Conservancy rakes in N$1,2 million from bed levies

A NAMIBIAN travel and tourism company says its construction of a low-impact lodge in the Doro !Nawas communal conservancy in the Kunene region has contributed N$1,2 million in cash in bed levies to the conservancy.

This came after only a year of operating.

Through its six-roomed Onduli Ridge lodge, Ultimate Safaris also created 25 permanent jobs for Namibians, supporting an annual salary and subsistence bill of almost N$2.5 million.

The company in a statement says it was approached by the community-based natural resources management sector in 2019 to engage Doro !Nawas on a possible impact investment.

A negotiated leasehold in the conservancy in an exclusive area close to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage Site of Tywfelfontein was penned between the company and the conservancy.

Construction work started in February 2020 – just before the Covid-19 pandemic struck and shut down almost all Ultimate Safaris operations overnight.

The company, however, decided to preserve the livelihoods of its staff over the preservation of company profits and subsequently carried an entire team of more than 100 members through the pandemic.

The Onduli Ridge project meanwhile, found itself in a precarious position as half of the capital investment allocated to the project had already been spent on site preparation and materials, and more would need to go into ensuring the livelihoods of the company’s staff members.

The company now had to work out a plan on how to fulfill its commitment to the conservancy.

It approached the Development Bank of Namibia for a possible credit line to complete the construction of the lodge.

This development allowed the building teams to return to the site in October 2020 to complete building the lodge.

Onduli Ridge opened its doors in July 2021 with the construction phase having created 50 jobs for Namibians.

In addition to this, Ultimate Safaris spent more than N$5 million on the Namibian supply chain to operate the lodge and has invested more than N$2 million to date in conservation.

In its first year of operation, Onduli Ridge recorded an occupancy of 60%, the company says.

Co-founder and managing director of ultimate safaris Tristan Cowley says: “Our objective is to make a meaningful contribution to broad-based Namibian livelihoods, and we believe our model demonstrated a new way of approaching this,” he says.

The chairperson of Doro !Nawas, Hofine So-oabeb, says they are happy with their agreement with Ultimate Safaris as they are benefiting from the lodge through the in-cash payments and bed levies.

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