|Code of Conduct|
Recommended 'Code of Conduct' for visitors to rock art sites
Visits to rock art sites in remote areas of Africa, such as in the central Sahara (Niger, Algeria, Libya and Chad) and in southern Africa (Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa) are becoming popular. Tourist numbers are increasing and will continue to do so. For the art, this has both positive and negative aspects. On the positive side, properly conducted tourism achieves wider public knowledge and appreciation of the art. This is clearly important as the art will then stand a better chance of being valued and protected for the benefit of future generations. On the other hand, poorly conducted tourism can lead to the destruction of paintings and engravings which are part of Africa's unique cultural heritage. These pages offer brief guidelines to tourists when visiting rock art sites. We hope it will be helpful.
Visiting rock art sites
If possible, read about rock art before setting out, as this will immeasurably enhance your understanding and, thus, your enjoyment. Before visiting sites, discuss these with your tour operator and make certain that sufficient time is allowed in your schedule to view the art properly. Often tour operators are in a hurry because of time constraints and try to cut visits short.
Engravings are best viewed in morning or evening light when the sun rakes across them, creating shadows in their engraved lines. Paintings are usually best seen when shaded, as bright sunlight can obscure faded colours, causing them to almost disappear.
Be aware of details in the art; clothes, jewellery, fingers and hooves, association between peoples and between people and animals. Spending a few minutes trying to understand what you are looking at can make a huge difference to your appreciation of the art. Finally, don't take things for granted; because your foreign eyes see a giraffe carved into the rock, you think "giraffe"; but did the artist intend a giraffe or is the giraffe a symbol of something else, eg. is it perhaps a spirit person in giraffe form?
How to avoid damaging the art and the site Nobody likes being told what to do, but conservation calls for rules and discipline - given the fact that the art and the sites themselves are easily damaged - so we ask you to please follow these guidelines:
We hope that this information helps you to enjoy your visit. If you abide by these guidelines, you will help ensure the art's survival and that it will be there to enjoy in centuries to come.
Donwload TARA's Recommnded Code of Conduct (PDF file)