Uncharted Africa
Bushman Safari
Guided by Ralph Bousfield

 

 

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Initiation Hunt

For the first time ever, an incredible opportunity to experience a dignified and sensitive Bushman safari. For many years, it has not been possible to offer a genuine non-patronising Bushman experience due to the threat of exploitation. Now, Uncharted Africa Safari Company, in conjunction with the Bushman people themselves, offer a unique and fascinating opportunity to experience the age-old rituals and traditions associated with an eland hunt.

The eland is the most important animal to the Bushmen, both as a practical resource (food, skin etc) and as a spiritual symbol. It is the largest antelope in the world and the only animal in the Kalahari that stores large quantities of fat (both in its dewlap and its hump). Fat is one of the only foods in the desert that is storable for the Bushmen as they have no system of refrigeration nor means of food preservation. One can therefore appreciate the great importance and value of this life-giving substance and majestic animal to the Bushmen people. The rite of passage from boyhood to man is sanctified by the successful hunt of a large antelope. Sadly, this tradition is threatened with extinction because the Bushmen are too poor to forfeit the money that they could earn through hunting trophies. As a result, they are unable to hunt for ritual purposes.

Uncharted Africa Safari Co has created a safari experience where Guests are able to accompany an authentic Bushmen hunt and respectfully observe the related rituals and tradition related to its successful conclusion. In so doing, sustainable cultural tourism preserves the Bushmen culture for future generations.

Your Guide will be a fully qualified Zoologist/Biologist in consultation with Community leaders thus ensuring a unique experience that combines both culture and wildlife in an educational, yet non-intrusive, fashion. The Bushmen with whom we conduct our hunts are the last of the greatest hunters alive today. To hunt an eland with Bushmen in a truly authentic manner is an incredible privilege and a rare and special experience. One, that until now has been impossible to experience anywhere in Africa.

However, it must be accepted that as such, the success of the hunt could never be guaranteed. We will aim for eland but if unsuccessful, will hunt a gemsbuck, wildebeest or kudu as all of these species are incorporated in the initiation rituals.

Please also bear in mind that activities detailed below may vary from the order detailed below due to the spontaneous and authentic nature of the experience.
 

DAY 1
Arrive by plane at midday and transfer down a dusty red road to a remote campsite deep in the ancestral gathering lands of the Zu/’hoasi Bushmen. Uncharted Africa Safari vehicles are top-of-the-range Toyota Landcruisers,extremely comfortable and have multiple thoughtful details that make them perfect for game viewing such as roof-top seats, leather bean bags for photography and ponchos to keep one warm on sunrise gamedrives. After a delicious and refreshing lunch, head off to your hut for a rest.

The campsite will be comprised of traditionally styled tents replete with all the accoutrements of a proper safari. Guests will sleep on proper beds between pure cotton sheets and old-fashioned army blankets and duvets.

Wooden ladder shelves for hanging and stacking clothing and a wooden trunk for a bedside table will provide space for storage. Private bucket showers and bush loos are situated adjacent to each shelter. Depending on where the hunt takes place, there may be several nights spent fly camping under the stars in Mosquito net tents.

After tea, walk through the bush to the nearby Bushmen village where you will be met in a traditional manner by the elders of the community. Around the fire before dinner, listen
to the history of the Bushmen people whose origins can be traced back 30000 years, and learn about the complex political challenges that are confronting them today.

Enjoy a delicious dinner under the stars.
 

DAY 2
After a restful night’s sleep, meet the men after breakfast to prepare for a traditional hunt. Walk into the bush and search out the poison grub beetle, gathering suitable roots, sanseveria leaves and branches for the manufacture of rope, bows and arrows.

Return to camp for a lunch and siesta.

After tea, return to the Bushmen village. Watch the men prepare bows, arrows and quivers while young boys demonstrate various traditional games that provide training for the hand-to-eye co-ordination skills that will be so necessary when on the hunt.

Retire to bed after a satisfying dinner in excited anticipation of the next day’s hunt.
 

DAY 3 - 7
Depart early after hearty cooked breakfasts for a day’s traditional hunting with the men.

Spend the next few days with the men tracking, hunting and gathering - observing and sharing in their astounding knowledge of their environment.

Days will be spent searching the area for eland tracks, stalking and, hopefully, hunting down some wild quarry using traditional bows and arrows. This is a real expedition and, at times, may be physically demanding. A picnic lunch will be taken with to enable one to be flexible and react fast to the day’s events.

Return to camp hopefully bearing the results of a day’s hunt and prepare the meat to share and sample around the fire.

The following morning, join the Bushmen in the very sensitive job of sharing the meat among all the band members (men, women and children). This task is performed by the hunter whose arrow killed the antelope. It is a time of great excitement and rejoicing as the eland is prized above all other antelope.

If you can bear tearing yourself away from the fascinating preparations for the evening’s celebrations, return to camp for a lunch and siesta.

The successful hunter will undergo the ritual ceremony of the hunt led by the elders, receiving tattoos to indicate his passage into manhood as a hunter. A huge feast and incredible trance dance will follow, through which all the community bond and are healed by their Healers. This is a deeply spiritual experience for the Bushmen people.

It is a great privilege for our Guests to have the opportunity to observe the mysterious passage of the Healer into a state of altered consciousness (entirely induced by breathing technique), where he can make contact with his ancestors. The eland has taken on an almost God-like significance in all San Bushman culture and lore. The hair from between the eyes of the eland is removed, burnt and inserted into the incisions that are made between the eyes of the hunter, on his temples and on his arms. The hunter is thus tattooed to imbue him with the power of the eland.

When a young girl reaches puberty and menstruates for the first time, the week long ritual she undergoes culminates in a symbolic eland dance. The most important trance, a healing dance of the San Bushman is another eland dance and is the embodiment of Bushman spirituality.

It is therefore no wonder that eland have been elevated to deity status, and why the eland is often featured in ancient San rock art. Depending on the success of the hunt, we may have time to join in a morning gathering expedition with the men, women, children and your Guides.

Your Guide will point out the distinct ecological characteristics of this area and its animal and bird species while spontaneous gathering and discussions about the uses of plants and wildlife by your Bushmen Guides provide the link between culture and wild environment that we seek to offer our Guests on these very special safaris.


An adolescent Bushman girl knows more than 115 species of usable plants and an extraordinary variety of plants and herbs with both culinary and medicinal value will be found.


After lunch and a siesta, return to the Bushmen village where you will learn from the women how to prepare their bush foods using only the most basic of tools and an open fire. You will be able to sample a variety of foods from wild spinach and roast beetles to ostrich egg omelette cooked on the coals.

Some of the women may also show you how they make beads from ostrich eggs and the simple, but striking jewellery that they make from porcupine quills, seeds and ostrich eggs.

Leather is also decorated with both glass and ostrich beads to complex and beautiful effect.

As the sun sets and the evening draws close, the women may spontaneously perform the melon dance, around the evening fire. This unselfconscious and free-spirited traditional dance represents the joyful celebration of a successful harvest.

Return to camp for a rather more conventional, but still delicious, meal and retire to bed.

 


Mobile Tent


Superb Freshly prepared meals

 

Cave Paintings


Your Guide w / covered safari vehicle
 


A Morning of Successful Gathering


 

Bushmen Tracking is Legendary


 
 
 
Information on Jack's Camp
and Uncharted Africa Safaris

Contact:

Cape To Cairo:  African Business and Adventure Travel
2761 Unicorn Ln NW, Washington DC 20015
Tel (800) 356-4433 / (202) 244 5954
Fax (202) 244 5993 
home: www.capetocairo.travel / safari@capetocairo.travel