Follow in the footsteps of the oldest extant human culture
A wilderness safari in the Kalahari Desert, Botswana
If you’re looking for an utterly unique safari location set in a true wilderness, Deception Valley Lodge, Botswana is it. It borders on the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and was one of the first lodges to be established in this area.
The San are considered by most anthropologists to be the oldest extant human culture, able to trace genetic lineage back over an incredible 70,000 years. However, like many vulnerable people, the existence of the San is deeply threatened by several forces: whilst they are no longer hunted (as they were in colonial times in South Africa), their ancestral lands are not always as assured as governments like to claim, nor are their water sources.
Braam Badenhorst, who established the lodge and is on site most days, was actually born and raised in the area. He grew up alongside several different clans of the San people, learning of and being fully immersed in their way of life. He is as such able to claim a deep knowledge of San language, culture and history, having fostered trust with them over the course of his whole life.
Braam has also made it a point of principle that the San people living near the Lodge are not only permitted but actively encouraged to bring their children on to the reserve and as such, learn from their parents the traditional methods of hunting, gathering and tracking. Sadly many of the clans no longer wish to live traditionally so this important step of recognizing and validating the traditions of the San means they are able to pass valuable knowledge from generation to generation.
Braam guides several of the experiences on at DVL in person and also trains selected members of the San community to become guides in their own right (not just guides for their own culture but also to the wildlife in the area).
The Lodge is not only ethical from the point of view of how it assimilates and sustains the culture of the San: all electricity now is generated by solar power (which is not the case at many lodges that still rely on trucked-in diesel). As far as possible, food and water is sourced from the local area, with ongoing plans to grow more food on site.
Don’t worry that all these appeals to the ethical mean that the comfort of the lodge is somehow forgotten! There’s a natural waterhole right in front of the lodge which attracts the local animal inhabitants of all shapes and sizes by day and by night. There are only eight suites, each with a bedroom, separate lounge area, en-suite bathroom with Victorian bath and outdoor shower. The lodge itself has a swimming pool and a myriad of verandas and public rooms in which to relax, should you feel like being social. Impressively for such a remote location, there is WiFi that’s delivered by satellite.
Prices at Deception Valley Lodge start at R16 000 per room per night (£864 - €973 - $1 120), which is fully inclusive of all meals, all San-lead experiences and all game drives.