Volunteering for Namibia’s Desert Elephants
- Volunteering in Namibia: Damaraland, Brandberg, desert-adapted elephants of the Ugab
- Volunteering for Namibia’s desert-adapted elephants
- Unique adventure in in Namibia’s scenic north-west
- Stay in tents or under the stars
- 13 days/ 12 nights (you can repeat the 2 weeks for a maximum of up to 12 weeks)
“Tired, hot, surrounded by flies, dirty as never before, but we couldn’t be happier!”
Have you always wanted to be a ranger, to exchange the monotony of daily life against the vastness of the bush for a while?
You want to do something, you want to look behind the scenes. Working for this volunteering programme you help to ensure that wild elephants and people live next to each other peacefully. You will see the difference your efforts make for the conservation of Namibia’s famous desert-adapted elephants.
- for old and young, if fit
- special departures for families
- can be extended
- Tour language is English
subject to availability
Due to Covid-19 there will sadly be no departures until further notice
This project received the Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards 2012
"I had the time of my life. I really enjoyed my time with no cell phones and internet, sleeping outside, meeting new people, making new friends, learning about Namibia, seeing and learning about the elephants and being left with the feeling that I did something good for the wildlife."
Itinerary - Volunteering for Namibia’s desert-adapted elephants
Day 1 Sunday: Arrival and Briefing
The meeting point is Swakopmund and we will give you help and advice on getting here. Our partner will organise your travel from the airport to Swakopmund. On Sunday evening there is a short briefing for all volunteers for you to meet the staff and learn what will happen the following day when the program begins.
Traveling distance depends on the starting point, accommodation according to own preference, no services included
Day 2 - 6 Monday to Friday: Building Week
We will leave Swakopmund on Monday at 12:00 noon. We then drive to the base camp on the Ugab River, where you will spend the night and listen to a full briefing about the volunteer program for the following week.
On Tuesday morning the group travels from Swakopmund to the local Namibian farm or homestead where you will spend building week, building a protection wall around the water sources or building alternative water points for the elephants. Volunteer teams live in mobile base camps in the vicinity of the homesteads and elephants. Tents are provided this week and soon you will make the camp home! All cooking is done over the fire and you work in pairs taking turns to be on kitchen duty, which includes providing the first cup of coffee to everyone in bed, to breakfast, lunch and dinner. We have great recipes and we can also cater for vegetarians.
You rise early to beat the Namibian heat and then stop around 12 to travel back to camp for a traditional African siesta and lunch. In the afternoons you start work after 2:30 pm and work for a couple of hours, before the time comes to head back to camp in time for the obligatory sundowner. Evenings are spent talking and relaxing around the camp fire, listening to the sounds of Africa.
Building walls is sweaty, hard work but each volunteer does what he or she is capable of doing, and you work as a team to complete the project.
Camping-style breakfast, lunch and dinner included, overnight in mobile camps
Day 7 and 8 Saturday and Sunday: Week-End
Saturday morning you pack up the camp and travel back to the EHRA Base Camp for a much deserved shower and relaxation. The next two days are yours to explore, read, take a swim in the elephant drinking dam and RELAX! There is no programme.
Camping-style breakfast, lunch and dinner included, overnight at the base camp
Day 9 - 12 Monday to Thursday: On Elephant Patrol
On Monday morning volunteer teams pack the Land Cruisers and leave on elephant patrol. This is an amazing week where you join the EHRA trackers on a (mostly) vehicle-based patrol traveling through the area to track the local herds of desert elephants. This week is your reward for all the hard work on building week.
The aim of this week is to
- track the elephants
- record data on births, deaths and new elephants, GPS their positions
- take ID shots and notes about each and every elephant.
- collect elephant dung. Yes, right: the dung is for a paternity test. The project runs a genetics project to ascertain which bulls are the main breeding animals
After 4 days and 3 nights out in the bush you return to the base camp on Thursday afternoon. This will be your last night in the desert, unless you have extended your stay.
Camping-style breakfast, lunch and dinner included
Day 13 Friday: Return to Swakopmund - End of Adventure
On Friday morning you say good-bye and the vehicle takes you back to Swakopmund. Maybe after the weeks in the bush, you'd like to go out. There are many good restaurants in Swakopmund and there even is a bit of night-life.
Distance travelled ca 280 km, camping-style breakfast included, no other services included
This authentic volunteering programme is an adventure that is about the desert-adapted elephants of Namibia and their habitat. A special experience is the contact to the local people. Namibia’s conservation model is based on strategies aimed to achieve that humans and wild animals can peacefully live next to each other. You will vwork for this at the sharp end. During this volunteering programme you will make much more profound experience than on a normal tour. You will look behind the scenes.
What we need you to be
- Accommodation as described above in or under the stars (partly there are no toilets or showers)
- Meals as indicated (camping-style)
- Transfers from Swakopmund to base camp and back to Swakopmund
- Camping equipment (you have to bring your own sleeping bag, head torch, and other personal items, etc)
- English speaking project manager
- Flights & Visa
- Travel insurance (mandatory!)
- Optional activities
- Accommodation in Swakopmund
- Travel to Swakopmund
- Additional meals
- Personal expenses
850 GBP (Britsh Pounds) for 2 weeks as described (about 950 EUR depending on the exchange rate)
If you'd like to extend contact us for a reduced price for the extension weeks.
Maximum number of participants in one group: 14
From 18 years (17 with written approval of the parents)
The tour operators for this volunteering programme is our partner for this volunteering project. This partner has experience in working with desert-adapted elephants and this volunteering programme since 2001.
Truly once in a lifetime experience! If you want to give back to conservation and do things you never would as a regular tourist then these are the people to book your experience with.
We've been living in Namibia for many years and give you independent advice. We are looking forward to planning your journey with you.