Tsodilo Hills: Unveiling Botswana’s Ancient Secrets

The Tsolido Hills, located at the heart of Botswana, are a testament to centuries of human history.

Tsolido Hills

The Tsodilo Hills, located at the heart of Botswana, are a testament to centuries of human history. These ancient hills are famous for their impressive cave paintings depicting daily life, spiritual rituals, and the diverse wildlife of the region. These paintings date back thousands of years and provide invaluable insights into the beliefs and practices of Botswana’s earliest inhabitants. The Tsolido Hills hold profound significance for indigenous communities, who consider them sacred sites infused with spiritual energy and ancestral connections. For generations, these hills have served as places of ceremony and reverence, where traditions are respected and passed down through time. Today, they inspire wonder and awe, inviting visitors to discover the mysteries of the past.

Photo essay on the Tsodilo Hills of Botswana by Kav Dadfar
Tsodilo Hills

Above: This whole area is packed full of ancient paintings. Each intricate painting or engraving offered a glimpse into the daily lives, beliefs, and rituals of the people who once inhabited these lands. My knowledgeable guide spent the morning unravelling the mysteries of this archaeological treasure trove.

Above: A guide can be invaluable in this area pointing out things beyond the art. Like this rock face which resembles the map of Africa.

Above: As well as the array of wall art, there are also other ancient details of interest. Such as early board games that the people who inhabited these mountains played with rocks.

Above: Despite its arid environment, the region supports a diverse array of plant life. You may encounter resilient desert plants such as camelthorn trees, acacias, and mopane shrubs, which have adapted to survive in harsh conditions. The area is also home to a variety of grasses and herbs that provide vital sustenance for the wildlife.

Above: The dusty roads that connect to the Tsodilo Hills are as much a part of the adventure as the hills themselves.

Need to know

Getting there:

Most visitors typically fly into Sir Seretse Khama International Airport, located near the capital city of Gaborone. Several major airlines offer flights to Botswana from various international destinations. Once in Gaborone, you can easily access other parts of the country via domestic flights.

Tsodilo Hills are a significant archaeological site in Botswana and can be reached by various means of transportation. From Gaborone, travellers can opt for a road trip, driving approximately 350 kilometres northwest towards the town of Rakops, where Tsolido Hills is situated. Alternatively, domestic flights or organized tours from Gaborone to nearby towns like Maun or Kasane are available, followed by a shorter drive to Tsodilo Hills.

Best time to go:

The best time to visit Tsodilo Hills in Botswana is during the dry season, which typically spans from May to October. This period offers cooler temperatures and minimal rainfall, making it ideal for outdoor exploration and archaeological sightseeing.

The dry season also coincides with Botswana’s winter months when vegetation is less dense, enhancing the visibility of the ancient rock art at Tsodilo Hills.

Additionally, wildlife viewing in nearby game reserves such as the Central Kalahari Game Reserve is excellent during this time, providing visitors with the opportunity to combine their cultural and wildlife experiences

Where to stay:

Near Tsodilo Hills, there are several accommodation options available to suit different preferences and budgets. One popular choice is to stay in campsites or lodges within the nearby town of Rakops, which offers basic amenities and a convenient location for exploring the area.

Or for a unique luxurious experience stay at Desert & Delta’s Nxamaseri Island Lodge. Nestled within the pristine wilderness of the Okavango Panhandle in Botswana, this secluded lodge offers an exclusive retreat for nature enthusiasts and wildlife aficionados.

The lodge offers comfortable accommodations in charming thatched chalets, each with stunning views of the delta.

Must-pack items:

Sturdy hiking shoes are essential for navigating the rocky terrain, while lightweight and breathable clothing, preferably in neutral colours, will keep you cool under the African sun.

Sun protection, including sunscreen, sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat, is crucial, as well as insect repellent to ward off mosquitoes and other bugs.

Take plenty of water to stay hydrated during your exploration, along with snacks to keep your energy levels up.

How to do it:

While independent travel is possible, most visitors will opt for a reputable tour operator to help plan their adventure in the Tsodilo Hills.

Desert & Delta Safaris is a renowned safari company operating in Botswana, offering unparalleled wildlife experiences in some of the country’s most iconic destinations as well as a commitment to conservation and sustainable tourism practices. From their Nxamaseri Island Lodge, they run excursions to visit the Tsodilo Hills.

Anything else:

It’s important to respect the site’s cultural and archaeological heritage by refraining from touching or defacing the rock paintings and structures. Additionally, Tsodilo Hills is located in a remote area with limited facilities, so go prepared with necessities such as water, snacks, and sun protection. It’s also advisable to check the weather conditions beforehand and dress accordingly, as temperatures can vary throughout the day.

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