During your time on the project, you will take part in most (if not all) of the activities listed below. These activities will take place on a rotational basis, with other activities not listed here potentially taking place too.
As baboons are thought of as pests in Africa, many of them sadly end up being shot and so the sanctuary takes in a large number of orphaned baby baboons who would simply not be able to survive on their own in the wild. As a volunteer, you’ll help to care for these very social animals and accompany them on enrichment walks through the bush, where you’ll certainly be used as an extra climbing frame!
Due to the human-animal conflict created when cheetahs venture onto farms in search of food (in the form of livestock), the sanctuary has become home to a number of these animals which are either too habituated or injured to return to the wild. Although they have large enclosures, volunteers will experience enrichment walks with these big cats providing them with the freedom to run as they would in the wild.
Join the sanctuary’s resident carnivores for their mealtime as you help to prepare and throw food to the lions, leopards, cheetahs and wild dogs! Enjoy a front-row seat as you watch the carnivores enjoy their meals whilst the project facilitators share their impressive knowledge with you. This is an opportunity to witness the animals at their most wild and is an experience you won't forget in a hurry!
Help the sanctuary staff make fun and creative enrichment to keep the animals stimulated. Enrichment is extremely important as it enhances the quality of life of captive animals, allowing them to explore their curiosities as they would in the wild. Previous enrichment has included introducing new scents, puzzle-type toys and even papier-mâché animals for the carnivores to rip open! Creativity is encouraged so don’t be afraid to put your ideas forward!
Grab your chef’s hat! Whether it’s arranging a vegetable platter for the herbivores or preparing snacks for the meat eaters, you’ll help to create nutritional dishes for all the animals at the sanctuary. Fruit, vegetables, meat, food leftovers from volunteers, mielie pap and milk formula for the little ones will all be on the menu, so prepare to get your hands dirty!
Enclosure Cleaning & Animal Feeding
The Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary is home to hundreds of animals of all shapes, sizes and species! As a volunteer, you’ll help to care for these amazing animals in the most nurturing of ways, making sure they are well fed and have clean, comfortable spaces to live in. Meerkats, rock dassies, vervet monkeys, genets, lambs and warthogs are just some of the animals you’ll encounter on this activity!
As a volunteer, you’ll help care for the resident horses by feeding, cleaning, and exercising them to keep them fit and healthy. During this activity, you will learn the ropes on how to canter and gallop into the distance or take a leisurely stroll through Namibia’s scenic landscapes, spotting the local wildlife such as giraffes, ostriches and zebras as you go! (This activity does not run between 25th July and 5th September due to the horses needing their vaccinations).
Join the project team in retrieving camera traps from the neighbouring reserve, sorting and analysing data in order to better understand the animals in the area. You will also use GPS tracking to locate the free-roaming rhinos, elephants and wild dogs (amongst other species) which have previously been released. This activity highlights the hard work of the sanctuary team and also offers a glimpse into the newfound freedom experienced by the animals who were once resident at the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary!
Once a fortnight, you will serve as the eyes and ears of the sanctuary’s anti-poaching team, who work on the ground to keep the animals safe. This activity will be carried out high up on a viewing platform, where you will keep your eyes peeled for any suspicious activity and radio the team below should the need arise. Volunteers will usually sleep in shifts, though spending the night under the African sky could be a great opportunity to enjoy some world-class stargazing!
A necessary part of the project is the continued cleaning, building and maintenance work. All these tasks allow the sanctuary to create the most natural, comfortable and safe surroundings for the animals living here. Tasks such as the construction of new enclosures, border fence patrols and the removal of invasive alien plants could be on the agenda to ensure that all animals, whether they are long-term or short-term residents, have the best lives possible.
Clever Cubs School
On-site at the sanctuary, you will find the Clever Cubs School. This is here to help educate the children of the local bushman, as well as some of the children whose parents work at the sanctuary. Volunteers can choose to swap five days out of their week to work with the schoolchildren, helping to teach them English and other skills they’ll need for public school. This is a fun-filled and rewarding experience and one where you'll be sure to create some amazing memories!
Free Time & Extras
Weekday evenings, as well as Saturday and Sunday afternoons, are free for volunteers to relax. During the evenings you can relax with your new friends or head in for an early night. On the weekends, you can enjoy time by the pool, or for a small fee, sign yourself up for a trip into Windhoek or for lunch at the luxury lodge. On Saturday nights there is also a traditional braai (BBQ) where you’ll be able to socialise with the staff and your fellow volunteers.
Neuras Conservation and Research Site
For an additional $133, you can swap one of your weeks at the sanctuary for a week exploring the mountainous Neuras region. Here, you can hike across a rocky landscape, take part in data and research analysis, and help to set camera traps throughout the research site. You will also have the option to spend a day at Sossusvlei, where you can take in the sight of its iconic red sand dunes, including the famous ‘Big Daddy’. Elsewhere, you may opt to visit a local natural spring or sleep under stars, and will even have the opportunity to make pizza with your group! Finally, the Neuras research site is also home to a vineyard, with all profits from the wine produced going straight back into their conservation efforts – so why not grab a glass and enjoy!
Kanaan Conservation and Research Site
Also available for an additional $133 is the option to swap a week to visit another research site, this time in the stunning Namibian desert! This research site is surrounded by sand dunes and as unforgiving as the desert may seem, numerous wildlife species (including cheetahs) can thrive here. You will help to record statistical data of the species found here, ultimately aiding the long-term management of the area by taking part in activities such as mapping, radio telemetry and game counts. Kanaan is one of the most picturesque areas in all of Namibia and is also a vital location for the conservation of big cats. Where possible, you may even be able to take part in cheetah feeds, making this one unmissable wildlife experience.
African Wild Dog & Elephant Monitoring at Mangetti
If you want to see a completely different part of Namibia then you can swap a week at the sanctuary to visit the research site at Mangetti for an additional $133. Here, you will take part in crucial elephant and African wild dog monitoring to observe the behaviour of these animals and note any patterns in their movements, group composition and even mating habits. Since elephants are known to raid crops and wild dogs pose a threat to livestock, human-animal conflict has become a real problem in Mangetti. The team tries to work with farmers who view the animals as a threat to their livelihood by raising their awareness of best practices in dealing with the animals.
You can volunteer at the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary in Africa for 2 to 12 weeks. Whilst on the project, you will be divided into smaller teams to ensure variety and equal opportunity when carrying out tasks and joining activities. Below is an example of a two-week stay, which will repeat for those who stay longer.
Day 1 - The Adventure Begins:
Upon arrival into Windhoek Airport, you will be met by a project representative and transferred to the sanctuary (a drive of approximately 45 minutes). Once at the sanctuary, you will settle into your accommodation and spend rest of the day getting to know the other volunteers and project staff, as well as having some time to relax before your first day's work!
Day 2 - 14 - Project Days:
Your working week runs from Monday to Friday, with each day beginning with breakfast at 7am before a morning meeting at 8am where you will learn about your activities for the day ahead. After, you will begin your morning activity which typically runs until 1pm when lunch is served. Your afternoon activity will take place from 2-5pm, after which, you will have some time to shower and relax before enjoying dinner. Evenings and weekends can be spent at your leisure, and there is the option to go into Windhoek on a weekend or just relax and play games with your fellow volunteers.
Day 15 - Final Day:
Today will be your final day at the sanctuary. After fond farewells, you will be transferred in a private vehicle from the project site back to Windhoek Airport in time for your return flight, or to commence your independent travel plans. If you are staying in Namibia after your time at the sanctuary, it is possible to be dropped off at another accommodation in Windhoek but please check with us in advance!
Dates, Availability & Price
Important Information: This project is extremely popular, with dates getting fully booked up to 6 months in advance. We therefore recommend that you secure your place as early as possible to ensure you can join on your preferred start date.
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
This project directs all its efforts towards the long-term rehabilitation of animals within the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary. Sadly, not all of the animals housed here are able to be released back into the wild, as many are orphaned and have been hand-raised, meaning that they have become too used to captivity and would simply not survive in the wild.
Volunteers are key to the success of the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary, and their participation ensures the rescue, survival, and rehabilitation of the animals which have found a safe home here. Since 2008, the sanctuary has also rescued and safely re-released over 80 cheetahs, leopards and brown hyenas. These re-located carnivores are then monitored via tracking collars and GPS in order to assess their welfare within the new regions in which they have been released.
Find out what volunteer Doug had to say about his time at the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary: from aiding conservation to making friends for life, it's easy to see why this project was such a fantastic experience for him!
- posted on 16/01/2019
- by Ellie Hutchin
The Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary has been working closely with an organisation to develop technology that enables wild cheetahs and leopards to be tracked simply by using pictures of their footprints. This is revolutionary in the sanctuary's efforts to mitigate human-carnivore conflict. Read on to find out more!
- posted on 10/01/2019
- by Leanne Sturrock
During her time at the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary, our very own Georgia got to sit down with a few of the volunteers to get the inside scoop on life at the sanctuary. Check out this video to see what Mollie, Nova and Melanie had to say!
Is this trip for you?
During your time on the project, you will stay in a fixed canvas cabin/tent. These are shared on a same-sex basis with two people per room and have an adjoining open-roofed private bathroom with western-style toilet and shower. Plug sockets and electric lighting are also available.
While hot water is available for showers it is provided by solar energy, therefore please be aware that hot water cannot always be guaranteed.
If you’d like to spend part of your volunteer experience in luxury, you may wish to upgrade to a chalet at the lodge. Each chalet boasts a private veranda overlooking the bushveld, air-conditioning and an en-suite bathroom. The lodge itself has a tranquil dining area with stunning views, a bar, and a swimming pool.
For more information about the lodge or to check availability, please contact our travel team.
Three meals a day are provided for you at the sanctuary, with water, tea and coffee freely available. Breakfast includes toast, cereal, fruit and juices, whilst lunch typically consists of pasta, burgers, stir-fry and wraps. Dinner includes meat, fish, vegetables, potatoes and pasta served in a buffet style, and on weekends there is often a braai (a traditional African barbeque)! A vegetarian option is always available, and vegans can be catered for too. Additionally, a range of snacks and drinks (including alcoholic beverages) can be purchased at the sanctuary.
You will take part in a range of activities on this project including construction and maintenance tasks, therefore, a moderate level of fitness is recommended. No specific skills are required; all we ask is that you arrive with a willingness to get involved with all activities and that you aren’t afraid to get your hands dirty! Respect for wildlife and the ability to work as part of a team are also important qualities for any volunteer.
There are no specific vaccination or medical requirements needed to join this project. The vaccinations required will depend on the individual medical history of each volunteer. We recommend that you consult with your doctor/GP regarding your own vaccination needs as this will ensure you are protected and prepared to travel. In conjunction with this, we also recommend that you take a look at the Fit for Travel website for more helpful information on how best to prepare for your experience.
When is the best time to volunteer?
As this project is based at a wildlife sanctuary, there are animals here year round, meaning there is no favourable time to volunteer regarding wildlife. Weather, however, can impact some people’s decision, and there are two distinct seasons which are explained in more detail below.
October – April: The day time temperature during these months is between 28-32°C (82-90°F) and it remains warm at night with temperatures of around 15°C (59°F). November to March is also the rainy season with some rain expected every few days, but not too much.
May – September: This is the driest period of the year with nearly no rain at all. It is also cooler during the day, however, temperatures still reach 25°C (77°F). The biggest difference during this season is the night time temperature which is much colder and averages 7°C (45°F) but can drop below freezing. Therefore, if you travel during these months you will need some warmer clothes for the evening.
You will need to fly into Windhoek International Airport (also known as Hosea Kutako International Airport) on your project start date between 7am - 5pm, where you will be met on arrival and transferred to the project. This transfer will take approximately 45 minutes.
There are several daily flights here from the South African hub cities of Johannesburg and Cape Town, as well as daily flights from a range of international destinations.
If you would like help booking your flights, please visit our flight page and fill out the form. A member of our team will get back in touch as soon as possible with a suitable quote.
All volunteers require a work visa to join this project. Upon booking, you will be provided with all the necessary information and documentation to obtain your visa. This can either be applied for in person at the Namibian embassy in London or via email using our visa agent in Namibia. The cost for this visa is approximately $120, and whilst the application process is simple, it can take up to 4 weeks for your application to be processed. If you need any help with this then please speak to your travel consultant and they will be able to assist you.
What's included in the price of the project?
- Three meals per day
- Water, fruit juice, tea and coffee
- Transfers to and from Windhoek International Airport or Windhoek City
- Full orientation and support from the project managers for the duration of your project
- A contribution to the project itself, including funding for items such as building materials, food, and animal medications
What's not included?
- Soft and alcoholic beverages