Tsodilo village will on the 1ST September be a hive of activity as it will be hosting the first ever heritage challenge walk themed “Walk for Rural Development”.
Speaking recently UNDP Sustainable Land Management (SLM) coordinator Innocent Magole said the walk, which is planned to be an annual event, will be in two categories of 15 kilometers and 31 kilometers.
He said so far participants from as far as South Africa, Lesotho and Namibia had shown interest in partaking in the walk, something which he said is going to be a great marketing opportunity for the people of Tsodilo and surrounding areas.
Tsodilo hills were listed as a world heritage site in 2002 and has since attracted even more tourists who throng the place from all walks of life to view its beauty, particularly the rock paintings.
Magole noted that 15 kilometers of the walk will go around the male hill, while the 31 kilometer will pass through the male hill towards the female hill, past the child hill and back to the village where the awards ceremony will be held. The names male, female and child were derived from the size of the three rocks, the male being the biggest, followed by female as second biggest then the child as the smallest rock. There will also be a cultural night in the evening, where different cultures of Ngamiland as well as the Hambukushu and Basarwa people from Tsodilo enclave are expected to battle it out.
For logistics purposes, Magole said there will be a camping site with a carrying capacity of approximately 500. Contractors are said to be on site de-bushing another area where additional tents will be erected as well as secure parking space. With the SLM project coming to an end in no distant future, he said they want to make it a point that they leave a living legacy as they are the ones who started the activity. Part of the proceeds will be used to de-bush the air strip area so as to attract tourist clientele in the future, and for them to have a choice of flying in, instead of driving on bad terrain which is currently an obstacle. Because it is the first of its kind in the area, he said visitors will not be allowed to camp in people’s homes, considering that most households don’t meet most requirements needed by Botswana Tourism Organization, amongst them ablution and other necessities. As a long term measure however, he said they have engaged the services of a JCB to help make openings for people to build own toilets to be used in the coming year should their homes be used by visitors in the absence of ample accommodation. The government through the District Commissioner’s office is also assisting with manpower and resources. District Officer at Okavango Sub District Tshepo Mogojwe said they believe this initiative will help government in terms of developing the livelihoods of Tsodilo people and bringing in more business just like other events in the BTO calendar.
For her part Olivia Molefe of CSI Concepts which has been a part of the annual Jwaneng Desert Bush walk said they have been roped in by UNDP and Tsodilo Trust to help mentor the Local Organizing Committee (LOC). She said the Jwaneng LOC and the Tsodilo LOC are working hand in hand to see that the walk becomes a major success. “We are looking at economic diversification, as our aim is to move from too much dependence on diamonds.”