Where Nomads Still Roam
Once upon a time our ancestors hunted and farmed with the changing seasons. Moving to places that would support their livestock and living in quite portable accommodations – or even under the stars. Today, the nomadic way of life is rare, but there are still pockets of the world where this tradition still continues.
The Bushmen of the Kalahari
One of the most well-known nomadic tribes are the Bushmen in Southern Africa. Legendary for hunting, tracking, and a unique language, they are the oldest nomadic tribe on the continent. And they’ve been doing their thing for the last 20,000 years. They use crushed scorpion or snake venom on their hunting arrows, and they track animals by looking at their spore and measuring the amount of time it takes for a blade of grass to straighten itself.
A rough estimate reveals that there are 100,000 Bushmen today, but few of this number are able to live their traditional way of life. Those that do live primarily on the Kalahari Game Reserve, created in part as a way to provide the tribe with hunting land.
The nomadic Bedouins are spread from the middle east down into Africa. Their nomadic ways were developed as a necessity to find water that was scarcely available in the desert. Now mostly found in the Sinai, it is the simple traditions that Bedouin most respect: rising early, lighting the fire for the day, music, poetry and saas (dancing).
Their wandering has a method to it, returning annually to regions that will sustain them for the season. The shrubs tell them when the last rain was and signs left in the sand indicate who has come that way and which direction they were headed. In keeping with their famous hospitality, they leave their supplies in the trees, and all who pass are welcome to any food or water found in them.
The Nenets are a nomadic people primarily found in Siberia. With a shamanistic tradition, the Nenets teach their children to have great respect for the resources of nature. After the Russian revolution, many of the Nenets were forced by the government to assimilate – much in the same way that American Indians were forced to in the 19th century. Sadly, their once prolific language is now spoken by less than 27,000 people and UNESCO has classified it as an endangered language.
Despite this, their traditions live on. The people are still raising and hunting reindeer as well as breeding the Samoyed dog as herders. These dogs are used by many today during polar expeditions because they are well trained and well suited to arctic life. As for the reindeer, they are held sacred until they are no longer able to walk. At that time, they are sacrificed for the greater good and every single part is used to good purpose. Food, coats, tents, rope, and more.
No matter the tribes or the regions, one thing is clear, the nomadic way of life is threatened on all fronts. Industrialization, climate change, population increases, and depleting natural resources are just a few of the challenges nomads face. We’re proud to feature several immersion adventures to experience this way of life and see the world from this ancient perspective. Check out these trips to learn more about your next nomadic adventure.