Desert Elephants in Namibia

Search for and see the desert elephants on this incredible elephant volunteer programme in the beautiful Namibian Desert.

From £845.00

  • Up to 14 Persons
  • All Meals Included
  • 11 - 81 Nights
  • Elephants
  • Set dates - enquire for details
  • Minimum Age 17

Project Details


The project works in two-week blocks and you are able to stay for a minimum of two or a maximum of 12 weeks.

This first week of your project involves construction tasks, taking place on the build-site. These include the building of protection walls around water sources and alternative water-points for the desert elephants and the area’s newly-released black rhinos. Understandably, this week is fairly exerting and involves hard work, but the aim is for volunteers to work together as a team. This week is very satisfying and groups tend to bond and adapt to bush life very quickly, taking turns to cook over the fire and deliver the first cup of coffee to everyone in bed.
Elephant Tracking
Elephant Tracking
The second week of the project is spent tracking the resident herds of desert elephants in the area, to record movement patterns and information such as new births, deaths and mating. The elephant's movements are recorded through their GPS positions which are then plotted onto online maps on a collective database. This information shows which farms the desert elephants tend to visit to drink, and therefore where the project needs to build protection walls. The data collected by this project on elephant numbers is incredibly important as it is the only organisation providing the government with accurate figures on the behaviour of the desert elephants in the area.
On each patrol there is a different aim, and the current focus is two-fold, one is to have a presence in the area where elephants are under threat and check that all herds are together and without injuries, and secondly to start compiling identification files of ‘new’ herds of elephants in the northern reaches of the area, as these elephants are causing a lot of damage to farms. On each patrol you will also spend a lot of time speaking to farmers and communities and a chance will be given to the group to interact with local people. On patrol, you can expect to see other wildlife besides elephants, such as the critically endangered black rhino (which are rare but there is a small population in the area), springbok, oryx, kudu, giraffe, zebra!
School Visits
School Visits
The project has assisted the school in renovations over the last seven years, and are very proud to have been able to help. The school has over 280 children from the local area, all farms affected by the presence of elephants, and around 80% of these children board at the school. It is a colourful and happy place and the group will definitely enjoy the visit. If you want to bring educational items to donate to the school that would be much appreciated! Things like footballs are also always a favourite!


Please note that you need to arrive in Swakopmund the day before the project start date and you will be picked up from your accommodation the next morning to start your volunteer placement. Itineraries are subject to change and what follows is simply a rough guideline.

The group is transported between the project site and Swakopmund after every 11 nights, so if booking for a longer duration, volunteers will need to book additional nights in Swakopmund from Friday until they return to the project the following Monday. A night in the dorm of Desert Sky Guesthouse costs N$200 (about £10), but if you wish to spend the weekend exploring Swakopmund and would prefer to stay elsewhere it is not a problem!

Day 1 - The Adventure Begins:
At 11am you will be picked up from your accommodation Swakopmund and transferred to the base camp (4-hour drive). In the evening, there is a full safety briefing and explanation of the project to be undertaken.
Day 2-5 - Construction Tasks:
Early in the morning on the second day you will pack and leave for the build-site (1-hour drive). Upon arrival, you will set up camp for the week and engage in the various construction activities.
Day 6 - Return to Base Camp:
On Saturday morning, you will return to base camp and enjoy the rest of the weekend at your leisure. The area around camp is beautiful and wonderful to explore.
Day 7 - Trip to the Local Town:
Today you can join staff on a trip to the local town of Uis, where there is a supermarket, a lodge with internet, a pool and a restaurant. In the evening, there is a briefing specific to the upcoming week’s elephant conservation patrol work.
Day 8 - 11 - Elephant Conservation Patrol:
During these days you will be actively involved in the elephant conservation patrol activities and will spend the week tracking the local herds and recording the data you collect.
Day 12 - Final Day:
This is your final day. You will be transferred back to Swakopmund to commence your independent travel plans or spend a final night. If you have booked for longer than 11 nights, you will also be taken back to Swakopmund for 3 nights, then transfer back to the project site the following Monday.

Dates, Availability & Price

To secure a place on this project a deposit of £195 is required at the time of booking, with the remaining balance due any time up to 60 days prior to your start date.

Select a duration below to see the available start dates. All dates shown are currently available for you to join this project!

Duration Price
Please choose a trip using the select menus to the left.

*Rates other than GBP are estimates based on today's exchange rates. All payments are made in GBP.

Updates & Outcomes

Tracking and monitoring the desert elephants is a vital activity the project performs with the help of the volunteers, enabling staff to compile identikits of all desert elephants and to map their movement patterns. Data is then entered into the online database which links GPS positions to Google Earth maps. From this information, staff can ascertain which farms and homesteads require protection and where the desert elephants roam during different seasons.

Accurate data on desert elephant numbers and movements, the ability to identify each elephant, and knowledge of individual elephant personalities are paramount to effective elephant conservation management in Namibia. Data on desert elephant numbers is incredibly important as this project is the only organization providing accurate figures to the government on the elephants in this area!

What's more, in their search for water, desert elephants can cause extensive damage to valuable water sources, often rendering communities in Namibia without access to these sources for quite some time. The volunteers partaking in this project provide valuable manpower for the construction of protection-walls and also generate funding for twice monthly patrols of the area, when the volunteer groups assist staff monitoring the elephants and walls built previously.

"Thank You To The Great Projects For A Truly Great Project!" - Read Sue's Experience Of The Desert Elephants In Namibia

"Thank You To The Great Projects For A Truly Great Project!" - Read Sue's Experience Of The Desert Elephants In Namibia

Sue recently visited the vast wilderness of the Namibian Desert, where she and her daughter volunteered with the endangered populations of elephants. She had a truly unforgettable experience and wanted to tell us all about it, from brilliant full moons glowing in a star scattered sky, to locking eyes with a bull who came to pay them a visit in the night...

Read More
World Elephant Day 2017 - 104 Elephants Die A Day!

World Elephant Day 2017 - 104 Elephants Die A Day!

  • posted on Aug 12, 2017
  • by Joshua McGill

The glorious day of August 12th 2017 marks World Elephant Day. Both African elephants and Asian elephants are endangered, so today is the perfect opportunity to spread awareness for the plight of these stunning mammals who unfortunately, are exploited in many ways by humans, Find out how you can help!

Read More

Is this trip for you?



On this project you will have the chance to truly immerse yourself in the beauty and vastness of the Namibian wilderness as you sleep beneath the stars! When you are at base camp you will be staying on a large platform whilst scaling the heights of a beautiful Ana tree! There are toilets at base camp and showers that have hot water. There are also two elephant drinking dams on this campsite, and the elephants often wander past so make sure you keep your eyes peeled for this.
During build week you will be sleeping outside beneath a tarpaulin, and you will be provided with a bed-roll (including a mattress), but you will need to bring your own sleeping bag and pillows. During the rainy and colder seasons, two-man tents are provided so you won’t have to worry about getting wet. This week there is a long-drop toilet provided, but please note there are no washing facilities so you are advised to bring wet wipes.

Meals and Beverages

Meals and Beverages

Whilst on the project you will have three meals provided for you each day, which will be cooked over the open camp fire. Food runs will be made in the local town called Uis, where there is a small supermarket. You will enjoy a variety of different meals varying from local cuisine to some western style meals. Most dietary requirements can be catered for if we are notified in advance.

Fitness & Skills

Fitness & Skills

The construction work undertaken on this project involves long hours of physical labour, often in high temperatures, and as so requires a moderately high level of fitness. In terms of skills, no specific skills or experience are required, just commitment to the project and its aims. You must be prepared to work alongside other members of the team, often for long hours in the hot, Namibian sun.



The vaccinations required will depend on your medical history. We recommend that you consult with your GP regarding your own immunisation needs. In conjunction with this, we would also recommend that you check Fit for Travel’s website.

Project Details

When Is The Best Time To Volunteer?

There are 2 seasons here which offer very different experiences, with neither being particularly preferred over the other.

January – May: This is the summer and as such the temperatures can be around 30°C (86°F) in the day and 17°C (63°F) in the evening. This is also rainy season which is a wonderful experience in the desert as rivers can flash flood and you can see how the desert changes overnight. The elephants, however, do tend to move to the farms at this point which can cause a lot more conflict meaning more patrols and meetings with farmers.

June – December: At this time the elephants go back to the river beds until the rain starts again in January. This means the patrols are mostly in this beautiful area. It must be noted that whilst day time temperatures are still hot, the night can get rather colder to as low as 7°C (45°F).

Getting There

The easiest way to travel is by air to Walvis Bay airport (via a number of international airports), arriving the day before the project start date where you will spend the night. You will be met at the airport and taken to Desert Sky in Swakopmund for the night and this transfer cost will depend on which airport you choose to fly into (N$500 from Windhoek, N$250 from Walvis Bay). You will then be met at 11am on the start date of your project and transferred to the project site. If you are staying at other accommodation in Swakopmund then simply inform us of where you are staying and the facilitator will pick you up from there. If you arrive early and stay in the dedicated dormitory room at Desert Sky it will cost N$200 or there are single and double rooms available for N$450 (single rooms), $600 (double with shared bathrooms) or $650 (doubles with private bathrooms) respectively.

We recommend that volunteers book a departure flight for the day after their finish date so that they can enjoy a farewell dinner together before heading home. If you would like this extra night to be booked at Desert Sky for you, then please let us know well in advance to avoid availability issues!

If you would like help booking your flights please feel free to contact our flight partners via our flights page.

Visa Requirements

There is no visa required to enter Namibia for periods up to 90 days for most Nationalities. Please check with your Namibian Embassy if unsure. For periods longer than 90 days, all visitors will need a visa, regardless of nationality. This needs to be obtained prior to departure from your nearest Namibian embassy.

Currency and Exchange Rates

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.

What's included in the price of the project?
  • A monetary contribution to the project itself
  • Transfers from Swakopmund to the project site and vice versa
  • Full orientation and support from the project managers
  • Accommodation at the project site
  • Three meals a day
What's not included?
  • Travel insurance to include cover for repatriation
  • Flights
  • Visas if required
  • Soft drinks, wines and spirits
  • Trips undertaken other than in the planned itinerary
  • Accommodation in Swakopmund

Speak To A Travel Expert

Enquire to receive the Project Guide for free!

Project Reviews

Give Us A Call


+44 208 885 4987

If you have any questions about this project or would like help finding the perfect project for you then please feel free to give us a call or send us through your enquiry and we will be happy to help.

Nikita & team.

Where you can go
Contact Info
UK Office
The Great Traveller Ltd,
3 Dairy Yard
Star Street
Ware, Hertfordshire
SG12 9BX
United Kingdom
Opening hours: 9am–5pm

T: +44(0) 208 885 4987

Foreign Office Travel Advice