Conservancies – By the people, for the people

describe the imageFollowing Namibia's independence in 1990, one of the government’s priorities was to enable local communities in communal areas to legally access and benefit from their natural resources. Rural residents gained the rights to manage and benefit from the wildlife and related tourism resources in their area by forming conservancies. Management committees appointed by the people make decisions and benefits go directly to conservancy members. As important as the benefits is the sense of ownership over a resource. In 1998, the first four conservancies were registered, and as of May 2012, there are 74 conservancies in Namibia, covering over 18% of the land and affecting one in four rural Namibians.

Conservancies are vast, unfenced sanctuaries for free-roaming wildlife in some of the most spectacular landscapes of Namibia. People are living with wildlife, including predators and large mammals, and are managing their natural resources wisely. Joint venture lodges offer stylish accommodation in stunning settings and around 25 community campsites offer excellent camping opportunities.

Damaraland20Damaraland Camp, the first joint venture lodge in Namibia, is the successful result of a partnership between Wilderness Safaris and the Torra Conservancy, and has become an inspiration for communities and conservationists throughout Africa and beyond. The camp is situated in the Huab River Valley, arguably the most pristine wilderness area in Namibia. In 2005, Damaraland Camp won the 2005 WTTC Tourism for Tomorrow Conservation Award.

The luxury camp consists of 10 adobe style thatched units, each raised on wooden decking - part of which extends out to form a large viewing deck with magnificent vistas. The spacious, thatched living area features a restaurant and bar, complete with fireplace. Evening meals at Damaraland Camp are often prepared over an open fire and served out in the open in an area near to the camp lit by an assortment of small lanterns. The swimming pool is conveniently sited next to the bar. An open campfire and outdoor 'boma' can be enjoyed during calm evenings, with superb stargazing in the crystal-clear night skies.

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