The north-eastern region of Namibia is home to some of the last remaining San (Bushman) communities in Southern Africa. These people have mastered the harsh Kalahari environment over thousands of years and are believed to be the original inhabitants of both Namibia and Botswana, over time being displaced by more aggressive tribes moving into the Southern African region. Since Independence in Namibia in 1990, the traditional San hunting grounds have been reduced in size and the people living in this area no longer survive in pure hunter-gatherer societies. New community developments incorporating cattle ownership and tourism have been established, with mixed reactions.
Although idealists would prefer the San to revert to a cashless society where they are able to pursue their traditional lifestyle, most understand that the advancement of time and ‘Western’ influence has made this all but impossible and that some amount of compromise is required.
This compromise ensures that the San are able to continue living in some semblance of their original communities, whilst sharing their ancient skills with visitors to the area in return for the monetary investment that enables them to buy the necessities of their daily lives.
Tsumkwe is the regional capital of Bushmanland and tours can be arranged from here, as well as from the towns of Grootfontein and Tsumeb a little further west. Visitors can learn about San villages from the local guides, and the area is also home to a variety of wildlife species. The remote and beautifully unspoiled Khaudom Game Reserve in particular is home to many interesting species such as the rare wild dog, roan antelope, elephant, zebra and just about all the species that are present in Etosha.