By tracking the various herds of elephants that are resident here your family will help to record information such as new births, deaths, and patterns of mating. The elephant’s movements are recorded through their GPS position which are then plotted onto an online map. This information is crucial for the in-country team to know where the elephants are, and therefore where protection walls need to be built. This is an extremely important task as this is the only organisation currently providing the data to the government! While tracking the elephants you may come across some of the regions other wildlife such as giraffe, zebra and rare black rhino which is a truly incredible experience.
When you head out on elephant patrol you will have two different aims. The first is to have a presence in the area where elephants are under threat and to check that all herds are together and without injury. The second is to begin compiling identification files on “new” elephant herds in the northern reaches of the area, as these elephants are causing a lot of damage here. On each of these patrols, your family will spend time talking to local farmers whose lives have been affected by the elephants. This will help you and your family see the importance of this conservation work and how it makes a difference to the elephants and the people living alongside them.
Working At The Local School
This is one of the most rewarding activities your family will partake in on this project! During your time at the school, your children will have the chance to become fully immersed in the local culture. Not only will they assist in teaching the local youngsters, but they will also help with any building projects that are taking place at the school. This is a great opportunity for your children to take part in a cultural exchange with the local children, both learning from one another.
During your trip, you will also have the chance to explore the area around base camp and enjoy a nature walk with one of the project coordinators. This will give everyone a chance to see a side of the beautiful Namib desert that they may not have done previously. The knowledgeable member of staff will give you a lesson on surviving in the bush!
Please note itineraries are subject to change and what follows is simply a rough guideline.
Day 1 - Transfer to Base Camp:
From your accommodation, you will transfer to camp (a 4-hour drive) on the banks of the Ugab River. You will arrive in camp, unpack and settle in, then in the evening, a member of the team will give the group a briefing about the week ahead and any health and safety issues out in the bush.
Day 2 - Start of the School Project:
In the morning, you will venture out to Okongue Primary School to take part in an assembly and meet the teachers and pupils! Volunteers help out with maintenance tasks before joining lessons and teaching the students! At the hottest part of the day, you'll have a long lunch break, and will begin work again around 2pm. You'll finish the afternoon activities around 4.30pm and will head back to camp for dinner.
Day 3 & 4 - Days on the School Project:
Following the same format as the day before, your family will spend these days at the school project site, helping out with building and teaching activities! On the last day at the School, you will have a small celebration and head back to base camp to relax after a job well done!
Day 5 - Time to Relax:
Today the group have a day to relax and explore the area surrounding base-camp. A member of the in-country team will take those who are interested on a nature walk, informing them about different survival skills and edible plants from the desert! In the evening, the facilitator will give you a briefing on the upcoming elephant patrols.
Day 6 - Elephant Patrol & Star-Gazing:
Today, you will pack up the patrol vehicles and head out early. During the patrol, you will sleep under the stars listening to the incredible sounds of the desert - an amazing experience for all! Keep your ears peeled for the elephants as well as a whole host of other wildlife species, as sleeping out in the African bush is an experience that doesn't come around too often.
Day 7 - Elephant Patrol by Foot :
It's another patrol day so you will be back out searching for the elephants but this time by foot! After learning about the local wildlife by the guide, you may get to walk down to the local river and partake in a fishing competition!
Day 8 - Elephant Patrol by Vehicle and Foot:
Today you will remain on patrol, observing elephants in the Ugab wetlands, tracking them on foot through the desert and taking a trip out on the game drive trucks!
Day 9 - Last Day of Patrol:
This is the last day of patrols. Around lunchtime, the group will head back to base camp for yet another wonderful shower in the rocks, a final night around the fire and sleep in the tree house!
Day 10 -Transfer back to Swakopmund:
Unfortunately it is time to say your goodbyes, and after a leisurely breakfast you will pack up and head back to Swakopmund on the Skeleton Coast where you'll make your way home or commence your onward travel plans.
Dates, Availability & Price
To secure a place on this project a deposit of $245 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!
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 are incredibly important and this project is the only organisation providing accurate figures to the government on the elephants in this area!
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 where the volunteer groups assist staff monitoring the elephants and walls built previously.
If you're anything like us, you probably spend much of your time daydreaming about your next 'great escape' - but instead of taking a typical holiday, why not consider a volunteer experience? Here at The Great Projects, we believe that there's a better way to holiday, so read on to discover why a volunteer adventure could be the best way to spend your time away.
2016 was a very busy year for everyone involved with the Desert Elephants in Namibia Project, and we wanted to take a look at exactly what they had been getting up to last year!
It's World Elephant Day 2016 and it is time we all decided to help these beautiful animals.
Is this trip for you?
During this project, your family will stay in two different forms of accommodation. When you are working at the school you will be located at base camp, here you will be staying on a platform which is found up an Ana tree! At base camp, there are toilets and showers with hot water so your time spent in this unforgettable location will certainly be comfortable. There are also two elephant drinking dams on site, so you may be joined by a thirsty elephant or two!
During patrol week you will be sleeping beneath the stars, with the location being dependent on the location of the elephants being tracked. You will be provided with a bed-roll (including a mattress), but you will need to bring your own sleeping bag and pillow. Camps are very basic during the patrol period with no washing facilities and a simple long-drop toilet, so be prepared to go back to basics.
All meals and beverages are included and they are often cooked out in the open at the campsites.
Every day a family will be on kitchen duty together which involves waking up first to make the morning coffee, tea, and breakfast, as well as the sandwiches for lunch and the big dinner in the evening. Each evening the group prepares a large healthy meal over the fire, ranging from roast chicken, spaghetti bolognese, lamb tagine and Thai curry to name a few! This project can cater for vegetarians as well, but please let us know if you require this option upon booking.
Though there will obviously be an understanding that there will be children working here, the construction work undertaken on this project does involve physical labour, often in high temperatures, and so requires a moderately high level of fitness. Furthermore, no specific skills or experience are required, just commitment to the project and its aims.
The vaccinations required will depend on the medical history of each family member. We recommend that you consult with your GP regarding your families immunisation needs. In conjunction with this, we would also recommend that you check Fit for Travel’s website.
The easiest way to travel is by air, to either Windhoek International airport (must be by 12 noon) or Johannesburg airport, and then take a short flight from to Walvis Bay airport 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$480 from Windhoek, N$200 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.
If you would like help booking your flights please feel free to contact our flight partners via our flights page.
Citizens of most countries, including the UK, Germany, USA, Canada, Australia and most of those within the EU, do not need to obtain a visa to enter Namibia and are granted entry for up to 90 days upon arrival. You will, however, need at least 2 blank pages in your passport for the immigration officials to use and your passport must be valid for a period of at least 6 months from your date of entry.
If you are unsure of your individual visa requirements, we recommend speaking to your local Namibian embassy at least 2 months prior to travel.
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, and for the most up to date exchange rate look here.
What's included in the price of the project?
- A monetary contribution to the project itself
- Full orientation and support from the project managers
- Three meals a day
What's not included?
- Any flights
- Travel insurance to include cover for repatriation
- Visas if required
- Transfers to and from the airport
- Soft drinks, wines and spirits
- Trips undertaken other than in the planned itinerary
- Accommodation on the first night