Botswana Lesotho Namibia South Africa About Tutorial Glossary Document Centre Image Gallery Maps Google Earth
Home The River Basin People and the River Governance Meeting the Water Challenge
Resource Management  


send a general website comment

report a specific problem with this page

Water Demand in the Basin:

Recreation and Tourism


In southern Africa, nature-based tourism highlights the region’s biodiversity and natural features, and is rapidly becoming a powerful economic sector. It has scope to grow much larger, but also has the potential to undermine its own foundation by insensitive development, pollution and overcrowding. Ecosystem management policies need to include the ecotourism sector and regulate it; developed correctly, ecotourism can be a tool to encourage nature conservation.

Ecotourism has also been integrated with social development in many areas of southern Africa through Community-Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) and the involvement of traditional life-ways. 

For more information about CBNRM in southern Africa, please refer to the Southern Africa CBNRM Forum website:

Please, see for details and examples the Ecotourism page in the Sustainable Livelihoods section of the People and the River theme.

Protected areas in the Orange-Senqu River basin.
Source:Hatfield 2009
( click to enlarge )

Tourism is an important contributor to the economy of Botswana, where in the Orange-Senqu River basin especially the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, a large wildlife conservation area along the border between South Africa and Botswana, is a fascinating destination.

In Lesotho the scenic beauty of the mountain ranges has led to the development of ecotourism ventures (e.g. pony-trekking and mountain-biking) that, to some extent, involve the surrounding communities and contribute to their incomes.

In Namibia tourism and recreation is highly developed in Namibia, with a large percentage of the population engaged in tourism related activities, contributing approximately 10% of GDP in 2006 and 11% of employment (Namibia Tourism Board 2006).

In South Africa, the recreational use of water is one of the 11 water uses regulated by the National Water Act (NWA 1998). The Department of Water Affairs (DWA) is developing a national policy towards "Recreation on Dams and Rivers" that will regulate the impacts from power-boating, swimming and other activities that can affect water quality and aquatic biota (DWAF 2004c). The responsibility for public waters in South Africa has largely been transferred to local authorities with broad principles determined by the DWA. The needs of adventure tourism can be aligned with ecological flow requirements when, for example, water is released from a dam at a rate and quantity that benefits both users. The Upper Vaal and Fish River canoe marathons are examples of where this can be applied.

Rafting on the Vaal River is a very popular eco-tourism activity, bringing significant revenue to the region.
Source:Fourie 2006
( click to enlarge )
Kgalagadi Nature Reserve.
Source:©iStockphoto/Smit 2008
( click to enlarge )



Explore the sub-basins of the Orange-Senqu River

Explore the water management systems around the basin - including intra-basin transfers and sectoral water requirements

Investigate the dams and water infrastructure in the Orange-Senqu basin

Tour video scenes along the Orange-Senqu River related to Meeting the Water Challenge

Listen to a panel discussion about the history and challenges in the Orange-Senqu basin

Explore how hydroelectric dams work

You are here: Home Page > Resource Management > Water Demand > Recreation and Tourism