Tsodilo Hills, Botswana

Tsodilo Hills derived its name from the Hambukushu word ‘Soriles” which means sheer. These hills contain many historic Bushmen (San) rock art paintings which are found in the Tsodilo area, an area known to be filled with mystery and spirituality. Many tourists have reported ‘feelings’ while visiting the area on a Botswana Safari – many are drawn to the magical aura of the hills while others report sensing an uneasy feeling that hovers around a certain perceived level of spiritual awareness.  This particular aspect of the Tsodilo Hills create the rumors that these hills are surrounded by spirits and ‘forces’ that protect the hills and the animals in the area, making it a mystical and important Botswana Safari destination.

Tsodilo Hills is located about 53km South-West of Shakawe, Botswana, and consists of four hills that rise sharply out of the flat area approximately 400m high. The area surrounding the Tsodilo Hills has been inhabited for over 30 000 years and has become one of the world’s oldest historical sites.  Visitors on safari in this area can appreciate the sheer beauty of the Tsodilo Hills, as well as the stories that are associated with them.

The four hills are arranged in roughly a straight line. The most southerly hill is called the ‘male hill’ and it reaches a height of 410m. Fairly close to this Tsodilo Hill, is the ‘female hill’ which is 3 times the area of the male hill, only reaching a height of 300m.  To the North-West of this hill is a smaller hill known as the ‘child hill’, approximately 40m high. The fourth and final hill (unnamed) of the Tsodilo Hills is located far away from the ‘child hill’ and is known as the male’s first wife, according to the local myths.

The San people believe this area to be highly sacred – they believe the gods, spirits and the deceased all rest near these Botswana hills and rule the world from an area within the female hill. It is believed that these gods will cause misfortune to anyone that kills or hurts near these hills. The Hambukushu also believe that the Tsodilo Hills area is where God first lowered man to the ground from heaven.

Interestingly, the Tsodilo Hills offer more than 4000 Bushmen paintings, identified on or around the four hills – making it one of the world’s most important rock art collections. Some of the paintings include drawings of whales, penguins, people, Bushmen trance dances, animals… Most of the paintings are found near the female hill. The paintings are stereotypically very different to other Bushmen paintings – they hardly tell stories and are mainly of an animal (usually the eland) or of a single figure of nature. Many tourists visit these hills on a Botswana Safari in order not to miss these unique historical paintings.

Many archaeologists have visited and studied the Tsodilo Hills, concluding that this area holds clues to the human migration to Southern Africa in generations past. This area also has evidence of shore lines from a beach and animal fish hooks dating back 20 000 years… There are also findings that point to the Tsodilo people engaging in hematite and mica mining between AD 800 and 1.100.   These elements of history and mystery that surround the Tsodilo Hills make the area a must-see on any Botswana safari.

Have a look at our other Botswana Safari Attractions that you might want to visit on your Botswana Safari below.