Our vehicle was a non-air conditioned overland truck. We drove from Windhoek in the morning and continued through the vast desert in the eastern part of Namibia. The temperature went from moderate to extremely hot as usual. It didn’t help either with the windows open. We were all sweating inside.
Crossing border to Botswana went smoothly. I was expecting heavy traffic, long queue at the immigration & probably some police bribery. None of that happened. They didn’t even checked our backpacks. We were the only ones on the border that day. After having our passports stamped at the office, we drove for another 3 hours.
I could already tell the difference. Bumpy roads and the absence of mountains. We were in Botswana indeed.
Our guide was Peter and Michael from Kenya. Both have been working in Gadventures for almost 5 years. The group consisted of 19 people. Most were Brittish. Some from Australia & Canada.
My time with the group was short. But I managed to know some of them. Svala & Rannveig from Iceland. Both were on a break from their career to explore Africa for a few months. One is a Norwegian medical student in her early 20s. A solo traveller which was a surprise. I never thought I would encounter one travelling alone. Norwegians are in general very dependent. They usually travel in pairs or small groups. Another was a charming young woman name Lauren from England. And a down-to-earth Yvette from the Netherlands. Most of them had a longer itinerary of 60 days. They already started from Cape Town 3 weeks before we met in Windhoek. Their trip would eventually end in Uganda. Me, along with Svala & Ranveig, tagged along only until Livingstone.
Meeting the San
According to Peter, we drove for a total of 580km. We arrived at Ghanzi Trailblazer Camp on an early evening. There we met the indigenous San people. We walked with them through the bushveld for a while. It was really interesting to know how they were able to adapt in such an inhospitable place. Their traditional gear is very simple but effective. Firewood, blanket, a so-called kaross to carry food and a digging stick. Ostritch eggshells are used for water storage. Also, their botanical knowledge is quite extensive.
The San, often referred to as “bushmen”, are the first inhabitants of Southern Africa. They have lived as gatherers and hunters on the vast desert of Kalahari. San are also the only ethnic group that has no area they call home. For thousands of years they followed the migratory routes of animals they hunted. Although these people are provided with necessary nutrients, they relied more on gathering seeds, nuts, roots & edible plants. They can live without meat for long periods of time. Men hunted using poison arrows & spears, while the women would do the gathering part.
Today there are around 90000 San people. Their lifestyle has all but disappeared. But there are few remaining who retain the survival skills. I was already having this silly idea about trying to live like them. I wonder how long I would last. Maybe a week? Or less?