Botswana: Day 5 – Tsodilo Hills

Brrrrrrrrrr…..  We got up early the next morning to find that the weather had turned colder still.  It was Monday 11 June and this was our last morning in the delta.  The fast flowing water of the delta panhandle looked cold and uninviting

Fortunately Vermaak, assisted by Bjorn and Sam, the houseboat captain, soon had coffee on the boil and a hot breakfast prepared.

Suitably sustained we stood around enjoying the cameradrie and our last few minutes on the houseboat before leaving to go back to land.

This is the sign advertising the houseboats on the Okavango.  We enjoyed our stay on the houseboat and soon forgot about the discomfort of not always having hot water to shower.

After an hour of skimming along at high speed in an aluminium boat, we were cold and stiff.  The ride back took less time as we were travelling in a southerly direction, with the flow of the water.  We slowly disembarked at Swamp Stop.

This is the quirky bathroom at Swamp Stop.  An upside down mokoro has been turned into a base for hand basins.

We continued on our journey exploring the region around the Okavango Delta.  We turned off the main road and travelled 35 km along a very poorly maintained gravel road to Tsodilo Hills, a World Heritage Site that is known for being the only hills in Botswana as well as its famous Bushmen paintings.  The dark green trees on either side of the road are Zambezi teak (was previously known as Rhodesian teak) trees and are known for their hard wood.  Many have been cut down to make railway sleepers and furniture.

Tsodilo Hills are 400 m above the ground level.  There are four hills, the tallest is the male hill, the next is the female hill and the small ones are the children and the grandchildren


We left our vehicles under the trees in the parking area.

Douwe from Mpafa Tours introduced us to our guides who would take us on walk to the Bushmen paintings.

We saw some of the 4500 Bushmen paintings that this area is famous for.  Today Tsodilo is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is sometimes referred to as the ‘Louvre of the Desert’.

The painting of a whale and a penguin indicates that the Bushmen in this area travelled as far afield as the Namibian coast.

It is quite apt that this rock is the shape of Africa as this area gives an archaelogical record of 100 000 years of changes in this part of the Kalahari desert.

This is the entrance to one of the Bushman caves.

This is one of many pieces of pottery on display in the small museum at Tsodilo Hills.

After a picnic lunch is the car park at Tsdilo Hills, we continued our trip towards the Namibian border.  We were going into the Caprivi Strip, the narrow strip of land attached to the north eastern part of Namibia.  Before it was colonised this area was called Itenge.

When the British took control of Bechuanaland (now Botswana) in the late 1800’s, this strip of fertile land was part of the Bechuanaland Protectorate.  In 1890 Queen Victoria gave this area to Germany and in return the Germans dropped their claim to the island of Zanzibar.  This is how this little strip of Bechuanaland became part of German South West Africa and later independent Namibia.

The South African Army was stationed in this area in the 60’s and 70’s and the willife suffered as a result.  This area now has four Game Reserves and the wildlife has recovered substantially.  We were greeted by a herd of rare roan antelope just across the Namibian border.

We turned off the main road at about 4.30 pm onto a dirt road leading to our camp fot the next three nights.  This part of the Caprivi has many Jackal Berry trees.

Ngepi Camp is situated on the upper reaches of the panhandle of the Okavango delta.  This area boasts over 500 species of birds and is a birders’ paradise.

We left our vehicles in the car park and gathered at reception to be allocated our accommodation.

Our tree house was built from wood and reeds and supported by the branches of a large Jackal Berry tree on the very edge of the delta.

The bedroom was very comfortable.  We noticed the thick green blanket at the bottom of the bed.  This was going to be very welcome as we could feel the temperature dropping.

The basins were made of aluminium.  This is Marion’s bathroom and it had a reed wall.

Our bathroom overlooked the river and had no wall around the basin area.

The shower had a reed screen.

We enjoyed the view from the wooden patio overlooking the delta.  We were warned that hippos wander about in the evenings.

A local fisherman stopped near our camp to sell us some fish that he had caught.  We turned down his offer as Vermaak was busy preparing our dinner.

As darkness fell, we heard hippos grunting very close by and it got very, very cold.