Rising abruptly, and dramatically, from the Kalahari scrub bush (the rock face turns a copper colour in the dying sun) the magnetic power of the Tsodilo Hills both captivates and mystifies.
The hills are home to one of the world’s highest concentrations of rock art, and there is a spiritualism that immediately strikes the visitor. Indeed, for the people who live in the hills – the San, the original inhabitants, and the Hambukushu, who have periodically occupied the hills for the past 200 years – Tsodilo is a sacred, mystical place where ancestral spirits dwell. In earlier times, their ancestors performed religious rituals to ask for assistance, and for rain. They also put paintings on the rock face, whose meaning and symbolism remain a mystery even to today.
Exploring the three main hills – Male, Female and Child – is a journey into antiquity. Archaeological research – ongoing for the past 30 years – estimates that Tsodilo has been inhabited for the past 100 000 years, making this one of the world’s oldest historical sites. Pottery, iron, glass beads, shell beads, carved bone and stone tools date back 90 000 years.