Read About This Volunteer's Life-Changing Experience At The Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary

Read About This Volunteer's Life-Changing Experience At The Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary

Posted by Leanne Sturrock on 9th Mar 2017

Recently, one of our volunteers set out on an adventure to work with animals in Namibia. Learn all about Julie's experience, from the unique experiences she had to the beautiful wildlife she spotted on her trip!

What was it like the moment you first started at the sanctuary?

My friend Mary and I arrived at the Sanctuary at lunchtime, 24 hours’ worth of travel from the UK. We travelled from the airport with another volunteer from Sweden, in a vehicle and with a driver provided by the Sanctuary. On arrival, we were greeted by a vision of happiness and smiles, the volunteer liaison for the Sanctuary called Corne. He was to become known as the 'Big Brother' of the camp, everybody's best friend and 'go to' man! He was so welcoming and bubbly that any doubts I had about my upcoming adventure at the sanctuary had immediately vanished! I remember it was so hot under the midday sun and we weren’t really dressed for the weather, so when Corne showed us to our accommodation, Tent Vulture, we were relieved to dump our luggage and change clothes. He then showed us around the Sanctuary so we could familiarise ourselves with the layout, introducing us to some of the wonderful animals living there, including an orphaned baby zebra, about 4-6 weeks old, who had arrived just the night before. My heart just melted there and then, and I was hooked. We had a much-needed cold drink and chilled for the rest of the afternoon before dinner. To be honest, we both felt a little overwhelmed by our new surroundings and all the new faces to meet so we chose to have an early night in our very comfortable tent. I remember lying in my bed that night, feeling goosebumps while listening to the sounds of nature around me, and to what I later found out to be the baboon chorus when the sun goes down. I felt so excited and emotional!

Namibia landscape

We woke early the next morning to the sight and sounds of nature, birds singing and sun coming up. Went to early breakfast at the Lapa, the communal eating and socialising area, and began chatting to the other volunteers. The morning meeting was at 8 o'clock sharp which was when we first met the coordinators and began to get an idea of what was to come during our journey at the project. We found out we were to be in Team Baboon, met all the other new arrivals and went to our induction presentation by Corne. I can honestly say that this presentation was so passionate and heartfelt, there was so much energy in the room, I knew at that moment it was going to be a fantastic trip.

Which interesting animals did you see on your time at the project?

I saw the most fantastic array of different wild animals, birds, reptiles and spiders on my trip.

From the wonderful lioness; leopards; cheetahs; lynx; African wild cats; the fantastic and fascinating baboons both within sanctuary and in the wild; horses and donkeys; jackals; giraffes; aardwolf (part of the hyena family); gorgeous warthogs, including baby Speckie; meerkats; mongoose; tortoises; different antelope species; zebra; vultures; various deadly spiders, including a black mamba; a scorpion; and many indigenous beautiful birds to Namibia. There is truly something for everyone at the sanctuary, whatever your own particular wildlife interests are.Big cat in Namibia

What tips do you have for future potential volunteers?

My first tip for future volunteers is: don't hesitate, just go for it and make the booking - you will not regret it! I would say try not to go with too many preconceived ideas or expectations - embrace the experience and become involved with as much activities as you can. Be open minded and strip yourself of who you are before you go, as once you arrive you will most definitely become somebody else, but in a good and inspiring way. What struck me was that, once there, everybody is completely equal: regardless of status, age, creed or colour, everyone is there for the same reason - the wellbeing of all the animals and continuous success of the sanctuary. Be prepared to work very hard at times, leave your vanity at home as you look a complete mess the whole time, and just go with the flow!

What was the best moment on the trip?

This is very hard to answer as there were so many wonderful moments but I have to, say babysitting baby orphaned baboon Demi overnight (twice!) was very humbling and emotional. She is adorable and when you sleep together after nappy change, a warm bottle of milk and some playtime, it is an unforgettable experience. She clung to me all night, stroked my face, played with my hair and slept soundly on my tummy all night. Amazing!

Cuddling baby baboon

Why should other people volunteer at the Sanctuary?

Volunteer on this project if you have a love of wildlife and want to make a difference. It is very much a true 'hands-on’ experience which I do not believe you will find on any other project. You will be making a real difference to the animals and the future success of the project. Everyone involved at the project is inspirational in their love and passion for the orphaned and sick animals and, in addition, are committed totally to working together with the native communities of beautiful Namibia to help the Bushmen and their families achieve a chance of education through the Clever Cubs School. I feel re-energised and alive again since my trip to the sanctuary; I feel I have rediscovered my inner peace and made some wonderful friends from all over the world in the process. I have left a piece of my heart there and I will be back.

Feeling inspired by Julie's story? Why not consider visiting the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary yourself - head to the project page now to find your place on this life-changing adventure!


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Paul commented 5 years ago
Thank you for e-mailing this to me. The ethos behind the project absolutely harmonises with me and I would like to thank you for e-mailing Jule's account which absolutely clinched it for me. This trip is for me also. See you soon .

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Patricia commented 5 years ago
I would love to be part of this project, hopefully in the not to distant future.

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Anne-Marie commented 5 years ago
Absolutely loved reading this article, I'm even more excited about going at the end April than I was after reading this, thank you for sharing.

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