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Responsible Tourism

As a Namibian based tour operator and travel agent, Chameleon aims not only to conserve but to also give back to our beautiful country as much as we can. There has been a significant increase in awareness for conservation and responsible tourism in the last few years and rightly so, however, at Chameleon we have always sought to work with local communities, employ Namibians and protect our environment. When you are in Windhoek we will recommend various shops and craft centres that specialise in Namibian products for you as a tourist to take home with you and thereby giving you the visitor, the chance to directly support local people and their companies. You may also have the opportunity to join a township tour where you can visit a shebeen, try traditional food, join cultural events and so forth. Generally speaking if you are also visiting places such as Botswana and Zambia those same opportunities will be extended to you.

We strive to employ as many Namibians as possible, often training individuals with little or no work experience as well as tourism students seeking work experience - in order to improve the living standards of the local communities. As we travel around the country we will hire local guides to show us the sights and endeavour to utilise nearby community camps and lodges that actively support their communities, whether assisting with charities, schools, medical centres etc

Essentially we are very proud of our country and care very much about the amazing people that live in it. Chameleon endeavours to have a minimum impact on the environment whilst our clients experience this incredible land. Examples of how we reduce the impact on our environment here in Windhoek Chameleon Backpackers and Guesthouse we use recycled water from the showers/hand basins where it is then cleaned and processed into the toilets; use low energy light bulbs; solar panels fitted for hot water supply; recycle plastic, paper/cardboard and glass; we are due to install a worm plant which will be used to recycle waste food and create compost for the gardens. Countrywide, Namibia and many of the surrounding countries have limited clean water supplies and we ask all visitors to be aware of their own consumption of water - not to take lengthy showers, run the tap whilst cleaning teeth etc - these all have an impact and with just a little bit of thought every individual can make a difference.

We also actively support a number of conservation programmes here in Namibia and actively promote volunteers to join some of these projects. For others, we try include at least one visit to a progamme - not only does this help financially support it but through education we hope that some of our visitors leave with a greater understanding of what needs to be protected in our environment whether it"s a specific specie of animal, bird or plant. Our beautiful planet needs to be protected and whilst tourism is an evergrowing industry that benefits many, we have to ensure that the negative impact remains as low as possible.

Namibia is also proud to have WWF (World Wildlife Fund) working within its borders and below is an excerpt from their website - if you would like to know more about what they are doing then either contact us or visit their website for more details -

When it comes to making the most of its natural resources, Namibia stands apart. It was the first African country to incorporate protection of the environment into its constitution, and the government has reinforced this by giving its communities the opportunity and rights to manage their wildlife through communal conservancies.

Prior to Namibia"s independence, wildlife populations in Namibia"s communal areas had plummeted as a result of prolonged military occupation, extensive poaching and a severe drought. In the mid 1980s this situation began to reverse as a Namibian organization - Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation (IRDNC) - introduced an innovative program to inspire community stewardship of wildlife. Following Namibia"s independence in 1990 - and with WWF"s support, IRDNC"s efforts were transformed into Namibia"s communal conservancy program. Since 1998, the conservancy movement has engaged more than 220,000 community members with the creation of 52 communal conservancies - covering 30 million acres of prime wildlife habitat.

Namibia communities now see wildlife as a valued livelihood asset, and are setting aside vast tracts of land as wildlife management areas. As a result, poaching is no longer socially acceptable and there are now restored populations of lions, cheetahs, black rhinos, zebras and other native species. Human welfare is also improving, thanks to nearly $4 million in annual income the conservancies generate for the communities.

WWF"s vision: Partner with local communities to empower them to manage their natural resources and ensure a future that includes healthy wildlife populations and sustainable economic growth.

Thankfully the numbers of free ranging black rhino and lions is increasing and Chameleon is able to offer experiences visiting and tracking - just contact us for details and be part of an activity to witness these incredible animals. These activities directly support both the local communities as well as these protected mammals. Contact us to see where you can join such trips.

As a tourist and visitor - here"s a code and guidelines to aim for

1. Aim to learn something of the local customs and traditions ideally before you go - whilst a local guide will be able to explain the reasons behind this and teach others, a small gesture is appreciated and respected.

2. Try to speak a few words of the local languages - even if it"s just please and thankyou. In many countries in Africa, there are often many local languages but often have one or two that are more common. For example in Namibia, even if you don"t speak the language it"s courtesy to say "hello" followed by "how are you", generally the standard response is "I"m fine, how are you", this leads the way to new conversation and perhaps the question you were wanting to ask in the first place.

3. When you are in the country be respectful of the local cultures, many people visit Africa to learn about the local people and don"t always regard or consider other cultures and what is "the norm". Afterall, how would you feel if a group of strangers turned up at your front doorstep flashing their cameras, barged into your home without so much as a good morning? Remember to treat others as you wish to be treated yourself! When visiting local villages it is worth hiring a local guide (if you do not have a personalised guide) who will explain what the correct procedure should be.

4. Be respectful when taking photos. Some people do not like having their photo taken (bad hair day??), or their culture makes it a bit of a taboo - does it matter? Respect their wishes if they decline. Others are very happy to have their photos taken but may want a payment or you to send them photos - don"t make promises you can"t keep!

5. Do not litter.

6. Remember the saying "take only photos, leave only footprints"... this means don"t collect shells, flowers, local seeds, rocks etc - leave the environment clean.

7. Please be careful of local resources - you know - things like water, electricity etc. In Africa, resources are not always readily available - desert countries such as Namibia and much of Botswana, rely on bore water - rainfall in the country is often low SO, please turn off the tap when cleaning your teeth, don"t expect your bed linen and towels be washed every day(hang them back up after you have finished with them as this generally indicates you are happy to use them again)to ; have a short shower instead of a long bath! Electricity wise - do you need to leave all the lights on, turn them off when not in a room. Remember whilst solar power is used generators are a back up plan in many lodges and fuel for these has to be bought in.

8. A big bugbear for safari guides!!! Please do not ask your driver/guide to go "offroad" when in a restricted and demarked area - if you are in a reserve, it"s likely that the guide or company will be fined, in addition it doesn"t do the environment, nor the animal you are seeking to get that better photo of any good. "Stalking" that lion to get closer, while it in turn is perhaps trying to hunt or rest doesn"t help. Tracks damage the National Parks, generally protected environment and disturbs the animals. Your guide will have a good knowledge and understanding of the area he/she is taking you to - and will do their utmost to get the best sighting and views for you.

9. Another biggie! When buying souvenirs (or anything for that matter), ensure they are not encouraging poaching, deforestation, or being made from rare or endangered materials - even if you do buy something there is a risk that it won"t make it home and you will have it confiscated at customs.

10. Whenever possible - whether you are on a self drive or any type of guided trip - try to buy local goods, or spend your money that goes directly to the micro economy - that means taking local guides at places of interest, purchasing items from market stalls or country "shops". Again, please bear in mind number 9 when doing that.

11. Do NOT give kids or adults sweets, candy, lollies or anything else you want to call junk food - who is going to pay for the dentist??? Please do not give cash for nothing - you help to create a begging society - if you want to give something, speak to your guide (or your agent in advance) to see where something can be donated - many African countries are in desperate need of goods - whether that is clothing, kids toys etc. If you are on the road then many schools will be grateful for books, pens, pads etc, please again, speak to your guide, a local representative in some of the remote areas or a teacher. Some areas will be able to organise township tours for you to visit and your goods are welcome.

12. For those visitors that are looking for that "ultimate" local village experience and don"t want to visit villages and people that have seen many tourists before and that have possibly been "spoilt" - think about what you are saying and doing. Every time a tourist visits a local village, gives money or goods, so it is easy for a little bit more of their traditions to be eradicated. Please do not expect to visit pristine areas where no tourist has been before - that is unrealistic. However, do your best to minimise your negative impact on those people and remember - who are we to say that the local cultures, tribes and people cannot join the rest of the 21st Century - if they spend the money they receive on medical bills, schooling, food (and not have to pound their own maize meal), or buy and wear a Manchester United shirt (though why anyone would wear one of those is beyond me), it is up to them and is that a negative impact or just progression? Naturally, it is a fine balance between progress and losing all tradition but as a visitor to a country your contribution does make an impact.

FINALLY - good manners never cost anything, even if you don"t manage to speak the local lingo - a simple please, thank you, a smile etc goes a long way!

Enjoy your time - take back good memories and hopefully the people you meet will have good memories of you too!


Associated with

Air Namibia Namibia Tourism Board Budget Car Rentals Tour and Safari Association

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Contact Details

Phone: (+264) 61 - 309387
Fax: (+264) 61 - 220885
Facebook: Chameleon Holidays & Travel Windhoek, Namibia
Skype: chameleon.holidays

Visit us in Windhoek

5-6 Voigt Street North
Central Windhoek

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Chameleon Holidays & Travel
P.O. Box 6107