Elephant Volunteer Feedback from Damaraland

Elephant Volunteer Feedback from Damaraland

Posted by Sam Hopkins on 3rd Jul 2014

We love hearing volunteer's first-hand accounts of their trips, and this month we have been lucky enough to receive some first-hand experiences of the 'Desert Elephants in Namibia' project in Damaraland, Namibia. It sounds like both 'Build Week' and 'Patrol Week' were pretty exciting – and in the case of Sophie and the puff adder – pretty exhilarating!

Below follows the feedback - it really sounds like the adventure of a lifetime!

"Today we started our "building week" at Welbedagt. Upon starting our build week we saw a lot of lizards as well as big and small scorpions - it was really awesome! After a great dish of spaghetti bolognaise we sat around the fire and enjoyed the silence and the beautiful stars, when I suddenly felt something underneath my feet. I remembered Chris's words to first take a look. I looked down my leg underneath my feet and I saw a snake - a really dangerous puff adder! I had to calm myself and whispered to Olifant the guide (big Mattias) and told him "there is a snake underneath my feet!" I was a bit worried as I realised I had no shoes on! "Oh dear…" I thought" After slowly and carefully moving away from the snake, we caught it and release it far away from the camp. Now I make sure that I put my shoes on when it's dark! It was a pretty exciting first day and really goes to show you can't predict what wild animals may wander (or in this case slither) through camp!" - Sophie, UK

"With 6 cement bags left on 'Build Week', we began the 'final push'. The wall designed to protect the well from the elephants was slowly taking place and we were all on a mission to finish all of the cement bags. We went for a final rock collection, and myself, Sophie, John and Anne made it our mission to collect the finest rocks we could find to add to the wall! We then travelled to collect the sand to make the final batches of cement. Mattias developed a technique of throwing cement at the specific rock he wanted. This was quickly picked up by Ernest which provided much amusement for all of us! Whereas Matthias expertly selected each rock to fit the next place, Ernest took on a slightly different technique of laying random "anything will do rocks" as fast as possible! The excitement of the last day gave us the extra push to finish all 6 bags and build the wall as high as we could in the time we had. The hot work from the day meant everyone appreciated the stop at the shop to pick up a very cold and deserved beer!On our return, a cold shower certainly felt luxurious in comparison to the wet wipes on build week! And a mug of red wine and chatter around the fire provided an amazing end to the building week and the 'final push'" - Keiran, UK

"Sitting in my room at Villa Wiese in Swakopmund I try to go back to yesterdays patrol day. A good part of the day was already over, but we did not see an elephant yet. Would we not meet any today? Chris and Matthias did their best in tracking them and around noon we finally saw very fresh tracks + elephant poo. With today's hot temperature, the poo is still quite wet and green – it can only be half an hour old!!! Climbing a small mountain, we were able to see one adult and 2 baby elephants, but just half a minute later, they were gone again, lost in the bushes and under the trees! Back to the car, driving for 1km and climbing another mountain: and here it is – the Ugab herd! 3 female adults and 3 baby elephants. We made it; we tracked them, and can finally enjoy watching them. We observed them for at least 30 minutes and were so grateful to be part of their day.


After a short lunch break we wanted to head back to base camp, still discussing the herds and the pictures took when a massive elephant head just next to the riverbed (where we were climbing) showed up and scared us to death!! We should never freak out, that's what Chris has taught us the first day, but hey, what you can do when this big elephant takes you by surprise!? We stopped, slowly reversed to give the elephant more space. When she came out of the bush closer to the car, starring at us (as if she wanted to tell us off for ruining her siesta time), surrounded the car, winked at us for one last time and disappeared into the bush again. What an encounter!! Thank you so much for the trip of a lifetime
!" - Daniela, Switzerland



Wow - it certainly sounds like these volunteers had the adventure of a lifetime! If you are interested in joining this incredible elephant volunteer project, then please don't hesitate to 'Enquire or Book Now' via our website page. Alternatively, you can contact us via email ([email protected]), phone (+44(0)208 885 4987), or via our Facebook page.


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