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Off the Beaten Path: Tsodilo Hills

September 19, 2022  By: Gretchen

The Tsodilo Hills hold a snapshot of human history in remote northwest Botswana. These rock formations form Botswana’s highest point and host thousands of well-preserved rock art paintings. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001, Tsodilo Hills is a wonderful, if rarely visited, site that holds a priceless account of the development of human culture and 100,000 years of human history. The rock art is so rich and plentiful that the site has been called ‘a Louvre of the desert filled with treasure.’

Tsodili Hills from a distance

Visiting Tsodilo Hills with one of our expert guides gives travelers a unique view into the early days of human life and how people interacted with their environment. The rock art site is sacred to the San people of the region and has remarkably remained largely undisturbed for millennia. Among other legends, the San believe that the earth’s first people came from the backs of the hills and that powerful gods still live within caves in the hills from where they rule the world. As you spend time in the Tsodilo Hills area, your guide will weave a rich tapestry of stories about the area, bringing its history and what makes this site so special to life.

rock art

Tsodilo’s rock art paintings are characterized by geometric symbols, human figures that appear without bows, arrows or clothing (unlike other rock art sites) and the exaggerated body proportions of animals including domestic livestock. Fascinatingly, Tsodilo is totally removed from all of Southern Africa’s other rock paintings – the nearest rock art site is more than 150 miles away. A visit to Tsodilo Hills is a rare chance to dive into the essence of ancient cultures.

common area deck

Nxamaseri Island Lodge

Nxamaseri Island Lodge is just an hour away on the western side of the Okavango Delta and offers guided day trips to explore Tsodilo Hills. In the late afternoon you will travel back to the lodge in time for an evening boat cruise. In contrast to the cool Nxamaseri waterways, Tsodilo is a dry, arid Kalahari experience.

room interior

Nxamaseri Island Lodge is exclusive, featuring just 9 en suite chalets. Each secluded room is surrounded by indigenous forest with a private deck overlooking the water. Teak walkways link the chalets to the lodge’s main area, providing an opportunity to witness the remarkable birdlife that inhabits the surrounding forest.

fishing off boat

Guests at Nxamaseri can enjoy explorations to Tsodilo Hills, phenomenal birding, mokoro (dugout canoe) rides and fishing. Nxamaseri Island Lodge is renowned as a premier year-round fishing destination. Tigerfish provide thrilling fly-fishing for both experienced and novice anglers alike. Other species – including bream and catfish – can also be caught in the waters surrounding the lodge.

Are you interested in exploring 100,000 years of history?

Photos courtesy Nxamaseri Island Lodge