Grasslands Bushman Lodge
A stay at Grasslands Bushman Lodge is a one-of-a-kind safari experience with numerous activities different from traditional safari locations. You’ll experience a true introduction to the spell-binding Kalahari Desert. Adding this diversity to any Botswana itinerary is highly recommended – a must for those with a serious interest in Bushman culture.
Grasslands Bushman Lodge provides a unique look into Kalahari life – both the people and the wildlife. The de Graff family, who own and operate the lodge, will teach you firsthand about the life of a Botswana family that settled the land 120 years ago. Throughout that time, the de Graffs have worked side by side with the San bushmen and know them like no one else. DNA studies confirm the bushmen are the original human culture on earth that we all descend from.
While typical tourist interactions with bushmen consist solely of going on a walk with adult male bushmen, at Grasslands Bushman Lodge, you will meet women and children as well, gaining a more true and complete impression of the bushmen culture. You can accompany a group of these charismatic people as they gather food from the bush and share the secrets of the area with you. They will build a fire, men by rubbing sticks and women by sparking a metal striker – the competition is fun to watch. Then you can try the various foods if you like. Each gathering walk is different as the seasons change what is available. You will also learn survival skills such as how to find water in the Kalahari and the source of their deadly poison for arrow tips. Later in the day you can visit a traditional boma and see how these nomadic people live when traveling the desert. They also share their games, songs, and dances and welcome you to their way of life. You can also learn the ancient skills of tracking from these unrivaled masters of bushcraft.
While the bushman cultural focus is the highlight of a visit to the Grasslands Bushman Lodge, other unique activities are offered as well. The lodge features a predator rescue project. At the request of the government, lodge staff have captured predators that were going to be shot by cattle farmers in retribution for preying on livestock. Some predators have been relocated back into the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. Others have returned to the farms and now live in large (27 square acre) enclosures. Bill Given of The Wild Source conducted revolutionary research in partnership with the lodge testing a taste aversion method on these captive lions in an effort to mitigate predator / livestock conflict. Some of the captive African wild dog pack have been released into the wild to augment on going reintroduction projects.
Grasslands Bushman Lodge drives visitors into an enclosure to observe a magnificent pride of captive lions. You can also walk with a guide to a captive pack of African wild dogs. Entering the enclosures is not the same as seeing predators in the wild, but it’s a guaranteed close-up view of these tremendous animals who still have the spirit of the wild, and who serve as wonderful ambassadors to help us address conflict issues for future wild generations.
A stay at the Grasslands Bushman Lodge gives you access to typical Kalahari wildlife. Large populations of eland, kudu, wildebeest, red hartebeest, oryx (gemsbok), and springbok are all present, as well as a wide array of birds. The best wildlife viewing takes place at the floodlit waterhole right in front of the lodge, where every night, a parade of species comes to drink. Predators are rarely sighted here, with the exception of the brown hyena which sometimes visit the waterhole in the evening. Another unique encounter is with the sandgrouse, who come from miles away, one pair at a time. They join a flock that grows into thousands of birds, swooping over the waterhole to drink. A carefully placed chair gives you a front-row seat at this amazing spectacle.
Horseback riding offers a refreshing change from being in a vehicle. Often, grazing animals feel more relaxed about approaching horses than they feel around motor vehicles. Grasslands Bushman Lodge is a rare safari location that can properly provide an experience for both novice riders and experts. Horseback riding should be arranged in advance so let us know if that’s desired.
Lodging consists of eight comfortable, concrete chalets with thatched roofs. These are very practical for the Kalahari Desert where it tends to be hot in the day but cold at night. Lounge time centers around a fire pit with a view of an extremely active, flood-lit waterhole where desert game comes to show itself. There is a large swimming pool to refresh during the mid-day heat.
- Cross-cultural Bushmen village experience
- Horseback riding
- Flood-lit waterhole
Grasslands Bushman Lodge Reviews
J.F., traveled in December 2013
Comments: Grasslands was truly amazing. Their lion and wild dog rehabilitation/re-entry program were very interesting. Also the San people walk/program was great.