Conservation of desert elephants in Damaraland
The elephant project started in 2003 when the unsustainable conflict between farmers and the area's desert elephants led to the Namibian government slaughtering part of the elephant population to calm the situation. Which eventually led to only 52 desert elephants left. The elephant population has increased again, to over 600 elephants but the conflict between elephants and humans has picked up again. Due to the human impact on the environment, the groundwater level has dropped, leaving very little surface water for the elephants to quench their thirst, in this very hot desert area. In their hunt for water the elephants cause extensive damage to ponds, reservoirs, pumps and wells, with additional damage to adjacent land.
The project builds protection structures around water reservoirs, create alternative water sources, educate local communities about the behavior of the elephants and promote tourism in the affected areas in Damaraland. Through these measures, the project hopes to alleviate the pressure on farmers' land in northwestern Namibia. The goal is to create a long-term functioning togetherness between the population and the desert elephant in the area.
This project offers volunteers a unique experience of being in the real African wilderness. Volunteers play a crucial role in the continued success of the project and in the survival of the desert elephants. The project is divided into two one-week-periods, the first week is "construction week" and the second is "patrol week". It is very much up to you as a volunteer how successful your stay is. The supervisors are involved to ensure that your stay in the bush is educational and safe. Volunteers are expected to work as a team and live close together in the wilderness, close to the animals.
Click on "More information" to read more about the construction week, and patrol week, and the project's volunteer activities.
Flight tickets are not included in the price for our volunteer program.
Your destination is either Walvis Bay or Windhoek with final destination Swakopmund for introductory meeting at noon on the Sunday before your volunteer weeks start. We highly recommend Walvis Bay.
The final destination Swakopmund is about a 20-minute drive from Walvis Bay and about a 5-hour bus ride from Windhoek. Transfer from Walvis Bay, which you arrange on site or before departure, to Swakopmund costs about N$ 200. If you choose to travel via Windhoek, it may be relevant for you to make an overnight stay there, to reach Swakopmund until noon on the Sunday for the introductory meeting. NOTE! Transfer and possible overnight stays are not included in the price of the trip
Book your return trip based on the fact that you will return to Swakopmund on Friday afternoon when your volunteer weeks ended. NOTE! If you are flying out of Windhoek, you must keep in mind that the bus to Windhoek departs at around 07:00 am from Swakopmund and arrives in Windhoek around noon the same day, which means you may need to spend the night in Swakopmund to catch the bus the next morning (Saturday).
NOTE! It’s important that you let us know your travel itinerary before your departure.
Transport from Swakopmund to the project's base camp is included in the price of the trip. You yourself are responsible for the costs of transfer from the airport to Swakopmund.
Sunday, the day before your volunteer weeks start (Monday), volunteers and staff from the project usually gather at the Amanpuri Travelers Lodge in Swakopmund, a backpacker centre that costs N$110 / night, including breakfast. Here, the introductory meeting will be held before the departure to the project's base camp about 3 hours north of Swakopmund, the next day (Monday). NOTE! The cost of the overnight stay in Swakopmund is not included in the price of the trip.
Book your trip
To book your trip, click on the orange “Book Now” button. You can also start your booking by selecting a start date, marked green, in the calendar. Book via phone on +46 823 9300 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once you have booked your trip, you will receive a confirmation email from us including an invoice for the registration fee of £200 (or other preferred currency). When you have paid in the registration fee and it has been registered with us, you are formally registered.
NOTE! The registration fee is included in the total price of your trip, which means it will be deducted from your final invoice.
Well in advance of your planned departure we’ll send you preparatory information, including more detailed information about the project, work schedules, activities and a packing list etc.
Lodging, meals and leisure
The project's base camp is located along the river Ugab, about 3 hours north of Swakopmund. As a volunteer you are only in the base camp for briefings and on weekends. In the base camp you can choose to sleep in a tent or on a wooden floor.
During the first "construction week", a temporary camp is set up for three nights near the construction site. You live in a two-person tent, or in the open air. During the following "patrol week", camps are set up at a new location every night, depending on where the day's tracking takes you. You sleep in a tent or in a sleeping bag in the open air.
Washing options are limited, but you all helped out when you reach different watercourses. Toilets and showers are not available when you camp. Toilet visits are made in the bush, but are of course private and safe.
The weekend between construction and patrol week, your group will return to base camp to spend a few quiet days and prepare for next week. You can also take the opportunity to wash while you are back in the base camp.
Food is prepared according to a rolling schedule, and two volunteers per day have "kitchen responsibility" and prepare breakfast, a simple lunch and dinner, cooking over an open fire. The meals are simple but good, balanced with vegetarian options. Examples of foods are spaghetti bolognese, grilled chicken and Thai curry.
WI-FI / INTERNET
During the excursion from the base camp to Uis on Sunday at the end of the first week, you have access to wi-fi at a guest house in the city.
Transport from Swakopmund to the project's base camp, as well as all transport to and from project activities are included in your trip.
During your free days at the weekend in base camp, you can take an excursion into the city of Uis or stay in the camp and just relax. There are kayaks in the base camp if you want to go paddling on the Ugab River.
When you have booked your volunteer program with us, we will send you an application form (together with the registration fee). Fill out the application form and return it to us, we will then forward it to the projekt as basis for your volunteer placement.
Liability insurance is included in the price of your volunteer trip. Liability insurance applies to occasions when you as a private person are required to pay damages for having unintentionally damaged someone or someone’s property.
You, yourself are responsible to ensure that your insurance cover covers illness, injury and theft while you travel and work as a volunteer.
You, yourself are responsible for applying for and acquiring the required visa for entering the country of your destination. Different visa rules may apply depending on your nationality. Visit the embassy web page for the country of your destination, to find out the accurate visa terms between your resident country and the country where you are travelling.
Remember to get vaccinated about a month before your departure. Check with your lokal vaccination center or doctor what vaccinations you need for your travels. We always recommend that you have adequate protection against Hepatitis A and B, Tetanus and Cholera, regardless of destination.
Remember! Circumstances can change rapidly, and epidemics can break out. You are responsible for keeping yourself informed, and also for which vaccination protection you choose.