Experience hands-on volunteering with cheetahs, baboons and much more
This project allows volunteers the chance to travel and work as a volunteer at the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary with cheetahs, lions and other big cats. Much of Namibia is certified 'cheetah country,' and is home to one third of the world's entire cheetah population. With 95% of cheetahs living outside protected areas and on farmland, they are sadly often killed by landowners who regard them as a threat to their livestock.
The sanctuary itself is situated in a natural savannah paradise with riverine vegetation, lush grass plains and magnificent mountain views. The sanctuary currently provides a safe refuge for orphaned and injured wildlife as well as those that have had to be relocated away from local farms as they are seen as 'problem carnivores,' and can often be killed as a result.
Volunteers will help to care for and feed the animals on a daily basis as well as helping with maintenance work at the sanctuary. Maintenance work may include de-bushing to get rid of invasive species, digging trenches to extend water supplies to camps, and other manual activities.
Volunteers are involved in all aspects of the sanctuary work whilst here, and will help to rescue, care for, clean, feed, rehabilitate and release cheetahs, leopards, lions, African wild dogs, caracals, baboons, and zebras. The sanctuary always aims to release as many animals as possible into safe conservation areas away from farmland. These animals are taken to one of the release sites to be reintroduced to the wild as soon as they can be to avoid too much human familiarity. Since opening in 2008, 40 carnivores have been released, and the number is always growing. For a chance to work at the release site please see our Carnivore Conservation and Research Project.
Volunteers can partake for 2 to 12 weeks, and will be split into working groups to ensure variety and equal opportunity when carrying out tasks and joining activities. Please note however that itineraries are subject to change and therefore this is only a rough guideline. This is an example of a two week stay, which will repeat for those who stay longer.
This project directs all its efforts towards the long term rehabilitation of animals within the Namibia wildlife sanctuary. Sadly, not all of the animals housed here are able to be released back into the wild, as many are orphaned and have been hand raised and therefore have become too used to captivity.
Not only do volunteers help make these animals' lives as good as possible, but they may also get the rare opportunity to work alongside the big cat experts and Bushman trackers in the conservation research programme. This involves the monitoring and tracking of a number of leopard and cheetah within the local area, taking part in game counts for data collection, or preparing for new arrivals into the Namibia wildlife sanctuary.
Volunteers are key to the success of the Namibia wildlife sanctuary, and their participation ensures the rescue, survival and rehabilitation of the animals which have found a safe home there.
There are two accommodation options, volunteer rooms with up to three people (of the same gender) sharing and large tents with a bedroom and communal area to be shared by two volunteers (of the same gender or a couple). Although we can take requests for which accommodation is preferred, we cannot guarantee this selection as this will be subject to availability.
Showers and toilet facilities are communal and hot water is supplied by solar energy, therefore please be aware that it is sometimes restricted.
The adjacent Lodge contains six luxurious chalets and a tranquil dining area with stunning views, a bar and a swimming pool. Volunteers can choose to upgrade their accommodation and stay at the lodge over the weekend or at the end of their stay. Lots of volunteers also take the opportunity to visit the lodge for a delicious buffet lunch on a Sunday.
Three meals a day are provided at the sanctuary with tea and coffee freely available throughout the day.
Breakfast includes toast and cereal, lunch includes pasta, wraps, burgers or stir-frys, and evening dinners include meat, fish, vegetables, rice, potatoes and pasta. On weekends there is often a braai (barbecue).
A vegetarian option is also always available.
Other drinks and snacks can be purchased at the Sanctuary for an additional fee including alcoholic beverages.
As you will be involved in all aspects of the project, including construction and maintenance of enclosures, we recommend that volunteers come with at least a moderate level of fitness. No specific skills are required - all we ask is that you arrive with a willingness to get involved with every activity, have a respect for the wildlife and sanctuary staff with whom you’ll be working, and aren’t afraid to get your hands dirty!
The vaccinations required will depend on the medical history of each volunteer. We recommend that you consult your GP regarding your own immunisation needs. In conjunction with this, we would recommend that you check Fit for Travel’s website.
Volunteers are advised to fly into Windhoek International Airport (also known as Hosea Kutako International Airport) on the project start day between 7am - 5pm, where they will be met on arrival and transferred to the project. This transfer will take approximately 45 minutes.
There are several daily flights here from the South Africa hub cities of Johannesburg and Cape Town, as well as daily flights from a range of international destinations.
Volunteers joining the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary will need to apply for a work visa before travel. We will provide further information and documents for this upon booking.
The currency in Namibia is the Namibian Dollar, but South African Rand is also accepted. The exchange rate is around 1 NAD = 0.06 GBP, 0.1 USD, 0.07 EUR. Please note exchange rates are subject to change
The staff and volunteers were all lovely, and the interaction with the animals, especially the big cats (carnivore feeds and caracal walks). Everything was also really well organised, and the volunteers are really well looked after."
Pippa Perry, 2014
"What a Great Project! I will never forget spending so much time with the animals and meeting so many new and lovely people."
Emilie B, 2014
Would you recommend this program to others?: Yes Would you travel with us again?: Yes What memory will you take away with you forever? Your favourite moment: I now understand more how hard the conservationists work to look after animals but at the same time very rewarding. Very dedicated people, to the point where their freedom is sacrificed, very much respect. My favourite times were walking, grooming and playing with the baboons and learning their behaviour. Is there anything else you would have liked to have added to your itinerary?: No
Deborah Pollard, 2014
Would you recommend this program to others?: Yes Would you travel with us again?: Yes What memory will you take away with you forever? Your favourite moment: Not just one memory, the whole experience was immense! The friends I made, the animals I see and helped, etc.
Tore Gadegaard, 2014
Would you recommend this program to others?: Yes Would you travel with us again?: Yes What memory will you take away with you forever? Your favourite moment: Great team, amazing animals, was great to be involved and see how much they are doing. Is there anything else you would have liked to have added to your itinerary?: More time there!
Alison Troy , 2014
Would you recommend this program to others?: Yes Would you travel with us again?: Yes What memory will you take away with you forever? Your favourite moment: Almost too many to mention! Being able to stroke a cheetah was a wonderful experience but also being in a safari jeep and watching them run alongside it was exciting. I also loved spending time with Luna, the caracal. Is there anything else you would have liked to have added to your itinerary?: I would love to have spent more in Namibia, particularly going to Etosha, but with only two weeks' holiday this was not possible. Any other comments?: I had the best time and would love to do something similar again - once finances allow.
Samantha O'Keefe, 2014
Would you recommend this program to others?: Yes Would you travel with us again?: Yes What memory will you take away with you forever? Your favourite moment: Hurling fresh meat to the big cats - gross but awesome!, cuddling a baby aardvark, petting a cheetah and playing with a cheetah cub, spotting wild giraffes, zebra, eland, warthogs, springbok etc, helping the rare wild painted dogs of Namibia, being groomed by a majestic baboon, babysitting an adorable baby baboon overnight, smoothing a caracal - everything! Is there anything else you would have liked to have added to your itinerary?: My group and I wish that we had known that you could travel to the Neuras project from Naankuse and that the volunteer project there is a connected enterprise as we may have chosen to combine both into our stay Any other comments?: Booking with the Great Projects was straightforward, informative, simple and reassuring and I would definitely recommend your site, my only small criticism would be that we were told Naankuse would be informed that myself and my two friends were travelling together but this didn't happen and although we eventually shared a room we had to sort this out ourselves on the first day we arrived.
Kate Evans , 2014
If you love wildlife, conservation and Africa and have an open mind. THIS project is the project for you. The Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary is beyond words amazing from the animals to the staff. I stayed here for 4 weeks, and im itching to go back. They staff will answer any questions you may have with enthusiasm ( they are the most amazing people I've ever met.) You sleep a few meters away from a cheetah and can visit her when you are free, and even play with the baby baboons on breaks or hang out with the meerkat or mongoose, warthogs and the duiker. At night you can volunteer to take a baby baboon to bed to care for and keep warm ( you all should try this at least once :) ) and visit the bushmen tribe. Throughout the day, you'll be working hard under the hot african sun drink lots and lots of water ( I promise you wont have to pee a lot because your body will need the water ) The work is hard ( its on a rotational scheduled ) but rewarding. In the evening, you can spend you time around the camp fire or play pool...or swim in the pool :) 10/10 for this sanctuary. Food is great, people are great, lots of animal time, and Africa is AMAZING.
Stacey Feltham , 2014
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