The Tsodilo Hills are an interesting rock art site, located in the North of Botswana, not far from the Namibia and the Okavango Panhandle, and are located in the immense basin of the Kalahari Desert.

The hills are four elevations rising from the desert highland, the highest reaches 400 meters and with the total of 1,400 meters above sea level is the highest mountain in Botswana.

In this place there are four hills: the highest hill is called Male Hill or the " man hill ", not far away is the Female Hill, or the " woman hill ", the third, the smallest, is called the Child Hill or the "kid Hill", while the fourth hill, farther from the others, has no name but, according to the San legend, it is the first wife of the Male Hill that was later left for a younger wife, the Female Hill.

Archaeological surveys point to human presence in these areas 60,000 years ago, making this site one of the oldest historical sites in Africa.

The area has been inhabited since the beginning by the San, to whom some Bantu populations, who came from the Equatorial Africa, have been added in the last millennium.

Thanks to the high concentration of rock paintings this area has been dubbed the " Louvre of the Desert " and has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2002.

The local communities of the San and Hambukushu worship Tsodilo as they consider it the home of the ancestral spirits; for this reason they ask visitors for visas.

Local people believe that the hills are surrounded by spirits and forces that protect the hills themselves and the animals in the area, making it a mystical destination.

The San believe that the hills host the spirits of death and ancestors, the power of the gods is kept in the grottoes of the Female Hill and hence from here they govern and rule the world; they also believe that gods, who inhabit the hills, can bring misery and disease to those who hunt down or cause death near the hills.

The Male Hill is linked to the myth of the creation of the San population, for they believe that on the top of the hill the first spirit knelt to pray after creating the world; to support the thesis of the San in the rock there are two indentures, that seem to be exactly the imprint of two knees.

The San have other beliefs linked to the hills; on the Western side of the Female Hill there is a cave that contains a permanent source of water, the San believe there is a giant snake here, with spiral horns similar to those of the kudus.

The Hambukushu ethnicity, of Bantu origin, believe that the god Nyambe brought down man and other creatures on earth right on the Female Hill; proof of this they claim is that there are footprints of animals and humans on the top of the hill; in reality these are natural signs engraved in the rock by weather agents.

The word Tsodilo comes from a Hambukushu word that means "pure", to emphasize the aura of sacredness and spirituality of the area.

The precious and numerous rock art designs, over 4,000, are present on all the hills; they represent one of the most important prehistoric paintings in the world.

The paintings were made in white or red, using pigments obtained from plants and mixed with ashes; the white paintings are attributed to the populations of Bantu origin, while the red paintings, older, are attributed to the San.

Archaeological drawings and testimonies have an extraordinary state of conservation, thanks to three factors: their isolated position, the low population density and the high degree of resistance to the erosion of quartzite rock.

The paintings represent 50% animal figures, 37% geometric figures and the remaining 13% stylized human forms; in general they belong to different styles and to different historical periods.

Animals depicted are both savannah wild animals and animals raised by the Bantu, elephants, rhinos, giraffes, oryxes, elands and, curiously, penguins and whales, as well, are represented, showing how the local populations came in contact with other populations coming from the coast.

Looking closely at the drawings, you can admire the details and find out how some ancient traditions of these populations are still practiced, for example you can see some portraying men while engaged in the practice of trance dance, the dance of the San, a custom that still survives today.

The Tsodilo area is also a good opportunity to observe the flora and fauna of the area, the kudu, the duiker and the steenbok are animals that live in this area of ​​Botswana, but here you may also encounter the leopard and the spotted hyena.

Here is also the Gecko of Tsodilo, a small gecko with yellow and brown streaks, endemic of these hills.

Among the plants in the area is the Mongongo or Schinziophyton rautanenii, whose nuts are considered among the basic elements of the feeding of the San since prehistory; some archaeological research has found fossils of these nuts dating back 7,000 years ago.

The Mongongo tree is 15 to 20 meters high, flourishes with beautiful yellow flowers between October and November and produces the fruits that usually mature since February.

The edible walnuts are easy to preserve, even for a long time, and have a good taste.

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