Tsodilo - Gchwihaba Trail Launched

Sep 6, 2018

The UNDP SLM Project Manager Mr Innocent Magole (In white Tshirt) explaining the route of the Tsodilo-Gchwihaba Trail to officials and members of the community. Looking on is UNDP Resident Representative Ms Jacinta Barrins and Tsodilo Village Chief, Kgosi Keasheta.

The Tsodilo - Gchwihaba Trail has been officially opened by the UNDP Resident Representative Ms. Jacinta Barrins. This trail has opened an alternative route from the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Tsodilo to the Gchwihaba Caves covering a total distance of 230km. This route shall assist rural communities in the far north western part of Botswana to benefit through community based tourism activities.

The Tsodilo – Gchwihaba Trail is part of the KAZA TFCA Heritage Trail in Botswana that connects heritage sites throughout the northern part of the country. The trail is marked by white beacons placed at 5km.

When opening this trail Ms. Barrins stated that the UNDP is committed to working with communities in creating sustainable ways of improving their livelihoods. She thanked communities and traditional leaders of Tsodilo, Chukumuchu,Nxauxau, Qangwa, Xaixai and Gchwihaba who collaborated with UNDP and the Botswana Government on the creation of this route.

For his part the chief of Tsodilo village, Kgosi Keasheta said that this trail is a welcome development that will certainly improve the economic activity of his community and the Okavango/Ngamiland area.

Tsodilo Hills is Botswana's first World Heritage Site. It has been a National Monument since 1927, when first proclaimed under the Monuments and Relics Act. The Hills were then listed by the World Heritage committee in 2001 under the cultural criteria (i), (ii) and (vi). The World Heritage Site includes two components, a core of approxiamately 4800ha and a buffer area of about 70400ha surrounding the core area.

The Hills have a cluster of about 4500 rock paintings (San Rock Art) and are a monumental outcrop in an otherwise flat and sandy Kalahari Desert. The Tsodilo village is a small community with a population of 204 people (CSO 2012), made up of two main cultural groups the Ju/'hoansi and the Hambukushu, the latter being greater in numbers. The Hills are sacred to the people of Tsodilo and they continue to revere them for spiritual and cultural significance.

Gchwihaba Caves are a significant archaeological foot note in the region of North West Ngamiland. They were recorded for the first time in 1932. Qchwihaba is specifically known for its natural caves with stalagmites and stalagtites and indurate sand deposits just outside the entrance of the cave. The area is in the frontier of Botswana and Namibia, featuring the rare existence of dolomitic and Qcwihaabadoum rocks of Koanaka and Qchwihaba Hills respectively. The area is mostly built in the spread of sand dunes aligned on east to west orientation. The !kung community of San, who named the caves, live in a nearby village of Xaixai. There is also a community of Hereros who live in the village.

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