Tsintsabis Home of the tree sleepers

01 July 2019 | Tourism

Tsintsabis is a sometimes forgotten settlement roughly 65 kilometres north of Tsumeb just a short distance away from the northern veterinary fence which divides that part of Namibia into so-called commercial farmers south of the fence and traditional farming communities north of it. The settlement is situated in the Oshikoto Region and is relatively small, housing about 4 000 inhabitants, who have access to a clinic and a police station.

Tsintsabis is not a proclaimed settlement and is situated on farm land, some of which has been acquired by government to resettle landless people. The area is supposed to be inhabited predominantly by San people, but these seem to have vanished into the surrounding area with the settlement being mainly inhabited by people of the Kavango tribes as well as Damara and Oshivambo folk - often suffering from immense poverty.

Local folk rely on government hand-outs and seem to continuously wait for initiatives by the government, while the tourism sector could possibly be intensified through own initiatives. As you reach the settlement coming in along the M75 from Tsumeb towards the centre of town (where you are required to take a turn to the right if you want to proceed to Mpungu), you pass the turnoff to the Tree sleeper Camp. The camp is a communal camp designed to offer an alternative income from tourism and while it seems unattended most of the time, it does serve as an opportunity to touch base with the local folk. The word “Tree sleeper“ relates to the times when the Hei//omn bushmen - which used to be the prevalent folk around Tsintsabis - were forced to spend the night in the trees as a result of lions having flushed them out of their camps and chasing them to find refuge from these marauders in the trees of the area.

The camp clearly needs attention, but for visitors who are prepared to camp wildly in the bush, this camp offers a few basic amenities, which allow for an easier overnight stay - and you are assured of that unique sensation that overcomes you, when you are out in the deep bush. As the camp is managed by the same people, wo manage the Tsintsabis community centre, it makes sense to first approach these managers before proceeding to the camp itself. It further allows you to arrange for a guide to take you into the surrounding bush and visit traditional bushmen-villages thereby awarding you the opportunity to also admire and acquire local craft.