Ghanzi – Kalahari Desert and the San Bushmen
Botswana – diamonds, desert and bush
Using public transport to the Namibian/Botswanan border, I wasn’t expecting to see nothing on the Bots side – no taxis, no people, no nothing. It was at the immigration office that John and I met a lovely South African woman, a bush pilot in Maun, who offered us a lift to our accommodation in Ghanzi. This town itself lies in the vast Kalahari Desert where the San Bushmen have been residing for many years. If our luck couldn’t have got any better, Michelle’s 4 x 4 had a mattress in the back of the vehicle which we had to lie in – result. After sleeping for most of the journey, we arrived at Ghanzi Trailblazers, our campsite for 2 nights. The camp was beautiful, offering camping, bushmen huts and wonderful food which we sampled (Steak, game, calamari, veg and more). We were also treated to a San Bushmen dance on our first evening which was very insightful. They showed us the different songs/dances they have and it was a pleasure to learn more about their culture. All the songs/dances related to a different animal they encounter or hunt in the bush. Furthermore, having followed the plight of the Bushmen on Survival International for some years, it is pleasing to see that Ghanzi Trailblazers are encouraging them to keep their way of life through eco-tourism. I’m sure many would disagree with the dances and bush walks they do, but if it means they can still practice their traditional way of life, then I am right behind it. The Botswanan government have gone to great lengths to marginalise the San Bushmen – making hunting illegal amongst other policies. This has meant that the bushmen have been pushed closer to towns, an environment they are not used to, nor do they want to live in. Ghanzi Trailblazers have been supporting local bushmen for some years in return for the eco-tourism.
In regards to the government – what is worse?
An American or Westerner paying $25,000 to shoot game or a Bushmen killing an animal to support their livelihood. Note that the bushmen are very spiritual when it comes to the killing of an animal and nothing goes to waster. In my opinion, it is nothing short of a disgrace what is going on. Furthermore, with ever increasing modernisation and expansion – we are going to be left with no indigenous groups which will be shameful (even in the Amazon due to deforestation).
Moving onto our stay, as we were in the desert – the temperatures plummeted in the evening and it’s fair to say I was pretty cold in my tent. The following morning, John and I took a walk to a local quarry where there is a swimming pool, created from a spring and heavy rain – whilst it was tempting to have a dip, we decided not to bother as we weren’t sure whether it was safe.
The rest of our stay was spent relaxing in the peaceful environment that we were in – I was also reading Paul Theroux’s “Dark Star Safari” which was very interesting. We would have stayed longer in Ghanzi if we weren’t offered a lift to Maun – our next destination.