Elephant conservation volunteering for families in Namibia
Calling all intrepid families! Not for the faint-hearted, this fantastic family volunteer adventure combines elephant conservation and community work. Not only will you and your family be living a nomadic desert lifestyle, but you will be making a genuine contribution to protecting elephants and helping communities.
Dates: The 2018 dates are 29th July – 9th August or 12th August – 23rd August
Suitability: Children need to be a minimum of 8 years old at the point of departure. You will need to be happy to get stuck in and mucky, prepared to “rough it” in the great outdoors and be open to a very different experience.
Head deep in to the Namibian desert, where elephants and humans have forged a life for themselves living alongside each other. Life can be tough for both humans and elephants in this orange wilderness, as both compete for water, the key to survival. This family volunteer project is designed to open you up to life in a desert community, getting to know the locals and helping to improve the facilities in their local school. Through the work you do in the community, you will learn about the elephants that roam the desert, and how their lives are intertwined.
What will we be doing?
The first part of your project will be spent as part of the local school, helping to paint the classrooms and the children’s dormitories. Sadly the school doesn’t have the facilities to be able to do this otherwise, and it is a great way to become part of this small community. You will join the assembly in the morning, get involved with some of the lessons and interact with the pupils in their sports and crafts clubs after school. Education here is essential, as these children will go on to be guardians of the elephants and so understanding their environment is the key to the survival of these gentle giants.
The second component of this volunteer project is to track and monitor elephants in the wild, enabling the authorities to better understand and protect these gentle giants in Namibia. Seeing elephants living in the wild is certainly an incredible privilege and one of the many great highlights of this project. Children love learning to spot and track the elephants – not always an easy task with their camouflage!
Follow the link to see the full family volunteering itinerary.
Where will we be based?
This trip starts and ends in the seaside town of Swakopmund. Sandwiched between towering sand dunes and the crashing Atlantic Ocean, its location is second to none. We would recommend staying on in the area after you finish your time in the desert to enjoy sandboarding, quad biking, desert tours and dolphin cruises- to name but a few activites!
The actual project is located 4 hours into the Namib desert. Its location is rural, and you should expect to be away from phone signal and wifi for the duration of the time that you are away. Perfect for those escaping from office life!
Accommodation and food
One of the most exciting parts of this project is to really experience desert life, unchanged for many hundreds of years. You will be camping in the desert with your family, cooking around camp fires and going to sleep under a thick blanket of stars. This lifestyle is really rather rustic, which is all part of its charm.
Life revolves around the large fire where you will cook and make tea and coffee- a staple in the desert! Each day one family will be in charge of food preparation, and as such you can learn all about bush craft and cooking on fires. The food is delicious and not once in the trip will you have the same dish twice.
During the first part of your trip you will have an outdoor western style composting toilet, whilst during the tracking week you will be armed with a spade and a lighter to burn the toilet paper! Shower facilities are only available until you head off for your elephant patrol.
When should I book?
Whilst late-availability is possible, we would advise booking as soon as you can to guarantee your ideal dates. Our projects are very popular and spaces can fill up several months in advance, especially for the months of June to September.
- Experience the excitement of seeing wild elephants in the desert as you track and monitor them.
- Throw yourself into the local community, and expose your family to a very different way of life, as you help to improve local school facilities and join in with teaching and classes.
- Create unforgettable family memories as you live in the middle of the Namib Desert, cooking on a camp fire and sleeping under a glittering blanket of stars.
- Expose your children to a rural way of life, and meet local children and families whose lives are very different to your own.
Whyshould I do this?
This is a fantastic opportunity to do something really different on your holiday. Kids and teenagers alike love the simplicity of life in the desert and getting to meet children and teenagers of their own age. This is great for parents too who are looking to “get away from it all”- with no wifi or phone signal, there is no better way to achieve this!
The project allows children, teenagers and adults to make a genuine contribution to an engaging community and conservation project. You get hands-on, stuck in and mucky. You can enjoy camping in the desert, learning how to make camp fires and cook on them and sleeping underneath the Milky Way.
We have had a think about the benefits of volunteering in Namibia for both adults and children, which you can read about on our blog.
You can fly into Walvis Bay (WVB) or Windhoek (WDH). Walvis Bay is the closer airport to the project (20 minutes from the start location) whereas Windhoek is further away (4 hours from the start location). We can arrange transfers from both locations which cost approximately £15 per person from Walvis Bay and £35 per person from Windhoek.
You will be in the capable hands of Chris and Mattias whilst you are volunteering in Namibia. Mattias has been working tracking wildlife across Namibia all of his life, from rhinos to elephants and much in between! He is as strong as an ox and will lead many volunteers to building glory on the building week, as well as get you extremely excited about how to find the elephants. Chris is from Mauritius and works closely with Mattias to track the elephants and to train you up for desert life. His knowledge of wildlife, astrology, tracking and bushcraft are second to none. Chris, Mattias and the team look forward to welcoming you to Namibia and to getting you stuck into these projects which are so close to their hearts.
What is provided
- Before booking: Dedicated period of time on the phone or in person to discuss the project, answer any questions that you might have and find out more about you
- Access to your personal ‘My Oyster’ account – our online portal where you can find out much more about the programme and manage your booking.
- Pre-departure information covering medical, safety and programme advice
- Advice on visa requirements
- Help and advice from our UK office before departure and whilst away
- Pre-arranged airport collection and transfer from Walvis Bay (WVB) or Windhoek (WDH) to Swakopmund. (Cost approx £15pp from Walvis Bay and £35pp from Windhoek)
- Pre-arranged accommodation in a peaceful and comfortable guest house close to the centre of Swakopmund (Cost approx £15pp including breakfast)
- A warm meet and greet at the guest house by our volunteer coordinator and the team
- Initial briefing and orientation to welcome you to the project
- Project training
- All transport related to the project- from Swakopmund up to the Base Camp (4 hours drive), from Base Camp to the school and back, transport whilst tracking, and back to Swakopmund.
- All camp provisions including a roll mat, canvas, toilet, cutlery, camp fire, chairs etc
- Three delicious meals per day prepared by the volunteers, a mid-morning snack, tea, coffee and drinking water
- Training in making camp fires and cooking over fire
- Training in elephant tracking and monitoring
- Oyster will prepare you thoroughly before you leave and support you while you are out there
- ATOL financial protection (if Oyster books your flight)
- Oyster Worldwide volunteer t-shirt
On your return:
- Welcome home pack
- Certificate of Recognition (on request)
- References (on request)
What do I need
- A passport valid for a minimum of 6 months after you arrive in Namibia
- Insurance – we can introduce you to a policy
- Flights to Walvis Bay (WVB) or Windhoek (WDH). We can help organise these for you
- Money for your airport transfers (Approx £15 in each direction per person)
- Money for accommodation in Swakopmund on your first night (approx £10 – £12 including breakfast per person)
- Money for dinner in Swakopmund on your first night (approx £6 – £8 per person)
- Money for accommodation in Swakopmund on your last night if required (approx £10 – £12 including breakfast per person)
- Money for dinner in Swakopmund on your last night if required (approx £6 – £10 per person)
- Pocket money for trips, souvenirs, drinks etc- approx £50 per week per person
- A sleeping bag, sleeping bag liner and mosquito net
- A sun hat and water bottle
- Warm outdoor clothing for the evenings
- A passion for elephants and the outdoors!