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Having an interest in Africa’s culture/history as well as it’s wildlife I thought it was time for a thread on a subject that perfectly combines these two interests and that hasn’t come up as far as I can recall very often and that is rock art. I’m not any kind of expert on this subject and haven’t visited a huge numbers of sites but I thought I’d write a brief intro before getting to some photos from the places I have been to. All over Africa there are fine examples of rock art, ancient paintings and engravings or petroglyphs, such art has been found on all continents except Antarctica but there is more of this art in Africa than anywhere else in the world. The Saharan Region is especially rich in both paintings and petroglyphs which provide a fascinating insight into the lives of the ancient peoples of this region and the of wildlife that they lived alongside, much of this artwork dates from a wet period when the Sahara was not a desert but a lush green land of rivers and lakes, lush grasslands and savannahs. Besides depictions of people and their cattle and other livestock there are numerous representations of easily recognisable wild animals like giraffes, elephants and white rhinos in countries like Libya and Algeria far outside their modern historical distribution. Sadly much of this rock art is found in areas of the Sahara that are no longer accessible to tourists due to ongoing political instability, I don’t know enough about all of the countries of this region so there may be some sites that are safe to visit, certainly it should be okay to visit some of the sites in the Ennedi region of Chad, I have not done so. I have only admired the extraordinary engravings of giraffes for example found in Niger in photographs in Nat Geo and online. Here’s a link to the Trust for African Rock Art click on the countries highlighted to see photos of this extraordinary art. While rock art can be found in various places in East Africa the largest collection of paintings (that I know of) is as at Kondoa in Tanzania just south west of Tarangire NP, although I’ve not visited Kondoa the rock art sites are not that hard to get to being only 9kms from the main highway going south from Arusha to Dodoma. While the site is accessible it’s only 3.5 hrs drive south of Arusha it is somewhat off the beaten track as far as Tanzania’s northern safari circuit is concerned and most people going from Arusha down to say Ruaha NP or Selous GR would tend to fly rather than drive. You really need to make a special trip to visit Kondoa as you’re not likely to be passing by, therefore few tourists visit these paintings. The depictions of elongated human figures and local wildlife are thought primarily to have been painted by the Sandawe people, related to the San peoples of Southern Africa and speaking a similar click language the Sandawe were likewise originally hunter gatherers. Here’s a guide to Kondoa Rock Art of Kondoa Irangi Further south, Southern Africa has an abundance of rock art, around the whole region numerous caves and rock shelters have been richly decorated with depictions of the local wildlife and people, for the most part these paintings and pictographs were created by San hunter gatherers and later Khoekhoe herders. The pictures are in many cases not actually depictions of the real world as observed by the San, but are in fact scenes taken from the spirit world visited by their shamans during trances brought on during ceremonial dances. The frequency with which certain animal species were depicted depended on their spiritual significance to the people of the area. In South Africa (& Lesotho) where there could be anywhere up to 30,000 rock art sites and over 1 million images, the eland was the most totemic species in the Drakensberg and Maloti Mts for example there are whole galleries of eland paintings. In Namibia and Zimbabwe depictions of eland are far less frequent and giraffes much more common, other animals like zebras, rhinos, elephants and ostriches are also commonly depicted. I don’t know if this reflects a difference in the past abundance of these animals or simply their significance to the artists who portrayed them. Many of the painting and petroglyphs date back to around 2,000 years or so ago, although it’s recently been confirmed that some of the oldest paintings in South Africa date back to 5,000 years ago. The tradition may go back far longer but paintings on sandstone apparently don’t last for more than a few thousand years due to the porous nature of the rock. There are also much more recent paintings but it’s generally thought that certainly in South Africa the San stopped painting soon after European colonisation, large numbers of San died from smallpox brought in by the settlers or were killed in conflicts with the newly arrived whites and also the expanding black tribes that were encroaching into their territory. Conflict was inevitable as the San saw no distinction between wild game and domestic livestock regarding both simply as meat to be hunted, the severe reduction in their numbers, the disruption to their culture and mixing with other peoples brought an end to their production of rock art. While I’ve not visited rock art sites in the Sahara or East Africa I have been to a couple of sites in Zimbabwe and in Namibia, as with the rest of Southern Africa the San were the original inhabitants of Zimbabwe and would have lived throughout the country, they produced the majority of the rock art found at over 15,000 sites around the Zimbabwe. One of the highest concentrations of rock paintings can be found in the Matobos Hills just south of Bulawayo throughout these beautiful hills caves and rock overhangs were decorated by the San. The most accessible of these caves sites in Matobos National Park is Nswatugi Cave which has some of Zimbabwe’s most impressive paintings and is also conveniently close to Malindidzimu or World’s End the spectacular burial place of Cecil Rhodes. Nswatugi Cave a Guide to the Big Game of the Matobos. Rhodes Matopos NP as it was originally called was created in 1926 after Cecil Rhodes bequeathed the area to the country, much of the original big game that would once have been found in the Matobos had been hunted out. When it was decided in the 1960s to set aside an area of the park as a game preserve that would be restocked with suitable wildlife, they needed to know which species they should reintroduce, caves like Nswatugi provided a perfect guide to the original fauna of the park. At another site that I’ve not visited known as the White Rhino Shelter is the faint outline of what is clearly a white rhino, a species that was entirely extinct in the country when Southern Rhodesia was founded in the 1890s, exactly when they became extinct is not known (as far as I know) but this evidence of their former presence led to their reintroduction. There is now a healthy and seemingly well protected population of southern white rhinos and also black rhinos in the park. Some of the other game hasn’t fared quite as well some species like buffalo were actively exterminated some years ago for reasons of foot and mouth disease control and a lot of game was poached during the recent chaos, but hopefully more restocking will be carried out in future when the opportunity arises. Photographing rock paintings can be a bit of a challenge as you can’t use flash which would damage the paintings, so I wasn't sure how well my photos would come out when I visited Nswatugi a few years ago. These paintings are perhaps 2,000 years old and have survived remarkably well considering that Ndebele rebels hid out in caves like this one during the first Chimurenga or freedom war that lasted from 1894-97. It was from hideouts in the Matobos that they launched their guerilla war against the white settlers that nearly extinguished the fledgling colony of Southern Rhodesia. The large animal in the centre of the scene is an eland The artists would often simply paint on top of the earlier paintings frequently creating a jumble of images which can make it a little difficult to make out some of the individual animals and people, the shapes below the eland appear to be entirely abstract and I don't recall what their significance may have been if known. Probably the finest painting of giraffes in Zimbabwe This would appear to be a female greater kudu Greater kudu bull Giraffes, zebras, antelopes and other animals Plains zebra
I am traveling with a group of 4 to Namibia in Oct. 2016. We are all photographers with significant past experience in Botswana and South Africa. The initial plan was to use two 4-door Hilux vehicles (person front seat, person back), have 1 arrival night in Windhoek, then 2 nights in Erindi and then 6 nights in Etosha. In discussions with my fellow travelers, several would like to add days/nights and photograph indigenous people. Probably just the Himba, but possibly also the Bushmen. As I noted, the group is photographers, so focus is on candid portraits and 'sense of place' shots of villages and daily life activity. The group is not particularly interested in tours. The goal is quality photos to show the pride and dignity of villagers, etc. As it's mid-August, we need to book the extra nights as soon as possible. First plans were to add time driving from Etosha west entrance over to Grootberg/Palmwag and visit the Himba there. We recently learned that the Himba village that Grootberg Lodge once organized trips to is being evicted and those tours have ceased. We need suggestions on alternate Himba villages that will allow a small group to visit and photograph. We would also like ideas on what gifts would be appropriate for the village to show gratitude for the visit. As an alternate or addition, there is interest in traveling further east and visiting a bushman village. In visiting website that discuss the 'Living Museum' concept (for example Ju/'Hoansi-San Living Museum), these trips seem extremely structured. As I noted, our focus is respectful portraits and shots of everyday life, dwellings, etc. Can anyone suggest options to allow this activity. Thanks in advance for the advice.
Guidoriccio11 posted a topic in Lodge and Camp reviews1) Name of property: !Xaus Lodge - Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (S.A. sector) 2) Website address: http://www.xauslodge.co.za/ 3) Date of stay: 5th August 2016 4) Length of stay: 1 night 5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what? Several reasons: first of all we decided to spend 3 nights in KTP but since we book late, all other camps were full. Secondly we would explore an "hidden" area of the park, since you can get there only if you sleep in the lodge. Last because we would have 1 night of comfort. 6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently? Booked through an Italian Tour Operator (South African Dream). I had some questions about timing for picking up and they answered fast by email. 7) How many times have you been on Safari? 3 in 3 years 8) To which countries? South Africa, Namibia, Madagascar 9) Which properties have you been to previously that you are comparing this one to? Fish River Lodge, Red Dunes Lodge (both in Namibia). The former because of the position, on the top of the dune (the canyon in Fish River case), the latter because of the environment (Kalahari) 10) Was the property fenced? NO, the units are connected to the main building through a boardwalk (the director said once they found a leopard drinking at the swimming pool) 11) What tent or room did you stay in? Did it have a good view? Was it overlooked or private? Number 1, which was the nearest to the main building. We could listen people chatting on the terrace but it was not a issue. We had a really good view of the pan and the waterhole (even if not close). Probably chalet 2 or 3 have more privacy. 12) How comfortable was the bed - were suitable amounts of blankets/duvets/pillows provided? Very comfortable, we had 2 pillows each and as much as blankets we would. We had the hot water bottle as well. 13) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why. Yes, the food was good, but not memorable. Probably they should improve a bit. In partiular meat was not too tasty. The breakfast was rich and good, but also in this case a luxury lodge should give "something more" or "something special" to give an upper level experience 14) Was there a varied menu offering multiple choice? If vegetarian was a suitable alternative offered? (Did you have to request this in advance?) We met a vegetarian guest and he told this to the director. So he had vegetarian food for dinner and breakfast as well. Not sure if there are vegan solutions... The menu was fixed, so a starter, a main course and a dessert. There was a good (considering the situation) wine list. 15) Can you choose where you eat, ie privately or with other guests, guides? Single tables or communal dining? There are only 3 big tables, so basically can happen that you eat with other guests. Guides never eat at the same table. 16) How good were the packed breakfasts/lunches if staying out on game drives? We didn't have a morning/afternoon drive, so I don't know. 17) What are the game drive vehicles? Please include photo if possible. They have a landrover. It seems quite new. 18) How many guests per row? 3 guests per row 19) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken? Morning/afternoon game drives are included only for guests who sleeps at least 4 nights. If not are arranged and paid separately. We didn't take part in daylight drives but I head by other guests that basically they explore the area around the lodge and the Aoub riverbed. The night drive was around 1 hour/ 1 hour and half in the surroundings of the lodge. 20) Are game drive times flexible: ie, if agreed in advance, can you go out earlier than suggested and stay out later, ie not returning for lunch but taking supplies with you? I don't think so. The drives are scheduled (maybe can change of half an hour...) 21) What wildlife is this property known for? Did you get good sightings? !Xaus lodge is not famous for the wildlife around it. It is more related to the environment and landscapes. Anyway we sow: - DAYLIGHT: Red hartebeests, mangoose, hyenas, ostriches, secretary birds, sprinboks, gemsboks, meerkats - NIGHT: hyenas, jackals, Bat-eared foxes, Cape foxes, spring hares 22) How was the standard of guiding? Guides were good considering the few wildlife there. They were good also in the morning walk explaining the plants and the environment of Kalahari. 23) If you had a bad experience with a guide, why? Did you report the issue to management, and if so, how did they deal with the issue? No problems with guides 25) Were staff attentive to your requests/needs? Yes, they were always open to our needs (we didn't ask much) 27) Any other pertinent details you wish to add: As I wrote the day game drive is included only if you stay 4 nights. For less it is included the night drive, the morning walk and a visit to a bushmen village. This latter probably is the less interesting activity also because it is declared it is a fake experience. The point is that !Xaus Lodge lies on old motherland of San and Meir people. So they are actually the owners of the land and this "visit" is a way to help their culture. In the night it is cold (in winter) like all the other camps in KTP, but here there is an heater and the hot water bottle. Electricity is turned off at 22.00 The water comes from the pan in front of the lodge, so it is really salty! You can use it to wash or brush teeth, but not to drink. There is only a pitcher in every room with freshwater, so don't waste it! To reach the lodge there is a meeting point at the Kamqua Picnic Site all the days at 14.30. You can follow the lodge vehicle by 4x4 or leave your car in a fenced private area (with shadow) and go with them. There is a 1h 30m - 2h drive through 90 red dunes. The coming back is more flexible, usually after breakfast, but you can negotiate it... 28) Please add your photographs of the property.
Namibia Tour - Following the San 7 nights (8 days) Price per person / sharing: GBP 2100 2 participants GBP 1535 4 participants GBP 1225 6 participants GBP 650.00 single supplement Go au natural – camping for 4 of your seven nights as you follow in the footsteps of the San bushman and experience the way of life of one of the most fascinating nomadic tribes in Namibia, on this amazing Namibia Tour. Minimum of 2 participants and maximum of 6 participants Included: All transfers in a 4 x 4 vehicle, experienced English speaking guide, 4 nights camping with full board, 3 nights lodge accommodation with meals as indicated, refreshments during the day while driving, full camping gear, park entrance fees, 15 % VAT Excluded: International flight, meals not listed, alcoholic beverages while camping, all beverages at restaurants or lodges, all activities not listed, accommodation at Vic Falls, items of personal nature, gratuities, and travel insurance. Day 1 Arrival Windhoek International Airport – Grootfontein In arrival you will be met at the aiport by a representative and depart from Windhoek to Grootfontein where you will stay at a small camp, close to the Hoba Meteorite. After check-in and a light lunch you will visit the biggest meteorite on earth in the afternoon. Accommodation with full board Day 2 Grootfentein-Tsumke Your destination today is Tsumkwe, the only small village in Bushmanland. Experience the lifestyle, ancient traditions and culture of the nomadic Bushman tribe, the oldest ethnic tribe in Namibia, whilst collecting food, preparing hunting equipment etc., at the Living Museum of the Jo’hoansi–San in Grashoek. Accommodation with full board Day 3 Tsumkwe-Sikeretti Today you explore the northern part of Bushmanland and the southern Kaudom. While driving through a large Mopane forest, you may see game like elephants and lions in this area, especially at the waterholes. Tonight you camp for the first night. Camping with full board Day 4 Sikeretti-Kaudom You head further north of the Kaudom today, where again you have the opportunity to see big game. Tonight you once again camp out. Camping with full board Day 5 Kaudom-Mahangu National Park The route today brings you to the western part of the Caprivi, where you arrive at the Okavango River and the Mahangu National Park, the final destination of the day. Camping with full board Day 6 Mahangu National Park Today you have the whole day to enjoy the park. Your day starts with an early morning game drive into the Mahango Park, famous for big herds of buffalos, elephants, sable antelopes and even the rare roan antelope. For bird watchers the Mahangu National Park offers more than 420 different bird species. Visit the Popa rapids in the afternoon and enjoy a walk in this lovely area before returning back to the camp for a second night. Camping with full board Day 7 Mahangu National Park-Mudumo National Park You will head into the Caprivi as far as Kongola on your journey today; there you turn south and follow the Kwando River to the Mudumo National Park. Here you will spend the night at a lodge situated at the Kwando River. A boat cruise on the river can be booked direct at the lodge. Accommodation with dinner, breakfast Day 8 Departure Depart after breakfast to Katima Mulilo, where a private shuttle will meet you and transfer you via Kasane in Botswana to Vic Falls in Zimbabwe. The tour ends at Victoria Falls where you will connect with your flight back to the UK, via Johannesburg. You can choose to extend your holiday by staying at Victoria Falls for a few days. For details on extension options please speak to us. Tour departure: on request
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