Of the last ‘blank spaces’ on Namibia’s map, the Omaheke-Otjozondjupa sandveld is one of the largest, with a huge core devoid of towns, roads or other infrastructure. This is a fascinating and complex amalgamation of cultural traditions and modern aspirations; of proud stock farmers who see their cattle as a symbol wealth; of San communities in a flux of new and old; and of roaming wildlife in a vast swathe of bushland.
Roughly a dozen of the largest communal conservancies in Namibia form a contiguous conservation landscape along 300 kilometres of the Botswana border and from there 400 kilometres west to the Waterberg. Less than 45,000 people live here in an area of close to 60,000 square kilometres. This is a largely forgotten corner of Namibia, in terms of both tourism and rural development.
‘Bushmanland’ is a seldom visited but known destination, enjoyed by a small fraternity of adventurous travellers on extended camping safaris. The remainder of the Omaheke-Otjozondjupa Community Conservation Area is largely uncharted on tourism maps. It is flat, roadless bushland, the endless, largely waterless Omaheke, the cattle country of the Hereros. Only seasoned travellers venture here.
Where tourism focal points are few and far between, conservation hunting is a vital way of generating income from wildlife for the local people, and thus providing incentives for its conservation. The core conservancies of the Omaheke-Otjozondjupa Community Conservation Area, N≠a Jaqna, Nyae Nyae and Ondjou, covering almost half of the overall area, are conservation hunting concessions. They generate funds for conservation activities, as well as significant income to the resident communities. This is a central facet of the community conservation model, of how Namibia manages to conserve wildlife outside national parks. Through effective zoning, conservation hunting and photographic tourism can be combined without friction.
TRAVEL TIPS - OMAHEKE-OTJOZONDJUPA:
WHEN TO BE THERE:
• Omaheke-Otjozondjupa is open all year
• Roads and tracks in some parts become impassable during the rains
• The summer months are generally very hot
• The cool, dry winter months are most popular for travelling
WHAT TO DO:
• Enjoy the adventure of exploring rarely visited areas
• Get an insight into the culture of the San and Herero
• Stop at the Nyae Nyae Conservancy office for an overview of community conservation
• Find out about conservation hunting & how it contributes to conservation
WHAT TO REMEMBER:
• No off-road driving; camping only where approved by local communities
• Fuel availability, services & infrastructure are limited; only for experienced, self-sufficient travellers
• 4x4 is required beyond proclaimed roads in many parts of the area
• The northern parts of Omaheke-Otjozondjupa are a malaria area; ensure the necessary precautions
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