Inge’s Experience at the Harnas Wildlife Sanctuary

Inge’s Experience at the Harnas Wildlife Sanctuary

Posted by Beth Mills on 15th Mar 2023

The following blog was written by volunteer Inge, who joined the Harnas Wildlife Sanctuary in January 2023:

This is the second time that I have travelled with The Great Projects, the first time was to Borneo in 2015 for The Orangutan and Tribes Tour which was equally as fantastic!

This particular project, the Harnas Wildlife Sanctuary in Namibia, was again very well organised. You know you’re going to be safe and looked after when you arrive at your destination. There was good pre-departure information and very friendly and helpful travel consultants. I absolutely love travelling and experiencing a new country - I love getting to know its people, living its culture and volunteering is one way for me to experience exactly that, whilst being able to give something back in return. What’s not to love? As a volunteer, you’re right at the heart of all of that, plus it fills my memory bank with the most amazing adventures.

Volunteers

The best way to describe the Harnas Wildlife Sanctuary is to think of a movie, directed by Walt Disney and narrated by Sir David Attenborough. Imagine a dawn chorus performed by lions. Their “song” wakes up something deeply primal inside of you, welcoming you home. Slowly opening your eyes to witness the most amazing sunrises with colours that will be edged in your mind forever!

Our days would start early, with breakfast overlooking the watering hole. Nature for as far as your eyes can see with an array of boks slowly gathering around this area. Springbok, Bless Bok, Onyx, Impala, Kudu, Wildebeest, just to name but a few - Not forgetting Rico the ostrich too! One of the Kudu’s, Mischa, would come up to us on a morning to get his cuddles, absolute heaven! I think they are now my favourite antelope.

Bok

Soon after you arrive at the Harnas Wildlife Sanctuary you will get divided into groups. Depending on how many volunteers there are at that time, you will get put into groups of 3-6 people. There are meetings in the morning and in the afternoon to let each group know what tasks we would be doing that day. Tasks varied from food prep to actual feeding, caretaking, farm work, enrichment, ancient skills, helping out in the lifeline clinic or local nursery or going rhino tracking. Every day was different, and I found the coordinators to be very accommodating. We asked if we could spend some more time with the San Bushman tribe to make jewellery with them and that was organised for us.

San Bushman Community

The whole sanctuary is filled with an amazing variety of animals, and they all have their individual stories. Mongoose, baboons, vervet monkeys, meerkats, alligators, lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, caracals, warthogs, plus all the residential ducks, turkeys, dogs and cats, goats, sheep, horses...

Meerkat

Feeding the predators is an experience I will always remember. Having a lioness run alongside the truck, keeping up with us with such ease, not even breaking a sweat, a big smile on her face as her soft big fluffy paws landed on the sand without making a noise. You cannot get this from watching a documentary. Or the gentleness with the cheetahs when they would take food, like big soft pussy cats - Unbelievably humbling. Watching a leopard, effortlessly jump for his meat as you throw it over the 6ft fence reminded me of a scene from Hellboy II!

One of the semi-wild donkeys, Maria, had adopted us and would follow us around everywhere. One day she walked into our cabin, only to discover that the plywood floor was much more slippery than the sand she was used to. She tried to turn around, but soon found out this was not an option, so then proceeded to reverse out of the cabin and down the steps she came up. It was probably one of the funniest things I have ever seen.

Remember to take power banks, two refillable water bottles, and a head torch. The well-intended solar-charged batteries in the cabins do not always work, meaning there can be no light or USB charging facility. Also, the few electrical sockets around the sanctuary have to be shared amongst all volunteers. Our rhino trek took 3.5 hours in the African sun, so plenty of water is a must. Finding the one remaining wild white rhino in the area was well worth every scratch, blister, and bruise.  

Being able to contribute, even a little bit, to the wonderful work the sanctuary does for Namibian wildlife and its people was an awesome adventure and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.


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Thomas W Thomas commented 10 months ago
I enjoyed reading your experience at Harnas , I have participated in 4 wildlife conservation volunteer projects. One at the Sea Turtle Conservation Costa Rica, Nambia Wildlife Sanctuary, Victoria Falls Conservation all through Great Projects. I also did Rhino & Elephant Equestrian Project outside booking through Great Projects. In each project I noticed a different approach to wildlife conservation. I strongly recommend using Great Projects.Knowing someone is there to help is reassuring.

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Shirley Parton commented 10 months ago
So interested in doing one of these projects
Just need to get more info on others that have expierence this amazing trip
Please can you pass on more feedback on other travelers
I’m a woman of 59 years so looking to hear of any other out their that has done this trip
TIA

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