Come work and safari with Africa’s most spectacular wildlife in the beautiful country of Namibia! Volunteers will join me their first week at a wildlife sanctuary, caring for animals such as cheetahs, leopards, lions, and African wild dogs, just to name a few. We will play a critical role in the daily care and feeding of animals in rehabilitation or permanent captivity at the sanctuary, as well as helping to maintain and develop the sanctuary. This is an exceptional opportunity to get hands on with African wildlife and many aspects of their care. Additionally, although the focus will be on animal welfare, there will also be educational and recreational activities for us to take part in.
Because the sanctuary releases and/or relocates whenever possible, the animals at the sanctuary will vary at any given time, but may include carnivores such as wild dog, lion, leopard, cheetah and caracal; primates such as baboon and vervet monkey; birds such as peacock and vulture; antelope such as oryx (gemsbok), springbok, duiker and kudu; small mammals such as meerkat, rock dassie, polecat, genet and warthog, as well as a host of other species and farm animals.
The second week will do field research in an outlying project run by the same organization. We will have the unique opportunity to travel through the Namibian desert and see the country’s iconic landscapes, including the red sand dunes, vast open grass plains dotted with camel thorn trees and abundant antelope, and towering mountain ranges. We will help the local team record wildlife information that contributes to the long-term management of the area, and will become first-hand involved in conservation through the research and monitoring of free-ranging carnivores. The main flagship species are cheetah, brown hyena, spotted hyena, leopard and a range of desert-adapted wildlife species. Since the project has started from scratch, volunteers make a big difference with their contribution to this research.
After the work is done, we will take a 4-day safari tour where we will see the abundant wildlife of the Etosha National Park as well as the Skeleton Coast. You will return from this trip with an experience you will remember for life. Not only will you be able to amply explore this beautiful part of Africa, but you will play an integral role in its conservation. And the beauty and serenity of the African landscape will surely remain a part of you forever.
You will be greeted at the Windhoek airport and transferred to your lodging there, where we will spend one night before being picked up and transported to the wildlife rescue project. We will spend one week at the first project and one week at the second project, traveling across the Namib desert in between (which involves a 9-hour drive). Then we will spend another night in Windhoek before being picked up for our 4-day safari tour of Etosha National Park and the Skeleton Coast. After being dropped off and spending another night in Windhoek, you will be transported to the airport for your flight back home.
At the Sanctuary
Activities at the sanctuary are carried out in a rotational group system to ensure that everybody gets exposed to the variety of experiences available. Tasks for sanctuary volunteers include:
- Preparing food and feeding the animals
- Cleaning and maintaining enclosures
- Providing enrichment to the animals in the form of interaction, walks in the bush or special activities
- Providing care for juvenile wildlife, including overnight care for animals such as baboons
- Helping to build new facilities
- Monitoring free-roaming carnivores in the area, analyzing camera traps and GPS data
- Tracking & monitoring carnivores, horseback riding and game counts in the bush
The groups work two to three activities a day between the hours of 8am and 5pm. Volunteers get a break in the morning, followed by lunch from 1pm-2:30pm. Weekends are not part of the rotation schedule; on Saturdays, volunteers will participate in morning activities, and in the afternoon there will be a fun non-work related activity followed by a braai (barbecue). On Sunday, a small team will participate in food prep in the morning and a different small team will participate in the afternoon, so you'll have half the day off. All non-working hours are free time to explore the sanctuary.
At the Research Project
Volunteers will help with a number of research activities, including wildlife and landmark mapping with GPS, trapping and tracking animals fitted with GPS tracking collars, radio telemetry tracking of collared wildlife, camera trapping (observing wildlife with strategically placed cameras), and game counts.
Volunteers will also assist with security efforts and maintenance of watering holes. They should be prepared to get their hands dirty from time to time and contribute to maintenance as their capabilities allow.
Volunteers will have the opportunity to enjoy other activities while at the center, such as the sun-downer tour of the Namib desert, cheetah feedings for the rehab cheetahs who cannot be released into the wild, and night drives or sleep-outs for both security and to observe some of the nocturnal desert wildlife.
At the Sanctuary
Volunteers will either be housed in rooms with 3-4 people of the same gender, large tents with a living and bedroom area to be shared by up to 2 people (same gender or a couple), or bush camp tents which hold 2-3 people (same gender or a couple). The rooms are basic with single beds and bedding provided (duvets and pillows). Showers and toilet facilities are communal, and hot water is supplied by solar energy. Power sockets for electrical items are available in communal areas.
Three balanced meals are provided per day on a self-serve basis, with a traditional braai (barbecue) oftentimes on the weekend. Vegetarian options are available upon request and all dietary conditions can be accommodated for with the information prior to arrival.
At the Research Project
Volunteers will stay in a beautifully renovated farm house with shared rooms and bathrooms. Depending upon the season, tented accommodations may also be available. The guesthouse has electricity, but volunteers need to bring their own South African socket adapters to charge electric appliances. There is no cell phone reception in the area.
Most meals will be provided at the house. Beverages, alcoholic drinks and snacks need to be purchased before arriving to the site. Volunteers will receive 3 balanced meals per day. Meals include a standard breakfast with cereals and toast. Coffee and tea are available. Lunches will be provided at the guest farm or in packed form for groups active in the field. Dinners typically are warm meals with meat (chicken, red meat or fish), different vegetables and pasta, rice, potato or salad. Once per week, dinner will be in the form of a traditional Namibian braai (barbeque). Due to the remote location, some fresh produce may only be available seasonally. Vegetarian options can be catered for upon request. Please inform us of any special dietary requirements prior to your arrival at the project site.
- Transportation from the airport to the project
- Lodging and food at both projects for the duration
- Volunteer fees (these help keep the project going, and help locals learn about and practice conservation methods)
- 4-day safari tour to Etosha National Park & the Skeleton Coast (includes lodging and most meals)
- Transportation back to the airport
- Passport (valid for the duration of your stay)
- Insurance (covering the duration of your stay; please bring proof)
- Inoculations (please speak to your doctor about necessary immunizations)
- Work Visa (see information below)
- Copies of the above (to be left at home)
- Spending money (you can withdraw or transfer cash at the airport)
- Backpack, water bottle & headlamp (with batteries)
- Sleeping bag (for cold nights or overnights in the field)
- Secure, waterproof bag for documents and money (plastic bags are fine)
- Toiletries (please bring biodegradable products, as the Wildlife Sanctuary uses recycled water for its sprinkling system)
-Medical Kit (hand sanitizer/wet wipes, immodium, band-aids, personal medicine & earplugs)
- Sunglasses, sun hat, bandana, lip balm& sunscreen (high UV/SPF protection)
- Closed-toed shoes & sandals
- Gardening gloves
- Non-DEET mosquito repellent
- Mobile phone (local SIM cards are available at the airport & sanctuary)
- Alarm clock or watch
- Camera (with batteries)
- Power adapter for South Africa (3 large round pins)
Volunteer work in research and conservation involves hands-on work with the animals, so you are likely to get dirty! Old and dispensable clothes marked with your name are advisable for daily activities, as well as closed-toed shoes.
The type of clothing you should bring depends on time of year you visit. May through September is the winter period and can be very cold at night, and in the early mornings and daytime temperatures can vary. October to April is the summer period and the rainy season is from November-February. While during this time it is generally hot during the day it can rain and become chilly in the evenings (particularly at our Research Sites), so pack a jumper/fleece and waterproof jacket.
Work visas are necessary for volunteer placements in Namibia and need to be arranged in advance. This is a requirement for all volunteers who are non-Namibians. Once you confirm your booking, you will be sent a visa application form and clear instructions on how to fill it out correctly. We recommend that you use a visa agency in Windhoek to process your application, unless you're from the UK or Germany (where you can use the Namibian Embassy in London or Berlin to process your visa). It generally takes about 6-8 weeks to process your visa. If you need more info, send me an email!
Electricity is 220 Volts and the socket type is 3-pin (M). Please bring plug adapters so you can charge mobile phones and cameras! Power cuts do occur and can last longer than 24 hours.
There is electricity in the common area at the Sanctuary, though adapters are not supplied. Electricity is limited at the Research Site, while the lodge is solar powered. Laundry services are available at the Sanctuary and the Research Site.