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HOW TO FIND THE REAL people, places and wildlife in community conservation areas
Text and Photographs Helge Denker
Conservancy Side-Tracks is an innovative tourism route development project through which the Namibian Association of CBNRM Support Organisations, NACSO, intends to make the myriad attractions of community conservation areas more accessible.
C harismatic wildlife great and small, wild and wonderful landscapes in stunning diversity and local people with vibrant cultures and lively traditions – Namibia’s communal areas offer some of the country’s greatest travelling experiences. The environmental heritage of these areas is held in trust by the people living on the land. Community conservation, through communal conservancies, provides a structure for local people to effectively manage and conserve wildlife and other natural resources, and to guide tourism development.
Yet, few information resources exist to explain the complexity of communal area land use, or the challenges of conservation on farmland far from national parks – or to enable access to the many hidden attractions of these areas.
Conservancy Side-Tracks is an innovative tourism route development project through which the Namibian Association of CBNRM Support Organisations, NACSO, intends to make the myriad attractions of community conservation areas more accessible. At the same time, the initiative seeks to channel the current free-for-all travel by guiding tourism traffic onto preferred routes and ensuring the land holders have a say in what happens on their land.
The half-day or full day four-by-four routes are fully self-guided but can be complemented by local guiding services. Attractive and informative route brochures enable navigation and enhance visitor experiences, unlocking the secrets of the route’s landscape. The central feature of the brochures is a highly detailed map, yet the brochures also provide information on community conservation, fauna and flora, geology and on culture and history.
An initial series of three different Side-Track routes has been developed, with each trail focusing on a unique aspect of the Erongo-Kunene Community Conservation Area. The Conservancy Side-Track brochures will be available at selected outlets in Windhoek and Swakopmund, and in the conservancies themselves.
The initiative was funded by the Millennium Challenge Account Namibia and the Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia. The funds generated from the sale of the Side-Track brochures will be used to further support community conservation.
This article was first published in the Winter 2016 issue of Travel News Namibia.