On track with the bushmen

Tented camp at Shamwari

Guests at Shamwari Private Game Reserve near Port Elizabeth will be able to enjoy insights into the ancient skills and wisdom of San hunter-gatherers during guided walks from early next year.

Pairs of renowned Ju/’hoansi trackers from Nyae Nyae in remote north-eastern Namibia, the last of the San people in southern Africa who still command the full suite of hunter-gatherer skills, will join Shamwari guides.

A giraffe mother’s touch at Shamwari Reserve

The Ju/’hoanis track and hunt with bow and poisoned arrow, and the fittest amongst them engage in persistence hunting – pursuing an animal until it drops from exhaustion. They have the extraordinary ability – passed down generations for tens of thousands of years – to track wildlife across almost any terrain, interpreting the animal behaviour as they go.

San tracking experience at Shamwari Private Reserve

Only a handful of trackers across the Kalahari Basin have been accredited as Indigenous Masters, the highest level of accomplishment.

In January, two of the very best, Master Trackers /ui-Kxunta and /ui-G/aqo, will join with Shamwari’s own skilled rangers on the first trail, limited to a maximum of six guests on each excursion.

Other ace trackers such as Dam Debe – who played a cameo part as a child in The Gods must be Crazy – will join later trails. The trackers will also offer demonstrations of their fire-lighting skills with fire-sticks and bow-and-arrow performances (sans poisoned tips). Guests will be invited to try their hand at tracking, archery and rock art interpretations, and be able to listen to fireside stories of the old ways in distant times.

With the distinctive ring on their hindquarters, the waterbuck at Shamwari seem to provide an easy target for the Bushmen to track. Pictures by yan and Iky Plakonouris

“We can imagine no better way to experience the African wilderness than on foot with these custodians of ancient wisdom and unsurpassed skills of tracking and bushcraft, ” says Joe Cloete, CEO of Shamwari Private Game Reserve

“Only a handful of bookings are available () This is a rare opportunity and one to be seized upon and treasured: tracking in the bush with custodians of millennia-old skills, combined with unsurpassed luxury at an Explorer Bush Camp,” says Cloete.

Dates of the specialised Explorer Trails:

  • 28 & 29 January 2020
  • 31 January & 01 February 2020
  • 14 & 15 April 2020
  • 17 & 18 April 2020

About Shamwari Private Game Reserve

Shamwari Private Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape offers seven lodges including the back-to-nature appeal of a luxury tented camp, all complemented by the very best local cuisine and thoughtful service.

The luxurious interior of one of the tents at Shamwari Private Game Reserve.

By staying at Shamwari guests participate in a successful conservation project, which arrested the impact of human activity and returned to 25 000 hectares the rich biodiversity for which the region was once renowned.

Over the past 25 years the project has restored much of the ecology and attracted or re-introduced an abundance of indigenous game and birdlife, from the big five to the humble ox pecker.

Today the Shamwari Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, where sick and injured wild animals are treated before being released back into the wild, is globally recognised for its pioneering work. A long-term partnership with the Born Free Foundation provides a permanent home for rescued African big cats.