Only 270 km from Cape Town, located in the Cederberg Mountains, the Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve is a natural haven of wide open plains, rich biodiversity, and the haunting presence of our human ancestors.
Follow Eric Wolfinger through 48 hours of adventure in the middle of the Cederberg mountains - chapter two.
“For the Bushmen, you were only considered a man when you could successfully hunt a large animal and make the fire to cook it.”
Londi lets that sink in for moment. “Not easy.”
As he explains the finer points of making poison-tipped arrows, tracking prey, and starting a fire by rubbing two sticks together, my stomach begins to grumble. My lunch daydream turns into the question of how I could provide for myself entirely from this landscape.
Hundreds of generations of men and women survived here - the relative abundance of shelter, water, and food make it clear why this area was so suitable for the Bushman nomads. Yet I probably wouldn't last a week out here on my own. I come to the humbling recognition that though our bellies felt the same hunger and the hands that painted these figures were no different from mine, I am a long way from Londi's description of Bushman manliness.
The same rocky overhangs that offer us shade have also protected the paintings from the elements for thousands of years. And as simple as they are, there is something strangely captivating about Bushman art. I have explored ancient churches carved into desert cliffs, camped on the terrace of an Inca temple, and once ate special mushrooms atop a Mayan pyramid, but no great monument of human history has invited my imagination into the past like these slender auburn figures dancing on the rocks in front of us.
On the way back to the lodge, I ask Londi if he knows how to make fire with two sticks. “Oh yes,” he answers with shy confidence. I prod him to teach me, and he responds with the same “of course we can do that” he might have offered to another guest's request to organize a picnic.
The staff at Bushmans Kloof can pull off extraordinary feats of hospitality for their guests, but for the fire lesson Londi offers a small caveat: “we can make fire as long as I can find the right sticks.”
To be continued...
Read the others chapters:
The Bushmans Kloof: Reconnecting with the Human Past
The Bushmans Kloof: Food, Shelter and Fire