Southern Namibia self drive vacation, desert eco-systems

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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Southern Namibia self drive vacation, desert eco-systems


All of Namibia is characterised by ecologically extremely delicate arid savannahs and desert landscapes. Rainfalls are scarce and annual fluctuations are considerable, temperatures are high and so is evaporation. Especially the south of Namibia, where four deserts merge. The lodges we use all practice sustainable processes - it is the Namibian way, given the arid lands all around them.

Fish River Lodge is constantly assessing practices that ensure that only the lightest footprints is left on surroundings. They are participants in the Namibia Eco Awards programme, an initiative that ensures that the impact of tourism on our sensitive, arid environment is kept to the minimum. Sustainability is a key consideration for all future developments on the property.

The lodge opted for conventional building materials (given that a previous structure already existed on the site), an environmental scoping study was conducted prior to the construction of the new lodge. A botanist conducted a study on the plants to ensure there would be no impact to rare or protected species and an environmentalist developed an Environmental Management Plan for Canyon Nature Park that included a management plan for the building operations.

Guidelines ensure that damage to the environment (including roads) is limited, landscaping and gardening plans are compliant with biodiversity and general environmental management policies, and water usage is optimised. In addition, waste water is minimised and together with solid waste, disposed of in a designated manger.

One of the group of lodges we used, started to buy farms at the Fish River Canyon and transformed them into a nature reserve - Gondwana Cañon Park. Livestock farming was discontinued and hunting for animals like springbok, oryx antelope and kudu was stopped. Plants in former grazing areas recovered, game numbers increased. In areas where rainfalls are low and often just scattered fences were removed, so that game were able to move unhampered to places where food is available. Finally, watering places suitable for game were set up in strategic spots.

A comprehensive game programme was launched. Animals like zebra, hartebeest and wildebeest, which had once been indigenous to the area, were purchased and released in the park. Park managers and rangers monitor the condition of animals and plants, watering places and exterior fences; they conduct anti-poaching patrols and lend their support to research projects. They also organize and take care of the annual game counts through which the numbers of the various animal species are recorded.

Three further nature reserves in Namibia’s south have since been added: In all the parks only a fraction of the total area is used for hospitality purposes. Water is available in much larger quantities than needed; gardens are irrigated with water from treatment plants. Kitchen waste is also put to good use – as compost or to feed the pigs.


Nature reserves, accommodation facilities, activities and the Self-Sufficiency Centre provide both jobs and opportunities for Namibians to improve their lives – this cannot be taken for granted at all in Namibia where unemployment is estimated at 30 to 40 percent. The lodges that we use employ local people and these salaries enable employees to feed their families and to send their children to school, too.

One of the lodge groups we use has gone a step further and invested heavily into training. Their training department, established in 2001, offers a comprehensive programme, from computer and language courses (English, German, Italian) to service training and HIV prevention, family planning and old age provision. Any employee can take part, hundreds have benefited. For specialised training in areas such as vegetable cultivation, cheese-making and butchery we invite experts from Europe. Several of their leading employees have completed internships in European hotels and restaurants - and thereby have been able for the first time to experience their guests' way of life.

'Help others to be successful and you will be successful yourself' - with this principle in mind they support employees and neighbouring communities in their quest to become self-sustainable. One example is Mule Trails Namibia, a company which offers hiking tours at the Fish River Canyon.

With every booking, we donate funds to Helping Rhinos, our charity partner.
Helping Rhinos have been set up to create awareness of the issues threatening the global rhino population and raises funds to help protect them for future generations.

This donation goes towards training for members of the local community to become rangers and ensure that there are more local people trained in the fight against poaching. This is important from a conservation perspective in order to preserve and protect one of our most important and prehistoric species, but also from an educational perspective as members of the local community are trained and offered jobs and a career - as well as educated about Rhino conservation.

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