The Tsodilo hills are located in the south western part of Botswana and they are the largest rock area in the country and on the African continent. The Tsodilo hills according to the bushmen who live around the hills and they believe that the Tsodilo hills were one of the first creations on earth and that is why you will find many san Bushmen and you will find that the rocks are all painted with the different animals that are found in the country. No one know exactly when the rocks in the Tsodilo hills were painted although others believe that they were painted over 3000 years ago by the first early settlers the San and the san bushmen consider the Tsodilo hills a place where most of the many their ancestors are resting
The history surrounding the Tsodilo hills is interesting to listen to but the best part is if you go and experience all that it has to offer. The Tsodilo hills consist of four large hills and the local San Bushmen gave each of the four hills a name in order to separate them. The largest Tsodilo hill is known as the male hill, the next one to it is known as the female hill which they say is the wife to the male hill, the hill in the background is known as the first wife of the male hill who was abandoned and the smallest hill is the child.
The san also believe that the gods that they worship rule the world and rest in the female hills and that is why no one is allowed to hunt around the female hills because when the gods get angry misfortune befalls everyone who has hunted around the hills. The san Bushmen can also be seen heading up the hills to worship the gods and that is where the sacred hills name came from and still looking at the religious part of the hills, the Hambukushu people believe that their ancestors were just lowered from the female hill by a god called Nyambe with their livestock and the hoofs that can be seen on the female hill is the evidence that they show to everyone.
The paintings that are etched on all four hill rocks are of the different animals that are found in Botswana and some of these paintings include the whales, penguins, lions and these were painted by the earliest bushmen and for all those that take hikes through the Tsodilo hills, the rock paintings will highlight your day and your trek up the hills.
There are not so many activities that you can carry out when you visit the Tsodilo but the few that you can will make your trip to the Tsodilo hills worth it and these include:
Wild life viewing on the Tsodilo hills
There are not so many animals that habitate around the Tsodilo hills but the few that can be seen when you hike up the hills will lighten up your day and they are mostly small animals like lizards, geckos, baboons, monkeys and a few leopards although they are hard to see. You can also enjoy the birds that habitate around the hills and the most commonly seen birds here are the yellow billed hornbills.
Hiking up the Tsodilo hills
It does not matter which part of the hills that you are hiking up whether it is the female, male or the young hills, they are all worth hiking up. The Tsodilo hills are one of the best hiking trails in Botswana due to the different trails that are found within the hills and most of these are so strenuous that you will need to prepare vigorously for the hike if you want to enjoy your hike up the Tsodilo hills. Do not forget that hiking up the hills will require you to be with a tour guide who knows all the trek trails up the hills and some of the hike trails that you can use while going up the Tsodilo hills include:
- The cliff trail
The cliff trail normally begins from the female hill and it is one of the most difficult routes for hikers. There are a lot of trees along this route which makes it a bit hard for hikers which means that you will have to be energetic for you to take this route. There is a rock cave along this route and this makes it more interesting to use as the cave was formed in form of a snake and the San Bushmen say that the cave is where many of the sacrifices were carried out from in the earlier years.
The rock paintings along this route are of rhinos, leopards, lions, zebras, elephants and scorpions and you are free to stop and admire these beautiful paintings. Although the paintings along this route are beautiful to look at they do not match the elegance that is given off by the animals that are painted on the rhino trek route.
- The Male hills hike route
The male hike route is known to be the hardest hike route among all the routes on the Tsodilo hills and this is because you will have to first climb the male hills route before connecting it to the lion hike route in order for you to get to the top of the hill. And in order for you to enjoy this route you must at least take enough water so that you do not get thirsty along the way.
- The lion hike route
The lion hike route is next to the Male hike route but unlike its neighbor, it is the easiest route on the Tsodilo hills when it comes to hiking. It is relatively flat and there is hardly any climbing involved in this as compared to other routes and the best thing about this is that there is a par where you reach and it joins with the Rhino hike route which makes it even more exciting as you join two exciting trails before reaching the top of the Tsodilo hills where the worshiping takes place.
- The Rhino hike trail
The Rhino hike trail is the best when it comes to hiking up the Tsodilo hills due to the fact that the rock paintings along this route are more pronounced and entertaining which is not the case along the other routes and it is also where the museum is located. The museum is where most of the antiques are kept and the history about the hills can be read and got from the museum. The museum is the starting point of the hike and this route has several white markings that show you exactly where tourists should pass till they get to the top of the hills.
Along this route, there are several tourist attractions along the rhino route and the most noticeable one is the large granite rock that has a lot of spear points engraved in it and it is believed that this is where they used to sharpen their spears before heading out to hunt the different animals that roamed in their villages.
The different paintings that are located in the different parts along the route include paintings of humans called the dancing penis, the animals like the gemsbok and the giraffes, penguins, whales, antelopes and many more other animals.
The Rhino hike route has about fifteen stop points where you can stop and admire and at these different spots, you will find that the rocks have different paintings on them that you can admire.
Visiting the local Bushmen
The local Bushmen live around the Tsodilo hills and also worship from there and one of the many ways that you can get to know more about them is by taking a walk to their villages from the hills. They are welcoming people and will show you all the ropes that involve their culture, their activities like hunting, tracking down animals and you might also get a chance to listen to the historical stories that are connected with the Tsodilo hills.
The Tsodilo hills can be visited all throughout the year but for all those that want to go for hikes, the best time is during the dry season as this is the time when most of them are easily accessible and not slippery. During the wet season, many of the roads and routes will be flooded making it hard for one to go for a hike up the hills.
The Tsodilo hills are what you can the whole package when it comes to tourism because you will get a historical tour, a hike exercise and a cultural tour all in one and who wouldn’t want to get such a place. Getting to the Tsodilo hills is not all that easy especially during the wet season but even though it is the dry season, you will need a 4×4 car to maneuver through the bad road that leads to the Tsodilo hills.