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Bushmen Rock Paintings

Maseru, Lesotho

Bushmen or San Rock Art are ancient rock paintings and carvings (collectively called rock art) are found in caves and on rock shelters. The artwork depicts non-human beings, hunters, and half-human half-animal hybrids. The half-human hybrids are believed to be medicine men or healers involved in a healing dance. Lesotho is particularly well known for its San rock art. Sites include Ha Khotso and Ha Baroana.

DEEP IN THE CRADLE OF civilization, you can still find traces of our ancient ancestors. Lesotho’s amazing Ha Baroana site is only an hour’s drive from the capital of Maseru, and on the far side of the Liphiring River, tucked inconspicuously beneath a black-and-tan cave, sit a remarkably preserved stretch of paintings.

The walls of Ha Baroana, which translates as “home of the bushmen,” are decorated with paintings of animals like leopards, lions, antelope, cranes, and guinea fowls, as well as paintings of people hunting and dancing. It has been estimated that the paintings were made about 2,000 years ago by the San people, a group of hunter-gatherers who have inhabited southern Africa for thousands of years, long before the arrival of Bantu-speaking nations.

Though the paintings are faded from years of exposure to the elements, it’s still possible to make out a series of hunting scenes, a sight that is sure to give even the most jaded wanderer chills.

It's best to take a local guide with a 4x4, as the last several kilometers of the trip call for crossing a series of working pastures. Although the steep, scenic hike down into the river valley will be almost as impressive as the paintings themselves, the path isn't suitable for anyone with mobility issues, and can be downright treacherous during the rainy summer season.

Approximately 42 kilometers to the east of Maseru, the capital of Lesotho, near the small village of Nazareth, on a hillside rock shelter facing the Liphiring River are located the rock paintings of Ha Baroana. Meaning Home of the Bushmen, the site features paintings of leopards, lions, elands, blue cranes and guinea fowls, as well as scenes of bushman life - hunting, dancing, and people in huts. It has been estimated that the paintings were made about 2000 years ago.

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