My Namibian Experience As A Mature Volunteer
My Namibian Experience As A Mature Volunteer

My Namibian Experience As A Mature Volunteer

Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary

Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary

14 - 84 Nights from $1,369.00

Experience hands-on volunteering in Africa in the heart of the beautiful Namibian wilderness!

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The Kariega ‘Big 5’ Conservation Project has evolved!

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Two Rewilded Cheetahs, Two Years On - A Remarkable Rewilding Story

Two Rewilded Cheetahs, Two Years On - A Remarkable Rewilding Story

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Posted by Beth Mills on 11th Mar 2024 5 mins

The following blog was written by volunteer Barbara, who recently joined the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary:

After several long flights, I finally arrived at Windhoek Airport, tired but excited for the adventure ahead. I was warmly greeted by one of the staff members from the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary. Once he had collected all the new arrivals, we set off to go to the sanctuary. It was about a 45-minute drive and my first sight of the African bush.

On arrival at the sanctuary, we were met by Nikita. We were given a tour of the facilities and shown to our cabins. We had a few minutes to unpack and settle in before lunch. After lunch, I took the opportunity to unpack and explore the area. During our tour, Nikita explained that we would be assigned a group and there was a briefing every morning at 8am and again at 2.30pm. At the briefing your group would be assigned an activity for the morning and then a different activity in the afternoon. 

The next morning, I met my group. The first activity I was involved in was preparing food for all the small mammals (meerkats, mongooses, and a polecat). We were also given some background information about each one. After lunch, our group then fed the small animals. 

Meerkats

The next 2 weeks flew by, we prepared food for the carnivores (lions, cheetahs, leopards, and a hyena). We cleaned baboon enclosures and took the baboons on a walk through the bush. We spent a day with the horses. First, you had to locate them in the bush as they were allowed to roam free at night, brushing them, learning to tack them, and then riding through the bush.

Big Cats

The giraffes and zebras are very used to the horses, and we were able to get really close. We walked with cheetahs in their enclosure, they were so graceful and elegant. I learnt that cheetahs purr, who knew? We then mended fences. Next, we spent time learning about the anti-poaching team and their dogs (K9s).

K9 Training

At the weekends you could volunteer to help in the morning, but you didn’t know what the activities would be. The first time we were split into 3 groups and was assigned an activity at random. I was privileged to walk with the baboons again.

Baboons

The next weekend they asked us to split into 4 groups and again assigned the activities randomly. In the afternoon a scavenger hunt was organised through the bush (to see how much we had learnt). We were dropped off somewhere on the sanctuary with a GPS monitor and a list of things to find on our way back. The winners were the group which had found the most correct things.

Baboons With Volunteers

The main camp is called 'the farm' and there was a second camp called 'bush camp' which was about 10 minutes’ walk from the main camp. They had a restaurant that was open to the public, if you wanted to treat yourself to a nice meal you could eat there. The food was very tasty and very reasonably priced.

Restaurant Meals

There were also various extra excursions you could book via bush camp such as a sunrise or sunset game drive. Two of us did a morning game drive (nobody else booked the same day so it felt like a private drive) and our driver was so knowledgeable and we saw so many animals. We also booked a sunset horse ride, which was amazing. The extra excursions were also very reasonable.  

Game Drive

My abiding memory of my time at the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary, apart from all the fabulous animals, is of friendship and kindness. I was a lone traveller but soon made friends, if you sat alone someone would join you or ask you to join them. Several people (during the time I was there) arrived with no luggage (misplaced by the airlines), but everyone rallied around and donated toiletries and spare clothing to keep them going until their luggage turned up.

One lady arrived with her arm in a splint, she had an accident the week before at the previous project she was at and sustained a bad break which required surgery. Again, everyone mucked in and helped her make the most of her time at the sanctuary. 

Volunteer Group Photo

Some tips for future volunteers:

  • Invest in a solar-powered battery pack. There were several power cuts (which didn’t last long) and in the cabins, there weren’t many outlets/sockets.
  • At the airport buy a local SIM card, it cost £13.00 for 18Gb and was worth it. There was Wi-Fi at the sanctuary, but it was a bit hit and miss and if your cabin happened to be one of the furthest from the communal area, it didn’t work consistently.
  • The pillows were very lumpy, take an inflatable pillow if you like a comfy pillow. 

I had an amazing time at the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary and made lots of new friends. As a more mature person, I was able to take part in all the activities, as nothing was too difficult physically.

The staff and coordinators were so passionate and knowledgeable about the animals in their care, and always happy to answer questions. If you are thinking of booking this trip, I say DO IT! It’s suitable for all ages and you won’t regret it.  

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Martin commented 1 month ago
Loved your story. I’ll be travelling by myself and your account of your time there makes me even more excited to go. Thankyou

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Lilia commented 4 months ago
Hi I'm Lilia from US I am so excited, traveling solo on April 12 to the Namibia wildlife Sanctuary looking forward to it

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