Flora and fauna
Unlike most destinations for visitors in Botswana, a visit to the Tsodilo Hills really isn't about looking for animals, birds or plants. The focus is much more cultural and historical. That said, don't forget that you are in a very sparsely populated area of the northern Kalahari and there is wildlife around.
On the roads that approach the hills I've been very aware of fresh elephant dung, and fleeting glimpses of occasional fleeing small buck. There are certainly kudu, steenbok and duiker here permanently, as well as leopard and probably spotted hyena.
In his 1934 book The Mammals of South West Africa
Shortridge records that klipspringer were found here at the hills, although I've not come across any reports of them here more recently, so it seems unlikely that there is any population of them left now.
Everywhere around the hills you'll find quite a wide variety of birdlife, including the ubiquitous grey hornbills – easily heard as well as seen with their descending call of 'phe, phephee, pheephee, pheeoo, phew, pheeoo-pheeoo'.
Look out also for the Tsodilo gecko (Pachydactylus tsodiloensis
) a small, nocturnal gecko with yellow and brown stripes which is endemic to these hills.
Looking at the vegetation, keep your eyes open for stands of mongongo trees, Ricinodendron rautanenii
, which occur on the hills and sometimes in pure stands on the Kalahari's sand. These can reach between 15-20m tall, characterised by smooth, often peeling bark on grey to light-brown stems and compound leaflets a little like the chestnut trees of Europe. After sprays of yellow flowers around October to November, they produce egg-shaped grey-green fruits from February onwards. These can be up to 3.5 x 2.5cm in size, covered with smooth hairs. Inside these are mongongo nuts, which can be cracked open to reveal an edible kernel – one of the most important, and celebrated, foods for the San across the Kalahari. Palgrave comments that this is a protected tree in South Africa, and that its light, strong wood is sometimes used as a substitute for imported balsa wood.