Being second in something is a good achievement but not the best and although Tsolido Hills (2030km) were the second highest hills in Botswana they were first in something else. The hills are home to ancient rock paintings some 3,000 yrs old and are some of the oldest and highest concentrations of rock art in Africa. Over 4,500 paintings are preserved in an area of only 10 sq. km of the Kalahari Desert. The archaeological record of the area gives a chronological account of human activities and environmental changes over at least 100,000 years. Local communities in this hostile environment respect Tsodilo as a place of worship frequented by ancestral spiritsAs we sped down yet another dusty road out of the flat, flat Kalahari plains the hills rose before us. And so they stand out dramatically, so much so the Bushmen thought the world began at Tsolido Hills.
The largest and most jagged they called male, the more gently curved (and one that supported people) the female and the two smaller the children. And given the sacredness of the hills to the people, they covered them in rock paintings. Our guide was the following morning so we found a campsite at base of the hills. We had the whole place to ourselves so we did the usual.. Had a few glasses of fine boxed wine, lit a fire and had a Braai (SA term for BBQ). Tonight’s feast was a Boerworst – a typical SA beef sausage which resembles a Cumberland sausage, jacket potatoes and cheesy beans. Home from home! The next day we were told to be ready and waiting for 7am at the main reception, by 8am the guide showed up looking decidedly sleep and put out that he had to take us round!! TIA! We started of in earnest and we were soon trekking up the female hill before we came to the first rock painting. Its strange to see these paintings, some people say its very spiritual but I had the feeling of amazement of how true to life the paintings were and how well they showed us their surroundings. The start of creativeness for the human race is apparent and alive here. As we toured up and down and around the hills it was fascinating to view one bushman’s legacy. In a thrown away culture like ours it’s beautiful to see something that has survived so long, I wonder how many of our digital memories will last. An hour later the tour had finished and we were back at the reception, after a great little walk around the hills. Its good to see that it is a protected site and still a sacred place for locals. The paintings were fascinating, I was expecting something a lot simpler but the detail shown was amazing. A well worth stop off for on our way into Namibia.