With the support of WWF-Namibia, and together with our project partner, Botswana Predator Conservation Trust, we have initiated the consultative stage of our Heritage Trail project. The 12 month project is primarily a feasibility study for the development of a tourist transit route through the Botswana portion of the Kaudom-Ngamiland Wildlife Dispersal Area (see Map). This is the most westerly of the six WDAs comprising the Kavango-Zambezi (KAZA) Transfrontier Conservation Area. The envisaged Trail will provide regional adventure-seeking tourists with access to the unique wilderness and cultural heritage attributes of this largely unknown but impressive wilderness landscape, thereby creating opportunities for community based tourism enterprise development and wildlife habitat conservation.
What the project will aim to do:
1. Improve accessibility to, and spatially connect - via a marketed 4X4 adventure route - both known tourism facilities and heritage sites with some relatively unknown wilderness and community areas, thus catering to the growing demand for new and more authentic wilderness and cultural experiences. The geographic expansion and diversification of tourism is also an important strategic tourism development imperative for Botswana.
2. Improve regional tourist flows and local community access to the tourist markets, thus creating much needed income streams (e.g. camping fees, craft sales) to help combat poverty in this remote region, whilst diversifying livelihoods and incentivizing the preservation of wildlife and traditional culture;
3. Improve the sustainability of land-use in this vital wildlife corridor and create an enabling environment for low-impact and culturally-sensitive tourism development that will also help to re-establish historical wildlife migration routes between Botswana and Namibia.
4. The project will aim, within 12 months, to kickstart the planning and authorisation processes for priority community tourism enterprises along a viable trail route, and will identify the required support processes for the trail as a marketed product. The project is also expected to serve as a platform for identifying and planning other future funded projects, the long-term goal being to assist as many communities as possible in their endeavours to achieve sustainable livelihoods and become meaningful participants in the tourism sector.