available here.