The Kalahari region is a good place for one to go for a walk while on a safari to Botswana and one of the best ways to do this is by going for a Basarwa walk with the Basarwa people who live in the Kalahari region. The Basarwa walks are generally given by the Basarwa people who have been living in the Kalahari region for a very long time and are considered to be the first people to migrate into Botswana. Walking safaris in the different National parks have become a hit with tourists but there are places where you cannot go and that is why it is advisable for everyone to have someone who knows the whole place and this is where the Basarwa come in.
The Basarwa walk is all about getting to know more about the culture of the Basarwa people, their way of life and how they use the natural surroundings to survive and the plant life in the area. Unlike other walks in the country, this one does not really focus on wild life viewing which makes a lot more different than the rest of the walks in Botswana. The Basarwa walks will give you a different perspective of the Kalahari as you will be moving closely to the plants and the nature that surrounds you.
Taking the Basarwa walk is always about the landscape that covers the whole area where the Basarwa live and the more you learn about the Basarwa the more you will be equipped with knowledge about what Africa has to offer you especially in Botswana. The Basarwa people are warm towards tourists but you will need to first inform the local leaders so that you are not net with a lot of hostility when you get to their settlements.
The history of the Basarwa people
The Basarwa people are believed to have come into Botswana about 40,000 years ago and are well known hunters although at the moment it is extremely hard for them to hunt due to the fact that hunting has been sanctioned off in most of the game parks within Botswana. When they came into Botswana, they first settled around the area where the current central Kalahari game reserve is located and the main aim of forming the game reserve was to make sure that the Basarwa people were protected. At the moment the government of Botswana is fighting the Basarwa and has withdrawn most of the services that can help the survive like water and health services and all this was done after they were chased out from their native home and put in settlement camps.
The Basarwa was a term that was given to the Khoisan people by other tribes that can be found in Botswana. The Basarwa people are basically known to be welcoming but they do not want to be prodded about their life especially by the anthropologists and researchers who come into their homes and feel like they have all the rights to be there just because they are inferior in the country.
The culture of the Basarwa people
The Basarwa people also referred to as the san have a lot of customs that they follow and these have helped them stay strong together as a group even after being attacked by the government of Botswana. The Basarwa believe in a supernatural being that they cannot see but believe that that is where their blessings come from. They also have other gods that they normally believe in and they offer sacrifices to those same gods in order to get blessings.
They are known hunters and they eat everything on the animals that they have hunted down that is the blood is drunk, the hooves, head, intestines are all eaten and the hides are used to make clothes for the local people. They do not waste food because they believe that they will be punished by the gods if they waste any part of the food that they hunt down.
Before you go for the Basarwa walk, there are a few things that you need to carry in order for you to have the best time while walking and these include the following:
- Lots of water because the walk will be long and with the Desert like conditions experienced in the area, you will need all the water that you can get.
- Good hiking boots and these will help avoid blisters on your feet although you might also need a walking stick in case the terrain gets tough.
- Carry lots of snacks along with you as you start your walk for you will definitely get hungry although you will also get to enjoy the food that is prepared by the local people.
The Basarwa walk with leave you with a lot of knowledge from the Basarwa people but mostly it will be all about the culture that is practiced by the local Bushmen. Some of the few lessons that you get to learn for all those that go for the Basarwa walk include:
Getting to know more about the plant life
The plant life that is normally found in the Basarwa community is quite unique and it is used for medicinal purposes and the only way you can learn about their uses is by going on these Basarwa walks with the informed Bushmen. Some of the plants are also used as food and these are either eaten while they are still fresh from being cooked while others are first cooked before being eaten. At the end of your Basarwa walk, you will become a doctor of sorts as you will have enough knowledge about which plants you can use to treat the different ailments.
Survival instincts in the wild
Everyone wants to know how they can survive while facing some of the harshest conditions that is the Desert climate and how to avoid the numerous animal attacks. You will also learn about how to survive in the wild form the Basarwa people. For example if you are walking and the grass in the compound is standing in a different way other than the usual, that means that there is something that is something that can be found down in the ground below. Some of the plants that are found in the community hold enough water and during your walk with the Basarwa local people, you will be able to get to learn about how you can squeeze water from these plants in order to get some drinking water just in case you are thirsty and you will also learn how to dig up water underground from the different places in the Desert.
You will also be taught about how to make a fire while in the wild using just a bunch of sticks and rocks. Fires are used for warmth especially during the cold nights and to also prepare meals. The locals will show you the ropes on how to get the fire started.
Learn how to track down animals
If you ever want to learn the basics of hunting and tracking of animals, then this is the best activity for you in Botswana. The Basarwa are well known for their good skills when it comes to hunting and tracking animals and they are always willing to teach tourists about the basics like how to use an arrow properly when hunting.
Getting to know more about the locals
There are many things that you will learn from the local people that is both the women and men who live in the settlements. The Basarwa women will teach you how to prepare the local meals and how to make the beautiful beads that they always make for sale to the different tourists and you will also get to enjoy their traditional dances and songs that they practice especially during the evening hours. All in all spending time with the Basarwa people will be a one-time life experience that you will not be able to get in any other part of the country.
The Basarwa walk being one of the best ways to explore Botswana and it can easily be arranged for anyone who wants to go for a walk. Even though you will be in safe hands with the Basarwa people, you will still need to go with an experienced tour guide so that they help you with arranging the walks with the local people and also help you with translating everything the lead Basarwa person will be telling you the best time for you to go for the Basarwa walk is during the dry season because then the routes will be easily accessible for a walk and you will not be drenched in rain at the end of the day. There are also several camps in the Kalahari that offer these Basarwa walks although you have to book them in advance. But you should really go out while in Botswana and take a Basarwa walk because you will not regret it.