Tsodilo Hills in Botswana is a rock art site near the Okavango Delta panhandle that dates back thousands of years. It is made up of four quartzite hills, each covered in rock art created by ancestors of the San and Hambukushu tribes who have lived on the land for millenia.
The site was officially listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001 and, while it is not the most popular destination in the country, Tsodilo Hills attracts groups of visitors throughout the year who are curious about the ancient rock paintings and the land shrouded in mysticism. Tsodilo is home to the richest concentration of rock art paintings in the world. There are an estimated 4500 paintings giving it the nickname “Louvre of the Desert”.
‘Tsodilo’ is derived from the Hambukushu word ‘sorile’ meaning sheer is revered by local communities as a sacred site.
The four hills are known individually; the biggest is ‘The Male’, the second biggest is ‘The Female’, the third biggest is ‘The Child’, while the fourth remains unnamed. Years of archeological research has found evidence of human existence around the hills from around 100 000 years ago.
While we will never know exactly what the rock art depicts, it is believed that they showed everyday life as well as scenes of sacred rituals. A hike up across the hills will reveal rock and cave walls covered in historic paintings showing animals both wild and domesticated and an array of geometric designs. Visitors can spend days exploring trails and discovering the well-known and hidden artworks.
Tsodilo Hills is slightly “off of the beaten track” - 370km from Maun - but it is a great destination for anybody curious about rock art and the ancient wonder surrounding the hills. There is a museum near the entrance ofo Tsodilo Hills that people can visit. There are also a number of campsites near to the hills with one main site housing major facilities.
Visitors can venture on a number of walking trails to take in the wonder of the hills and the artwork. The Rhino Trail is a relatively easy walk that takes about two hours with a local guide. It is recommended to take guided walks for safety as well as to get a full experience of the hills including local history and myth.