- Conservative approach to tourism
Namibia is internationally acclaimed for its approach to conservation. Protection of the environment is written into the constitution, almost half of the country is unfenced conservation area and close to 20 percent of that is managed by community-run conservancies. These conservancies are self-governing entities that actively manage wildlife and other natural resources. These community partnerships mean that local communities benefit from tourism revenue, giving them an economic incentive to protect their wildlife. Damaraland Camp and Grootberg Lodge are two great examples.
- Growth of wildlife
As a result of these policies Namibia is one of the only countries in Africa where the elephant and lion populations are on the increase (as well as increases in grazing animals such as Oryx, Springbok and Zebra). Here are just a few stats:
- Hartmanns Mountain Zebra in northwest Namibia have increased from around 1,000 in 1982 to over 27,000 today.
- The 1,000 springbok in northwest Namibia in 1982 have grown to 93,000.
- Elephant numbers in Namibia have increased from approximately 15,000 in 1995 to over 20,000 today.
- Namibia has the world’s largest and healthiest cheetah population.
- Lions have increased in range and number. In Kunene the population has expanded from an estimated 20 in 1995 to 150 in 2012.
- There has been only one instance of rhino poaching in the last year (compared to epidemic levels in South Africa and Zimbabwe).
- Unmatched Stargazing
Together with Chile and Hawaii, Namibia is considered to be one of the top stargazing destinations in the world. With its generally cloudless night sky, especially in the dry winter months, minimal contamination by artificial light and air pollution, and views of the southern constellations, Namibia has perfect stargazing conditions. The NamibRand Nature Reserve was recently rated a “Gold” level dark sky reserve by the International Dark Sky Association, its highest possible ranking.
- Incredible landscapes, geology and rock-art
Namibia offers some truly surreal landscapes. From the decaying ships of the Skeleton Coast, to the dunes at Sossusvlei, to Dead Vlei’s petrified camel-thorn trees to the ancient rock art at Twyfelfontein, Namibia is a geologist’s and a photographer’s dream.
- Opportunities for authentic cultural interactions
The semi-nomadic Himba are one of Namibia’s most iconic tribes. Women stain their skin with red ochre and wear elaborate jewelry and headpieces. Their intricate hairstyles are changed to mark milestones in their lives, such as marriage or the death of their father. If you are looking for a cultural interaction with the Himba people which feels relaxed and authentic. I recommend Serra Cafema in northern Namibia. At Serra Cafema you can go out and visit a nearby Himba community, but you will probably also run into them in camp as they stop by to for a ride across the river.
In addition to the Himba, there are also opportunities to interact with the San Bushmen on Namibia’s north-eastern border. I particularly recommend Nhoma Camp. This remote camp is devoted to offering travellers the opportunity to interact with the San and is one of the most authentic cultural experiences anywhere in Africa.
- Game-viewing and desert adapted animals
Although Namibia isn’t necessarily known as a big five destination, Etosha National Park has amazing game density and because of the dry climate animals are forced to congregate around the limited water sources.
Author: Gesture Chidhanguro