Tourism joint ventures between communities and private investors are an emerging trend in Southern Africa. In each country they take different forms. This paper reviews experience in Namibia, within the wider regional context, to identify some key principles and challenges. Several lessons can be learnt from the eight Namibian negotiations, and three operating ventures concerning the long process of establishing joint ventures, and about the positive and negative impact it has for both parties, which cover a range of commercial and livelihood concerns. The analysis suggests several critical factors influence JV success including: committed individuals, company philosophy, facilitation, time and trust, local institutions, national policy context, and tourism market trends. Regional comparison indicates that critical factors need to be present in some - but widely varying - form. JV's should become easier to develop as lessons are shared. Although they will remain a niche market, due to high transaction costs, further policy and practical support can help develop this promising potential.