Nyae Nyae Conservancy
Stretching east, north and south from Tsumkwe is the new Nyae Nyae Conservancy area. First established in 1988, it is really still in its infancy, and under development, but it is important to realise that now, when you visit Bushmanland, you are within a conservancy where the local people set the rules. Here the communities have won the right to manage their wildlife and tourism as they wish. One possible way forward is that whilst they have always hunted the wildlife here using traditional methods, now they can also derive income from trophy hunting in the area.
Having achieved the funding of a conservancy for the area, the Nyae Nyae Foundation is concentrating on helping to promote the region. As part of this, it has set up a tourism office (see page 431) in Tsumkwe. This should be your first stop in the region. Here you may have to pay entrance or conservancy fees in the future, but currently they are only coordinating visitors, helping with information and supplying guides on request. (You should pay any camping fees to the village nearest the campsite.)
Where to stay
For years camping has been possible anywhere in Bushmanland, with no permits necessary, provided you had a party with several 4WDs. However, as the area has just become a conservancy and tourism is seen as an important earner for the local people – so this is about to change.
In the past campers have set up their sites randomly, left litter behind them and caused many problems for the local people and the wildlife. They often used to camp close to water, frightening the area's already skittish animals, and even go swimming in reservoirs meant for drinking. Visitors were unaware that they were staying in an area used for hunting or gathering, and didn't realise the effect that their presence was having on the wildlife, This 'free camping' has now been banned. Instead head for one of the (increasing number of) village sites, where you'll find a place to camp for which you pay the nearby community directly.
In the last edition of this book – just three years ago – I listed three such sites. Now many more villages have simple adjacent sites and welcome visitors. Ask at the Conservancy Office in Tsumkwe and they'll give you a map of these and advise you of their cost, or better still a local guide.