On the trail of the Kalahari bushmen

A few days back we posted about 18 unique travel experiences that even the seasoned traveler would find interesting. One of the suggestions on that list was to travel to the Kalahari Desert to stay with bushmen and partake in an initiation hunt with the tribes that still wander the remote regions of southern Africa.

Recently, travel writer Sally Emerson journeyed to Botswana to go in search of the bushmen herself. She wrote about her adventures for the Times Online, as she explored the Okavango Delta and the Kalahari, following in the footsteps of author Laurens Van der Post, who published The Lost World of the Kalahari back in 1956. The book has become one of the seminal works on the bushmen and their culture.

Both Emerson, and Van der Post before her, were searching for the San Bushmen, one of five distinct tribes that are spread out across South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, Angola, and Botswana. Today, it is believed that less than 100,000 of the bushmen remain, but those that do, maintain close ties to their culture, and the land on which they live.

Emerson says that the bushmen that she met were able to teach her about the plants and animals of the Kalahari while showing her how to set traps and hunt as well. They displayed a deep understanding of what their surroundings could provide for them, allowing them to survive for extended periods of time in the desert. Many of the tribesmen are now guides, and are eager to share their history and culture with visitors from the rest of the world. Traveling to the Kalahari to spend some time with these guides would indeed makre for a unique and amazing travel experience.