Many countries in southern Africa promote nature tourism as a strategy for sustainable rural development. In Namibia and Mozambique, this strategy often involves integrated conservation and development programs (ICDPs) that aim to preserve the environment and improve economic well-being. We find some evidence that households located in areas with ICDPs receive more tourism-related economic benefits relative to households that are not; however, we find that higher economic outcomes do not necessarily correspond to more satisfaction with nature tourism. We find that conservation, although it is commonly viewed as a means of preservation, contributes to the disruption of landscapes and livelihoods. This study investigates the factors shaping local perceptions of conservation, and its findings can enhance the effectiveness of nature tourism as a sustainable development strategy.