Tsodilo hills Botswana
A sacred group of staggeringly high hills juts abruptly from the Kalahari scrub in north-western Botswana. Standing below them you can’t help but feel the powerful presence of these astounding hills. These Tsodilio Hills have been home to people for around an astounding 100 000 years and still hold humanity in awe today. The 3 hills’ distinctive heights and shapes have given them the names Male, Female, and Child and have been a sacred religious location for humanity for thousands of years.
The mysteriousness and beauty of the Tsodilo Hills begin at the 4500 rock paintings that cover the stone walls of these hills that date back 100 000 years. The paintings are the only ones in a 250km radius and are absolutely unique, making them some of the finest and most important rock art discovered in the world. They are a magnificent symbolic timeline of the inhabitants who have lived here throughout time. One of the many fascinating pieces of rock art that will take your breath away is a painting over several hundred meters long which dates back over 2000 years. Other images of trance dances, the arrival of cattle, men on horses, and geometric shapes also cover the walls and are surprisingly similar to rock paintings discovered in Angola and Zambia, far off from Botswana’s neighboring countries.
Humans have used this site as a sacred place to meet with ancestors and perform religious practices for what seems like since the beginning of time. The inhabitants around the hills today believe that the Tsodilo Hills is the spot where one of the tribes who first inhabited these hills were brought down to earth by the Creator. When you stand close to the top of the Male Hill there is a dent pressed into the rock. It is believed that this is the place where the Creator knelt down when he came to earth. The pond which has formed in an old mine in between the crevice of the hills is believed to be holy and our tour guide told us that when we washed our faces with this water we would be blessed with good luck.
Many archaeologists have researched the area for the past 30 years and have dated beads, bones, tools, and pottery back over 90 000 years. This was also a place of trade and great interaction between different groups at this spot as well as pre-colonial mining for speculative and other minerals.
Tsodilo Hills has now been made a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its spectacular religious and spiritual significance to local people. There is no denying the overwhelming feeling when you look up at these magnificent hills that tower over you when you are standing below them.
When to visit Tsodilo hills Botswana
Tsodilo Hills can be visited at any time of the year. The dirt roads leading the hills are best after the rains, but many pans filled with water will need to be crossed.
Things to at Tsodilo hills Botswana
Climbing the Tsodilo hills Botswana
Climbing and exploring the hills and trails, seeing and appreciating the evidence of legends and ancient life.
Tsodilo Gecko is a small, nocturnal gecko with brown and yellow stripes and is very unique to Tsodilo hills. Apart from Kudu, Steenbok, and Duiker, which have the ability to live in waterless areas, there is not much game in this area. Although leopard tracks can often be found in the hills, the predators themselves are seldom seen.
Bird watching at Tsodilo Hills can be reasonable if you spend some time in the area since most of the birds are found in the mixed woodland further away from the hills. Yellow-billed hornbills, grey louries, and Melba finches are some of the more commonly sighted species.
How to get to Tsodilo hills Botswana
On the banks of Panhandle, 53km south-west of Shakawe in the southern corner of Botswana.
From Maun, take the main tar road to Shakawe, 370 km. The Hills are 40 km (4 hours) from Shakawe on an extremely rough dirt road. The turning off the main Maun/Shakawe road is just south of Sepupa and is indicated with a National Museum signpost. The track to Tsodilo Hills can only be negotiated by four-wheel-drive vehicles.
Where to stay in Tsodilo hills Botswana
The accommodation closest to the hills is at Shakawe: Drotsky’s Cabins, Xaro Lodge, Shakawe Fishing Lodge, or Makwena Lodge. There are no official campsites in the area so you may camp anywhere you like. Water may be drawn from a well near the airstrip.
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