Tsodilo is a landscape of small mountains situated on the northwestern corner of Botswana near the Namibian border. In other words, the landscape is situated in the heart of Kalahari Desert. The landscape is surrounded by an extensive lowland erosion surface that scientists call ‘inselbergs’. The Tsodilos have distinct height, shape and spatial relationship. This has led to the naming of each as follows: Male, Female, Child and Grandchild.
If you have seen the movie ‘the gods must be crazy’ then you know the entire Kalahari was the ancestral home of the Bushmen. The Tsodilos are characterized by caves and shelters that belong to the people that have occupied this territory for over 100,000 years. The shelters indicate repeated use by the nomadic people of Divuyu and Ngoma. The Divuyu settlement is found on the Female while that of the Ngoma is found on the plateau below.
The general format of the settlement includes a public area and living space that is flanked by communal middens and burial areas. This settlement layout bears similarities with other spatial layout of central African villages.
The landscape possesses rock art paintings that were executed using red ochre. The ochre was derived from the naturally occurring hematite rock in the area. The art depicts human figures, various geometric symbols, exaggerated body of various animals etc. The art here is similar to the one found in Zambian and Angolan antiquity sites. It is however different from the one found in Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Although not well dated, the art is thought to have been more than 2,000 years. The paintings with cattle are thought to date back to 600 – 1200 years ago when cattle rearing was introduced in Tsodilo in 6th century AD.
The rock shelters follow the cup-and canoe-shaped theme that is popular in the whole of the African continent. Most noteworthy in Tsodilo is a group of carvings interpreted as animal footprints that spreads to several hundred meters. This makes it one of the largest rock pictures in the world and is thought to have been made about 2,000 years ago – or late Stone Age.
There is also evidence of mining in the area, usually done to extract the ochre, green stone and specularite. The mines are definitely pre-colonial.
Botswana is one of the most rapidly growing African countries. Its tourism package will definitely not burn a big hole in your pockets, and yet, it will leave you happy with your decision to visit the country. One of the destinations to include in your itinerary should be Tsodilo.
For more information on tours of Botswana or flights to Africa, please contact one of our Adventure Specialists at North South Travel today