The whale of Tsodilo Hills – Botswana
The Tsodilo Hills. Far northern Botswana. Otherwise known as The Mountains of the Gods.
We climbed the steep stairs following Thebe our eloquent local guide for the hike through the hills. Not knowing what to expect, the mountains opened to us with actual, real, ancient rock art paintings. San and Bantu. From different times though. And different inks!
The San paintings were 3000 years old. They depicted all the types of game. Eland were favourites. Rhino. Kudu.
We climbed further and more of Tsodilo revealed itself. Thebe stopped us in an ancient village settlement, and pointed out artifacts and relics from thousands of years back. One of the rocks on the path had polished grooves rubbed into it. Thebe explained that the San people believed that the cattle, now so prolific and destructful, had come down from heaven and hit the earth running on this exact rock.
Thebe then stopped us at a well. A very important well he says, that all creatures could use, without fearing harm from the cats. Lions. Leopards. It was a place of peace, and an indication that wild animals and humans could live together. It was now dried up due to cattle and land degradation. Moving on.
We came to the summit and were greeted with as much Africa as the eye could take in.
Then cave to cave, as we studied more rock art. The immensity of 3000 years slowly setting in. We also found some Bantu art. But they pictured cattle only.
We got down between the two hills, the male and female, and into a beautiful grove of fever and other indigenous trees. A kudu bounced out in surprise.
And then…a humpback whale! And a penguin! Definitely not in proportion. We are thousands of kilometres from the ocean?!
Luckily our well informed Thebe had the story and it goes like this.
The Namibian coastline is directly to the West of the Tsodilo Hills. And the ancient San, with their survival instinct and abilites, were able to make the journey! There and back! And in order to educate their offspring as to what they saw and learned, they drew the whale into the huge rock.
This was one of the ways with which the elders passed their hard earned knowledge down through generations.