The fascinating story of the San Bushmen is one that begins in the remote regions of Namibia, Botswana and Angola and concerns nearly every human on Earth. At the beginning of time, the San tribe were the first Neanderthals on Earth to stand up, the first to have spoken language, the first to make tools, and the first to discover how to make and control fire. It was because of these significant technological advancements that they were also the first to migrate from their caves and share their newfound knowledge with the rest of the world.
There is historical evidence that dates the San People living in Botswana’s Tsodilo Hills region to over 70,000 years ago. Stone tools used for cutting and rock paintings found at this site and are considered to be the earliest forms of art and pre-date any archaeological finds in Europe. Traditionally the San where semi-nomadic hunters, moving seasonally to regions that have a high availability of resources such as water, animals and edible plants. In 2010, the San population within Botswana has been estimated to be between 50,000 and 60,000.
Africa has a well known reputation as the Birthplace of Humankind, and that could not more true than within the San Bushmen whose DNA can be found in almost all of the Earths population. The majority of Australians, being Caucasian, will have a DNA starting block between 1-4% San Tribe with the rest of our DNA being totally unique and dependant upon how our own ancestral line mixed after the first African Neanderthal/European Hominin contact. Many other races, including Asians, Chinese, Africans & Hispanics have higher levels of San DNA, ranging from 1% to 41%. A recent study found that a sub-group of the San, the Khomani San, along with the Sandawe and Hadza people of Tanzania, are the most genetically diverse of any living humans studied.
The San Bushmen have faced many threats to their lifestyle over the last two centuries, from colonialism, explotation by South Africa’s apartheid regime, and in more recent years unemployment, HIV-AIDS, poverty and alcohol abuse. During Namibia’s fight for indepence in the 1970, the South African military employed San Bushmen to track freedom fighters along the Angolian border in return for medicine, housing and education. When Namibia won its independence in 1990, thousands of San people chose to settle across the border in South Africa, in fear of reprisal from the newly formed Namibian government. Whilst border disputes may have resided since then, the San Bushmen now face issues common for many in the 21st century of alcohol abuse, poverty and unemployment.
Interested in visiting the San Bushmen? Crooked Compass offers small group tours departing in April and September that allow you to be actively involved in their daily lives and contribute to conserving their culture and traditions. The tour includes four nights at the Nhoma Safari Camp that was built by Arno Oosthuysen with the help of the Nhoq’ma community, within the traditional area of the Ju’hoan San or Bushmen (as they are commonly known in Namibia). Your stay in the camp allows the community to generate income, which in turn buys food and supplies not provided by the surrounding environment. Without the camp and the economy it creates, the community would have had to have left their ancestral land.
Want to learn more about the fascinating San Bushmen? Explore Namibia with us and make this experience yours!
This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.