Experience the majesty of elephant herds within the rolling expanses of the Namibian Desert.
This award-winning family volunteering project is now available to enjoy as a family; a unique adventure in the beautiful Namib Desert. The project exists with the sole purpose of protecting the Namibian population of desert elephants and ensuring safety and security for the communities who live alongside these herds. Namibia's desert-dwelling elephants are facing serious threats, both nationally and internationally. They are one of only two populations of elephants in Africa living in a desert environment and face threats including human – elephant conflict and decreasing elephant living space, due to the large numbers of humans and livestock settling in their formerly vast range-areas.
Although desert elephants used to roam throughout most of western Namibia, their numbers were reduced to fewer than 300 by the early 1990s, due to rampant over-hunting. Since then, protected under new Namibian law and merging conservation organizations, they have expanded their range, often coming into contact with the Damara and Herero people who moved into the arid homelands of northwest Namibia. They are not familiar with desert elephants and often do not know how to react to them.
Families volunteering on this project will join the staff in the vast Namibian Wilderness and help with elephant conservation activities including tracking and monitoring, constructing walls to protect valuable water sources, and will also take part in the education of locals as to the value of elephant conservation.
Prior To Arrival
The easiest way to travel is by air, to either Windhoek International airport (must be by 12 noon) or Johannesburg airport, and then take a short flight from either to Walvis Bay airport arriving the day before the project start date where you will spend the night. You will be met at the airport and taken to Amanpuri in Swakopmund for the night and this transfer cost will depend on which airport you choose to fly into (N$480 from Windhoek, N$200 from Walvis Bay). You will then be met at 11am on the start date of your project and transferred to the project site. If you are staying at other accommodation in Swakopmund then simply inform us of where you are staying and the facilitator will pick you up from there. If you arrive early and stay in the dedicated dormitory room at the Project it will cost N$200 or there are single and double rooms available for N$450 and N$700 respectively.
There is no visa required to enter Namibia for periods up to 90 days for most Nationalities. Please check with your Namibian Embassy if unsure. For periods longer than 90 days, all visitors will need a visa, regardless of nationality. This needs to be obtained prior to departure from your nearest Namibian embassy.
On your first day you will transfer to the project site which is roughly a 4 hour drive from the airport and you will arrive on the banks of the Ugab River. You will arrive in camp around 4pm and unpack before receiving a briefing on the week ahead.
As volunteers on this project, your family will be taking part in a wide range of activities all designed to help elephant conservation in the local area. You will spend three days working at a local school, helping to teach the children and taking part in some maintenance activities such as painting classrooms and erecting fences. This is a great opportunity to immerse your children in a different culture to the one they may experience at home.
As well as working closely with the local community on the school project, you will also take a much more hands-on approach to elephant conservation by going on multiple patrols through the bush to track these beautiful animals. Your project guides will be on hand to point out the wide variety of wildlife that can be seen in this incredible ecosystem, so make sure you all keep your eyes peeled! The highlight of the trip for many is the chance to sleep out under the stars and enjoy the clear African night sky.
After breakfast on the last day you will pack up and head back to the town in Swakopmund on the skeleton coast where you will commence your onward travel plans.
A typical day on this project will vary but you can guarantee that you will always be kept busy! The first part of the project consists of work in the local school, helping to teach the children about the importance of elephant conservation and taking part in any maintenance work that needs completing. After a rest day on day 5, you will then take part in multiple elephant patrols by foot and by vehicle to spot the elephants and learn more about the local wildlife, and you'll even get the chance to sleep out under the African stars!
On day 5 the group have a day to relax and explore the area surrounding base-camp. Hendrick will take those who are interested in a nature walk and will also tell the group about different survival skills and edible plants from the desert. In the evening, Hendrick the facilitator will give you a briefing on patrolling. You may take your day off to relax and take in the wildlife, go for a walk, or even play football at the project site. The choice is yours!
All meals and beverages are included, often cooked out in the open at the campsites.
Every day a family will be on kitchen duty together which involves waking up first to make the morning coffee, tea and breakfast, to the sandwiches for lunch and the big dinner in the evening. Each evening the group prepares a big healthy meal over the fire, ranging from roast chicken, spaghetti bolognese, lamb tagine, thai curry to name a few! We can cater for vegetarians as well.