Botswana village visit cooking fire

Village Visit In Botswana

Part of my passion for travel is learning about the culture of the place I’m visiting. So when I’m visiting different countries, I’m immediately curious about how they live. In Botswana, the rural villages looked so different, I really wanted to visit one to better understand them and what their lives are like. Doing this is not easy, however, as places with formal tours are usually altered by the tourism.

We passed by miles and miles of villages like the one below on our way to the Okavango Delta in Botswana, and we were very grateful when one of our mokoro guides in the Delta invited our Intrepid group to visit his village.

Botswana village visit

We weren’t the first group that stopped here to visit the village, but I don’t think there had been many before us, so we got to see a glimpse of traditional life in rural Botswana.

Houses

The homes in a traditional village in Botswana are simple, but beautiful. The house pictured to the right was the home of the parents of our Okavango Delta guide. His sister and her baby also lived with them.

The simple round construction with the peaked, thatched, roof keeps the home cool on hot summer days. The mud, grass, and clay construction is a great insulator, keeping the interior warm in the winter and cool in summer.

Interestingly, they told us that the houses made of cement with tin roofs are more of a status symbol here, but they’re not as efficient, or as economical.

Botswana village visit hut

Most were, understandably, surrounded by reed fences (below), providing some private space for each family.

Botswana village visit fence

The house below was the headmaster’s home.

Botswana village visit headmasters hut


The woman sitting in the yard was shelling Marula fruit to use as fat to cook with meat. The Marula tree is an indigenous deciduous tree with tangy fruit. The oil from Marula fruit has been used in cooking and food preservation here for centuries. It’s also what they use to make the liquor, Amarula, a South African beverage our group became quite fond of after a long day of touring.

Botswana village visit marula shelling

The headmasters yard was much larger, and contained a fire pit for cooking.

Botswana village visit cooking fire
Cooking Fire

Making Porridge

Our guide’s sister showed us how they pound sorghum to make porridge, using a large pole and wooden bowl.

We each got a chance to try pounding it ourselves, and it’s quite a workout.

Our mokoro guide is on the right, while his sister, and her daughter, is holding the pole.

The porridge they make from the ground sourghum mixed with boiling water is called Bogobe. For breakfast, they add sugar or milk to it, for dinner they add meat and vegetables.

Botswana village visit sorghum porridge
Making Porridge

Making Beer

The ‘dust’ that remains at the end of this sorghum pounding process is used to make beer. It’s made with 3 ingredients, sorghum dust, water, and sugar. It’s simply mixed and left to ferment in the bin below.

Botswana village visit homemade beer


The container above, which was about the size of a standard trash can, makes about 20 liters liters of beer. They sell it for 2 Pula a mug, which is about $.15-.20 US cents.

It was quite sour and had a yeast-like flavor, which was interesting as there is no yeast in the process. Honestly, it would take some getting used to, but you can’t beat the price. Plus it’s a source of revenue for the village person making it (which I believe was the headmaster).

Water

More important than beer is water, especially in the arid climate of Botswana, which is 70% desert.

The green tank to the right is provided to the village for water use. Usage requires a special token, which costs money.

When I asked how much it cost to run the pump for the village for a month, he said 120 Pula (about $10USD).

Botswana village visit water pump
Village Water Pump

Misc

There were a few goats in the village, probably used for milk and meat. And an old car being stripped for parts.


We only had a short stop here and had to be in our way for the rest of our journey in Botswana, but we really enjoyed our visit to this village.

I think you miss something when you only visit the touristy places in a country. Plus, they were super nice people, so it was a pleasure.

At the end of our visit, our tour group leaders gave them some sports equipment. Supplies that the previous group had bought for them. As Intrepid groups cross back and forth in each direction, we had picked up the supplies from the previous group before arriving. This meant we got to leave after seeing some big smiles on some little faces.


Note: If you do have an opportunity to do a visit like this and want to help, it’s best to buy supplies rather than give money. Supplies that benefit education, health, and community are best. Also, we were able to do this safely through our Intrepid tour leader. Please don’t try to do something like this on your own.

For more information about safaris in Botswana, Top Things To Do In Botswana. A ride through the Okavango Delta looking for game is truly remarkable. To learn more about Botswana, see my Botswana Travel Guide. It highlights the top things to see and do, how to get around, safety, logistics, and more.

Safe Travels!

Julie

Hello! I resigned from a corporate career in product development to explore the world. Although my goal was to travel for a year, 8 years later, I’ve been honored to have explored more than 60 gorgeous countries and met some unbelievably amazing people. Our world truly is a beautiful place! Follow me into the gorgeous unknown by subscribing below. You’ll receive details on fabulous destinations, comprehensive travel guides, travel tips and tidbits, and information on travel trends, like experiential, sustainable, and transformational travel. Where is your next gorgeous unknown? Julie

4 Comments

  • Robert McPherson

    I really enjoyed reading this blog entry on Botswana! Ever since I had a chance to meet and be taught by some drum masters in college, who traveled from Africa, I have long wanted to visit. I admire your adventurous spirt, courage, and ability to tell your stories so well. Thanks for sharing Julie! – Bob

    • Julie

      Thanks Robert.
      Africa has so many fascinating countries…I’m sure you will find your way there one day

  • Kerry Dare

    I haven’t been on your impressive site since Bali. You have been busy. What a beautiful travel log. You do a fantastic job of recreating your journey. (sorry, I used the word “job”). Thank you again for sharing your adventures

    • Julie

      Sometimes it is hard to find wifi or time….but no where near a job… 🙂
      Hope all is well at HD!

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