We had the most exciting adventures in Southern Africa in 2017-2018.
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A self-drive in the Kruger National Park or a safari in a private game reserve? A question asked by tourists and locals alike, time and time again. Surely the animals are the same? One could even argue that between the Kruger and a private game reserve such as the Sabi Sand or Timbavati one could see exactly the same elephant, since the animals have the luxury of roaming freely between the reserves. But that’s rubbish. And here’s why… Botswana has no fences.
My first ever sighting of a hyena was on a main road in the Kruger National Park – it was a hyena pup. What a sight! But instead of being able to follow the hyena through the bush in a 4×4, we were jostling for a vantage point with a bunch of other tourists. In a closed VW Golf. Heads and cameras were outstretched in an ungainly attempt to get a half-decent photo. After half an hour we reached the front of the queue and our reward was a 30 second view of the adorable pup before being hooted at – yes…hooted! Time to move on in search of our next impala.
A real safari is about the overall experience. Tales over pre-dinner drinks from courageous rangers and the sudden use of the flash light during dinner to see the hippo in front of the deck all create the memories that urge us to return at the first opportunity. It’s about submerging yourself in an African fantasy while at the same time seeing real nature in all its spectacular (and at times brutal) glory. It’s about stepping up onto a safari vehicle in search of the Big 5. It’s about the thrill of marauding through the bush after a pack of wild dogs in hot pursuit of an impala.
Why is the game viewing better in a Private Game Reserve?
It’s private! No cars of other tourists in a dazzling array of blinding colours.
Safari vehicles can go off road. In a national park you will be limited to animals visible from the main roads.
The best and most knowledgeable rangers in the business work at the private game reserves.
Rangers are not restricted to national park hours, which means that they can go on night drives. It also means that you can stay as long as you want on a sighting!
Elevated, open-top safari vehicles give you the best view possible so you can get the perfect photo.
Rangers can lead walking safaris so that you can get that perfect photo right up the rhino’s nostril!
You might often hear about about ‘traversing rights’ in reference to your safari experience. So what are traversing rights? Traversing rights allow neighbouring lodges to drive on each others’ land which means more space for you to explore and find animals. The larger the traversing area the better! More land = more biodiversity. Limpopo, Mpumulanga and in KwaZulu-Natal.
For the past few years we have travelled through Southern Africa.
As a tourist guide and tour operator in Southern Africa I’m proud to show some of our photos.
Enjoy and hope to see you on our next tour with:
From Margreet van Belle and Wynand Meyer.
We wish to thank you all for making this tours all possible!!!
Etosha National Park is a national park in northwestern Namibia. The park was proclaimed a game reserve on March 22, 1907 in Ordinance 88 by the Governor of German South West Africa, Dr. Friedrich von Lindequist. It was designated as Wildschutzgebiet Nr. 2 which means Game Reserve Number 2, in numerical order after West Caprivi (Game Reserve No. 1) and preceding Namib Game Reserve (No. 3). In 1958, Game Reserve No. 2 became Etosha Game Park and was elevated to status of National Park in 1967 by an act of parliament of the Republic of South Africa which administered South-West Africa during that time.
Etosha National Park spans an area of 22,270 square kilometres (8,600 sq mi) and gets its name from the large Etosha pan which is almost entirely within the park. The Etosha pan (4,760 square kilometres (1,840 sq mi)) covers 23% of the area of the total area of the Etosha National Park. The park is home to hundreds of species of mammals, birds and reptiles, including several threatened and endangered species such as the black rhinoceros.
The park is located in the Kunene region and shares boundaries with the regions of Oshana, Oshikoto and Otjozondjupa.
As we are frequently visiting these areas, more about The Kalahari Desert.
The Kalahari Desert (in Afrikaans Kalahari-woestyn) is a large semi-arid sandy savannah in southern Africa extending 900,000 square kilometres (350,000 sq mi), covering much of Botswana and parts of Namibia and South Africa. A semi-desert, with huge tracts of excellent grazing after good rains, the Kalahari supports more animals and plants than a true desert, such as the Namib Desert to the west. There are small amounts of rainfall and the summer temperature is very high. The driest areas usually receive 110–200 millimetres (4.3–7.9 in) of rain per year, and the wettest just a little over 500 millimetres (20 in). The surrounding Kalahari Basin covers over 2,500,000 square kilometres (970,000 sq mi) extending farther into Botswana, Namibia and South Africa, and encroaching into parts ofAngola, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Kalahari is home to many migratory birds and animals. Previously havens for wild animals from elephants to giraffes, and for predators such as lions and cheetahs, the riverbeds are now mostly grazing spots, though leopards and cheetahs can still be found. The area is now heavily grazed and cattle fences restrict the movement of wildlife. Among deserts of the southern hemisphere, the Kalahari most closely resembles some Australian deserts in its latitude and its mode of formation.
The earliest hunter-gatherers in southern Africa were the San people. The San were also known as ‘Bushmen’, a term used by the European Colonists that is now considered derogatory. The San populated South Africa long before the arrival of the Bantu-speaking nations, and thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans.
Language, culture and religion:
San languages, characterised by implosive consonants or ‘clicks’, belonged to a totally different language family from those of the Bantu speakers. Broadly speaking, they are two different and identifiable languages, namely the Khoikhoi and San. Many dialects have evolved from these, including /Xam, N?¡, !Xu, Khwe and Khomani. NÃ mÃ¡, previously called Hottentot, is the most populous and widespread of the Khoikhoi and San languages.
Very little is known about the different dialects of South Africa’s San people, as most of these beautiful, ancient languages were never recorded. Fortunately, the /Xam dialect, which is spoken by the San, was recorded almost in its entirety, thanks to the work of a German linguist, Dr WHI Bleek.
/Xam speakers originally occupied a large part of western South Africa, but by 1850, only a few hundred /Xam speakers lived in remote parts of the Northern Cape. Today, the language is no longer exists, but survives in 12 000 pages of hand-written testimony taken down word-for-word from some of the last /Xam speakers in the 1860s and 1870s. These pages record not just the /Xam language, but also their myths, beliefs and rituals. A comprehensive /Xam dictionary was produced by Dr Bleek at the time, but was only published years later (DF Bleek: 1956).
South Africa’s motto, written on the SA coat of arms is a /Xam phrase: !ke e: /xarra //ke, literally meaning: diverse people unite.
Archaeological evidence determines a way of life:
Archaeological evidence shows that South Africa was part of a large region, including North and East Africa, in which modern humans first evolved and lived. Hundreds of thousands of generations of Stone Age hunter-gatherers populated the South African landscape for nearly two million years, yet for most of that time we know nothing of their names, language, memories beliefs, wars or alliances.
The San are the best model we have for the hunter-gatherer lifestyle that saw so many generations through the Stone Age, and it is tempting to say that the history of the later Stone Age is the history of the San. This can only be done at a very broad level of generalization, but evidence does points to a ‘San’ history.
For example, human skeletal remains buried mainly in the last 10 000 years are broadly similar to those of the ninetieth and twentieth century San people. The ‘toolkits’ of the more modern San people are similar to those artefacts found and dated back to later Stone Age hunter-gatherers. Finally, the uniqueness and diversity of the San ‘click’ languages suggest very ancient roots that possibly date back into the middle Stone Age period.
There are three kinds of evidence that give us clues as to the development of the early South African hunter-gatherers and later the San. These consist of human bone fragments and art artefacts (like beadwork and rock art) as well as the examination of the places where these people lived, and the food remains that they left behind.
Rock art by the late Stone Age hunter-gatherers can be found in the form of paintings or engravings in almost every district in South Africa. There is no comprehensive list of all sites, and many have not been recorded, but it is estimated that there are at least 20 000 to 30 000 sites and well over a million individual images. Although many are not well preserved, collectively they represent a remarkable record of the beliefs and cultural practices of the people who made them. Most were created by San hunter-gatherers, but Khoikhoi herders and Iron Age farmers added to the collection.
Khoikhoi herders who brought sheep and cattle into this part of South Africa within the last 2 000 years were probably responsible for the most recent phase of painting, in which the paint was applied with a finger instead of a brush. The colours are mostly monochrome and the subject matter is frequently non-representational patterns with symbolic meaning. As the Khoikhoi settled on the land formerly occupied by hunter-gatherers, the San gradually stopped painting as their numbers and cultural activities declined.
The San have a rich oral history and have passed stories down from generation to generation. The oldest rock paintings they created are in Namibia and have been radiocarbon-dated to be 26 000 years old. The San rock art gives us clues about their social and belief systems.
One of the most significant pieces of Rock art found in South Africa was found on Linton Farm in the Eastern Cape. The panel was removed from the farm in 1917 and taken to the South African Museum in Cape Town. It is known as the Linton panel, and an image from this panel was used in the new South African Coat of Arms.
Eighty-three years in museum care, protected from the elements, has made the Linton panel one of the best preserved of all pieces of South African rock art. In 1995, the panel featured as one of the premiere attractions in the international exhibition, “Africa: the Art of a Continent”.
The figure embodies the spirit of the African Renaissance. When European nations began their Renaissance, they turned to the classical age of Greece and Rome when art and architecture had reached its zenith. San rock art is one of the great archaeological wonders of the world, and is a mirror which reflects the glories of the African past.
Our knowledge of South African San texts (especially the 12 000 pages of testimony collected by Dr Bleek), combined with the study of the rituals and beliefs of San people still living in the Kalahari, allows us to understand many of the paintings in the Linton panel. The panel shows people capturing a power the /Xam called !Gi. The San sought and used this power for the benefit of their community ,as it allowed for the healing of the sick and for the healing of divisions within society. San rock art was believed to be rich in this special power.
A dying way of life:
The ability of Later Stone Age hunter-gatherers to sustain themselves was seriously challenged at least three times in the past 2 000 years. Firstly, this occurred with the southward migration of the Khoikhoi herders into the western half of the country. Although they appear to have developed a symbiotic relationship with the hunter-gatherers, they converted individuals to herding, and therefore weakened hunter-gatherer social cohesion.
Secondly, hunter-gatherers were challenged in the north and east of South Africa, as Iron Age farmers (Nguni and later Sotho nations) had settled in the summer rainfall regions within the last 1 800 years to grow crops and tend their stock. They also lived alongside hunter-gatherers, particularly in the Drakensberg region, and developed a working relationship with them. However, they became more and more powerful in terms of population size and land ownership. Finally, the death knell came with the arrival of European colonists whose commandos with guns and horses decimated the hunter-gatherers within two centuries. Some of this history is reflected in the rock art of the later Stone Age.
In the 1950s, several thousand San people were still hunting large game with poisoned arrows and gathering plant food in the Kalahari Desert in Namibia. One group, the !Kung, lived in an area called Nyae Nyae (pronounced ny ny, rhyming with high), near the border between Namibia and Botswana.
The !Kung were able to continue their ancient way of life largely because they lived in an area that was very difficult to reach. A stretch of land of about 200 km, waterless for most of the year, lay between the closest farms and the Nyae Nyae area. Travelling across this area, even in trucks, was difficult. Vehicles would get stuck in the sand, tyres would get punctured or the seeds of the tall, dry grasses would clog up their radiators causing them to boil. These factors helped to protect the !Kung way of life from outside influences until about thirty years ago.
In the 1960s, the Department of Nature Conservation began to take over large sections of the traditional hunting lands of the Kalahari San for game and nature reserves. A law passed in 1970 meant that the !Kung lost 90% of their traditional land in Nyae Nyae. Today, they have hardly any land on which to hunt and gather.
Southern Africa’s first people. The people with no name. For when you are the only ones, you have no need to distinguish your kind from others. Those whose exclusive domain once stretched from the Zambezi to the Cape of Good Hope, from the Atlantic to the Indian Oceans. Their Tswana neighbors in the Kalahari, who arrived here 1,200 years ago, call them the Basarwa, the “people who have nothing.” Their pastoralist cousins, the Khoi, call them San, outsiders or vagabonds. They are a people with an ancient past but almost no recorded history, save for one glorious exception, rock paintings of antelope and elephants, dancers and hunters, some of which remain startlingly vivid despite being lashed by wind and rain and baked by sun for 3,000 years. The most recent paintings show sailing ships and mounted horsemen. Then there were no more.
We can also arrange for you a 2-3 night adventure with the bushmans in the Kalahari! Learn how they hunt, eat, living, tracking, story telling and more….