Tourist ‘cultural encounters’ can very often be uncomfortable and patronising exchanges. It is usually very difficult for tourists to gain an accurate insight into another culture and for the exchange to be mutually beneficial. The safari operator, Uncharted Africa (based in Botswana), have introduced an incredible opportunity to experience a dignified and sensitive cultural safari with the Kalahari Bushmen. There is no threat of exploitation in that the Bushmen people themselves have taken the initiative and offer a fascinating insight into their unique way of life, sadly now all but extinct.
The San people of the Kalahari are commonly called Bushmen and are considered to be the oldest culture in the world dating back over a hundred thousand years. Their rock art can be seen across Southern Africa where the San lived as hunter-gatherers. Unfortunately in the past 2000 years these ancient people were slowly pushed to live in the arid sands of the Kalahari Desert by Bantu tribes and white farmers who took the more fertile land for their crops and livestock.
The vast Kalahari Desert stretches across South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. The Bushmen live in one of the most inhospitable terrains in the world and have survived by hunting wild game and gathering roots and tubers.
The experience on offer allows guests to truly engage with this fascinating culture by learning the ancient traditions and techniques for survival and in the desert. Guests will also witness the sacred dance rituals. This 3 night trip takes place in the Kalahari Desert with guests sleeping in Meru-style luxury tents. During the stay guests will depart on walks with the Bushmen, presenting them with the opportunity to see the desert through the eyes of the Bushmen, understand their survival techniques and how this ancient lifestyle is connected with nature. Guests go out with the whole community of men and women; see the gathering, traditionally a task performed by the women, as well as the men’s tracking techniques.
Uncharted Africa have opted to promote these exchanges in an ongoing effort to preserve and support the Bushmen’s incredible and rapidly disappearing culture. In addition it provides a much needed source of income to the Bushmen people. Perhaps most importantly though, it values and respects this age-old culture and encourages the community to pass down their cherished history and traditions.